BBL | Change to Munich: Giffey: “Understand that as an Alba fan you are not happy about it”


Status: 06.01.2023 5:01 p.m

The move from Alba veteran Niels Giffey to FC Bayern caused a stir in November 2022. Now Giffey and Alba meet again. In the interview he talks about the reasons for the change, the reactions and the differences between the clubs.

rbb|24: Mr. Giffey, you are considered an Alba legend: you were born in Berlin, have played hundreds of games for the club and won several trophies. What are your feelings ahead of Sunday’s clash?

Niels Giffey: First of all, I’m happy to see the guys again, with whom I’m still very close. That’s the defining feeling.

Your return to Alba is of course an emotional issue given your status as an Alba veteran. Your move to the rival has, it could be observed, caused a great uproar at the time. How did you come into contact with FC Bayern and how were you persuaded to make the move?

Giffy: I actually approached the summer with my agents in such a way that it was clear that I wanted to play abroad. We’ve been pursuing this plan for a long time, the number one idea was to play the Euroleague abroad. However, that didn’t work.

Actually, it wasn’t my plan to return to Germany. After the really good European Championship, after a short break, I switched to Murcia in Spain for a month. I had a shorter contract there and as a result I realized that it would do me good to do something long-term.

A change in personnel at FC Bayern opened a window relatively spontaneously. It then happened pretty quickly that an offer came and I thought: Okay, do I want to play in the Euroleague? The answer was yes, so I accepted. I was shown a very good perspective of being able to play in the Euroleague for years. In addition, I already know many of the guys here, I could imagine that very well.

Was there also contact with the Alba managers at the time? And how was your decision to switch to direct competitor FC Bayern received in your old Alba environment?

Giffy: It’s always difficult to say. I don’t conduct the conversations, I don’t call anyone or anything like that. I cannot say whether there were discussions with Alba. Since it wasn’t my plan to come back to Germany, Berlin wasn’t an issue either.

Of course, I made the decision in favor of Munich in the knowledge that I would get a certain backlash from Berlin. However, the reaction from the people I’m close with was perfectly fine. They understand what moves you there. Of course I also understand that as an Alba fan you are not happy about it.

Athletes can only earn money for a very limited period of time during their active career. To what extent did financial aspects also play a role in your move to Munich?

Giffy: I can say that I received a very fair overall offer over two and a half years. Having a two-and-a-half-year contract isn’t something that’s a given at my age – it always sounds a bit silly, but it’s actually like that. Of course I look at all the components.

In Munich you work together with coach Andrea Trincheri. He is considered a very emotional coach who is very active on the sidelines and has clear tactical guidelines. This may make him the opposite of Aito Garcia Reneses, your former coach at Alba, who seems very calm and encourages free play. How would you describe the respective coaching styles and how have the two coaches further developed your game, or are they still doing it?

Giffy: That’s right, the two are really different in their respective game philosophies, their basketball teaching. Aito’s speeches and the way he led the training were special. It feels like being back at uni. You sit in the classroom and listen to the professor teaching you sometimes very theoretical concepts. There were times when you wondered what those things had to do with our game, but in the long run, if you stuck with it and showed interest, they made sense.

It’s Ted talk versus university lecture.

If we stick with that comparison, Trincheri is more of a Ted-Talk type game-to-player. His speeches are very specific to the game. It’s very interesting how he analyzes the games, especially from an emotional point of view. He keeps making comparisons to life.

It’s Ted talk versus college lecture, if you will.

Turbine player jumps in the air, Oliver Christensen forms hands into glasses, Louis Olinde yells, Paul Dösch cheers (Image: Imago Images/Beautiful Sports, Jan Huebner, camera4+; Collage: rbb)

The best sports pictures of the Bundesliga clubs from the region

As is well known, sport writes the most beautiful stories and also shows emotional pictures. From tough duels to tearful triumphs: 22 pictures from the sports year of the Berlin and Brandenburg Bundesliga teams.more

What are the other differences between Alba and FC Bayern?

Giffy: I would say that at Bayern Munich it’s just a slightly different concept. The players are on average a bit older and more experienced, so the game is also a bit slower and more detailed on the opponent.

At Alba, on the other hand, the squad has always been a little younger than in Munich in recent years, and they have also focused less on the opponent.

How do you rate your first few months at the new club?

Giffy: The start was pretty good, I settled in quickly. What was really annoying now was that I had to deal with viruses once or twice, so I took everything that was in circulation with me.

How do you perceive the respective course of the season, nationally and internationally?

Giffy: It is very difficult to draw a conclusion, especially in the Euroleague, because the league is so incredibly tight. It feels like the league is tighter and more balanced than ever. I have no idea who could win the Euroleague this year. Of course I have a few candidates, but this year there aren’t really clear favourites. I think both clubs have definitely missed a couple of wins so far.

Nationally it’s tight again. But it’s the same with the BBL as in the last few years: There are always one or two teams that are simply playing an extremely good season. This season it’s Bonn, before that it was Ulm for a few years. Ludwigsburg is constantly there again. That’s exciting to see.

Albas Yannick Wetzell beats Steven Enoch from Baskonia (imago images/photo booth)

Alba manages to surprise in the Euroleague


What game are you expecting on Sunday? Which aspects will be particularly important?

Giffy: It will come down to who gets to dictate the pace of the game and how well the ball runs for which team. In our last game in Berlin we managed to stop the fast breaks and slow down the game a bit for Alba.

Finally, one more question about the future: would you categorically rule out returning to Alba at some point, or would you leave that open to you?

Giffy: The last few years have definitely taught me that really anything can happen.

Thank you for the interview!

The interview was conducted by Marc Schwitzky.