Over the last years, the Fraport Skyliners have celebrated homecomings from ex players rather more laid back when guys like Robert Garett, Dashaun Wood, Anthony King or Jimmy Mckinney returned back to their old stomping grounds. Granted Garett did help win the 2004 BBL league title and was an important member for Frankfurt, but somewhat in the shadow of the Bermuda triangle with Pascal Roeller, Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis and the rest didn´t win a title, but left somewhat of an imprint to their stays in Frankfurt. However no homecoming in the last years was as anticipated, talked about and emotional as the return of Jordan “I believe” Theodore who returned back to the Fraport arena on October 26th almost five months to the day where he played his last home game in a Skyliners jersey. In his one season in Frankfurt, if Theodore was smart, he could of snatched himself a good ghost writer to help him write a book, because his season was simply brilliant and almost cinderella like as the always hard luck player who had never won anything in Turkey or France before Frankfurt, but with the Fraport Skyliners he did like the Romans doing his best Englewood, New Jersey impersonation of Veni, Vidi, Vici of coming, seeing and conquering leading the organization to it´s third ever title with the Fiba Europe Cup, to the top 4 of the cup and semi-finals of the playoffs. His stellar play, stats and accomplishments easily rank him in the top three best point guards of all-time with Pascal Roeller and Dashaun Wood. Theodore took his stellar game to Turkey and so far has a perfect record of 4-0 and a surprising 3-0 record in the Turkish league considering nobody expected the team to start off so rapidly beating top clubs Darussafaka and Galatasaray, but Theodore like in Frankfurt has been the center of attention bringing his ace playmaking capabilities to every game and not disappointing. Now he was pumped to return back to an old stomping ground where he stated, “The Fraport Skyliners helped me get to where I am today” and rack in his his fifth consecutive win of the season. He entered the Fraport arena averaging an amazing 27,0ppg and 9,0apg through the first three Turkish league games where he was the mastermind and was back in a special lab that helped him achieve greatness last season and he wanted to relive some of that magic again against his ex team Fraport Skyliners. Theodore has been unstoppable all season long and he wasn´t about to give his ex team any presents, but showed his A game which is simply automatic done unconsciously or from force of habit as he dropped 25 points and dished out six assists as he put on the Banvit show defeating his ex team 86-70. With a few minutes left in the game, Theodore was on the bench and his night was over, the first Banit fans rushed over to the bench to congratulate him and he coolly just signaled to wait until the end of the game and then it would be their time. About 30 minutes after the game and still drenched in sweat he finally had time for me. “It was very exciting to be back in Frankfurt. I wish there would have been more fans, but I understand it was a Wed game with people having to work the next day. It was just great seeing my ex teammates, organization, you, the fans and simply everybody”, stated Englewood native Jordan Theodore. Theodore and good friend and ex teammate Quantez Robertson were having some friendly ribbing concerning their Uno games and the Skyliner was happy to see his ex teammate even if he took them to school. “It was fun to play against Jordan. We had been talking about this game all season long. He had a very good game. He was able to get to the rim very much and got them going in the second half”, added Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt´s point guards Max Merz and Kwame Vaughn had their hands full with the ex Skyliner. “It is always nice playing against an ex teammate. He played a good game. We did a better job on him in the first half. You can´t ever totally stop a guy like him, but we should of still done a better job on him in the second half”, added Fraport Skyliner Max Merz.
Turkish team Banvit didn´t waste anytime getting going in the first quarter as they blew open the game quickly taking the quick 6-0 lead as their offense was flowing quickly inside and out as 199cm swingman form Lithuania Gediminas Orelik drilled home a trey and then it was déjà vu for many Skyliner fans as it was that well know finger tip lay in from Jordan Theodore that got Frankfurt thinking more and more on the defensive end. Frankfurt then was benefited with some loose balls that went their way as rookie Shavon Shields connected on a floater and Florida native Mike Morrison made a tip to cut the Banvit lead to 6-4. The difference in the game at that points was that Banvit had a healthy offensive rhythm while Frankfurt didn´t, but continued to get timely loose balls that led to easy buckets as Morrison got another dunk while Theodore again showed how automatic his drive is getting by Morrison. Even though Banvit had the better rhythm, Frankfurt hung in and stayed on the Turks heal as Mahir Agva gave his all battling against the big men and was successful making a turn around hook shot to cut the Banvit lead to 12-10. “It was difficult playing against their bigs. I just tried my best to box out as best as I could and just learn as much as possible. I know that I still have to get bigger in hopes that one day I can move bodies out of the way as easily as they did”, said Mahir Agva. After a Robertson coast to coast drive for two, it was Banvit again getting easy buckets as Polish national player Damian Kulig made a hook shot and Theodore beat Frankfurt again on a drive laying the ball extra high of the glass for the 16-10 Banvit lead. However Frankfurt stormed back closing out the first quarter on a 7-2 run to trail only 18-17. In the run, Frankfurt was fortified by their inside game and sparked by Robertson scoring on a lay in, Agva executed on a hook shot and new Skyliner Ekene Ibekwe made a lay in as Morison served up a sweet dime. Banvit had one play left and it was no surprise that Theodore got the call finishing high off the glass again as their continued to be no remedy on how to shut down his drive. “The first quarter was a bit rough on both teams as it was back and forth. I liked the pace of Theodore and how he controlled the game. He had a great knack of getting his guys involved, but also getting to the rim”, stressed Hebeisen White Wing guard Eugene Harris. Banvit was shooting 54% from the field and 20% from outside while Frankfurt was shooting 57% from the field and 0% form outside. Banvit had the 8-5 rebound edge, but three turnovers while Frankfurt had two turnovers.
