This coming Sunday, Germany´s team FC Bayern Munich will try to get revenge in their comfy living room from their early season loss on the road against the Fraport Skyliners. For some before the basketball has even started there will be various delicious attractions in the Audi Dome like getting to the food line early and being able to feast on a traditional 5 Euro German Brat Wurst which is the American equivalent of the good old hot dog or seeing how many Bayern Munich celebrities one can witness from the football department like former president Uli Hoeness who is one of the main reasons why the basketball department got the needed funding to make it´s course to the Beko BBL or 1996 European champion and current head of the board Matthias Sammer or any of the various players like Jerome Boateng or Holger Badstuber who have visited games in the past. When one finally has got their share of enough food and celebrity watching, then comes time for the basketball encounter at 3.00pm. On the basketball side, there are enough fine attractions to wet one´s mouth again even after the fourth Brat Wurst as one can be astonished by the big man duel of power vs elegance between John Bryant and Johannes Voigtmann or witness the ultimate team player like Aaron Doornekamp doing the nitty gritty work inside or the ultimate duel of the high flyers Quantez Robertson who is his own special airline every time he is gliding through the air and Bryce Taylor who can electrify any crowd with his crushing dunks even awakening that poor tired soul that dared to fall asleep during the game. However put all these scrumptious treats aside as the biggest and most anticipated battle will be the revival with the ex Fraport Skyliner Justin Cobbs against the potential league MVP Jordan Theodore.
It is the tale of two players that are searching for some kind of resurrection this season. Justin Cobbs was a rookie last season and helped lead the Fraport Skyliners from last to sixth place and a final 4 berth in the Eurochallenge. In the playoffs the Los Angeles native Cobbs and Fraport Skyliners were ousted by FC Bayern Munich the team that saved his season from totally sinking from basketball existence in Turkey. Cobbs had a brilliant rookie season with Frankfurt last season playing 27 games in the Beko BBL averaging 14.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 4.4apg, FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 80.3% and in the Eurochallenge averaging 16,3ppg and 6,1apg. His cool demeanor under pressure, big shots and clever decision making were the main reasons why he was able to impress last season. This season Cobbs went for the big bucks in Turkey signing with Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-BSL) where he possibly made 3-4 times more than as a rookie, but underachieved averaging 7,6ppg, 2,1rpg and 3,3apg in 27 minutes per game. Nothing came together there as the club had no chemistry and even with Sean Armand on his side, the fireworks that both had produced as rookies in Frankfurt never left the ground in Turkey and fizzled like that pathetic bottle rocket that got stuck in the can. He left Turkey with a record of 1-9 and when FC Bayern Munich lost KC Rivers to his old team Real Madrid, they were left searching for a point guard and took a chance on Cobbs. If Svetislav Pesic called coaching colleague Gordon Herbert for details on Cobbs might never be known, but talent doesn´t lie and Cobbs has the basketball goods. However still it was a bit of a risk for FC Bayern Munich as Cobbs was entering totally unchartered ground coming to an Euroleague team stacked with stars 1-12 where the American would first have to take a back seat plus a very ambitious head coach in Pesic who always expects the best. However Cobbs has risen to the occasion as he started as the back up to American top Beko BBL point guard Alex Renfroe and recently started. In 8 Beko BBL games, Cobbs has averaged 9,8ppg, 2,4rpg and 3,6apg. He started his surge with some solid games against Giessen with 10 points and ratiopharm Ulm with 16 points and then was instrumental in the cup semi-final making big plays in the second half to help defeat the Brose Baskets Bamberg. He started the last two games and led the charge with 16 points and five assists against Alba Berlin and MBC. With Cobbs getting better integrated with the FC Bayern Munich offense and Renfore playing a very solid season, Pesic has a very very potent 1-2 point guard tandem with them. His shot selection is as always very good as he doesn´t take bad shots and is shooting 50% from the two point range and 37% from the parking lot. Cobbs won´t be getting an abundance of shots with the packed offensive team anyway so just another great opportunity to keep mastering his shot selection while practicing with the best every day as well as dueling with Renfroe in practice helping sharpen his competitiveness. In a way the move from Turkey back to Germany to top team FC Bayern Munich has resurrected the career of Justin Cobbs.
