In the last weeks, the Fraport Skyliners have had very exciting times first reaching the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 to be played in Chalon at the end of the month and were in London, England for a 4 day team building while for Phoenix Hagen the last weeks have been rather more stressful as they suffered the loss to team player and inside presence DJ Covington who went down against the Brose Baskets Bamberg with a brutal season ending injury, had six points withdrawn from their season from the Beko BBL, but last week finally had a bright spot again in their less than satisfactory season as they celebrated a massive 102-82 win against MBC at home. Both teams came into the contest on a rare Thursday night with wins, but one thing that the Fraport Skyliners had to do without was a big tall 201cm 221 pound fellow who always stands out in a crowd wearing his benny cap. The big man setting his own fashion statement is South Carolina native Martinis Woody who would come to Frankfurt on many occasions during the season and make the return and back 288 kilometer trek from Karlsruhe. Last season freak athlete Quantez Robertson would often make the short 23 kilometer trip to Langen to watch Woody play. Five days ago, Woody was key in the win of PS Karlsruhe in Limburg where he helped the team move up to the Pro B league. However this season, the low key American who moonlighted as a kind of babysitter for Quantez Robertson´s girl during the game was more than in a hurry to get back stateside as he wasn´t in the Fraport arena to witness the newest victim of the Fraport Skyliners. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game in fifth place with a record of 20-8 and Phoenix Hagen in 11th place with a record of 12-17 and didn´t need the support of Martinis Woody as they had everything in control after a small lull in the first quarter whipping Phoenix Hagen 86-70. As usual, the Fraport Skyliners got a good lead and then were able to wear down their opponent in the second half. “We had a tough start and we came out slow and engaged. They were able to play their brand of basketball which is a few passes and then quick shots. Then we were able to settle down and you have to give our second unit a lot of credit. They came to play. We showed extreme toughness when we were down continuing to battle back and get the lead. We were able to carry the momentum into the second half and win the game”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Jordan Theodore. Phoenix Hagen had a potent start, but were unable to keep up the intensity for 40 minutes. “We jumped out on them well at the start, but Frankfurt then subbed and that lite a fire with them. We were never able to find a rhythm in the half-court offense. Frankfurt have very physical guards and bigs and we just couldn´t adjust to that”, added Phoenix Hagen guard Brandon Jefferson. Despite not playing in the second half and possibly playing the least minutes ever in a Fraport Skyliners jersey with 12 minutes and 53 seconds, ex Auburn guard Quantez Robertson had a lightening response ready for why there was no need for his friend Martinis Woody to be at the game. “The kids weren´t here tonight, so there was no need for the babysitter Woody”, smiled Quantez Robertson.
Only 2,260 fans showed up for a rare Thursday night contest, but for fans that had the pathetic excuse of staying home to watch Dortmund-Liverpool, they could of still seen the miracle finish even if they had run into traffic after the game as that game had had a late 9pm start. The Fraport Skyliners entered the game after an eight day rest and four day trip to London, but the club didn´t come out energized, but rather lethargic and were quickly down 9-2 as Phoenix Hagen were able to practice their game of getting down the court rapidly and then taking the quick shots before Frankfurt could set up in their half-court defense. Phoenix Hagen got three quick strikes from Downtown from ex Fileni BPA Jesi (Italy-A2 Gold) forward Ivan Elliot, German 19 year old Jonas Grof and ex KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) diminutive 175cm guard Brandon Jefferson. After German national player Johannes Voigtmann made a lay in, it was Jefferson again that got free and drained a trey giving Phoenix Hagen the 12-5 advantage. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert took a time out and subbed out the starting five and that was almost the end of the working day for the German twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel who would be inserted only once more in the game. The Frankfurt bench came in and took over the slack and started a magical comeback. Frankfurt ignited a powerful 10-0 run to take their first lead at 15-12. They got valuable production from Mr Canada Phillip Scrubb who keeps proving he is so much more than just a clutch three point shooter as he has really started to take after teammate Jordan Theodore in that he can score at will at almost anytime on the penetration as he made a fingertip roll in with his left hand. St Petersburg Florida native Mike Morrison made a turn around shot in the run and free throws and Jordan Theodore scored inside without difficultly as usual finding daylight and finishing with ease. Frankfurt did a great job on the defensive end totally closing out David Bell and forcing three turnovers in a row while the offense had a healthy rhythm. Ex Artland Dragon Adam Hess stopped the Frankfurt run knocking down a three pointer to tie the game at 15-15. However Frankfurt kept up their offensive flow going closing out the first quarter with a 8-3 run to lead 23-18 after one quarter. Johannes Richter started the run with a two handed dunk which was followed by Theodore and Scrubb pull up jumpers and Mike Morrison closed out the first quarter with a massive alley-oop dunk where Theodore served up a gem of a pass as he was falling to his left and somehow got the pass up in Morrison´s sweet spot. “The subs didn´t really change anything, but they just came out tougher than the starters did. We pride ourselves on defense and the second unit did a great job on the defensive end”, stressed Englewood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 60% from the field and 0% from outside while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 40% from the field and 71% from outside. Phoenix Hagen had the 9-6 rebound edge, but seven turnovers while Frankfurt had two turnovers.
