He still has that bushy beard that started as a routine playoff beard a few years ago, but with time Danilo Barthel has seemed to have developed a fascination with the facial hair something that his mother may still be coming to terms with. But what is different, the Hedielberg native isn´t sitting on the bench next to the X block in the Fraport arena, but on the right side and the colors of the blue and white have turned into the bright red and even if the beginning letter to his team does begin with an F, many Fraport Skyliner fans have had a hard time adjusting to the FC instead of the Fraport. After 167 games in the jersey of the Fraport Skyliners from 2011-2016, Barthel made the logical step last summer and joined Germany´s most famous sports brand FC Bayern Munich where he got two things he couldn´t get with Frankfurt with more dough and BBL title aspirations. In his time with the Fraport Skyliners, fans will never forget his poster dunk over Patrick Ewing jr in 2012 or his neverending hustle under the boards where he received more elbows, bruises and bloody noses than any other Skyliner in the last years. This season with FC Bayern Munich, Barthel has seen less action than with the Fraport Skyliners, but done the best out of his minutes as he was averaging 8,1ppg, 2,9rpg and 1,4apg in 11 minutes and 16 minutes per game coming into the Frankfurt game. The German has received stiff competition from other German national player and power forward Maxi Kleber and so far has had to be second fiddle as the ex Wurzburg player has the starting job position. The 25 year old 211cm power forward who had his taste of the NBA in the summer of 2014 where he played NBA Summer League with the Miami Heat returned back to his old stomping ground and living room of the Fraport arena and helped his team round out another normal day at the office by toppling the Fraport Skyliners 77-57 as they rebounded nicely from their embarrassing loss in Bonn where they relinquished 95 points.
After the huge victory, most of FC Bayern Munich was already on the bus, but Barthel was still making the rounds of greeting old friends and well wishers and finally reached the locker room 35 minutes after the game had ended and was elated about his return back to Frankfurt.
“It was an unusual feeling to be back. I was happy to return and was a bit nervous at first, but that went away. I was very happy that I was received so well by the fans and it gave me a positive feeling. I try to bring energy from the bench and give the team the little things that we need to win. I am happy with my season so far and happy for coach´s trust and hope that will continue”, stressed ex Fraport Skyliner Danilo Barthel. Barthel teammate and captain Bryce Taylor who belongs to the top 5 players in the league was in great spirits after he exited the locker room after a 22 point effort and win and also was happy to be able to call Barthel his teammate. “Barthel didn´t say much in the days leading up to his return to Frankfurt. But I could feel that coming back meant a lot to him. I had played against him the last years, but he was much better than I thought. He is a great player”, added FC Bayern Munich guard Bryce Taylor.
The Fraport Sklyiners came into the game having lost six of their last seven in the BBL and could have had that six game losing streak still at large had they not had massive fortune winning at the buzzer in Braunschweig last weekend, but they did enter the game with an unsatisfactory showing against AS Monaco five days ago in the Basketball champions League and nobody expected much against the big mighty FC Bayern Munich. Frankfurt had some good phases, but too often, they allowed the opponent to go on big runs and when they did come back, they couldn´t stay with FC Bayern Munich and quickly lost their rhythm to their continued nasty ongoing turnover phobia. After the game a rattled Antonio Graves who ahd four points and three turnovers explained what the Fraport Skyliners have been unable to do all season long. “We need to find a way to put together a full game. We haven´t been able to do that all season long. Sometimes it is a good first half and other times a good second half, but having only one isn´t enough”, stressed ex Artland Dragon Antonio Graves. FC Bayern Munich came off an ugly loss against the Telekom Baskets Bonn on the road and desperately needed to get a win in Frankfurt to sooth the gentle nerves of head coach Aleksandar Djordjevic and to get some sort of normalcy back into the club. FC Bayern Munich showed their scoring talent at times and found back to their strength on defense, but if there was a knock on the team then it was their carelessness taking care of a big lead allowing Frankfurt back into the game a few times. After the game, ex NBA player Nick Johnson who played 36 games for the Houston Rockets and dueled at Arizona(NCAA) against ex Skyliner Justin Cobbs was happy that his team stuck together each time Frankfurt came back. “We stuck with it today. It was a game of runs, but we were always able to make the plays we needed to. Bryce Taylor was big for us and we had the advantage inside and did a good job with the mismatches. We simply made plays from all over”, commented FC Bayern Munich guard Nick Johnson.
