Basketball competition can´t always be fair and often you do have those examples where one would love to see that Davey and Goliath situation prevail where the small clobbers the big, but more often than not that is only a dream and occurs in fairytales or if the opponent suddenly had some Lebron James´s cloned for their upset attempt. NBBL team Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had the unwanted and not desired task of meeting the super mighty and powerful club of Alba Berlin as the German capital team were the overwhelming favorites. They came into the series with a 15-1 record against the 10-4 Frankfurt record and an arsenal of offense talent that had scored 90 points or more nine times and 100 points or more five times and had that NBA type scoring atmosphere working. On top of that Alba Berlin had a roster where eight players averaged 10 points or more compared to Frankfurt having three youngsters attaining that feat and had the overwhelming size advantage with 9 guys listed at 2,00 meters or taller. Alba Berlin also brought two of Germany´s biggest talents with Jonas Mattisseck and Henrik Drescher that get minutes in the EasyCredit BBL and also two notable names with Franz Josef-Wagner who is the kid brother of 2018 NCAA finalist with Michigan Moritz Wagner and Elias Rodl who is the son of 1993 NCAA champion with North Carolina Henrik Rodl. Of course Alba Berlin didn´t bring all players like Rodl, but sure had a great variety of players to chose from. One could quote one of the bank robbers from the classic Boston made film The Town as the thugs are about to rob another bank with “Say your prayers”, because no team has had an easy time with the powerful Alba Berlin team. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners was in their own smug living room staring at a do or die game as they had been destroyed in game one 91-61 as Alba Berlin controlled the boards and forced the Frankfurt club to a pathetic 35 turnovers.
Could Davey and Goliath make a statement or was Alba Berlin destined to make another trip to the NBBL Final 4? There would be no Skyliner miracle as game 2 took a very similar pattern to game one as Alba Berlin dominated at both ends of the court easily disposing of Eintracht Frankfurt-Alba Berlin 95-62. After the game, the Alba Berlin players were all huddled in the corner of the gym as they had just taken care of business again chilling and wondering when the pizza would arrive to help tame their stomachs during the long 8 hours bus drive home and top German guard Jonas Mattisscek reflected on the win as if it was the most normal result ever. “We didn´t get rattled by their physicality and were able to play better than them. We did a good job pressuring them for the whole game and just were allowed to play our game and put constant pressure on the ball”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Jonas Mattisseck. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners had a solid season, but were totally outmatched in every area of the game, but gave their best and had their moments like 15 year old Len Schoorman who led all scorers with 25 points who was a bit in awe of the incredible talent of Alba Berlin. “I have never played against such a great team. One can really learn a lot from them. I felt we played better in game 2 than game 1. We did a better job against their press this time. There were very big and played well so together, but we gave it our best”, stressed Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners guard Len Schoorman.
Alba Berlin forced Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners to 32 turnovers in game 2 and overall to 67 turnovers in the series. “We didn´t do a good job getting the ball up the court fast enough. They always had a second man on the ball. I never played against such a good press”, stressed Len Schoormann.
The contest attracted a lot of attention as there were more fans in the BCM gym than usual including German national youth coach Harald Stein, various Fraport Skyliners, Igor Starcevic as well as ex Alba Berlin assistant coach Konstantin Lwowsky. Alba Berlin arrived with five players that had won the 2017 JBBL(under 16 German title) and they jumped all over Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners right off the bat taking a 15-2 lead. Alba Berlin commenced with their aggressive and annoying press that limited the Frankfurt offense Immediately. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners were stopped on their first three possessions until Len Schoorman who started his career at BC Darmstadt got the home team on the board with a steal and one handed dunk on transition. Alba Berlin got vital production from Mattisseck who controlled the floor like a good point guard should and finished morehimself than being the playmaker. He dropped 8 points in the 15-2 run. “He is tough to play against, but also fun to play against. He is very good with the ball and getting into passing lanes”, stressed Len Schoormann. He also got important help from teammate Franz Jakob Wagner who is the younger brother of 2018 NCAA finalist Moritz Wagner of Michigan. Wagner was extremely poised and nailed two three´s. “He plays with a lot of confidence and is so mature”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Jules Akodo. The big 215cm Croatian beast Kresimir Nikic also scored a bucket on transition. Alba Berlin got their defense started which in turn got their offense going as they found a smooth flow rapidly and were led by Mattisseck. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners finally got some buckets as ex Hanau German Oliver Babitsch and ex TV Langen small forward Leon Pullen got more aggressive and created for themselves, but still trailed 22-7. Alba Berlin were subbing players in and out and even a top player like Hendrik Drescher who has played BBL this season didn´t start, but when he entered the game he produced nailing a 20 footer from the wing to give Alba Berlin the 26-7 advantage. The game was turning into a severe blow out, but Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners closed out the first quarter in extreme style as Babitsch and 17 year old 193cm guard Risto Vasiljevic dropped back to back three´s cutting the Alba Berlin lead to 26-13. “This Alba Berlin team is very good. The whole team is very professional. They defended well on the pick and role and were hedging well. They had good ball movement and had a huge size advantage. The two three´s at the end were important for Frankfurt”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Jules Akodo. Alba Berlin was shooting 64& from the field and 57% form outside and had 9 rebounds and 6 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 67% form outside and had 5 rebounds and 8 turnovers.