The second quarter was very tight as the Fraport Skyliners could never lead by more than four points, until the last few minutes where it became the Theodore and Morrison show. Scrubb started off the second quarter with free throws extending the Frankfurt lead to 25-18, but basketball is a game of runs and Phoenix Hagen escaped out on a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 25-23 as ex Belmont forward JJ Mann hit a three pointer and Ivan Elliot hit a bank shot runner over Voigtmann. Those two Americans kept up their offensive rampage as Mann hit a fade away and Elliot a lay in tying the game at 27-27. Phoenix Hagen was adjusting well to the Frankfurt half-court defense and gaining more confidence with every made shot. Phoenix Hagen also was controlling the offensive board and getting extra possessions while defending the three point line as Frankfurt still had not made a trey. Phoenix Hagen would get the lead back one more time, but never lead again as Jefferson hit a step back jumper which was matched by a Aaron Doornekamp jumper to tie the game at 29-29. The Fraport Skyliners kept the tight lead getting free throws from Morrison and Doornekamp while Phoenix Hagen got production from 22 year old 202cm forward Moritz Krume with a lay in getting fed perfectly from Jefferson who was already in midair ready for the step back, but found the German cutting to the hole and Mann nailed a bomb from downtown cutting the Frankfurt lead to 37-34. The Fraport Skyliners then shifted a few gears up closing out the second quarter with a 11-4 run to lead 48-37 at the break. In the run, Theodore continued to dominate inside scoring twice at ease as if someone switched on the light telling him time to do some work. Scrubb also did like Theodore scoring inside while being bumped out of bounds and John Little scored inside. Morrison took advantage of the size factor inside getting another two handed stuff as Theodore served him the dime. “Morrison was big and can always be a game changer on offense and defense. Even if he makes a mistake, he makes up for it with his athletic ability. Theodore can always make the big plays when you give him the ball”, stressed Phillip Scrubb. “Frankfurt was relentless in the second quarter. Morrison got big free throws and dunks that got the crowd going. We had too many turnovers which led to easy Frankfurt buckets”, stressed ex Metro St. (NCAA2) guard Brandon Jefferson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 60% from the field and 0% from the three point line while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 41% from the field and 47% from the three point line. Phoenix Hagen had the 19-14 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners finally started to pull away and hit three pointers as they had been 0/4 in the first half from downtown. The Fraport Skyliners broke out in the second half with a 14-5 run to extend their lead to 62-43. In the run, Frankfurt got three three pointers started by 2010 Eurochallenge winner John Little and Scrubb nailed two three pointers. It didn´t help Phoenix Hagen either that they had suffered their fifth team foul at the 7.14 minute mark which allowed Scrubb to make two free throws. On a night that showcased many beautiful buckets, the best of the evening may have been the easy layup by Theodore. It wasn´t so much the way the American scored, but how the play was started. Scrubb who looks up to NBA legend Steve Nash in the passing department saved the ball on the baseline and was out of bounds in midair and passed the ball around his back to Doornekamp who then fed Theodore. “The only option I had was to pass the ball behind my back so I took the gamble. It was a random play, but somehow worked out for us”, added Phillip Scrubb. “Scrubb made something out of nothing. Sometimes when everything is going your way anything can happen”, stressed Jordan Theodore. Even if Phoenix Hagen got some valuable baskets from Mann and Grof inside, Scrubb remained hot scoring inside and out and extending the Frankfurt lead to 69-50 with a three pointer. Canadian ex Acadia University (CIS) forward Owen Klassen reached the free throw line three times getting four points, but Frankfurt reserve guard Max Merz used the moment and hit a three pointer upping his self confidence for