EasyCredit BBL Playoff Preview 2018: FC Bayern Munich-Fraport Skyliners 3-1

March 23 2018 might not be a date that FC Bayern Munich basketball fans will remember in 10 years, but the name Scottie Wilbekin will forever be linked in their basketball history  as the guy who presented a lethal shooting clinic at the most inappropriate time blocking the team´s Eurocup run to the final. If you had just arrived in the Audi Dome on that fateful night of March 23rd and had the worst seat in the house and had forgotten your glasses, the 188cm guard who was rifling home jumpers left and right while then head coach Sasa Dordevic was scrambling to find the right defender to stop this annoying shooting rage, one may have thought that the Turkish team Darussafaka had given NBA superstar Steph Curry a one game contract. Not only does Wilbekin look a little like the Golden State NBA champion, but is also close to his size at 188cm and has a nasty habit of dropping trey´s as easily as it is for an American tourist to be holed up all evening at a typical Brauhaus Beer hall in downtown Munich. Wilbekin didn´t get the all-time Eurocup scoring record as that is held by Randy Duck of the Brighton Bears in 2003 with 49 points, but Wilbekin´s 41 points was 5th best in it´s history and in good company with guys like American Mire Chatman and NBA player Bobby Brown with 43 and 44 points. One could say Wilbekin shot Darussafaka to the Eurocup final as he scored 24 points in the first game and in all hit FC Bayern Munich for 65 points in the two game series. Wilbekin will try to win a second title in Turkey to add to his Eurocup chip, but with the Fraport Skyliners facing FC Bayern Munich in the playoffs, FC Bayern Munich Marko Pesic max be feeling some déjà vu again and wondering if his stomach will be ready to take on a possible new shooting clinic from Mr Canada Philip Scrubb. Scrubb has been a shooter his whole career and shoots the ball with authority the way Shaq dunked back in the day. He comes into the playoffs shooting 47% from outside and even when his shot doesn´t fall, it is hardly ever a bad shot, but so close that one has to wonder when the day will come when he will have a 10/10 or better performance from outside. Recently Scrubb had 25 points at the break against Bamberg and was so hot everyone was expecting 40 plus points, but the defense closed him down better in the second half and finished with 33 points. In two loses to FC Bayern Munich this season Scrubb finished with 16 and 23 points. Scrubb has the ability to match a Wilbekin 41 points game and as he has shown so often this season might have to take things into his own hands in this series when the team needs instant scoring over a long stretch. If Scrubb can have a Wilbekin like shooting clinic in this series isn´t known yet, but if he does start with a 18-20 first half scoring onslaught in game one, it could be bombs away and then it will be interesting to see if Marko Pesic starts a nonstop  finger nail chewing contest. If anything the 2018 easyCredit leading scorer Philip Scrubb will be on Pesic´s mind during and after the series win or lose as this Canadian national player will most likely be on his summer shopping list for next season.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 2018 easyCredit BBL scoring champion Philip Scrubb after droping 8 points and dishing out 8 assists

Even FC Bayern Munich had some typical FC Hollywood moments this season with the peak of head coach Sasa Dordevic being dismissed after the Eurocup semi-final loss, they have been able to keep it together on the court this season as they didn´t encounter another Scottie Wilbekin type player this season as they finished in first place with a record of 31-3. They started off well with winning their first three games, but then surprisingly lost at home to Wurzburg and ex coach Dirk Bauermann. However that didn´t faze Germany´s most famous sports team as they then steam rolled the competition in the BBL and Eurocup. In the BBL, they won 20 games in a row and found a clear identity on offense just totally overpowering opponents with their scoring machine scoring 80 points or more 16 times. It also helped that they had a certain established team chemistry as they had held on to 7 players. They also did a good job bringing in the missing pieces that were able to strengthen the already very strong roster. Their powerful offense has led to nine players averaging more than 7,0ppg and their second five are often stronger than other teams´s starting five. They are very well fortified at every position and have that added athletic presence that team´s can´t match up to.

Each player has their own special quality like a Reggie Redding (9,9ppg,3,9rpg,3,3apg, 38%3pt) who is super versatile and a top player in the BBL that many forget about, Devin Booker (12,9ppg, 5,2rpg,2,1apg,43%3pt) who many saw in the NBA already after his year in Chalon belonged to the best centers in the league and a Danilo Barthel (9,1ppg,4,4rpg,1,8apg,43%3pt) who has developed his shot very well and can play center. Added to this bunch is the never ending experience from Nihad Djedovic, Anton Gavel and Alex King who give the added stability from the bench. They did a good job adding the correct new players with ex NBA player Jared Cunningham (11,5ppg,1,9rpg,2,0apg,32%3pt) who has played solid and for many adjusted better to the style of the BBL than many thought, but his consistency has been a question mark. With Maik Zirbes (7,6ppg,3,2rpg) they have that needed physical presence down low and title experience and with the 2017 European championship finalists with Serbia Stefan Jovic (6,9ppg,2,3rpg,5,1apg) and Vladimir Lucic (9,6ppg,3,3rpg,1,2apg,58%3pt) two very talented guys that have been a big part of the success. Jovic has been that reliable playmaker and Lucic has given shot selection with his sniper qualities a new name. Not to forget Braydon Hobbs (7,4ppg,2,3rpg,3,0apg) who has been a force at both ends of the court and is their defensive game changer. The club this season simply has the right package as they were second in scoring points with 89 per game and gave up only 75 per game second best in the league. On top of that, they are a good rebounding team getting 31 per game seventh best despite the loss to Milan Macvan and shoot 37% from outside also a top stat. Their best results against the top teams was sweeping Bamberg and Ludwigsburg.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex NBA player Jared Cunningham after the 87-83 FC Bayern Munich win in Frankfurt

