After the seemingly alarming 85-54 annihilation of ratiopharm Ulm, the Fraport Skyliners didn´t have their usual big celebration routine when they all lie on the floor and perform the Humba dance to the delight of the fans. Instead the players were more reserved and in business like mode which wasn´t surprising since the club still had their backs to the wall and still on a steep climb to get over the annoying hump that ratiopharm Ulm had inflicted upon them. Jordan Theodore had a different mimic than usual as he wasn´t so much the confident tell all story teller about the game, but more reflective and thankful that his season was prolonged and just looking forward one game at a time while his teammate Mike Morrison had his usual post game demeanor of gliding through the arena corridors in a graceful, but quiet manner having unending thoughts about the game and just looking forward to the next challenge in Ulm. In his thoughts, Morrison might also have had NBA player Mareese Speights who has some similarities with the Frankfurt big man in that both come from the beautiful coastal city of St Petersburg in Florida, play the center position, have been at some point in their careers journey men in the NBA and Europe, but as of late found a second home in Oakland and Frankfurt as Speights is playing his third season with the Warriors and Morrison his second with the Fraport Skyliners. The other crucial similarity that both possess at the moment is that they have helped contribute to that 9 lives feeling that both the Golden State Warriors and Fraport Skyliners have had as both have been in a hole with their respective teams fighting to survive in their series. In the last days, it has been Golden State that have set the tone in the comeback trail with the Fraport Skyliners following their lead winning slowly digging themselves out of desperation. With Golden State down 3-1 in games, they showed a strong effort at home winning 120-111 as Curry and Thompson combined for 58 points, but also got an all-around solid effort from Speights with 14 points in nine minutes. The Fraport Skyliners followed this masterful performance with their own fabulous performance with the slaughter against ratiopharm Ulm where they got a total team effort and Mike Morrison flourished with 11 points in 14 minutes and like Speights was very efficient and just dominated the paint as Ulm had no way of keeping him in check. Golden State then followed the Frankfurt lead 10 hours later with a heroic and courageous win on the road coming back from 15 down and winning 108-101 as Klay Thompson exploded with 41 points and Steph Curry quietly added 31 points to deadlock the series at 3-3. In order to keep this perfect fairytale alive, the Fraport Skyliners now have to follow in the Warriors lead and on Tuesday to even the series at 2-2. “We hang out in the summer and workout together and play together also. Mareese Speights is someone who I definitely look up to. His tweet about how the series was far from over was inspiring and helped me keep my mind in the right place”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison. Cats might be jumping from trees and dodging cars on more of a regular basis than Frankfurt and Golden State are staying alive on the court, but they do it daily while the two basketball clubs only have to do it three more times in their respective series and then hope with less backs to the wall in the next series, but more command and leverage against their next opponent. “I think it is possible that both the Warriors and the Skylines can come back and win their series. Both teams have won their last games and have good momentum and confidence going into the next game. If they can use this to their advantage and come out and take care of their business everything will be ok”, stressed Saarlouis guard Rickey Easterling.
Three was a charm for the Fraport Skyliners as they rebounded from their disappointing 0-2 start against ratiopharm Ulm and destroyed ratiopharm Ulm 85-54 in game three. There were many factors why Frankfurt was able to get back on the winning track, but the most important was that they finally were able to play their strong brand of basketball that has carried them throughout the season. Their exceptional brand of basketball isn´t called anything unique, but simply Skyliner basketball where they execute on offense at will and play hardnosed defense for 40 minutes making basketball life for their opponent very difficult and crave getting easy buckets from aggressive defense. The turning point in game three came in the second quarter where the club went into halftime with a 14-0 run and carried that momentum over into the third quarter extending their big run to a 29-1 run which decided the game there. The overwhelming 45-15 run in the second and third quarters ultimately broke the back of ratiopharm Ulm. The Fraport Skyliners focused more on themselves and didn´t worry about what ratiopharm Ulm did. On offense, the Fraport Skyliners showed their shooting prowess again shooting a rock solid 55% from the field and 46% from outside where they nailed 13 three pointers. They also found back to their old strength under the boards winning the rebound battle 39-29. Despite getting only six rebounds combined from the German twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel and Mike Morrison, they got a total team effort as everyone helped out on the boards as Johannes Richter had six rebounds, Aaron Doornekamp seven rebounds and Jordan Theodore five rebounds. Frankfurt also did a great job spreading the ball around on offense as 11 of the 12 players scored and no one dominated the scoring sheet as Jordan Theodore led all scorers with 12 points. There was no hero ball being practiced, but a very disciplined act of team basketball where that extra pass was present again.
