The last time that The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were in the BEKO BBL Final, Miley Cyrus was not yet being hounded by the media or banks where to unload her bucks, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat were still one year away from their first NBA title, The Boston Red Sox were still on cloud 9 having broken the curse of the bambino and winning their first MLB title in 86 years winning 10 months earlier, Lady Gaga was unknown and a go-go girl and Miss umbrella Rihanna was on the brink o stardom as Pon De Replay was being released. The year was 2005 when Frankfurt lost 3-2 against GHP Bamberg as they were last called as they lost a bitter game five 68-64 in Bamberg as Demond Mallet led the winners with 19 points and Skyliner Malick Badiane who was best remembered for missing a key lay up in the waning minutes. The only player remaining from this series is Skyliner captain Pascal Roller. A good omen for Frankfurt is that new coach Gordon Herbert led the club to the title in 2004 against Bamberg. Herbert will be good for the team, because he has experience and will help the team stay calm in such an exciting series.
In the last five years, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have had a miserable 0-10 record in Bamberg and slowly one has to contemplate if secretly a curse has been set upon the club. The Boston Red Sox couldn´t win a title for 86 years as they were plagued by the curse of the bambino(Babe Ruth traded to New York Yankees) after title win in 1918. Hopefully there is no curse against the Skyliners at Bamberg, but since Game four of the 2004 BEKO BBL finals, nothing has gone right. There have been no memorable games in this winless streak, but just forgettable side notes like an 80-60 loss in 2006 where Antonio Meeking got injured in a humiliating 88-51 loss, but two close games like the 80-74 OT loss in 2006 where Frankfurt and Jimmy Mckinney were so close to winning and the 66-61 loss last season where American Anthony King showed his best game scoring 16 points and hauling down 11 rebounds. Even though German National coach Dirk Bauermann has not been coach in Bamberg since two years, Frankfurt still hans´t been able to win in Bamberg. The days where coach Dirk Bauermann could unknowingly scare a small child with his stare, Steffen Hamann whining and raising his shoulder in disbelief of a foul all day long, and a truck(Jason Sasser) mowing over a Skyliner are long over. The only thing remaining from the Bauermann era are lovable ex Skyliner Robert Garrett, faithful assistant coach Volker Stix and unbearable and cruel 70 months since the last win in Bamberg in game four of the 2004 BBL finals.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg have won the BEKO BBL title twice in 2005 and 2007. Only three figures from the championship team 2007 remain with the team with ex NBA player Casey Jacobson, ex Skyliner Robert Garret and assistant coach Volker Stix. The Brose Baskets Bamberg have about the absolute best possible chance of winning their third title as they ever will since they are playing their best basketball of the season as they have a perfect 6-0 record in the playoffs having swept The Telekom Baskets Bonn and The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig. “I think that Bamberg could go 9-0 in the playoffs. They have a good team with depth”, stated Phoenix Hagen American Quentin Pryor. Bamberg won the three games against Braunschweig by a combined score of 30 points, but it felt more like10-15, because Braunschweig always stayed with Bamberg until they made that one run in each game and then were able to pull out the win with tough defense and big in your face bombs from outside. “The difference in the series was the Bamberg depth. They go 10 deep which is important during this time of the year”, stated Quentin Pryor
The biggest strength of The Brose Baskets Bamberg is that they play the best team basketball in the BEKO BBL. Coach Chris Fleming was able to mesh the characters and playing talent of all players together to build a team that is on the verge of possibly winning their third BEKO BBL title in six years. Bamberg have a lot of weapons and depth. They share the ball well and play well together. Guys like Suput(17ppg, 6,0rpg, 3,7apg Braunschweig series), Jacobson(13,0ppg 3,7rpg, 3,7apg Braunschweig series), Roberts(9.ppg, 2,7rpg, 1,0apg Braunschweig series) and Gavel(14,0ppg, 1,7rpg, 1,0spg Braunschweig series) are all dangerous”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn American Bryce Taylor. “On offense, they live from being very balanced. Every player can get hot at anytime. Suput carries the team, can score, is always there at the right moment and is not afraid to take responsibility. Gavel can have a good day any day”, stressed ex TV Langen player Ruben Spoden. “Bamberg defend the pick and role very well and force you to beat you from outside in and force you to the baseline. They are very disciplined on defense”, stated American Bryce Taylor. “The Bamberg guards pressure the ball very well and Tibor Pleiss gives them a lot of size under the basket”, commented Quentin Pryor.