BERLIN — Jamel McLean’s score at the buzzer gave Alba Berlin a 94-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 8, handing the NBA champion a dramatic defeat in its first preseason game.
The American forward contributed 18 points for the eight-time German champion, which rallied after a slow start by winning all but the first quarter.
Tony Parker scored 28 for the Spurs, with Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard finishing on 14 apiece. Duncan who is entering his 18th season, had 10 rebounds.
Alex King opened the scoring with a 3-pointer for the hosts, but the Spurs replied instantly through Parker and quickly carved out a 16-point lead. Alba fought back, however, and clinched it through McLean’s buzzer beater.
“First game of the season and we’re all a little rusty. We need to play with each other a bit more,” Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili said. “We just played poorly and they had a great game.”
While the Spurs Coyote entertained fans on the side, Lady Gaga was courtside, too, leading to a large security presence for the American entertainer.
Parker received great applause before tip-off when he was presented with his 2013 FIBA Europe Player of the Year award. Parker led the Spurs to the 2013 NBA Finals and France to its maiden EuroBasket success in Slovenia.
The French guard quickly showed his class and became the game’s dominating figure, helped by the home side’s nerves in the first quarter, which ended 26-18 in favor of the visitors.
Alba fought back to go ahead in the second quarter before Danny Green restored the visitors’ lead with a 3-pointer. Spurs led 54-47 at halftime and 75-73 at the end of the third quarter.
“We just kept fighting and we realized we had a chance to win the game,” McLean said.
The real drama came at the end. Reggie Redding’s 3-pointer for Alba made it a one-point game, bringing the 14,500-strong crowd to its feet with 5.1 seconds remaining. It was all McLean needed to win it for the German runners-up.
“I just got the ball from Leon (Radosevic) and I looked at the clock and knew I had to get a play in. I did a couple of juggles and got a prayer in,” McLean said. “I saw it go in. It felt really good. I didn’t know how to celebrate.”
Alba’s Serbian coach Sasa Obradovic described the victory as “one of the biggest wins of a European team.” Obradovic said there was a bit of trepidation when he saw the Spurs’ training on Oct. 6.
“They were jumping higher, doing better things with the ball. I was a bit disappointed with my own training session,” he said, before acknowledging motivation had not been a problem: “You don’t need extra motivation to play the best players in the world.”
The Spurs’ next game on the NBA Global Games tour is Oct. 11 at six-time Turkish champion Fenerbahce in Istanbul. The team then returns to face the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on Oct. 16.
The Spurs’ first game of the regular season is at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 28, as it attempts to win consecutive titles for the first time in franchise history.