The Fraport Skyliners also found back to defending the way that they should holding the high power scoring machine of ratiopharm Ulm to only 54 points as in the first two games, the club coached by Thorsten Leibenath had averaged 86 points. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert did a good job scouting for game three and all the space that ratiopharm Ulm had had in the first two games that seemed like they were roaming in an empty Ikea warehouse now was more like a packed kids play area at Mcdonalds after two youth Baseball teams had arrived for lunch. Frankfurt did a great job in all areas on the court packing the lane and setting up walls whenever a big man tried to get to the hoop, good rotations, aggressive doubling whenever possible and just making as many shots as contested as possible. Important also for the success in game three was limiting Raymar Morgan and Augustine Rubit combined to five points. There was a great example in the game where Gordon Herbert signaled to Mike Morrison to stay on the ground and not go for the Rubit fakes. All in all the abundance of Frankfurt big men and their length, size and physicality was too much for Ulm wearing them down. Getting Raymar Morgan in early foul trouble also put a dent in the overall game plan of ratiopharm Ulm. Frankfurt also did a good job keeping German national player Per Guenther out of rhythm. Except for his opening five points and a three pointer to start the fourth quarter in an already decided game, he was nonexistent in the 45-15 domination of Frankfurt in the second and third quarters. It also helped keeping the three point threat of Da´Sean Butler had an ultimate minimum. It also was a plus for the game that the ref´s finally let playoff basketball dominate and not the calls.
The Fraport Skyliners now head to Ulm having the momentum, but have to cope with the impressive atmosphere again on the road where they have lost twice this season. A big advantage for the Fraport Skyliners now is even though they have another do or die game where they want to go to 6-1 this season and are the underdog is that Ulm won´t be able to go in as freely as in game two as after the big rout at home has Ulm thinking more than before. Ratiopharm Ulm now have more pressure, because they know that if they lose, they will enter a very unpleasant environment in a five game setting. The Fraport Skyliners have found their rhythm again whereas ratiopharm Ulm need to go back to the drawing board and find their rhythm again in game four. If the Fraport Skyliners can duplicate game three and play their Skyliner basketball, then they will force a game five in Frankfurt and have the best chances to advance to the final. The big key in game four will be the bench of Frankfurt and how well Morgan and Rubit can bounce back. These two Americans will be a very vital ingredient that Ulm will need to win game four. Both teams have 72 hours to recuperate and the question will be what team will be freshest. Long after the majority of the ratiopharm Ulm team had exited the Fraport arena to wait in the team bus for ex NBA player Chris Babb to exit the doping control, a beaten and worn down Raymar Morgan sneaked out of the locker room after having been iced down for 30 minutes. The 46 game season seems to have taken a big toll on the ex Michigan State forward Morgan as after having a supreme series against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg where he averaged 28 points and nine rebounds in four games, he has been slowed down immensely by Frankfurt as he is averaging only seven points and four rebounds in the Frankfurt series. It would be beneficial for Morgan and ratiopharm Ulm to find back to his Oldenburg form. Back in the day from 2008-2010, Morgan might have been giving the younger Draymond Green now of the Golden State Warriors advice at Michigan State, but now maybe the ratiopharm Ulm forward could use some advice from the 2015 NBA champion and let some of that winning mentality from his ex teammate trickle down on him and ratiopharm ulm.