The one guy looks like he could be a lumber jack with his strong build and curly wavy hair and be chopping down trees somewhere in the redwoods in northern California, but FC Bayern Munich center John Bryant who is known as big country actually comes from San Pablo which is across the bay from San Francisco and would have a quicker drive finding some tasty waves on the pacific than a tall red wood. The other guy Johannes Voigtmann who is one half of the Frankfurt twin towers comes from the former Eastern Germany Eisenach and looks like he could be a high school senior with piercing eyes as blue as the ocean on a crystal clear day and could even pose as Arnold Schwarzenegger´s son from a distance. Bryant is a 28 year old 208cm center that has been a dominating force since he entered the Beko BBL in 2011 and was the top rebounder in the league three years in a row with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he moved to FC Bayern Munich where his stats declined, but only because of the deep roster and so much scoring potential. This season Bryant is back to top stats averaging 13,9ppg and 8,1rpg and is third in rebounds and ninth in blocks in the BBL. Voigtmann on the other hand is a 22 year old 2010 cm center that has made a vast improvement since coming to Frankfurt in 2012 improving his points from 3,3ppg, 8,1ppg to 12,1ppg and 5,6rpg this season. He is on course to pick up the most improved player award and follow in the foot steps of teammate Danilo Barthel who won it last year. The Frankfurt big man has really been a force in Eurochallenge play averaging 15,7ppg, 7,1rpg and 1,8 apg. It is always interesting to see what kind of progress a young guy like a Voigtmann has done over the course of the season from the first meeting to the last meeting with a team. In the 80-73 loss in Munich John Bryant had a typical game of 12 points and 10 boards on 6/7 shooting while Voigtman had four points and four rebounds. Six months after their last meeting the two big men met again this time in Frankfurt and the German big man got revenge getting the winning bucket helping the Fraport Skyliners shock FC Bayern Munich 76-73. It wasn´t the best games of the two centers and Voigtman had eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and four turnovers while Bryant spread the floor with his inside out game getting 13 points and two rebounds. Voigtmann strives for getting this opportunity week in and week out against the best centers and was in awe mostly with that strong body of Bryant. “John Bryant has so much quality. He can shoot the ball and that unbelievable body, it is so strong that it is hard to get around him. He is one of the best players and its fun to compete against him”, stressed German national player Johannes Voigtmann. Jermale Jones of the Licher Baskets Baehren who is a regular guest in the Fraport arena has been observing Voigtmann all season long and was excited about the duel against Bryant. “Voigtmann´s game has really progressed this season especially his court vision. He is always in passing mode before he has even put the ball on the floor. He has become more physical. I remember him being softer last season. Voigtmann has understood through experience what it takes to compete. He knows that he has to do the little things. I am sure that he was able to take something from the game of Bryant”, stressed Alabama native Jermale Jones. “Voigtmann has improved so much with his physicality and passing. He has gone from a solid player to a potential player of the year candidate”, expressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi.
The Fraport Skyliners having been playing impressive basketball as of late as they have won three of their last four games. After a lack luster loss in Braunschweig last weekend, they returned back to the court five days later getting a big win in Trier where they didn´t necessarily win any medals on offense, but buckled down on defense showing that their staple can get them wins even if their shots aren´t falling consistently. Frankfurt had to return to the court 48 hours later against the defending Beko BBL champion FC Bayern Munich and were outplayed for 30 minutes, but never gave up and made that last run in the fourth and were able to pull out a huge win. “The first three quarters were horrible as we had too many turnovers and gave up easy baskets. However we pulled together as a team in the fourth quarter started by the pressure play of Tez, Cobbs controlled the game and Armand hit bigs shots”, warned Johannes Voigtmann. FC Bayern Munich entered the game coming off a huge win against the Brose Baskets Bamberg and after three quarters it looked like they would coast to victory, but instead fell completely apart allowing Frankfurt to walk all over them and pull out a win. “We played excellent basketball for three quarters. At times it was the best basketball of the season. We had great ball movement, were controlling the game and played aggressive defense. We then gave the game away in the fourth quarter. After the big win against Bamberg, we let this game go to waste. Giving up 28 points in the fourth quarter is unacceptable. Frankfurt is a tough team. We could face them in the playoffs. They have a great balance between youth and experience”, stressed FC Bayern Munich guard Bryce Taylor. “Winning at home against Enisey was impressive, but winning this way against FC Bayern Munich was even more impressive. I give the game a grade of B- and the fourth quarter alone a grade of A+++++++”, smiled ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi.