the fourth quarter as Frankfurt led comfortably 74-54. “Scrubb got hot and I found him a couple of times in the corner. I was so cold and couldn´t throw a rock into the ocean. We have five guys on the court at all times and each guy contribuited”, expressed Jordan Theodore. Scrubb nailed 13 points in the third quarter and as always was humble about his own stellar play. “I feel we had more open shots as a team in the third quarter. Theodore got me open a few times. I feel like I need to shoot when I get the ball not to disrupt the flow of the offense”, stated Phillip Scrubb. “Frankfurt had very good ball movement and always found Scrubb and he was hot in that period”, added Brandon Jefferson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 52% from the field and 31% from the parking lot while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 39% from the field and 42% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 31-23 rebound edge and eight turnovers while Phoenix Hagen had 13 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners had a big lead and Gordon Herbert relied on his bench and let the kids like Johannes Richter and Max Merz get extra playing time keeping them in despite Phoenix Hagen winning the fourth quarter 16-13. Phoenix Hagen head coach Ingo Freyer also knew that the game was as good as sealed for Frankfurt as he rested some of his Americans for the important Saturday game in Tuebingen and played his kids and at times having five Germans on the court. German big man Johannes Richter got Frankfurt on the board first with a lay in and free throw extending the Frankfurt lead to 77-54. Phoenix Hagen continued to get hustle buckets inside as Elliot and Klassen connected to cut the Frankfurt lead to 77-58. Frankfurt was led at this point by Richter and Merz as the big man muscled home an old school hook shot and Merz hit a pretty bank shot in traffic as Frankfurt led 81-58. Klassen continued to be in a grove scoring inside and making a two handed dunk as Phoenix Hagen keep gnawing at the Frankfurt lead, but couldn´t make any ground, because they couldn´t fabricate any stops as Frankfurt led 81-62. In the last few minutes Frankfurt got another bucket from Merz as he made a difficult off balance shot and Scrubb hit a step back jumper. Phoenix Hagen got two more buckets inside from Grof and a three pointer from German talent Niklas Geske. After the game a content Max Merz was confronted with the question that this game would probably be the only time in his professional career where he would have more points 7 than a Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel, Konstantin Klein and Quantez Robertson together who all combined for only five points and the German tried to hide a smile and answer the question with dignity. “It was nice to play some minutes and show what I can do on the court. My self confidence rose with every shot I took. We are a very versatile team and with everyone being able to score, it just makes the rest stronger on the court”, smiled Max Merz. “Merz is a really good player. He competes in practice every day to get better. I think that if he would get more minutes that he would be able to produce at this level. It is just tough for him with this deep team”, warned Jordan Theodore. “Coach rested our legs for the game in Tuebingen on Saturday. Our German guys like Geske and Grof held their own. Our Germans get minutes and have confidence, but playing against Frankfurt gave even them more confidence”, warned Brandon Jefferson. . A big factor for Frankfurt keeping Phoenix Hagen to 70 points was keeping David Bell to an unbelievable 0 points on 0/8 shootingThe Fraport Skyliners were led by Phillip Scrubb with 26 points. Jordan Theodore and Mike Morrison chipped in with 12 points a piece and Aaron Doornekamp added 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Phoenix Hagen was led by Brandon Jefferson with 13 points. Ivan Elliot supplied 11 points and five rebounds while Owen Klassen and JJ Mann chipped in with 10 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners shot 49% from the field and 25% from outside while Phoenix Hagen shot 40% from the field and 36% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 40-33 and had 10 turnovers while Phoenix Hagen coughed up the ball 14 times.