The defense has been the main staple that has held the Fraport Skyliners ship together all season and even when their offense was sputtering and was as desolate as the barren tundra in Russia, they could still pull out wins simply because their defense was a rock and held teams to even less points then what they could only muster. In the first game against Dutch team ZZ Leiden in Europe Cup play the 2004 Beko BBL champion Fraport Skyliners were able to grind out an ugly 64-58 victory where their three offensive threats Theodore, Doornekamp and Robertson were held to 8/26 from the field and were led by the 17 points of Mike Morrison and 14 points from Konstantin Klein. Frankfurt had no remedy how to stop the athletic Worthy De Jong that led all scorers with 22 points and found ways to score in a Ricky Easterling manner and made big plays. However Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert was hoping for the continued rejuvenated offense by Frankfurt as in the last two games they had averaged 88 points in the big wins against FC Porto and the Brose Baskets Bamberg as well as keeping the consistent defense intact. ZZ Leiden is a rare team that has two Americans, but doesn´t always start them and rely on the input of their Dutch players and hero like play of Worthy De Jong, but the Dutch team were unable to attain the level they had in Frankfurt a few weeks ago where they were close to a win, but at home were crushed as they caught a very bad shooting day and had absolutely no idea how to find a rhythm on offense and often were unable to shoot in the ocean as they missed shot after shot, but Frankfurt also made their selection miserable as their aggressive defense and rotations were superb. It was the third game in a row where the offense was playing in a Tom Brady manner as they were hitting on a consistent basis and their unselfishness was a grade A. “The key to tonight’s game was DEFENSE! It very important for us to set the tone on defense and we were able to that from the start. We knew that they were home and coming in to tonight’s game they haven’t loss in their home gym. So we expected them to shoot the ball confidently! In the first quarter they hit some tough shots but our defense was still really good. We were able to score off their turnovers. We were also able to get out in off their miss shots. Most importantly we ran our offense with a purpose”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Jordan Theodore.
The first quarter was the closest in the whole game as there were five lead changes, but three consecutive three pointers by the Fraport Skyliners near the end of the first quarter quickly turned the tide of the momentum and Frankfurt would never trail again as they rattled off their offense on a consistent basis while ZZ Leiden struggled on offense except for a spurt in the fourth quarter. 2012 Dutch Eredivisie All-Star Game slam dunk winner and 2015 MVP Joern Van der List set the stage early hitting a three as the outside shooting would be about all that ZZ Leiden would have to offer on this night. The Fraport Skyliners were cheered on by around 20 fans that had made the 5 hour trip to Leiden quickly got their offense flowing as ex Auburn guard Quantez Robertson made a lay in, Danilo Barthel a free throw and Johannes Voigtmann connected on a pretty fade away jumper as Frankfurt led 5-3. Van Der List kept up his slick outside shooting nailing another trey to fetch the lead back, but that was quickly erased by Canadian national player Aaron Doornekamp with a jumper and 7-6 advantage for Frankfurt. Voigtmann then scored back to back buckets with a two handed dunk as Barthel fed him and a jumper. ZZ Leiden dead locked the game at 11-11 as Van Der List hit his third three pointer of the quarter. Jordan Theodore then got on the score board with a lay in for the 13-11 lead, but ex Cal Poly Pomona (NCAA2) guard Deron Scott dropped a trey for the 14-13 ZZ Leiden lead. However then like in a mean rush, the Fraport Skyliners went on a 10-0 run nailing three three pointers with two from German national player Konstantin Klein and one from Robertson. Scott closed out the first quarter with a lay in as Frankfurt led 23-16. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 64% from the field and 50% from outside while ZZ Leiden were shooting 43% from the field and 60% from outside. Frankfurt had the 8-5 rebound lead, but had three turnovers while ZZ Leiden had one turnover.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners would run away with the game outscoring their Dutch counterpart 18-7 and leading 41-23 at the break. ZZ Leiden actually started out well in the second staying with Frankfurt as 31 year old two time Dutch champion and allstar shooting guard Rogier Jansen nailed a three pointer and 25 year old 2010cm center and three time Dutch cup winner Thomas Koenis grabbed his own rebound making the put back while Frankfurt got production from Klein with a lay and pick and pop shot from Doornekamp as Frankfurt still led 28-21, but this was the closest that ZZ Leiden would ever be again in the game as the Fraport Skyliners now really took control of the game as they went into halftime with a back breaking 13-2 run. Frankfurt was playing great team basketball and finding so many ways to score while ZZ Leiden had more and more difficulty getting good shots and just couldn´t hit the ocean. Their star Worthy De Jong also wasn´t having a good night as one could sense his frustration with every new turnover and rushed shot as the forehead wrinkles increased. The best play that de Jong made