The Fraport Skyliners went into the last weekend Beko BBL Top 4 in Munich with such high hopes of returning home with a third team title, but instead were home when it was still light out something that can be traced back to unneeded and unwanted water entering the Audi Dome court cancelling the game for third place. The Fraport Skyliners had a long bus ride to digest the bitter 79-76 loss against Alba Berlin in the semi-finals which puts their season record against head coach Sasa Obradovic and his boys at 0-2. The Fraport Skyliners were so close as the Jordan´s battled to the end, but Theodore made one shot too little as Taylor made the last one to make the victory stick. Maybe not being able to play the game for third place was a blessing in disguise as the club had many not so healthy players like Johannes Voigtmann, John Little, Aaron Dornekamp and Mike Morrison. One thing that has been beneficial to the Fraport Skyliners this season has been that whenever that they have suffered a loss in the beko BBL, they have been able to escape to the Europe Cup where they were always unbeaten and in the zone and something they could go into holding their chest high. The Fraport Skyliners dismantled of Cypriot team AEK Larnaca without difficulty at home 83-60 and now headed back to the warmth and palm trees of Cyprus to slam the door on AEK Larnaca and earn a ticket to the Europe Cup quarter finals. The Fraport Skyliners arrived Tuesday in sunny Larnaca with 21c and unending sunshine something that was more than appealing to Engelwood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore who is used to the cold of home, but if any of his friends or family told him that on game day it wasn´t that much difference in temperature as it was unseasonally warm at 14c is unknown, but Theodore was in Cyprus not to go strolling down the beach, but to forcefully control the paint area with his quick steps and playmaking and win the game for the quarterfinals. The Fraport Skyliners had to go into a foreign arena again for the seventh time this season in Europe Cup play and once again left victorious as they gave a real battle in the trenches with AEK Larnaca winning 56-44 remaining undefeated at 14-0 and heading into the quarterfinals. “Tonight was a very ugly game for us. We came out not ready to play and it showed. We did miss a lot of open shots also. We were able to get stops when we needed them. We knew that this team was very good at home and they have two guys who can really shoot the three. They came out tough and matched our intensity in the beginning but our defense got us the win in the end. We were able to close out possessions with rebounds and get out and run”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Jordan Theodore. “Shots we usually make in our sleep didn’t fall tonight, I say for both teams, both teams played good defense but still I felt like we got the shots we wanted and they got the shots they wanted. They just made more plays at the end, the game could of went either way”, stressed AEK Larnaca guard Thaddeus Mcfadden.
After the Fraport Skyliners started off the first quarter with two turnovers and the score was only 4-4 after five minutes, it was evident that this would be a contest that would be dominated by the defensive mastery that both teams possess. Ex medi Bayreuth forward Brandon Bowman got AEK Larnaca on the board first making a steal and going the distance for the one handed slam dunk. The Frankfurt offense was sputtering so as usual in a time of offensive chaos, there is only one thing to do, but let ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore do his thing and he scored inside twice as his penetration and finishing is the best that Frankfurt basketball has seen since the days of Dashaun Wood. Nothing was working from outside for the Cypriot team so they went inside to ex NBA player Primoz Brezec who scored giving the home team the 5-4 advantage. Despite Brezec getting called for a technical which resulted in a Theodore free throw, AEK Larnaca found some spunk on the offensive end going on a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 10-5. The run was fueled by ex North Carolina State forward Travis Leslie who scored inside twice as the Cypriot team was hurting Frankfurt inside. However as usual when nothing is working properly on the offensive end, just give the ball to Theodore who will get something going as he rattled off five unanswered points with a trey and lay in and German national player Johannes Voigtmann closed of the 7-0 run with a massive two handed dunk. Leslie made a tip in as both teams were dead locked at 12-12 after 10 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 25% from outside while AEK Larnaca was shooting 31% from the field and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the slight 10-9 rebound advantage, but already seven turnovers while AEK Larnaca had five turnovers.
The second quarter didn´t get any better on the offensive end for both teams, but the Fraport Skyliners still could muster 15 points and stepped up their defense a tad more giving up only eight points. It was a quarter of three runs. After being given a lesson of physicality in the first quarter by Travis Leslie, the Fraport Skyliners upped their inside game going on a 6-0 run to take the 18-12 lead. In the run, Frankfurt scored in the paint three times as German national player Danilo Barthel made a tip in and ex Science City Jena center Voigtmann made a reverse lay up and tip in. However AEK Larnaca displayed catch up basketball and went on a furious 8-0 run courtesy of ex Braunschweig guard Thaddus Mcfadden who scored five free throws and nailed a three pointer from the corner to give AEK Larnaca the 20-18 lead. With two runs already full ended and bricks and cough up´s in between, the Fraport Skyliners closed out the second quarter strong going on a 9-0 run to lead 27-20 at the break. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners got some productive offense from ex Auburn guard Quantez Robertson who nailed a three pointer and scored on the fast break being fed by Theodore. Frankfurt continued to get buckets in the paint as Theodore did his magic once again in the lane and Robertson found Voigtmann inside for the easy lay in. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 36% from the field and 18% from the three point line while AEK Larnaca was shooting 21% from the field and 8% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 24-20 rebound lead and eight turnovers while AEK Larnaca had 10 turnovers. Frankfurt had the 20-10 points in the paint and won that 12-0 in the second quarter.
