It was a packed arena on enemy ground and throughout the game it almost seemed like a boxing match as punches were being traded back and forth in forms of buckets, but it really heated up in the fourth quarter as both guys stepped it up playing for their teams and fans like no other and random Jordan chants being blurted out from the supporters. There wasn´t one Jordan, but two Jordan´s setting the loud arena on fire and it wasn´t Michael Jordan and the United Center that was involved, but Jordan Theodore of the Fraport Skyliners and Jordan Taylor of the Alba Berlin while the Audi Dome was the show place in Munich. It wasn´t the NBA, but the German BBL as both Jordan´s were putting on a show as the arena was electrifying as the German fans were witnessing a real battle that had the perfect cup atmosphere as it couldn´t have been more exciting in crunch-time. Even if Fraport Skyliner guard Jordan Theodore won the point duel of the Jordan´s with 22 points, it wasn´t enough as his opponent Jordan Taylor who dropped only 12 points saved his best for last making the big shot that counted most sealing the 79-76 win as he nailed a tough pull up jumper from the top of the key with 1,1 seconds to play. Theodore would have one more chance, but fell short. The current Euroleague player with Milan rememberd the final seconds. “ “All I needed was one more second on the clock and I believe I would have made it”, stressed Jordan Theodore.
Alba Berlin would capture their eighth title in their storied history and third under legendary coach Sasa Obradovic beating home team FC Bayern Munich the next day while the Fraport Skyliners had a long bus ride home thinking about the loss as they had had extra time to vent with no game for third place. After the Berlin loss a disappointed Philip Scrubb remembered how vital that last shot can be. ““We trusted our defense to get stops. We wanted to buckle down at the end and not foul. They hit the big shot that counted”, said Philip Scrubb. It has almost been two years since that mid February day in Munich and the Fraport Skyliners are back and have a chance to get back to the cup top 4, only one road block stands in their way with shooting star medi Bayreuth. Two years later Scrubb is excited about getting back to the Cup Top 4. “The last cup semi final I played in was a great game, obviously we came up short but it was a good atmosphere so we’re excited at the opportunity to get back there”, added Philip Scrubb.
The Fraport Skyliners should have been preparing for a home game against the Giessen 46ers this week in their quest for the playoffs, but instead got a belated Christmas gift from foe Telekom Baskets Bonn who enabled the Frankfurt cup dream to stay alive. It is always about winning, but sometimes even when you lose, you win when you have help from another team. On January seventh, the Fraport Skyliners had a type of do or die game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn at home and didn´t bring their A game. All they needed was a victory at home in their usually trusty living room to get the ticket to the cup qualifying game, but instead gave an unsatisfactory effort against the Telekom Baskets Bonn losing 81-76 as their nerves failed in crunch-time as their ex player Konstantin Klein shifted the momentum back to Bonn scoring 8 unanswered points and Ron Curry hit big shots shocking the Fraport Skyliners. Despite the loss, the Fraport Skyliners hadn´t had their 2018 cup hopes completely dashed as they could still get there if the Telekom Baskets lost their home game against the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven which would be played four days later in Bonn. After the loss to Bonn, the atmosphere in the Fraport arena was as sullen as the New Orleans Saints fans must have been last weekend after the shocking Viking win at the end as the faithful Skyliner fans were more than certain that they would have to wait until next season for the next cup opportunity as no one expected the Telekom Baskets Bonn lose to the lowly underachieving Eisbareren Bremerhaven. Skyliner players were disappointed after the loss and one kept their distance from head coach Gordon Herbert who had been ejected from the game with two technical and was furious like a bear who wakes up from his hibernation and realizes his honey was stolen with everything and who couldn´t blame him after that horrible performance. Everyone in Skyliner country was already looking ahead to the next Giessen derby the following weekend as the cup dream seemed shattered and unlikely to happen. Bonn was going home in high spirits, but sometimes there is that basketball God that takes sides and in this case the Fraport Skyliners got the last laugh. Four days later the Telekom Baskets Bonn allowed the 3-13 Eisbaeren Bremerhaven dispose of them in simple fashion thus postponing the Giessen BBL game and keeping the medi Bayreuth game and cup hopes alive. “It was a pretty tough loss against Bonn, and I don’t think anybody expected to make the cup after that. But after that it was out of our control and things just worked out so we’ll be ready to play”, warned Philip Scrubb. Desite going from one extreme from losing to Bonn and expecting a Giessen bout, it came to the new meeting with Bayreuth and the club was able to adjust to the turn of events. “I wouldn’t say it was too tough, every loss is a tough one but because we play so many games you have to move on quickly and focus on the next one. I think we prepare for all games equally.
