At first glance when watching a Jordan Theodore on the court, one most likely marvels first with his powerful, masterful, and unstoppable penetration that he can do at any moment in a game and gain instant points and is as automatic as it is for turning on a light switch. If the room is dark and you want to see better turn on the light. If the Fraport Skyliners are struggling and need a burst of energy and points, hand the ball to the ex Seton Hall guard because he will get you that bucket right away. However another big strength of his game is his defense and if you think about the best Frankfurt Skyliner defenders one most likely mentions Quantez Robertson and John Little first, but it is probably Jordan Theodore that is the most potent defender even if he doesn´t get the credit. Theodore leads the team in steals in the Beko BBL and Fiba Europe Cup and has notched steals in 25 of 37 games and is always a pest getting in passing lanes and just having unbelievable hands ready at all times. It is often the defense of Theodore that sparks the team offense and gets them in transition to get easy buckets. It is the play of Theodore and every other Skyliner on defense that has been the secret to the success of the team this season as everything that happens on the court revolves first with their defense. With their push defense and always help mentality that has gained them the #1 spot in the Beko BBL and Fiba Europe cup in team defense as they have allowed 69 and 63 points per game in the respective competitions. Frankfurt has played their best defense in the Fiba Europe Cup in their last three games against AEK and Maccabi Rischon as they have given up an average of only 53 points per game. With one win away from gaining the ticket to the Fiba Europe Cup top 4, the Fraport Skyliners had to travel to Israel and put up with a boisterous crowd of Maccabi Rischon fans and met a never dying Israeli team that trailed by as much as 14 points in the first half, but stepped it up in the second half winning the game 88-84 in OT. Everyone was awaiting another defensive masterpiece, but instead the 88 points were the most points that the Fraport Skyliners had given up in Fiba Europe Cup play and the second most this season after the loss to Alba Berlin. A 8-0 run to start the OT period got Maccabi Rishon in flow as they survived the mini Frankfurt comeback at the end. Maccabi Rishon was powered by ex George Mason center Darryl Monroe who was known in school as being the funny police as he controlled any joke that was told and if he laughed then it was clear that it was a good joke. There was no funny police or joking on his mind in this game, but he was all business and head of the mad police and he was on a mission and angry to force a game three and had an amazing game with 28 points, 14 boards and nine assists leading his team to a do or die game in Frankfurt. If Frankfurt had converted at a higher percentage at the free throw line, they most likely would be in the Fiba Europe Cup final 4 now. Maccabi Rishon showed a sense of urgency and were rewarded with a do or die ticket in Frankfurt. This game was very important because we felt we didn’t cone to play the first game, so this game we wanted to prove we are a better team than we showed. Coach did a great job making adjustments throughout the game. Him and the other coach really had us prepared”, stressed ex Xavier guard Mark Lyons. “We didn’t play well enough to win tonight. They were a better team for 45 mins. We made some crucial mistakes that cost us the game”, added Fraport Skyliner Jordan Theodore.
In the first few minutes of the first quarter, it looked like the Fraport Skyliners were at a basketball business dinner as they were focused and took a quick 10-3 lead. In the run, Frankfurt hit quick three pointers from ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore and ex Auburn Guard Quantez Robertson while Heidelberg native Danilo Barthel made free throws and made a tip in. Maccabi Rishon was playing a zone that Frankfurt had no problems cracking, but it wouldn´t last for the full 45 minutes. However basketball is a game of runs and Maccabi Rishon finally found their rhythm going on a slick 13-4 run to take their first lead of the game at 16-14. What was so fascinating about the run was that the last 9 points were without ex Arizona guard Mark Lyons who had already been hit with his third foul at the 5.27 mark of the first quarter. Maccabi Rishon got a lot of support from work horse Darryl Monroe that contributed three buckets. Lyons also scored as did Ben Chimol on a runner and he then fed Israeli freak athlete Shawn Dawson for an alley-oop dunk. Maccabi was mixing it up well on offense as Frankfurt often had to guess and taking care of the matchups on defense and making the paint area very clogged. The runs continued as the Fraport Skyliners got out of their less scoring funk closing out the first quarter with a 9-2 run to lead 23-18 after 10 minutes. In the Frankfurt run, the 2004 Beko BBL winner was led by Jordan Theodore who scored himself off a steal and coast to coast run and latter fetched up a dime waiting patiently until Mike Morrison had the good position and riffled him the ball for the hard two hand stuff. Three time Beko BBL allstar Johannes Voigtmann nailed a timely three pointer.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners began again with a lot of intensity that led to their potent offense executing at will as they stormed out on a 13-5 run to extend their lead to a more comfortable 36-23 advantage. In the Frankfurt run, the 2000 Beko BBL cup winner got massive production from four different players. What became more difficult in the fourth quarter and OT, was still a piece of cake for Theodore as he flew through traffic for an easy basket. Frankfurt also got important scoring in bunches from two time Beko BBl slam dunk finalist Quantez Robertson as he did it on both ends of the floor with a trey and steal and coast to coast drive. Frankfurt who won the bench points on the night 33-21 got two big buckets from German Johannes Richter who showed his never ending aggressiveness on the offensive glass as he made two put backs. Monroe continued to stay very active on offense as he scored twice in the paint to cut the Frankfurt lead to 38-27. Theodore and Ben Chimol traded three pointers, but Frankfurt still had the big advantage at 41-30. There were many pretty plays in the game, but Frankfurt got their last points of the first half off a Theodore steal as he fed Robertson who was off to the races, but couldn´t finish cleanly and just layed the ball high of the glass that teammate Voigtmann stuffed home. Dawson closed out the second quarter with free throws, but Frankfurt still led comfortably 43-32 at the break.