The third quarter proved to be an offensive fiasco for the Fraport Skyliners as they were unable to execute for the first six minutes allowing AEK Larnaca to get back in the game, but because their consistency in general was horrible, the Fraport Skyliners still led after 30 minutes 35-29. Frankfurt just couldn´t get anything going as they hurried shots, but also had misfortune missing routine open shots that they usually would hit. AEK Larnaca fought themselves back getting production from ex Bochum guard Parrish Brown who nailed a runner, Leslie scoring inside again and Mcfadden connecting on a bomb from downtown giving the Cypriot team the 28-27 lead again. Frankfurt was unable to execute on their first seven possession until Theodore hit the most fascinating acrobatic shot of the game tip toeing inside and falling off balance to his left and just throwing the ball high of the glass that went in giving Frankfurt the lead back at 29-28. This bucket fueled Frankfurt to close out the third quarter with a 5-1 run to lead 35-29 after the third quarter. Frankfurt got two easy baskets from Florida native Mike Morrison who tested the rims with two two handed dunks. Theodore closed out the third quarter with a steal at center court going coast to coast with the lay in. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 36% from the field and 12% from the parking lot while AEK Larnaca was shooting 21% from the field and 10% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 32-31 rebound lead and had 12 turnovers while AEK Larnaca had 13 turnovers. “They came out tough in the 3rd. The same way they did in the first matchup. They wanted to set the tone and they did but we were able to keep the lead and keep attacking”, stressed Jordan Theodore. “Good defense, both teams played hard on defense and they had some open looks that they also didn’t make, just an ugly game and it happens”, added Thaddeus Mcfadden.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners would extend their lead by nine points, but allow AEK Larnaca to cut that lead to three points. However in crunch time, it was Jordan Theodore who hit two back breaking shots that silenced AEK Larnaca and propelled Frankfurt to close out the game strong. However AEK Larnaca came into the fourth quarter letting good defense help steer their offense as Leslie blocked Voigtmann and Brown made a steal that led to a Bowman lay in cutting the Frankfurt lead to 35-32. It isn´t only Theodore that can score in bunches, but also rookie shooting star Philipp Scrubb who scored on the fast break getting fed by Theodore and then nailing his bread and butter the three pointer as Frankfurt led 41-32. AEK Larnaca had some extra energy left and made a last push going on a 8-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 43-40. Leslie was the work horse scoring twice as he dominated the paint area and Mcfadden snuck inside with a lay in. Frankfurt tried to get away, but couldn´t fully as Theodore found Morrison for the lay in which was matched by Mcfadden free throws cutting the Frankfurt lead to 46-42. However now it was time for Theodore to slam the door shut for the Fraport Skyliners. After Panteli made a steal, but missed, his failed attempt was taken advantage of as Theodore went to work scoring with his left hand and then nailing a beautiful step back jumper giving Frankfurt the 50-42 lead. Theodore was in his element and it looked all so easy for the Engelwood, New Jersey native. If he really had any sweat on his brow was only known to him and his teammates as it looked all so effortless for him. “I’m the point guard of this team. So I’m the floor leader and I feel that when the game is on the line. I want the ball in my hands. My teammates also trust and believe in me to make the winning play. I’ve always been able to finish really well with both hands. I’m a right hand jump shooter so teams like to send me left. So I just take what the defense gives me”, warned Jordan Theodore. “Theodore was one of the keys, played good at the end, made plays, hit a tough shot at the end to give them momentum, that’s how the games go, just didn’t go our way today”, stressed Thaddeus Mcfadden. Frankfurt made some free throws courtesy of Mike Morrison and John Little and Quantez Robertson put an exclamation mark on the quarterfinal ticket with a massive dunk. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jordan Theodore with 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and five steals. Johannes Voigtmann contributed eight points and 14 rebounds. AEK Larnaca was led by CJ Leslie with 16 points and 11 boards and Thaddeus Mcfadden supplied 15 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 15% from outside while AEK Larnaca shot 23% from the field and 8% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 46-38 and had 16 turnovers while AEK Larnaca had 17 turnovers. Frankfurt won the points in the paint 34-22. The Fraport Skyliners next battle the Brose Baskets Bamberg on the road and despite an ugly win in Cyprus will be ready for a showdown with the best. “We have a ton of confidence going forward and Bamberg is a really good team. We know how tough they are and we know it will be a tough game but that’s why we play. We want to be the best so we have to beat the best. And I say best because if you look at the standings they are the top team in the league but as we all know. Anyone in our league can be beat on any given night”, warned Jordan Theodore.