On the other side of the court is Jordan Theodore who after three professional seasons of playing very well in Turkey with Antalya Buyuksehir Belediye and Mersin Buyuksehir Belediyes and in France with JL Bourg Basket where he was second in the league in assists with 6,1apg just wanted to go somewhere where he could win this season. With the Fraporet Skyliners he definitely hit the jack pot. The pride and joy of Englewood, New Jersey who never forgets from where he came from knows that this season also has resurrected his basketball career. He came to a team that already had a very strong foundation with excellent basketball players, an established brand of team basketball and a head coach in Gordon Herbert along with Klaus Perwas who have given the art of scouting their own staple which has made playing games a lot easier. Even if the club is filled with veterans who have worn a Skyliners uniform longer than Theodore like freak athlete Quantez Robertson in his seventh season, German national player Danilo Barthel in his fifth season, or Johannes Voigtmann in his fourth season, it is Theodore who is the leader on the court as the playmaker who needs the ball most when the game of the Fraport Skyliners is struggling. He has time in and time out stepped it up this season so many times making the needed plays in a crisis in the second or third quarters to get his team back on track or just took control in crunch time with his seemingly unstoppable penetrations into the lane which mostly turned into instant buckets. If you look at the stats, Theodore is the most consistent performer this season on his team. In the Beko BBL he has played 21 games averaging 14,2ppg, 3,6rpg and 4,9apg while scoring in double figures in 17 of 21 games and has owned the Europe Cup competition playing 13 games averaging 14,2ppg, 3,4rpg and 4,6apg while shooting 41% from outside and scored in double figures in 11 of 13 games. He came up very big in wins against BG Goettingen with 28 points and 10 assists, 22 points in a home win against FC Bayern Munich and 24 points in a victory against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
With a rotation of very feisty guards with John Little, Konstantin Klein, Quantez Robertson and Theodore who annoy the opponent for 40 minutes, one can argue who is the best, but it´s a team effort, but stats don´t lie in that Theodore leads the team in the BBL with 1,7spg and 1,5spg in the Europe Cup. In the last game in Giessen, the 46ers were the next victim of Frankfurt and only mustered 61 points. “They pressure you and fight hard through every screen”, stressed Giessen 46ers guard TJ DiLeo. The ex Seton Hall standout has had a great season, but somewhat seems to be off the radar in terms of being mentioned with the top point guards in the Beko BBL this season with Brad Wanamaker, Alex Renfroe, Jordan Taylor and Will Cherry. Theodore had Wanamaker´s and Renroe´s number already this season in Frankfurt wins, but is 0-2 against the Alba Berlin duo of Taylor and Cherry, but people are noticing especially opponents that the Frankfurt guard is doing something special with the Fraport Skyliners. “Jordan Theodore is definitely up there with the best guards in the league. I think he’s an MVP candidate especially because of the season Frankfurt is having. He plays on both ends of the court. And as you saw tonight, he can get very hot in any game”, warned ex Temple(NCAA) guard TJ DiLeo. Theodore knows now that the respect is present, but as any hard working player is never satisfied or will not lose the key to the lab. “It’s really nice to hear but that’s just one guy. I’m happy he respects my game but I have a lot more to prove”, warned Jordan Theodore. The American who is putting up MVP numbers at the moment still has very interesting exciting last months to go where he wants to win his first professional title and team it´s third. “As we get closer and closer to the playoffs and Fibacup top 8, I know how important it is for me to be at my best. So I will continue to do whatever my team needs me to do in order for us to win”, stressed Jordan Theodore. With the battle of the resurrection guys slated for this Sunday only one can win and at the moment Theodore is staying very neutral, but surely will have done his homework on Cobbs before Sunday. “I’m always excited to play against another good point guard. Who doesn’t love competition?! I don’t know much about Justin. Just that he was a Skyliner and he played really well here last season. I’m looking forward to the matchup“, added Jordan Theodore.
Even if the revival of ex Fraport Skyliner Justin Cobbs and Jordan Theodore will be played out on the court, there will be eight other guys going hard on the court as well. FC Bayern Munich come into the game in second place with a record of 17-6 while the Fraport Skyliners rest in fifth place with a record of 16-7. The club had a 8 game winning streak in the Beko BBL from mid December to the end of January, but since then have been searching to find their form as they have a 2-2 record. They got revenge on their bitter cup final loss to Alba Berlin in their living room by destroying them 96-65 and beat Braunschweig easily 91-70, but then got smoked by ratiopharm Ulm and had a very uncharachteristic loss on neutral ground in Leipzig to 2004 Fiba cup winner MBC 93-90 where nobody showed up to play. The Fraport Skyliners return to Munich where they played in the cup top 4 three weeks ago riding a two game winning streak with convincing wins against ratiopharm Ulm and the Giessen 46ers where their defense was spot on again giving up an average of 67 points per game. Defense has been the staple of the Fraport Skyliners for years and with each new season, it grows a bit more as teams continue to witness this season. “There is no secret. We take pride in our defense. We know that defense wins championships and that’s our goal this season”, warned Fraport Skyliners point guard Jordan Theodore. In the first meeting this season against FC Bayern Munich, the Fraport Skyliners won 74-69 as Jordan Theodore turned on the Vinnie Johnson microwave as he scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half. “Theodore hit crazy shots. He was in the zone and like a microwave. Munich didn´t do a good job keeping him out of his comfort zone. When you compete at this level and against a team like Munich you have to know what to do to win and Theodore knew what he had to do and once he got going took that to his advantage getting in a groove and securing the win”, said 2010 Eurochallenge winner Jason Boone. Both teams didn´t shoot well and had the same number of rebounds, but the difference was Jordan Theodore and the tough defense that kept the high scoring powerhouse FC Bayern Munich under 70 points. However almost four months later, FC Bayern Munich is a different team as it has added Justin Cobbs, Chad Toppert and Vitalis Chicoko while the Fraport Skyliners rookie Philip Scrubb and will bring a lot of motivation as they want to go into game one of their Europe Cup quarterfinal against Maccabi Rishon Le Zion next week with a lot of self confidence with a win in Munich. “ Munich has added some good pieces, but we’ve improved a lot on the defensive end. The key to winning is for us to continue to play team defense and move the ball on offense. That’s Skyliner basketball”, warned Jordan Theodore.