It wasn´t all to long ago where the Fraport Skyliners couldn´t buy themselves a win as who could forget the second half of the 2013-2014 season where the 2004 Beko BBL champion seemed to grow this nasty phobia that they were unable to win games in crunch time as their reluctance to pull out close battles in that time was about as unlikely as any sane basketball fan now to doubt the possibility of Durant and Westbrook of achieving the upset of the Golden State Warriors. However in the last two years, the Fraport Skyliners have had a steady progress and development in the players play and team chemistry that has put the team into a viable position to reach the Beko BBL final again something they last did in 2010. What the club has produced in the last two months has been extraordinary as they have constructed a 12 game winning streak in the Beko BBL, brought home the Fiba Europe Cup title and swept the helpless and caged Alba Berlin who wanted to fly, fly, fly away, but instead were stopped by the bars in their nest penitentiary. If someone had boldly predicted before the season that Frankfurt would sweep and totally lock down the Alba Berlin offense to an average of 65 points in the three game series, one would have declared you as crazy. The Fraport Skyliners may have been idle for almost a week, but were able to stich up their walking wounded and rest while ratiopharm Ulm had to recuperate faster from their exciting 3-1 series win against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were the last three games were decided by a combined total of nine points. Some may have been thinking, if one can sweep the mighty Alba Berlin then why not ratiopharm Ulm? Ratiopharm Ulm entered the Fraport arena with a very strong roster and with their heart and soul diminutive German national player Per Guenther who is their motor and their own Godzilla Raymar Morgan who had not been a beast in the Oldenburg series, but a super beast averaging 24 points and nine rebounds in the four game series. Ratiopharm Ulm wanted to steal the Frankfurt home court advantage on the road and did shocking the Fraport Skyliners in game one 90-86 in OT as they were the first team in five and a half months to depart the Fraport arena with a win. It was a first in many areas for fans and players to bear as the Fraport Skyliners couldn´t execute and hit open shots as if they were on the beach and missed the water and played defense as if it was the first day of training camp as their Skyliner brand of basketball was nonexistent. Fraport Skyliner American Jordan Theodore who enjoys to take over in crunch time couldn´t get the job done in OT and was the first to point a finger at himself. “I didn´t play well at all. I have to play better and will in game two. We didn´t execute on offense and just got beat over and over on defense. In the playoffs, you need to play with a lot of intensity, but we didn´t. We weren´t ready to play. I give a lot of credit to Ulm for getting the win. We lost the game in the first half”, explained Englewood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore. One may have thought, that ratiopharm Ulm may be more fatigued after the hard four game series against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, but they were ready to play from the jump and just played an overall solid game and were the first team in months to have scouted correctly in making so much so difficult for Frankfurt. “We played hard tonight. We knew that Frankfurt does a great job with their high low play with Voigtmann and Barthel and I felt we did a good job taking that away. On offense we did a good job executing despite Frankfurt keying in on me and not letting me get more shots”, stated ex Boston Celtics shooting guard Chris Babb.
