The Fraport Skyliners Have Historical Season Climbing New Heights But Come Up Short At The Last Peak

In the third year of the Fraport Skyliners three year plan where in the first year the club focused on giving the young German players more minutes, in the second year reaching the playoffs, everything came true to plan as head coach Gordon Herbert had preached at the start of the season proclaiming that the team would become a top 5 team, reach the cup Top 4 and win the Fiba Europe Cup. However after all the enormous success that the organization Fraport Skyliners had in the regular season steam rolling over the competition for long stretches of the season and losing only twice at home and winning the Fiba Europe Cup and being only the fourth German team to ever win an international tournament, everyone in Skyliner country got a bit greedy and even had the audacity to predict capping  off the season with the Beko BBL title and for some reason boldly neglecting to remember that the 31-3 Brose Baskets Bamberg were the team to beat. One could compare the  successful climb up the Beko BBL standings and towards the Fiba Europe Cup title a bit to the worlds most famous mountain climber Reinhold Messner. Messner is best known for being the first guy to climb Mount Everest without Supplemental oxygen and the first mountaineer to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8000 meters above sea level. The Fraport Skyliners climbed up many difficult steep hurdles this season with the most adventurous and most bothersome at the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 in Chalon, France where they had to win back to back games against Enisey and Varese to clinch the clubs third club title. However the Fraport Skyliners met their most crucial challenge in the playoffs with ratiopharm Ulm in the semi finals and were continuing to climb new heights and fighting to reach the final and despite being down 2-1 in games and having a 6-1 record in do or die games, the 2004 Beko BBL champion were near the peak, but came up a little short. Whereas a Messner has to battle weather problems when they occur in order to make the perfect climb to the peak, the Fraport Skyliners were denied by the clock and a deflection on the last play from Jordan Theodore to Mike Morrison that ended their season.

It would be interesting to see which Fraport Skyliner would be annoyed most about the bitter 73-72 game four loss, but knowing the character of the team it most likely not only gave head coach Gordon Herbert some sleepless nights just remembering what could have happened. Despite an amazing 37 point fourth quarter from Frankfurt in their massive come back, they weren´t rewarded with the win. Had the Fraport Skyliners somehow been able to get over the hump and win game four in Ulm, then they most likely would have had the needed momentum to win game five at home and meet Bamberg in the finals. Ratiopharm Ulm was clearly the better team in three of the four games, a quality that won´t help you advance to the final. However the Fraport Skyliners already lost the series in the first two games. Both were games that Frankfurt could have won, but let slip away as German national player Per Guenther burned them in OT in game one and in game two gave up a 10-0 run at the end and 33 points to Augustine Rubit to go down 0-2 and prepare their playoff departure in four games. The 78-42 free throw attempts advantage for ratiopharm Ulm in the first two games was something that also broke the back of Frankfurt. The Fraport Skyliners roared back in game three destroying ratiopharm Ulm 85-54 getting back to their special brand of Skyliner basketball where their aggressive defense fuels their offense to display team basketball as their ball movement dismantles teams. In the playoffs is when a team has to buckle down and play their best basketball, but the Fraport Skyliners were unable to do that as they possibly reached their peak in the crushing 3-0 sweep of 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin. Frankfurt didn´t defend at a consistent rate as they gave up 75 points per game in the Ulm series 10 points over their season average. The Fraport Skyliners simply got away from their style of play and too often seemed tight and couldn´t find that relaxed and successful style of game three. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t get consistent support from everyone as German national player Johannes Voigtmann wasn´t totally fit and Philipp Scrubb and Konstantin Klein played a bit under their capabilities in this series. The basketball conductor Jordan Theodore had some big games, but his 21% shooting from the parking lot in the Ulm series wasn´t enough either to get Frankfurt over the hump. Ratiopharm Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath took a page out of Gordon Herbert´s book and just out scouted them something no team could do all season long. Leibenath performed it to perfection three times and did that with a slimmer rotation. After winning the Fiba Europe Cup and all the early unnecessary title talk might of effected Frankfurt mentally which derailed their ascension to the final peak.

Despite the unexpected season ending to ratiopharm Ulm, the Fraport Skyliners had a season to be proud of as they won the Fiba Europe Cup, reached the cup Final 4 and had huge wins during the season against Fc Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin and the Brose Baskets Bamberg. Their special brand of basketball which was this beautiful ball movement that reminded one of the San Antonio Spurs and their always gritty and never give up defense seemed to really tickle the hearts of German basketball fans. The Fraport Skyliners have been known since years for not only focusing on developing their German youth, but also keeping and building on team chemistry. The contracts of most players are up, but the club most likely will try to hold as many players as possible to keep the strong team chemistry intact even if it will be difficult to do so. Besides keeping the young Germans like Max Merz, Garai Zeeb, Stefan Ilzhoefer, Niklas Kiel and Lituanian Tomas Dimsa, it could be possible and to their benefit to hold Aaron Doornekamp, John Little and Mike Morrison if the price is right. Philipp Scrubb has an option and should definitely be held as one can get excited about the Hessen Scrubb derbies with the Giessen 46ers as the two brothers could go head to head next season. Johannes Richter might be looking for a new challenge, because he continued to get a lack of minutes with Frankfurt. Quantez Robertson wasn´t going anywhere as his name and nickname Tez are as bound to the Fraport Skyliners and Frankfurt as Ricky Paulding is to the EWE Baskets and Oldenburg. The club was intelligent to keep the face of the team until 2019. Pascal Roller may lead the title bragging rights over Quantez Robertson at 2-1, but the Cincinnati native and ex Auburn(NCAA) freak athlete number 23 should be hanging next to Roller from the Fraport arena ceiling when all is said and done. That athletic and high flying number 23 won´t be on the court anymore, but only on the backs of fans for generations to come. The question will be what will happen with the German big three of Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Konstantin Klein and Jordan Theodore. It would be fantastic if the club could keep Voigtmann, but he has paid his dues with Frankfurt for four years and developed nicely into a German national player and deserves to make the next step. He has been linked to Maccabi Tel Aviv as well as Spanish Endesa clubs and Alba Berlin could be a very nice fit. Keeping German national player Danilo Barthel also would be fabulous, but he most likely will depart as well as he also has paid his dues for five years with Frankfurt and deserves to make the next step. It wouldn´t be surprising to see him move to one of the big three teams of Alba Berlin, FC Bayern Munich or the Brose Baskets Bamberg, but space might be missing  in the last two teams. Konstantin Klein just completed his fourth year and had to battle injuries and an up and down season, but knowing his agent Ademola Okulaja, he will be shopping the German around very aggressively trying to find the best fit. Jordan Theodore had his break out season and really upped his market value and deserves to make the next step. Moving to a top Eurocup team or lower ranked Euroleague team are all realistic, but seeing the Englewood, New Jersey guard in the red of FC Bayern Munich might be most difficult to digest for Frankfurt fans as he seems high on their wish list. No matter what happens this summer on the transfer market, head coach Gordon Herbert will be back with some familiar players from last season which will further heighten the team chemistry and knowing his track record will find another point guard gem and should construct another successful team where the 2000 cup winner Frankfurt will attempt to scale another mountain with the hopes of reaching another peak next season.















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