On a rather mild December Sunday afternoon, 4,930 fans came into the Fraport arena to witness the comeback of Danilo “white men can jump” Barthel, but had to wait until the end of the first quarter until he was inserted for German national player Maxi Kleber. The first half was tight until the last few minutes where FC Bayern Munich went on a 6-0 run to close out the first quarter with the 22-16 advantage. Bryce Taylor got hot in an instance nailing two back to back trey´s, but Frankfurt retaliated with buckets inside from Florida native Mike Morrison and ex Paderborn forward Niklas Kiel as Frankfurt trailed 6-4. The Fraport Skyliners did a fine job coming to terms with the high intensity of the Munich game and continued to execute on offense and got some key baskets from Mike Morrison who supplied the home crowd with an eye catching hard two handed throw down and ex Nebraska(NCAA) forward Shavon Shields hit a trey to give Frankfurt it´s first lead of 9-8. Now both teams would trade the lead three times before FC Bayern Munich secured the lead until the end of the first quarter. Taylor gave FC Bayern Munich the lead back as he hit a beautiful fade away jumper from the wing that reminded one of Boston Celtic legend Larry Bird back in the day and one could have thought that the California native might have caught a glimpse of the new Larry Bird ultimate highlight film. “I actually just watched that video. He was one of the smartest players of all-time. He was slow, but always two steps ahead of you. I wasn´t thinking of him when I shot the ball, but just how I could get it off”, stressed Bryce Taylor. Shields and Taylor then traded baskets as FC Bayern Munich was in the lead again at 14-12. Graves then tied the score at 14-14 with a pull up jumper, but ex Bamberg sniper Anton Gavel erased that with a lay in only to have Graves dead lock the game again at 16-16 with free throws. FC Bayern Munich then closed out the first quarter with a 6-0 run as ex NBA guard Nick Johnson sparkled with his bread and butter the pull up jumper and ex Skyliner Danilo Barthel got busy scoring in bunches as he connected on a floater and lay in as FC Bayern Munich led 22-16 after 10 minutes. “We had a little of that Bonn loss still in our heads. We know that Bryce Taylor can score, but the key was not our offense, but defense. With a few exceptions in Europe, we are always capable of scoring 90 points a game”, added FC Bayern Munich manager Volker Stix. FC Bayern Munich was shooting 67% from the field and 75% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 67% from the field and 50% from outside. FC Bayern Munich had the 5-2 rebound edge and five turnovers while Frankfurt had seven turnovers.
In the second quarter, FC Bayern Munich went on a 12-1 run to really break away from the Fraport Skyliners, but Skyliner Kwame Vaughn who had a very cold first quarter got going shortly before the break making eight points to get his team back into the game, but the guests still led comfortably 40-33 at the break. FC Bayern Munich was able to break out on the huge run, because their defensive rotations were spot on and their one on one defense as Maxi Kleber was a monster getting a block and redirecting shots and they were potent stopping the Fraport Sklyiners on their first eight possessions which resulted in good offense. FC Bayern Munich got healthy production on the offensive end from ex Alba Berlin forward Reggie Redding who dropped a trey, Gavel also hit from the parking lot while Johnson hit a pull up jumper and Kleber got free inside getting a lay up. Key on the run for FC Bayern Munich was also that they did a superb job mixing up their offense showing a healthy separation of inside out ball while Frankfurt was making bad decisions on offense which led to poor shots or turnovers. Basketball is a game of runs and the Fraport Skyliners showed heart and the ability to compete with their mighty opponent striking back with a timely 14-3 run to cut the FC Bayern Munich lead to 37-31. A big problem on this afternoon for FC Bayern Munich was their phases where they had a lack of concentration and let Frankfurt back into the game. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners were led by Kwame Vaughn who supplied 6 points while Shields continued to score getting twice inside including getting a perfect pass in the zone from Quantez Robertson who whipped the ball to the American as if it was the easiest thing. Morrison also showed that he is more than just a hard dunker hitting a pretty turn around shot in the post as well as a runner. Frankfurt made a costly mistake in the last seconds fouling Serb and ex Valencia Basket (Spain-Liga Endesa) player Vladimir Lucic where he nailed all three and Vaughn finished the second quarter scoring with a reverse lay up as Frankfurt trailed 40-33. “We defended very well. We showed again how we defend when many guys can guard multiple positions. We have to continue to learn not to let up when we have a big lead. We can´t let up for one second in this league because every team sees our FC Bayern Emblem and want to beat us. We have to always be aware of this”, stressed FC Bayern Munich manager Volker Stix. FC Bayern Munich was shooting 52% from the field and 45% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 38% from the three point line. FC Bayern Munich had the 14-9 rebound edge and both teams had nine turnovers apiece.