The plot thickens … as marvelous underdog Maroussi continues its dark-horse run into the Euroleague’s field of 24, the pressure would all appear to be on Alba Berlin, last year’s sensation. A nice microcosm of two differing basketball programs is provided by the game as well, although Bundesliga’s propensity for welcoming non-German players is well-known.
A Maroussi victory would put three Greece-based teams in the final competition, a fitting reward for a country still firmly entrenched on the world stage as top basketball nation. A Berlin win bestows Germany with the first-ever appearance of two German teams in the Euroleague, surely a nice inspiration for that country’s national program as Bundesliga increases the minimum number of Germans per roster to five and later six.
On Tuesday, Maroussi again took care of business against Berlin, saved again by its surprising depth, as just over half of the team’s points – 40 of 79 – were contributed off the pine. Dimitrios Mavroeidis again crushed underneath and was rewarded with his most playing time in the qualifying round thus far. All Mavroeidis did was put in 19 points and draw five fouls, adding an exciting inside game to go with that dynamic Billy Keys-Michalis Pelekanos guard play.
Alba Berlin, meanwhile, looked fine through one half, unafraid of the Maroussi defense that had ruled Aris. Unfortunately for Alba, said Maroussi D woke up in time to again win the turnover and steals battles, thus the game. Berlin spread the ball extremely well, with five players in double figures; indeed, shooting a deadly 63.3 percent on two-pointers (and 25 of 46 from the floor overall, a 54 percent success rate) makes one wonder if the Tuesday loss was all in the mind.
The real key to today’s game: The capacity crowd of 12,000-plus expected at the O2 World. The sick thing here is that the game on Maroussi’s floor drew an official audience of … 950. Though it would be thrilling to see the exciting and surprisingly multi-dimensional Maroussi advance, reckon this game will be all Alba Berlin.
And hopefully *that* will be good for the state of professional basketball in Germany.