Aito Garcia Reneses (former Barcelona) and Svetislav Pesic (former Alba) will face each other in Berlin

Aito Garcia Reneses is considered to be one of the best coaches in Spanish (and European) basketball history. His coaching career started almost 50 years ago and while he had great results with Joventut Badalona too, he achieved most of his success with Barcelona. He has won 9 League titles,  4 Spanish Cups, 2 Korac Cups and one Saporta Cup with the Blaugrana team.  Besides winning trophies he is also well known for developing players, such as future superstars Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro (in his Barcelona years) and Rudy Fernandez or Ricky Rubio ( in Badalona ).

Today, his current team Alba Berlin will host Barcelona in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in the German capital. Since Reneses took the helm of the ‘’Albatrosse’’ in 2017, the team improved a lot, playing two German league finals and winning the German Cup this year. Also, his young players received minutes and improved a lot in the last two years.

On the other side, Barcelona is coached by another legendary name in European basketball, Svetislav Pesic. The Serbian happens to be the most successful coach in Alba Berlin history, winning the first 4 league titles of the German team (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000) and the first European title of Alba (Korac Cup in 1995). While he also coached rivals Bayern Munich in the meantime, for sure Alba fans still have a lot of respect for the 70-year-old coach.

Barca is considered by many the main favourites to win the EuroLeague title this year. Summer signings Nikola Mirotic, Cory Higgins, Malcolm Delaney, Brandon Davies and Alex Abrines all proved that they are star players and the team didn’t need much time to build chemistry.

Barca arrives in Berlin after seven straight EuroLeague victories and they should get another win. They should be also the more motivated team, as a loss with Alba would mean they will lose the 2nd place to Real Madrid and Maccabi or CSKA are still dangerously close. Alba doesn’t have realistic chances to reach the playoffs but they always fight hard until the end, so I expect a Barca win tonight, but not a blowout.

Photo: Euroleague

Imre Halasz