ALBA Berlin is slowly but steadily finding its rhythm, winning three of its last five games after a 1-5 start and reaching the 100-point mark in its last two victories, against Khimki Moscow Region at home and Valencia Basket on the road.
ALBA has improved its offensive numbers thanks to power forward Luke Sikma, who has stepped up when his team needed him most. ALBA runs its offense through Sikma, a true all-around player, due to his experience and rare passing skills for a big man. Simply by Sikma scoring more often, while not lowering his assist-making, ALBA has become more unpredictable and efficient.
Sikma scored just 40 points (6.7 ppg.) as ALBA fell to a 1-5 record, its sole victory coming against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital. In the last five games, however, things have changed dramatically. Sikma has totaled 98 points for a scoring average of 13.0 points while leading ALBA to three more wins.
The numbers show that when Sikma scores a lot, ALBA generally wins. He has averaged 15.0 points and 7.8 rebounds, hitting 20 of 28 two-point shots (71.4%), in the team’s four wins so far. In ALBA’s seven losses, however, Sikma has averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds while making 16 of 26 two-pointers (62.5%).
As always, Sikma has done a great job passing the ball, leading all EuroLeague forwards and centers in assists at 3.6 per game. When Sikma has taken more shots and has been more active on offense, however, ALBA got better results.
Sikma has been especially active on offense in ALBA’s last two wins. Sikma had 20 points on 7-for-10 two-point shooting, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in a 100-80 victory against Khimki for a PIR of 32, a new career-high worth the last EuroLeague MVP of the Week honor in November. A week later, Sikma registered his first EuroLeague double-double, 15 points and 12 rebounds as ALBA ambushed his former team, Valencia, for a 92-100 road win.
ALBA has won all three games in which Sikma has scored 15 points or more, downing ASVEL (76-75) as well as Khimki and Valencia. In those games, Sikma attempted 7.7 two-point shots on average. Sikma’s best scoring night in a defeat was 10 points against FC Barcelona (67-103). He has averaged just 3.7 two-point attempts in all seven losses until now.
When it comes to three-point shooting, Sikma still has room for improvement. He has made just 3 of 16 (18.8%) triples this season as compared to 29 of 67 (43.3%) last season and 28 of 72 (38.9%) when he was the MVP of the 2018-19 7DAYS EuroCup. However, he was one of nine ALBA players who made three-pointers against Valencia despite the absence of two of the team’s best shooters, Marcus Eriksson and Simone Fontecchio, due to injury.
ALBA hosts Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in Round 13 before playing the next three games on the road, against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and Real Madrid. It is a challenging schedule, but one thing is for certain: Sikma holds the key for ALBA in terms of offensive productivity. If he can complement his passing skills with some extra points, ALBA becomes harder to beat.