In the third quarter, Maccabi Rishon started to execute their offense in a more consistent way always staying on the door step of the Fraport Skyliners trailing by seven points after 30 minutes. Maccabi Rishon started off the third quarter on a furious 10-4 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 47-42. Canadian national player Aaron Doornekamp got Frankfurt on the board first with an offensive rebound and lay in. However then it was all Maccabi Rishon as they increased their self- confidence with every new bucket and stop on defense. Dawson and Monroe used their aggressiveness for easy baskets inside, American Kevin Palmer who once led the Greek first division in rebounds and steals made a big steal and lay in and Mark Lyons was doing his usual of getting buckets as he made a 10 footer pull up on transition and then nailed a step back over Danilo Barthel. However one ability that Englewood New Jersey native Jordan Theodore has is often making the big shot when an opponent is clawing closer as he hit a three pointer for the 50-42 Frankfurt lead. However the Maccabi Rishon offense was flowing and little runs were produced as Kevin Palmer nailed a trey and Monroe made a beautiful shovel pass out of the double team finding Lyons who was cutting to the hole for the easy two as Frankfurt led only 50-47. However Frankfurt still had some offense of their own ready to unleash as Theodore and Konstantin Klein dropped three pointers while Maccabi Rishon continued to stay in the game through buckets from Monroe as they trailed Frankfurt 59-52 after 30 minutes.
In the fourth quarter is where the Fraport Sklyiners lost control of the game. A few months ago, they let FC Porto back in the game on the road, but escaped with a victory, but against a higher quality team like Maccabi Rishon, it was a lot tougher to recover. Maccabi Rishon started off the fourth quarter with a devastating 9-2 run to dead lock the game at 61-61. In the run, the Israeli club was fortified on offense by the two veterans Lyons who nailed a three pointer and Monroe who hit free throws and a lay in. Ben Chimol also showed his effort and fight getting two own offensive rebounds and putting the ball home. Frankfurt kept the lead 65-61 as Klein found Voigtmann for the hard dunk and Canadian Phillip Scrubb made free throws. Two turnovers by Klein led to a Lyons step back jumper and Palmer free throws as Maccabi Rishon grabbed the lead back at 66-65. Both teams would trade the lead three times as Theodore made free throws and Dawson and Scrubb swapped three pointers as Frankfurt led 70-69. Lyons tied the game at 70-70 with a free throw. Monroe then made free throws which was matched by Scrubb sending the game into OT at 72-72.
The Fraport Skyliners lost control of the game in the fourth quarter and ultimately lost the game in the first three minutes of the OT as they gave up a back breaking 8-0 run to give Maccabi Rishon the commanding 80-72 lead. In the run, Maccabi Rishon just executed brilliantly and stopped the first seven possessions of Frankfurt as they couldn´t break through the aggressive and always moving zone as they lacked the needed intensity at both ends of the court. In the run, it was Nitzan Hanochi who registered three huge assists that gave Maccabi Rishon the needed momentum to get the lead and hold it. Palmer started the run with free throws, Monroe continued to be in beast mode making an offensive rebound and put back, Dawson threw down an alley oop offering from Hanochi and then found the Israeli again back door for the easy lay up. The Fraport Skyliners were down eight, but continued to fight back with Klein free throws and a giant Voigtmann three pointer cutting the Israeli lead to 82-77. After Palmer free throws, Frankfurt got free throws from Theodore and a lay in from Morrison as he was served a bullet pass on a silver platter by Scrubb to cut the lead to 84-81. However Frankfurt just gave up too many chances as Morrison missed consecutive free throws. Frankfurt still had one last shimmer of hope as Klein scored in traffic to cut the lead to 84-83 with 10 seconds to go. However Dawson and Lyons closed out the game with free throws sending the series back to Frankfurt for a do or die encounter on March 31st. “The key in overtime was to get stops on defense and move the ball on offense”, stressed Mark Lyons. “They outscored us and made free throws”, stressed Jordan Theodore. Maccabi Rishon was led by Darryl Monroe with 28 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Mark Lyons steered 20 points, Shawn Dawson chipped in with 19 points and three blocks and Kevin Palmer had 11 points, eight boards and five steals. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jordan Theodore with 27 points, seven assists and four steals. Phillip Scrubb added 11 points and Johannes Voigtmann 10 points. Maccabi Rishon shot 48% from the field and 30% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 32% from outside. Maccabi Rishon led the rebound battle 41-40, but had 19 turnovers while Frankfurt had 17 turnovers.