In the second quarter Alba Berlin continued to play their game pressuring the ball almost at all times and doing absolutely what they wanted to on offense. They went on a fast 20-3 run to decide the game already in the second quarter. Alba Berlin continued to make life extremely difficult for Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners when they started their offense from their own end which resulted in many turnovers and easy points for the guests. In the run, they got 5 points from their captain 18 year old 204cm forward Lorenz Brenneke who also recorded a big block on defense and also support from others like 17 year old 193cm guard Malte Delow who drained a trey as well as Wagner who went 3/3 from the parking lot up to that point. 18 year Max Stoelzel who started his career at RSV Eintracht also got into the scoring sheet making a lay in. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners lacked in offensive production and when they did break the press, they were usually forced to very tough shots. 18 year old 196cm forward Dennis Machlab made the only field goal with a hook shot in the Alba Berlin run. With the game as good as decided before halftime 46-16, Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners found some daylight on offense and closed out the second quarter strong going on a 14-6 run to trail at halftime only 52-30. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners did a better job getting by the Alba Berlin press and getting into some good offense sets and going into the break with some self confidence. 15 year German sensation Len Schoormann led the Frankfurt charge in the run. Schoormann didn´t get many looks in the first quarter and became more aggressive in the run and added 8 points. On his first score Babitsch found him back door for the easy lay up, he then dropped a trey and later finished inside. Alba Berlin got a bit passive which is always possible when your up by so much and coughed and didn´t come to terms with the more aggressive Frankfurt defense. “Schoormann became more aggressive and was able to play his game. We did a better job cutting down on turnovers”, added Fraport Skyliner guard Jules Akodo. Alba Berlin was shooting 55% from the field and 55% from the three point line and had grabbed 15 boards and had 8 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 43% from the three point line and had grabbed 16 rebounds, but had coughed up the ball 17 times.
In the third quarter, Alba Berlin continued to dominate and began to build their lead up again as they heightened their press again and Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners would cough up the ball 11 times. Alba Berlin stopped Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners on their first 6 possessions as they continued to heave up tough shot after tough shot while watching Alba Berlin´s lead continue to grow and their season slowly go down the drain. Alba Berlin went on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 58-30 In the run Alba Berlin got a big trey from Malte Delow and a lay in from Mattisseck. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners finally executed on their seventh possession as former EOSC Offenbach guard Cem-Turkay Akbayir hit a trey from the corner over Wagner. But what had been a trend form the start continued as almost every shot Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners took was a contested shot. Alba Berlin continued to pour it on on offense closing out the third quarter with a 13-6 run to lead 71-39 after 30 minutes. In the Alba Berlin run, captain Brenneke did a good job getting to the free throw line three times and scoring, Wagner went coast to coast making an easy lay in and Delow scored on transition as Alba Berlin continued to get easy buckets off Frankfurt blunders on offense. “We knew at halftime that the game wasn´t over and that Frankfurt would come out motivated in the second half, because it would be their last chance. We continued to press well and move the ball well and get easy baskets. They also pressed well, but we did a good job against it”, added Jonas Mattisseck. “We never gave up. We tried 2 new plays, but they denied them well. We tried a new back door play, but they were so quick and always got in the passing lanes”, said Len Schoormann. Alba Berlin shot 47% from the field and 35% from the parking lot and hauled down 28 rebounds and had 17 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners shot 33% from the field and 47% from outside and hauled down 23 rebounds and had 28 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, both teams got a bit tired and the game got slow. Len Schoormann gave the fans a season farewell scoring clinic before the buzzer sounded giving Alba Berlin the well deserved victory. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners saved their best for last scoring 23 points in the last 10 minutes thanks to the offensive explosion from Len Schoormann who netted 13 points. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners stayed with Alba Berlin in the first few minutes matching them well on offense as they got production from Pullen and 18 year old 207cm forward Beat Weichsler who scored inside and got a free throw from Alvin Onyia. Alba Berlin continued to let their well oiled offense continue to run at full throttle as they got buckets from Wagner, Stoelzel and 2017 JBBL champion Leander Schwalm who started his career at Empor Berlin as Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners trailed 79-46. After both teams traded baskets one more time, it then was the Len Schoorman show. With Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners trailing 81-48, the 15 year wonder boy rattled off 10 unanswered points as Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners suddenly trailed only 81-58. In the 10-0 Schoormann run, the German scored two lay ins, made a steal and thunderous one handed dunk and finally dropped a trey from the top of the key. “I had just came in and had some energy. I didn´t come in thinking this would happen. It just happened. I would rather have seen us win more than anything”, added Len Schoormann. “Schoormann is one of the biggest German talents for his age. He scored at a moment where the game was over. He is very big for a guard, but so athletic. His quickness gives opponents a lot of trouble. I have a lot of respect for him”, warned Hendrik Drescher. After the amazing 10 point Schoormann explosion, Alba Berlin closed the lid on the Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners season with class going on a 14-4 run to put a big exclamation mark on the 95-62 win. In the run, Alba Berlin got buckets from Delow from outside, a Schwalm lay in and Nikic lay in on transition. With Alba Berlin leading 93-60, both teams did have two more spectacular plays left for the fans as Schoormann dunked again seemingly harder than the previous time, but that wasn´t the end to the game, Wagner came down the court with that mischievious look in his eyes and slammed a hard one handed dunk ending the game. It was difficult to say which dunk was the best, because both were great. “Frankfurt played physical in the game and got tired in the fourth quarter. It showed that our conditioning was better at the end. We defended very well for 40 minutes showing again that every player knows his role”, stressed Hendrik Drescher. “We were tired at the end as the game became very slow”, added Len Schoormann. Alba Berlin was led by Jonas Mattisseck with 16 points, 7 assists and six steals. Lorenz Brenneke and Franz Jakob Wagner produced 15 points a piece. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners were led by Len Schoormann with 25 points. Alba Berlin shot 48% from the field and 30% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 22 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 35% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 32 turnovers.