For the Fraport Skyliners it has been a solid season despite their massive injury woes that not only almost put their 2018 playoffs in jeopardy, but also side tracked their development as a team as they were up and down the whole season. Reaching the playoffs this season in a way has been like a special consolation prize. Injuries to players like Wolfarth-Botterman, Niklas Kiel, Mike Morrison and Richard Freudenberg limited their depth. The club was able to keep four guys and add new players that all were able to give their support in their own special way. The two most important players this season have been 2018 BBL scoring champ Philipp Scrubb (19,6ppg,3,6rpg,3,7apg 47%3pt) and rookie Tai Webster (15,5ppg,3,9rpg,4,0apg,41%3pt) from New Zealand who with their amazing combination of ruthless shooting and invincible 1-1 abilities were able to help the club win 3-4 extra games and had to play with a lot more responsibility than in the past. The club also has their Frankfurt veterans with lifer Quantez Robertson (9,5ppg, 4,4rpg,2,7apg,2,0spg) who has been with the club since 2009 and does everything on the court and ex George Mason(NCAA) standout Mike Morrison (8,9ppg,4,6rpg,1,1apg) who always gives that beast presence and can be unstoppable in the paint. Ex Ludwigsburg forward Shawn Huff (9,1ppg,3,4rpg,1,0apg,44%3pt) brings his experience, defensive intensity and shooting ability from the bench. Frankfurt was dealt the right hand with the almost forgotten Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann (10,4ppg,5,0rpg) who was sort of that extended lost project who couldn´t breakthrough in Bonn, Berlin or Ulm, but did in Frankfurt. He has been a pleasant delight as with Morrison they build a very annoying and powerful inside presence. A big reason why the Fraport Skyliners aren´t possibily a position 3-5 team is because of their lack of depth. Where other teams have additional Americans, Frankfurt continue to stay faithful to their youth program. 18 year old Issac Bonga (5,9ppg,3,1rpg,2,3apg,1,1spg) had some encouraging games, but you can´t expect a youngster like him to produce 12-14 points a game and 5-6 assists. The club simply had to little experience with their youth with Niklas Kiel, Richard Freudenberg and Garai Zeeb. Recent addition ex Dayton(NCAA) Jordan Sibert (5,5ppg,1,2rpg) has been a spark from the bench in the limited minutes he has gotten. They averaged 77 points per game only 15th best, but as always belonged to the best defensive teams giving up only 76 points per game sixth best. Especially their guard rotation gives opponents fits with their aggressive on ball play while the duo of Morrison and Wolfarth-Botterman were a feared shot blocking tandem.

Basketball BL,  FRAPORT SKYLINERS - MBC                            M ITTELDEUTSCHER BASKETBALL CLUB WEISSENFELS

02.04.2018 / Basketball BBL / -0- Tai Webster / FRAPORT SKYLINERS

You can never count out the Fraport Skyliners ever, but do they have enough firepower, shooting consistency and energy to get by the mighty FC Bayern Munich in a five game series? Probably not. If the Fraport Skyliners had an extra Philip Scrubb or Scottie Wilbekin then possibly. FC Munich swept the series this season winning in Munich 72-60 led by a potent Jared Cunningham who added 23 points. Both teams had no fortune from the field as it was more of a defensive game, but FC Munich slapped Frankfurt around on the boards which was key for them getting the win. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners were already on the winner´s street leading by 17 points in the second half, but didn´t close out the game in Frankfurt fashion losing 87-83. It was one of those times where the Fraport Skyliners had a very good day while FC Bayern Munich were lackluster for too many long phases of the game. Braydon Hobbs didn´t come into the game until the second half and led the charge with 6 points and five assists getting their offense rolling and being the game changer. Vladimir Lucic led the way with 19 points and Devin Booker was a beast inside with 18 points. This game was a great example of how limited Frankfurt can be at times when the majority of the production comes from Scrubb and Webster who combined for 55 of the 83 points. FC Bayern Munich won the rebound duel again and despite having a very cold shooting day crawled their way to the win with heightened defense in crunch-time and hitting big shots. This is a series where FC Bayern Munich are the heavy favorites. The Fraport Skyliners will have to hope for consistent defense and if they can have that effort from game to game then they could be successful. FC Bayern Munich tend to have bad shooting days and that could be more of a focus concentrating on the zone. If a game does get close, then they lack that deadly scorer like a Scrubb or Wilbekin. If FC Bayern Munich can forget the embarrassing game in Frankfurt and do a better job on Scrubb and Webster then they should be able to sweep the series. The Fraport Skyliners rely on Scrubb and Webster too much, but if those games do arise where they are taken out, then it could be time for a guy like Jordan Sibert to play hero as he has scoring genes, but even a Wolfarth-Bottermann, Huff and Morrison can produce 15-20 points if they get going. The Fraport Skyliners have nothing to lose and that is a big strength for the series, but in the last weeks, they showed against weaker teams that they have problems scoring against zone defense and were inconsistent in making adjustments in tough times. FC Bayern Munich should sweep and at worst give up a game in Frankfurt. Scrubb should get used to the Audi Dome in this series as he could be playing his home games in Munich next season.

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