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners came out of the gate focused to steal the lead back only to lose it again and let FC Bayern Munich get another enjoyable lead on account of a lack of concentration and unneeded turnovers that dominated their game midway through the third quarter. Quantez Robertson had been cold in the first half with 0 points, but did do some good in the playmaking registering three assists and felt the need to come out with a vengeance in the third quarter. Robertson started off the lightening 10-2 run with free throws, then made a steal which led to a trey cutting the guests lead to 40-38. Vaughn then marched into the zone and lofted up a lob to the rim which Morrison fetched and dunked silly. Then it was German Stefan Ilzhoefer who was rejected at the wing, but got his hands on the ball and got a second chance finishing with a floater as Frankfurt suddenly led again 43-42. However then FC Bayern Munich showed their whole class rebounding from this annoying Frankfurt comeback and showing how lethal their offense can be and how quickly they can put up points in bunches. They slapped Frankfurt rudely in the face with a crushing 10-0 run to up their lead again to 52-43 as Taylor and Redding nailed three´s and Johnson scored back to back shots inside as he was benefited by Vaughn and Graves turnovers. However Frankfurt didn´t let this Munich burst of power hinder their motivation to keep plugging away as Robertson and Shields hit trey´s to cut the Munich lead to 56-52. FC Bayern Munich closed out the third quarter with a three point play as Redding made a lay in and free throw as FC Bayern Munich led 59-52. “Munich has very good and efficient players and showed it. We didn´t give the needed energy in the key minutes”, added Ohio native Antonio Graves. “It was a game of runs. We knew that they would come out and fight so we didn´t want them to get the crowd into the game. Redding and Taylor hit big shots and I tried to exploit the Frankfurt defense”, stressed Nick Johnson. FC Bayern Munich was shooting 54% from the field and 47% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 40% from the parking lot. FC Bayern Munich had the 24-14 rebound advantage, but 14 turnovers while Frankfurt had 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners ran out of gas as FC Bayern Munich fired home 18 points while stifling the home team to five points. FC Bayern Munich continued to run their offense and executed the way a top team should nailing two trey´s as Gavel and Redding supplied the fire power while Robertson scored a three and jumper to cut the FC Bayern Munich lead to 66-57. With six minutes remaining, Frankfurt would score no more while FC Bayern Munich closed out the game with a solid 10-0 run. In the run, FC Bayern Munich was fortified by a Bathel lay in who muscled home the ball on his second try, five points from captain Taylor who shot very accurate 8/11 on the day and a King and Booker lay in. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert inserted young German Garai Zeeb with 33 seconds and he was able to defend ex NBA player Nick Johnson on the last FC Bayern Munich possession and then ended the game with an airball where he wasn´t exactly put in a high percentage situation to shoot the ball. “It was cool to shortly play against Nick Johnson at the end even if the game was decided. I gave my best at the end even if there wasn´t much light in the corner for me”, added Garai Zeeb. “We had nothing in our tank at the end. We didn´t make the needed stops in the fourth quarter”, added Antonio Graves. “We cut down on our mistakes and buckled down on defense”, stressed Nick Johnson. FC Bayern Munich was led by Bryce Taylor with 22 points. Reggie Redding added 13 points and five assists. Danilo Barthel added 11 points and Nick Johnson had 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson and Shavon Shields who had 14 points apiece. Mike Morrison added 12 points. FC Bayern Munich shot 53% from the field and 48% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 42% from the field and 35% from outside. FC Bayern Munich won the rebound duel 33-18 and had 18 turnovers while Frankfurt coughed up the ball 17 times.