Truthfully, I was unaware Alba Berlin was a professional basketball team until a few days ago when I saw them on the Spurs' preseason schedule. They have built some sort of a résumé of late, including a finals appearance in their 2013-14 postseason and championship victory in the German Cup.
Already several weeks into their regular season, Alba Berlin was clearly more practiced than San Antonio right now. They boast one NBA-potential player in Leon Radošević, a 6'10" big man who flaunts some decent range along with a gorgeous pump-fake that fooled Timmy once or twice. Despite the lack of talent on the team, Berlin played hard and expected to win.
On the other side, Coach Pop couldn't have cared less about the actual result of the game, opting to experiment with lineups and plays. Some of them were successful (Kawhi grabbed six points out of five consecutive isolation plays and Tony-Tim had great high-low action throughout) and others weren't so impressive (Aron Baynes with back-to-back turnovers and a missed jumper in the post and Marco Belinelli and Bryce Cotton with some chaotic play at point).
Alba Berlin stuck around with long, contested jumpers, and lackadaisical play and poor execution by San Antonio. We definitely saw flashes of the Spurs, but errant passes by the Big Three and offensive rebounds on the other end of the floor overshadowed the good. Worst of all was Manu's defense, which was absolutely abused in the closing minutes by gambling far too hard and far too often. Berlin couldn't punish Ginobili as much as an NBA team will be able to if he continues to overplay his man that much, but Alba Berlin still got the job done.
On the whole, Pop couldn't have been happier with this game after his guys into a competitive game that came down to the wire while avoiding an embarrassing loss to a second-class European team. Up four with 14 seconds left, Tony missed two free throws, and Reggie Redding hustled back and knocked down a corner three. On the ensuing inbound play, Timmy couldn't find an open man, tossed the ball into some space where theoretically a Spur was at some point during the game, and then a miracle teardrop by Jamel McLean sealed the deal. San Antonio has the talent to compete with the best basketball teams in the world, but one out of every fifty or so games, they lay an absolute egg. Fortunately, this came at the hands of a German basketball team in a game of no significance whatsoever, instead of, say, a Western Conference Finals game against OKC.
Welp. Good for the Berliners; they clearly wanted it more than the Spurs and they got it. On to the next one in Turkey on Saturday.