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners won a thrilling five game series against The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. Frankfurt was able to pull out an exciting 56-52 OT classic as they only allowed one point in the five minute overtime period. Both teams matched up pretty well in the series and both were able to steal a game on the road. Game five didn´t deserve a loser, but Frankfurt was able to win the game in crunch time with an aggressive defense that somehow seemed to have been put into a gear higher despite the intense game. Frankfurt also seemed to have a deeper roster as they were able to insert more fresh bodies like Grayson Moyer or Dragan Labovic that were able to give much energy. Bremerhaven looked a bit worn down in the OT period due to the fact that guys like Jeff Gibbs(36 min), Lou Campbell(45 min), Torrell Martin(39 min), Philipp Schwethelm(37 min) and Andrew Drevo(40 min) had NBA like minutes. The bench players only played a combined 25 minutes. Frankfurt has been known for their miraculous comebacks this season, but also for their big heart and will to win. ““Even with our ups and downs this season, we always showed a lot of heart. Even when people thought that we were done, we kept our heads up and got the needed wins”, warned Grayson Moyer. Frankfurt only had Derrick Allen in double figures averaging 13,0ppg, 5,0rpg and 1,4apg in the Bremerhaven series. Currently he is gracing the cover of the German basketball magazine Forward displaying a huge scream and if there is one player who deserves the title then it is him. He is playing his sixth season in Germany. Allen will surely step up as he finally has reached a final and chance to win it all. His intensity makes him such a special player and that might just carry Frankfurt to their second BEKO BBL title.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners are the underdog, but might have two positives going for them. “I think Frankfurt could have a slight advantage in that they won a close game 5 and that Bamberg will not have played a playoff game in one week”, stressed Philipp Schwethelm. Bamberg has a potent offense that can get very dangerous when they get going and have a solid inside/out game. On defense, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners will have to find a way to control their shooters like Suput and Jacobson. This will be a big challenge and playing a switching defense is always good. The zone will help slow down big man Elton Brown on the inside and man help contain the shooters. On offense Frankfurt has to make every possession as if it was their last as each is important so they should work from the inside out and get Derrick Allen involved right away. Even though Seth Doliboa only averaged 15 minutes in the Bremerhaven series(4,0ppg, 5,0rpg, 1,2apg), he can always be a factor with his inside out game. The two key players for Bamberg that Frankfurt has to stop are Predrag Suput and Anton Gavel. Suput is the type of player that wants to dominate and just dominates anyway depending how he feels on that day. Frankfurt should stick to putting different defenders on him by switching it up with a smaller quicker guy and then a physical guy. Frankfurt also has to take advantage of the mismatch with Suput when Bamberg is on defense as he is questionable at times. Gavel unleashed some big bombs from down town in the Braunschweig series, but he is streaky. If he starts making his shots then he will be a problem. Frankfurt should not let him get open looks and find his rhythm. Frankfurt should also try to play transition basketball when they get stops. The two x factor players could be Brian Roberts and Jimmy Mckinney. Roberts makes big plays and his minutes are up and down, but he can score a lot in a bit of time when given the chance. Jimmy Mckinney is back to his form from his rookie season 2006-2007 as his shot is back and his defense is also strong. He can create his own shot and can Bcore in bunches as he showed against Ludwigsburg and in the Bremerhaven series. Bamberg will win if they can keep up their solid and timely defense and healthy balance of inside/out starting with brown and Pleiss and getting good open looks for their shooters. The team that wins will be that plays better defense, is tougher on both ends of the floor and gets more easy baskets. And a secret advantage for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners could be the mixed leadership of Derrick Allen and captain Pascal Roller which might create that extra energy and heart for their teammates?