In the second quarter, the game remained tight as no teams could clearly break away from the other. However the Fraport Skyliners did get off to the better start in the second quarter going on a strong 6-0 run to grab the lead back and lead 23-18. In the run, Frankfurt got offensive aid from Morrison who once again was the beneficiary of a loose ball that came his way getting an easy lay in, Agva scored inside as Ibekwe made the extra pass and then it was Robertson making the perfect alley-oop pass for the Morrison throw down. Banvit then took a time out and came back out upping their defensive intensity and going on an important 7-0 run to retake the lead at 25-23. In the run, Banvit halted five consecutive Frankfurt possessions and got a 20 footer from Kulig, and four points from 211cm Slovenian beast Gasper Vidmar who played at numerous European tournaments for his country and won two league titles with Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey-TB). Now the game went back and forth until the break with four lead changes. Cincinnati natives Robertson and Chappell traded baskets and then it was Shields knotting the score at 28-28 with a runner. Vaughn gave Frankfurt the lead back with free throws, but Turkish national player and 2013 Eurochallenge finalist Can Mutaf drilled home a trey for the Banvut 33-30 advantage. But Frankfurt fought back and Shields after another lucky second chance nailed a three pointer to tie the game at 35-35 at the break. “It was a game of runs. Frankfurt got off to the better start playing better defense, getting to the free throw line and getting a Morrison dunk. After a Banvit time out they came back better and defended better packing the paint and forcing Frankfurt to shoot more from outside”, stressed Eugene Harris. Banvit was shooting 50% from the field and 33% from the three point line while Frankfurt was shooting 53% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Banvit had the 15-11 rebound edge, but six turnovers while Frankfurt had five turnovers.
The turning point of the game came in the third quarter as Banvit went on to win the frame 27-8 and led 62-43 after 30 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners got an early trey from Robertson to take their last lead of the game at 38-37, but then it was all Banvit as they silenced the Fraport arena rapidly going on a brutal 15-1 run to lead 52-39. In the run, Banvit got vital support from Chappell who nailed two three pointers with the latter getting a beautiful no look kick pass from Theodore. Theodore also scored on his usual coast to coast lay in and the team also got buckets from 2011 Eurochallenege winner with Krka Novo Mesto Edo Muric who connected on a 20 footer and Orelik made a step back trey. The Banvit fine tuned machine continued to run smoothly as they closed out the third quarter on a 10-4 run. They got more heavy support from their two Americans as Chappell nailed a three and made a tip in while Theodore as always created havoc in the paint with a lay in. Frankfurt couldn´t get anything really going on offense. They did do a good job drawing fouls, but Morrison had difficulty connecting at a consistent rate. “Key in the third quarter was defense. We were able to put up consecutive stops and we moved the ball well and outscored Frankfurt by 19 points. We didn´t give Frankfurt any more easy lay ups, because they like to drive so we let them shoot from farther away”, stressed ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore. “Banvit had more energy than we did. We had too many turnovers as well. Theodore took over the game. We got down so much that it was difficult coming back”, stressed ex Ehingen forward Mahir Agva. “We didn´t rotate well and had little communication on defense. We need to have fun on the court and come together more. We are a great club, but it´s still taking time”, warned Kwame Vaughn. Banvit was shooting 56% from the field and 41% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 30% from the parking lot. Banvit had the 21-18 rebound edge and only seven turnovers while Frankfurt had 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners rushed back cutting the Banvit lead to 13, but Banvit quickly pounched back on Frankfurt going on a 12-4 run to extend their lead back to 79-58 which soon then gave starters like Theodore their end to another normal day at the office as they took a seat on the bench to watch the last few minutes. Frankfurt started off the fourth quarter scoring 11 points to cut the Banvit lead to 67-54. In the run, Frankfurt was led by Kwame Vaughn that got aggressive and got to the free throw line twice, a 20 footer by Shields, massive Morrison dunk and an Antonio Graves trey. Frankfurt was doing a great job playing inside out basketball while Banvit missed some easy shots. However then it was time for Banvit to step back on the gas pedal sparked by the instant Theodore offense as he broke the back of Frankfurt with a trey and lay in as he stole the ball form center court from Agva and went coast to coast and all of a sudden Banvit was up by 19 points again. “I was talking trash with Tez and Morrison all week long and didn´t really know what to expect. I knew I was the focal point in their defensive set up, but I just took what the defense gave me. I opened up the game in the third and fourth quarters and I hit shots better. It all seems automatic now. I am playing at a high level and I feel like no one can guard me. I know that my team relies much on me so I just try to bring my game each night”, warned Jordan Theodore. Jordan hit his last three pointer of the game giving Banvit the 84-62 advantage and then his night was over. 16 year old German wunderkind Isaac Bonga came in at the 3.33 minute and helped Frankfurt close out the game on a 8-2 run. Ibekwe got to the free throw line three times nailing all six shots and Bonga closed out the game with a beautiful athletic steal where his long arms were in full force as he went coast to coast for the easy lay up. If any Banvit players will remember who Bonga is in 5 years when he possibly is flying in the NBA is unknown, but there is time in the return game for them to make a note of the German. “We always preach team basketball. We continued to move the ball well and hit shots”, added Jordan Theodore. “We came back with that Graves three, but Banvit continued to get offensive rebounds and hit shots and had momentum back and it was hard coming back”, stressed Mahir Agva. “We didn´t fight anymore. We need to learn to step on the gas”, stressed Kwame Vaughn. Banvit was led by Jordan Theodore with 25 points and Gediminas Orelik added 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Kwame Vaughn, Mike Morrison and Ekene Ibekwe with 13 points a piece. Banvit shot 56% from the field and 41% from outside while Frankfurt shot 48% from the field and 36% from the three point line. Banvit won the rebounding duel 26-22 and had 12 turnovers while Frankfurt coughed up the ball 13 times.