Only 4,210 fans showed up in the living room of the Fraport Skyliners, but two German basketball legends were on hand with Mr Skyliner Pascal Roller who won two titles with the club and ex North Carolina forward Ademola Okulaja who currently is the agent of Atlanta Hawk Dennis Schroeder. Frankfurt started Mike Morrison instead of Johannes Voigtmann to combat Raymar Morgan with the American´s athletic abilityIn the first quarter, fans were able to witness classic playoff basketball as there were nine lead changes and no club could unleash themselves from the other. In the first few minutes ratiopharm Ulm got support from ex West Virginia(NCAA) player Da Sean Butler who dropped a trey and work horse and ex Michigan State forward Raymar Morgan made free throws while Quantez Roberston scored inside and made free throws. Theodore than gave Frankfurt the lead back as he finished off his bread and butter in the paint with a lay in and 6-5 Frankfurt advantage. Morgan and Butler kept disrupting the Frankfurt defense with buckets while Frankfurt got baskets from Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel to tie the game at 10-10. Barthel then made a tip in while Voigtmann was fed inside with the hammering two handed dunk as the Frankfurt high low game was working well here, but ratiopharm Ulm countered with a Morgan lay in as ex Charlotte(NCAA) guard Pierria Henry supplied him with the perfect lob pass for the 16-15 Ulm lead. Theodore closed out the first quarter with a swift lay in as the Fraport Skyliners trailed 18-17. “We weren´t surprised how well Ulm came out to play. They showed that they could win in Oldenburg twice. They were very aggressive and came to compete and we let them do what they wanted to”, stressed ex Carleton guard Phillip Scrubb. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 60% from the field and 40% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the 11-4 rebound edge and had three turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, ratiopharm Ulm was able to go on a run and take the lead, but not ultimately run away from the Fraport Skyliners as they kept the lead under double digits. In the first few minutes despite getting some instant scoring production from Henry as he scored two field goals, the Fraport Skyliners were able to get the lead back as ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson made a trey which was the first of the game for Frankfurt and Barthel made a turn-around jumper as Frankfurt led 27-24. German national player Per Guenther had seemingly been invisible in the first 13 minutes and then reappeared out of nowhere hitting his first shot from downtown tying the score at 27-27. Scrubb then scored eight points in a span of two minutes as he nailed a three pointer and made four free throws as Frankfurt led 33-29. However this spurt of offensive production didn´t faze ratiopharm Ulm as they buckled down on defense and rode on a 11-0 run to take the 40-33 advantage. In the run, the club got vital support from Butler who nailed another three pointer as he found his touch early and got a 20 footer and fast break bucket from ex Tuebingen forward Augustine Rubit. Babb and ex N.Dakota St. (NCAA) shooting guard Taylor Braun hit free throws. Frankfurt stayed composed and didn´t allow this sudden momentum from ratiopharm Ulm let them take control of the game as they got buckets from Mike Morrison, a Aaron Doornekamp tip in and Theodore pull up jumper. Frankfurt understood in this phase that when their three wasn´t falling, then bang the ball inside and they executed. Ratiopharm Ulm got production from Butler from the parking lot once again and free throws from Rubit as they strolled into the break with the 45-39 lead. “We gave up way too many points with 27 in the second quarter. We didn´t rotate well and they moved the ball well and knocked down shots. We didn´t play any defense”, stressed Mr Canada Phillip Scrubb. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 62% from the field and 45% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 17% from outside. Frankfurt had the 16-13 rebound edge and five turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had five turnovers.
In the third quarter, the game continued to be exciting and tight, but Frankfurt couldn´t recapture the lead back as they twice tied the game. Theodore got the Fraport Skyliners on the board first with a pull up jumper on the fast break to cut the Ulm lead to 45-41, but then it was 2010 Miami Heat draft pick Butler then once again displayed his three point shooting savoy as he extended the Ulm lead to 48-41. Frankfurt came out in the second half with an overall seemingly better focus and confidence and used it going to a 6-0 run to cut the Ulm lead to 48-47. It was the German twin towers of Voigtmann and Barthel who combined for three baskets. However ratiopharm Ulm continued to get key buckets whenever Frankfurt was threatening to reclaim the lead back as Guenther hit a trey to give ratiopharm Ulm the 51-47 lead. Barthel then muscled inside for a lay in and Braun made a runner high off the glass as ratiopharm Ulm led 53-49. Frankfurt continued to be on the door step of ratiopharm Ulm, but it seemed like they always had an answer from different players as Rubit made a jumper and free throws as Frankfurt trailed 57-52. Frankfurt then surprised ratiopharm Ulm with a 5-0 run to tie the game at 57-57 as Morrison scored inside off the Doornekamp bullet pass and Scrubb teed off on a trey. Rubit continued to be aggressive scoring insde and drew a foul and connected from the free throw line as Frankfurt trailed 60-59. Robertson nailed a three pointer, but didn´t get the shot off on time as it didn´t count so Frankfurt was still trailing. “Coach Herbert told us at halftime just to compete and not let Ulm outwork us. We finally got more stops and got out on transition”, added Canadian national player Phillip Scrubb. “Any good team like Frankfurt will make shots, and they did that better in the third quarter. We just stayed consistent and stuck to our guns and made plays”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm guard Chris Babb. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 51% from the field and 46% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 20% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 26-20 rebound edge and eight turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had 11 turnovers.