The first five minutes both teams came out gunning and there were six lead changes, but FC Bayern Munich was able to break away in the last four minutes going on a 12-0 run to lead 24-14 after one quarter. FC Bayern Munich got on the board first as Nihad Dedovic found Bryant for the easy bucket as one couldn´t have scripted that connection any better as it looked so easy. Voigtmann responded nailing a three pointer over Bryant as Frankfurt led 3-2. This FC Bayern Munich connection was hot in the early going. Dedovic gave FC Bayern Munich the lead back with a runner, but Danilo Barthel responded with jumper as Frankfurt displayed amazing quick ball movement as Voigtmann made a bullet pass inside to Quantez Robertson who shoveled the pass to the German as Frankfurt led 5-4. Bryant and Dedovic continued their offensive rampage nailing back to back trey´s as FC Bayern Munich led 10-5. This 6-0 Munich run was halted by Frankfurt who escaped on a 7-0 run to take the 12-10 lead. In the run Frankfurt was powered by Canadian Aaron Doornekamp who made a lay in and was fed by Cobbs for the three pointer. Barthel also made a big play finding the right position on a Robertson air ball to lay it in. The game continued to display runs as FC Bayern Munich now really broke away going on a 12-0 run to lead 22-12. In the run it was Dedovic who led his team as he connected on a three pointer and lay in. Young German talent Paul Zipser made a dunk after getting the perfect pass from Vladimir Stimac and the team also got free throws from Anton Gavel and Vasilije Micic. Cobbs and Taylor traded buckets in the last minute as Frankfurt trailed 24-14. “Munich was clearly the better team. They were doing a great job on defense taking Frankfurt out of their game and denying the passing lanes”, stressed Lich guard Jermale Jones. FC Bayern Munich was shooting 54% from the field and 38% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners was shooting 35% from the field and 29% from outside. Frankfurt had the 10-6 rebound edge, but eight turnovers while Frankfurt had three turnovers.
FC Bayern Munich heightened their game even more in the second quarter and led as much as 18 points, but the Fraport Skyliners were able to cut the lead down and trailed only 43-30 at the break. FC Bayern Munich stormed out on a 6-2 run to extend their lead to 30-14. Frankfurt guard Justin Cobbs had much misfortune as his shot didn´t fall consistently and he seemed to be forcing too much and FC Bayern Munich took advantage of it getting a Taylor three pointer and Dedovic steal and coast to coast run for the easy lay up. Frankfurt then got some back to back dunks from Robertson and Barthel as Frankfurt trailed 30-19. With such a deep roster like FC Bayern Munich, you sometimes see a player disappear for a while only to come back to haunt you which John Bryant did. He made consecutive buckets inside as one could say throw the ball inside with three opponents as the big man will not only find a way to catch it, but also put it through the hole. Bryant then found Dedovic back door for the lay in as FC Bayern Munich kept their big lead of 36-19. FC Bayern Munich kept the offensive pressure on as they continued to find easy ways to score inside as Anton Gavel and Taylor did as Frankfurt trailed 40-22. Frankfurt closed out the second quarter with a 8-3 run to go into halftime 13 points down. In the run they got some energy with a Burtschi lay in, Tez tip in dunk and Cobbs finally hit his first three pointer after four previous misses. “Munich continued to defend very well. One could see that they scouted well. They always stopped the Frankfurt fast break and didn´t allow Tez to get into the open court alone. They did a good job not letting Frankfurt to score inside. Cobbs was cold and needed to get his teammates more involved”, stressed Jermale Jones. FC Bayern Munich was hooting 45% from the field and 29% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 35% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 20-18 rebound advantage, but 12 turnovers while FC Bayern Munich had six turnovers.