in the second quarter was blocking a Max Merz shot on transition as he came from the blind side blocked him and the ball deflected off the German for a ZZ Leiden possession. The only points ZZ Leiden got was a rare inside bucket from Van Der List. On offense Frankfurt was clicking and getting superb consistent production. The run was started with Theodore and Barthel free throws. Theodore made a reverse lay in and Barthel and a dunk as Voigtmann found him cutting to the hole as ZZ Leiden had no idea how to clog the paint. Little then made the last five Frankfurt points with a put back after reaching for an offensive rebound and then nailing a trey as Frankfurt had the comfortable 41-23 lead after 20 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 63% from the field and 44% from the three point line while ZZ Leiden was shooting 31% from the field and 35% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 19-10 rebound edge. ZZ Leiden had eight turnovers and Frankfurt seven.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners continued being the more consistent team executing on offense and often making it look like a stroll in the park while their defense continued to stifle ZZ Leiden. ZZ Leiden got on the board first as Jansen dropped a trey, but then was rudely beat on the next Frankfurt possession by Theodore who used that quick first step to his advantage and getting the easy lay in. Then the two big men traded baskets as Voigtmann and Van Der List scored as he was the only real bright spot for the Dutch team on this night. With ZZ Leiden down 45-28, the Fraport Skyliners had no mercy and added on to their big lead closing out the third quarter on a 15-4 run to lead 60-32 after three quarters. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners just played delightful basketball that would of even got a thumbs up even from the most staunch ZZ Leiden supporters as there was nothing that one could complain about. Moving the ball, finding the open guy and throwing in an extra pass was the recipe for success. 2010 Eurochallenge winner John Little made a pretty running floater from the wing, Doornekamp a jumper after getting the perfect kick out dish from Theodore, Barthel a lay in after getting a feed from Theodore off the penetration, Voigtmann a 15 footer from the wing after Barhel made an extra pass and Little made a deep three from the corner as Barthel again made the extra pass. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 56% from the field and 46% from the parking lot while ZZ Leiden was shooting 33% from the field and from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 26-17 rebound edge and eight turnovers while ZZ Leiden had 15 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, ZZ Leiden outscored the Fraport Skyliners 19-16, but it didn´t matter as the game had already been decided after 30 minutes. Ex E.Kentucky (NCAA) forward Eric Stutz who has a collection of over 30 hair braids nailed a three pointer and Van Der List scored, but Frankfurt matched the Dutch production as New York native Theodore found Barthel for the easy lay in and then finished himself as Frankfurt led 66-37. Then came the best spurt of ZZ Leiden since the first quarter as they went on a 9-1 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 68-46. In the run they got instant offense from two time Dutch Eredivisie Champion and 2015 Euro player Worthy De Jong who scored three buckets in the run sneaking inside twice notching reverse lay ups and then connecting on a tip in ally-oop play. Scott also contributed with a three pointer. However the ZZ Leiden run was short lived and the game then ultimately decided as Klein closed the chapter to game 4 nailing consecutive three pointers as Frankfurt led 74-46. Van De List improved his stat line with an additional trey and lay in while Mike Morrison closed out the game with a left handed lay in.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Konstantin Klein and John Little with 14 points a piece. Jordan Theodore and Johannes Voigtmann added 10 points a piece. ZZ Leiden were led by Joern Van Der List with 20 points and Deron Scott added 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners finished shooting 57% from the field and 50% from outside while ZZ Leiden shot 36% from the field and 37% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 30-26 and had 13 turnovers while ZZ Leiden had 18 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners continue to be the team to beat as they remain unbeaten at 4-0. They stayed faithful to their exceptional defense consistency and played an all around solid offensive game. Important to note was that the three guards Konstantin Klein, John Little and Jordan Theodore combined for 38 points showing some offensive guard terror. “We have a lot of weapons on this team. We can scored from outside and inside. Different nights different guys will be on. Tonight was one of those games where the guards stepped up. We don’t get his win without defense though. We held them to 51 points. If I remember correctly when we played them at Fraport the game went to the wire. Over the last few weeks. We’ve really come together as a team. Like I told you after the Bamberg win. We have set goals as a team and we will do whatever it takes to see our goals fulfilled”, warned Jordan Theodore. Next week they travel to Krka Novo Mesto and this could be a battle for the first and second place in the group as both teams should go on to win their last games even though FC Porto won´t be a cake walk for the Gordon Herbert gang.