The fourth quarter remained a battle as Frankfurt brought the game into overtime. Scrubb got Frankfurt the lead back with a three pointer as Frankfurt led 62-60. However ratiopharm Ulm didn´t waste anytime reacting by swiping the lead back with a 6-0 run as ex BG Goettingen forward Raymar Morgan nailed three free throws and Guenther hit a tough three pointer as Frankfurt couldn´t react to his quick release as ratiopharm Ulm led 66-62. However Frankfurt continued to battle back going on a 8-4 run to win back the lead 70-68. This was a very strong shooting faze of Frankfurt as 2010 Eurochalleneg winner John Little and Barthel hit from the parking lot and Voigtmann connected on a 20 footer. After Babb tied the score at 70-70 with free throws, it was Robertson hooking up with Morrison on the massive alley-oop dunk for the 72-70 Frankfurt advantage. Morgan then hit free throws as the game was dead locked 72-72. In the last two minutes, it was money ball time for Jordan Theodore as he scored twice on the penetration with his right and left hand giving Frankfurt the 76-73 lead. However at this time, Frankfurt wanted too much and didn´t close out the game in a calm fashion as Morgan made a lay in to cut the Frankfurt lead to 76-75. Then Theodore coughed up the ball which led to a Guenther three pointer as ratiopharm Ulm had snatched back the advantage at 78-76. With 20 seconds to go, it was Theodore time as he made up for his last turnover sending the game into overtime 78-78 with a lay in going to his left. “I made some buckets, but also missed shots and had turnovers. I have to get better”, warned Jordan Theodore. “I didn´t try to do too much in the fourth as point guard, but space the floor and get the ball to guys. Theodore was big in the end getting us to the OT”, stressed Phillip Scrubb. “Frankfurt hit big shots. Theodore is the back bone of their team and took over in the last minutes”, stressed ex NBA player Chris Babb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 26% from outside while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 45% from the field and 41% from outside. Frankfurt had the 34-28 rebound edge and 12 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had 13 turnovers.
In the overtime period all it took was one run which helped propel ratiopharm Ulm to the game one win. Theodore started off the OT period with a three pointer and it seemed like that might be the burst of energy that the Fraport Skyliners needed, but two minutes later after a few missed shots and the hot shooting of Guenther, the home team were in a hole deep enough that they couldn´t crawl out of anymore. Ratiopharm Ulm went on a 9-0 run to regain the 87-81 lead as Rubit made a lay up and free throw and Guenther scorched Frankfurt with two deadly three pointers that made the difference. “We couldn´t get stops. Guenther did what he does best making two three pointers. We have to do a better job of taking that away from him in game two”, warned Phillip Scrubb. “Guenther did what he has been doing all season long hitting big shots. He has the confidence in himself as we do in him to make those kind of shots. We did a better job not letting them crash the boards and just rebounding better. We packed in the defense and let them only take contested shots”, stressed ex Iowa State(NCAA) guard Chris Babb. Doornekamp hit a big three pointer to cut the ratiopharm Ulm lead to 87-84. Scrubb then forced Braun to turn over the ball, but Theodore made only two of four free throws while Rubit made both and Guenther made one of two sealing the win for ratiopharm Ulm. “It was a very interesting game and key in the OT period was that Ulm were comfortable in taking shots while Frankfurt was always down on the shot clock when taking their shots”, stressed ex ex teammate of Danilo Barthel with USC Heideleberg Japhet Mcneil. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Augustine Rubit with 24 points. Per Guenther added 19 points and Da Sean Butler contributed 18 points while Raymar Morgan had 12 points and seven rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jordan Theodore with 22 points. Phillip Scrubb added 14 points and Danilo Barthel 13 points. Mike Morrison and Johannes Voigtmann chipped in with 10 points a piece. Ratipharm Ulm shot 45% from the field and 44% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 28% from the three point line. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 39-33 and had 13 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had 15 turnovers.