FC Bayern Munich kept their double digit lead in the third quarter except when they led 51-42 and despite the Fraport Skyliners not giving up and making some big buckets here and there from Sean Armand, the 2014 champion still had consistency keeping the comfortable lead. FC Bayern Munich started the third quarter on a 6-3 run to extend their lead to 49-33. Frankfurt was sloppy on the first play allowing Gavel to steal an inbounds pass for the easy bucket. Buckets inside were followed by Dedovic and Bryant. Doornekamp answered with a three pointer. Then it was time for the first shooting clinic from Brooklyn native Sean Armand who would also be hot in the fourth, but now in the third dropped three consecutive three pointers as Frankfurt trailed only 51-42. He made the third three pointer from Hochst train station as it seemed like he was only a hand shake away from head coach Gordon Herbert on the sidelines. However this scoring explosion didn´t faze FC Bayern Munich as they closed out the third quarter going on a 12-6 run to lead 63-48 after 30 minutes. In the run, they exhibited fine inside out basketball as ex Bamberg guard Gavel showed his quickness scoring inside with his left hand and Bryant once again used all his brute to make a tough shot in traffic and ex Alba Berlin forward Jan Jagla and Taylor connected on three pointers. Cobbs scored inside on a sweet fingertip roll in high of the glass and Voigtmann made his prettiest pass of the night back door to Tez. “We grew as a team. We were still down, but were building the come back piece by piece trying to get closer”, added Sean Armand. FC Bayern Munich was hooting 46% from the field and 29% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 41% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 32-24 rebound edge, but 20 turnovers while Munich had nine turnovers.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Fraport Skyliners as they slowly started to pick at the FC Bayern Munich lead. The Fraport Skyliners saved their best for last and started to play team basketball. Frankfurt started off the fourth quarter with a big 9-2 run to cut the FC Bayern lead to 65-58. Cobbs scored inside getting the ball on a silver platter from the best passing big man in the BBL with Voigtmann and Armand then penetrated, but found the open Barthel for the jumper. Armand then continued to be the central figure as he made three free throws and then despite being bumped rudely inside made the jumper. Gavel then made a three pointer to stop the Frankfurt pressure momentarily as Frankfurt trailed 68-58. The Frankfurt offense now was flowing and they were finding more open space as Cobbs dished to Voigtmann for the dunk and Armand then hit three free throws again cutting the FC Bayern Munich lead to 68-63. FC Bayern Munich still had some energy as Dusko Savanovic hit a big three over the outstretched hand of Barthel as Frankfurt trailed 71-63. Frankfurt continued to threaten as they continued to score consistently as Tez made a step back, but also got big plays on defense as Barthel blocked Taylor leading to Cobbs fast break points and free throws soon after as Frankfurt trailed only 71-69. “I finally made some shots in the second half, but I am still not shooting the ball the way I know how”, stressed Justin Cobbs. Taylor then made free throws as FC Bayern Munich led 73-69. Crunch time had arrived and that is the stage for the big time players and guys that have been hot. Armand had been hot in the second half and made a seemingly impossible in your face Anton Gavel three as Frankfurt still trailed 73-72. “I just played my game today. I was aggressive and as the sixth man did my job bringing energy and scoring. I believed in myself and my teammates”, added Sean Armand. After a Gavel miss, it was big time player Voigtman who hit his bread and butter the mid distance jumper as Cobbs made the assist as Frankfurt regained the lead 74-73. After a Savanovic miss, it was Cobbs who iced the cake with two free throws and the 76-73 victory. “We played as a team at the end. We believed in each other. We stepped up our energy and physicality on defense. We had to match the energy of Tez and did”, stressed Sean Armand. “Frankfurt never gave up. Armand hit big shots which got them going. Frankfurt then had the momentum and took the game. We also gave up too many rebounds. We have lost some games like this and continue not to learn from it”, added Bryce Taylor.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Sean Armand with 22 points. Justin Cobbs chipped in with 15 points while Quantez Robertson had 11 points. FC Bayern Munich was led by Nihad Dedovic with 17 points, five rfebounds, three assists and two steals. John Bryant chipped in with 13 points and Anton Gavel added 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 45% from outside while FC Bayern Munich shot 37% from the field and 25% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 45-30, but had 22 turnovers while FC Bayern Munich had 11. The Fraport Skyliners now concentrate their minds on the Eurochallenge Final 4 in Turkey this upcoming weekend. With a huge win like this against FC Bayern Munich it can be positive in that it gives the team much self -confidence, but also could lead in a negative direction if they go into the weekend too overconfident. “We know what we achieved against Munich and know what lies ahead. Coach Herbert calls it the winning hangover. WE achieved our season goal of the playoffs, but can´t go into the Eurochallenge too confident. We are going in hoping to win the cup”, stressed Johannes Voigtmann.