Player-coach issues, team-management bickering, coach-contract questions: With less than two weeks until the end of the regular season and the team still fighting for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, things are anything but quiet and calm for Alba Berlin.
Head coach Sasa Obradovic went after his team following Berlin’s loss at Braunschweig – Berlin’s ninth defeat in the last 10 road games which left them in fifth place, two games behind Bayern Munich in the race for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with two games more than Bayern to play.
“We are missing the determination in the decisive moments. The key players have to take the ball and say, I will do it. I am missing that,” said Obradovic in the Berlin BZ daily.
Obradovic’s comments came a week after he berated playmaker DaShaun Wood within the sight of the Bild daily in an incident in which Wood even had to be restrained by his teammates from attacking the coach.
The next issue came as veteran Yassin Idbihi and club management went back and forth during contractual negotiations with CEO Marco Baldi and sports director Mithat Demirel both sort of questioning Idbihi’s delay in signing an extension after swapping agents and asking for more time to consider.
“We cannot force anybody into doing anything. He can say five times that he wants to stay, then he should do it,” Baldi was quoted in the Berlin Morgenpost.
And Demirel added: “We don’t need anybody who don’t want to be here.”
Idbihi told the Morgenpost that he apologized to Demirel and his plan is to remain with Alba as long as possible.
But the comments by Baldi and Demirel did not sit well with the Berlin players, who really respect Idbihi and his work ethic and commitment to the club.
“Especially the foreign players are wondering and uncertain about how they treat a player,” said Berlin’s German playmaker Heiko Schaffartzik in the Morgenpost on April 12.
“The players are thinking: If they lambast someone like Yassin, who everybody respects and always gives their all for the team, what will they do with me.”
Schaffartzik added: “If Mr. Demirel and Mr. Baldi want to lead the club like that, then they have to do it that way.”
Schaffartzik’s comments were not welcomed by Obradovic, who said in the Morgenpost: “It’s not his job to comment on that. Everyone should concentrate on basketball.”
Baldi’s response last Friday (April 12) was: “What Heiko Schaffartzik says it not important. What’s important is what he does on the court. Everything else will be cleared up internally.”
Things heated up in the Berlin media on Tuesday (April 16) when Obradovic tried to calm things down, telling the BZ: “I cannot see that the mood is bad. The players are also practicing with full energy.”
He added: “Contracts shouldn’t be a topic right now. Besides Heiko Schaffartzik, nobody on the team has a guaranteed contract for next season. Not even me.”
The news was surprising since initial reports last off-season said Obradovic had signed on a two-year contract. The deal apparently has an option for the second season though it would be extended automatically if Berlin reach the Beko BBL playoff finals.
When asked about the Obradovic contract, Baldi told the Morgenpost: “No comment.”
It’s no surprise that Baldi did not comment – the main thing is to calm things down in Berlin.
One good piece of news for Berlin is that Nihad Djedovic and Zach Morley both were able to return to practice on Tuesday.