The Fraport Skyliners still are without a point guard and shooting guard for the upcoming season, but had something totally different on the agenda today as it was time for the draw of the new Fiba international club championship for the 2015-2016 season which one could also classify as Eurochallenge 2,0. After being idle from international club play between 2012-2014, the club returned with a bang last season and reached the Eurochallenge final four coming in fourth place. Today the Fraport Skyliners were in attendance in Munich for the draw with ex player Marius Nolte representing the 2004 BBL champion as the team drew strong and interesting teams.
The tournament is slated to start on October 28th. The teams will be geographically placed in two conferences which also takes into account the number of participating teams from each nation. Each conference will consist of seven groups of four clubs each. Each club will play the remaining three in their group in a home-and-away format with the top two teams from each group, along with the four best-placed third place teams advancing to the Round of 32.The Round of 32 will follow the same format as the Regular Season, with the two best-placed clubs from each group advancing to the Last 16 Play-Offs.The tournament Final Four is set to take place from 29 April to 1 May 2016.
It always depend on does a club want the best possible opponents with the risk of not advancing or the lesser talented teams with the better chance of moving forward. I am sure a Gordon Herbert, the head coach of the Fraport Skyliners would seek the best possible teams. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t get top teams like Asvel, Chalon or Le Havre of France or top Czech team Nymburk, but settled for an interesting mix with teams KK KRKA Novo Mesto of Slovenia, ZZ Leiden of Holland and FC do Porto of Portugal
When looking more closely at the teams of the Fraport Skyliners, they will face KK KRKA Novo Mesto of Slovenia that plays in the competitive Adriatic league and last season finished in ninth place with a record of 12-14. In this league they duel against top teams like Red Star Belgrad and Partizan Belgrad. The club has won the Slovenian league seven times, the cup twice and Super cup three times. They also reached the Uleb Cup final in 2003 losing to Pamesia Valenicia. They played Euroleague in 2002 and 2004. The Fraport Skyliners will also duel against Dutch team Leiden that finished last season in second place in the Dutch league behind Den Bosch who Frankfurt beat twice in Eurochallenge play. They were promoted to the first league in 2006 and since then won the league title twice in 2011 and 2013 and won two cups in 2010 and 2012. They have played Eurochallenge three times. In the past years ex Beko BBL players like Seamus Boxley of Giessen and Danny Gibson of Bayreuth have played for Leiden. The last team of the group is FC Porto of Portugal with the most tradition that was founded in 1926 and has won 11 league titles and 12 cups. In international play have played Euroleague, Korac and Saporta cup in the past and last played Fiba Champions League in 2003. The club last won the league title in 2011 and withdrew from the first division LPB in 2012 and played in the second division Proliga the last two seasons and will play LPB again this season. Notable players that have played for FC Porto that played in the Beko BBL were Chris Ensminger of Bamberg, Jeremy Hunt of Bonn, Christian Burns of ratiopharm ulm or Carlos Andrade of the then Deutsche Bank Skyliners. This is a very interesting group where a sleeper could easily develop between the four teams. The Fraport Skyliners should be seen as the favorite and advancing will be an obligation. With a core of the Frankfurt twin towers Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann, defense specialist and freak athlete Quantez Robertson and 2015 silver medalist at the Pan American games with Aaron Doornekamp, I see none of the other teams boasting such a strong leading quintet.How far the Fraport Skyliners come depends on how well the new point guard and shooting guard mesh in the first two months of the season. Bringing back the old duo and making a reunion of Dashaun Wood and Jimmy Mckinney would be like visiting a candy store for even some older Skyliner fans, but Gordon Herbert will most likely base his trust on two NCAA rookies like he did on Justin Cobbs and Sean Armand last season. If the two new players can make an impact as rookies like Cobbs and Armand will be the question.