Both teams last played in the BBL two weekends ago, but medi Bayreuth has continued to have game competition playing two Basketball Champions League games while the Fraport Skyliners have had a long break due to Allstar weekend and will be rested, but still have injury woes. Medi Bayreuth continue to be one of the little darlings of the league as have made a step up from last season and belong to the top four teams in the league and have a better record then Bavarian rival Brose Bamberg. Who would of thought that going into a new year two years ago that Bayreuth would have a better record than the mighty Bamberg squad from Freak City. The recipe of success has been head coach Raoul Korner, forming another formidable team again while keeping a team intact that already had sound team chemistry. They are fourth in the league in points scored at 84 and ninth in points allowed with 79. Many feared that the club wouldn´t be able to find adequate replacements for the departed Kyan Anderson and Tre Lewis, but did with three point sharp shooter Gabe York and playmaker James Robinson while the continued development and consistency of Assem Marei have made him the X-factor in the success of the team. “They have a lot of guys who can score and pass the ball pretty well and they can score a lot of points quickly. We’ll have to focus on our individual assignments and play good team defense. York can really shoot it and Marei is pretty physical and can score inside. Our coaches always do a good job preparing the team so we’ll be ready”, warned Philip Scrubb. Medi Bayreuth have been playing solid basketball having won 5 of their last seven games while beating teams they had to, but losing to potential playoff opponents FC Bayern Munich and the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. They are coming off their biggest win in years disposing of Brose Bamberg 85-75. Medi Bayreuth come to Frankfurt with a lot of self confidence and revenge for their loss there earlier in the season.
The Fraport Skyliners enter this do or die game against medi Bayreuth reeling for some kind of positive experience having lost three of their last four games. They played possibly their worst half of basketball in Giessen shortly before Christmas in the last 10 years giving an unacceptable performance in Wurzburg and let Bonn take control of the game in the fourth quarter. All very uncharacteristic things for Gordon Herbert teams. Of-course injuries have taken a huge toll on the team and the losses of Philip Scrubb and Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann have been key. Scrubb was the non-stop scoring machine while the German giant was in the midst of his real breakthrough season in the BBL being a real offensive presence and keeping the defense together and cleaning up in the paint area. With both missing in action has been a huge reason why the club has had problems winning games at the moment. They still belong to the top defensive teams in the BBL allowing 76 points per game and fifth in the league in that category, but lately the club has been inconsistent and tended to forget some of those key defensive principles with help defense, one on one defense and just sticking together in crisis moments. The club has allowed 80 points or more in four of the last five games which is as untypical as Philip Scrubb joining teammates Mike Morrison and Quantez Robertson and becoming their third side kick in their positive clowning around clan and has surely this winning drought has challenged the mind of Gordon Herbert daily about how he can bring them back to that feared defensive team. If there is one guy who is always positive then it´s Philip Scrubb. The unlucky Canadian who has been plagued with an injury watches every game like an extra assistant coach from the end of the bench and remains positive with the future of the team and their success. “I think we just had a tough stretch of games, we’ve had some injuries but we’re still a good team. I think this break has been good for us and we’ll be ready for the second half of the season”, added Philip Scrubb.
The Fraport Skyliners have good memories of their first meeting with medi Bayreuth winning 72-68. It was a game that head coach Gordon Herbert would like to see his team play again as they fought off a tough Bayreuth team, but one can´t hide the fact that they were carried by their Canadian sharp shooter Scrubb who had 20 points, but also displayed his fine playmaking touching adding five dimes. ““We started well with good offense and we gave up only 26 points in the first half to a very good offensive team. In the second half, medi Bayreuth stepped up their defensive intensity and put us on our heels where we couldn´t match theirs. They pushed us around and got more confidence on offense and started hitting shots. I have always felt comfortable taking that step back going to my left. Only my role is different this season in that I have to be more offensive and take more of these shots. As long as I keep making them, I will continue to take them”, warned Philip Scrubb. Frankfurt also got solid games from Wolfarth-Bottermann, Mike Morrison and Quantez Robertson who scored in double figures. Medi Bayreuth didn´t have one scorer that had a 20 plus game, but had four players in double figures and two others very close which Frankfurt has to have registered which shows that the Bavarian team knows how to share the ball around and many guys can step up on a regular basis. Bayreuth won the battle on the boards while both teams stunk it up in the parking lot shooting a combined 5/31. The game in the stats department was decided from the free throw line where Frankfurt got to the free throw line nine more times and hit nine more free throws. This will be no cake walk for the Fraport Skyliners and one could carefully say that medi Bayreuth are the favorites simply with their current good play and the injury plague of the Fraport Skyliners. This could be another low scoring game simply because the stakes are so high and defense will be the main course on the menu. One can await a totally different Frankfurt team as Gordon Herbet will have had 13 days to prepare and will be ready. The Fraport Skyliners will have to find back to their normal defensive principles and will while medi Bayreuth has to continue to play their successful high-spirited game that has carried them to new heights this season. If Frankfurt can´t control Assem Marei in the paint, then it will be a long afternoon. In the last Frankfurt cup game, fans saw the Jordan´s put on the show while this time it could be the W& Y show of Webster and York as they most likely will be the key scoring figures in the contest. Even if they will be without key players Scrubb and Wolfarth-Bottermann, the Fraport Skyliners have had a down period in their season as of late, but they usually come up big in meaningful games especially at home and will do it again, because they will come through for Gordon Herbert on Saturday just as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will for head coach Bill Belichik against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday for their ticket to another Superbowl appearance. Recently an experienced Boston autograph collecter said the three toughest sports autographs on the planet are Lebron James, Tiger Woods and Tom Brady and you would have better luck meeting the Pope than getting Tom Brady´s autograph. It´s the same with the Fraport Skyliners as you probably would have a better chance of meeting the Pope than witnessing Frankfurt lose this game to medi Bayreuth.