The German top team ALBA Berlin is celebrating its 500th game in the regular season this weekend in Oldenburg. With 391 wins and 108 losses, the team from the Capital is one of the most dominant teams in Germany over the last 10 seasons.
In 1991, the team ALBA Berlin has been created out of the rests of BG Charlottenburg and Dieter Hauert has become the president. The ALBA company is taking over the team sponsoring and the team directly reaches the finals of the German league. For those who don’t know, ALBA is a Recycling company.
In 1993, Svetislav Pesic joins the team as head coach and is starting the most successful par of the ALBA history. In 1994, ALBA wins in front of 10.000 fans the Korac Cup with a team composed of Stephan Baeck, Gunther Behnke, Oliver Braun, Sasa Obradovic, Teoman Alibegovic, Patrick Falk, Ingo Freyer, Sebastian Machowski, Teoman Öztürk, Ademola Okulaja and Henrik Rödl. Just by reading these names, you see how much has changed European basketball.
In 1996, the team moves to his actual arena, the Max-Schmeling Halle in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg and the team is playing its first Euroleague season. The team qualifies for the Playoffs and on the 17th May 1997, the first national championship banner goes to Berlin. That season, Berlin is elected "team of the year" in Berlin and features European greats like Sasa Obradovic, Wendell Alexis or Henning Harnisch.
Several championships and amazing Euroleague nights follow in the late nineties, still with the successful coaching of Svetislav Pesic. In the year 2000, Pesic is leaving and the team is taken over by Emir Mutapcic who was responsible for the youth section of ALBA Berlin. After six years, Wendell Alexis will leave the team in 2002 but the team will go for another German championship and beat Bamberg 3-0 in the Finals for the seventh time in a row.
Since then, the team is declining in the German hierarchy, not winning any National championship anymore. The last season, they even got kicked out in the first Playoff round 0-3 by the future Finalist Artland Dragons. The team had lost its identity and was nothing more than an assemblage of mostly US-born individualities.
With the signing of Luka Pavicevic this season, the management around Marco Baldi tries to find a way back to the good old times and this weekend, they can celebrate the 500th game in the history of the club.
Besides all that history, there are a lot of discussions about integrating the Euroleague again. Berlin is a 3 mio. capital and the building of the huge O2 World is bringing up some hopes in the city that in the future, there will be again European top basketball around. The Arena will be ready for Fall 2008, so now the team has to become a serious contender to fill the 17.000 seats. As the Euroleague wants to expand into bigger cities, Berlin is for sure one option for the future as the infrastructure and the team are already there. And of course, it is one of the coolest cities in the world in my personal opinion.