Recently a special old friend of the Fraport Skyliners was training at the BCM facilities and it didn´t take long for the secret to be reveled as it was ex Seton Hall(NCAA) standout Jordan Theodore who has had a whirlwind of a summer as months ago it was leaked he would go to Turkey, but then in September he was officially still part of the Milano team, but having the desire to play elsewhere as he and Milan weren´t the best fit, but they weren´t letting him out of his contract just yet. It would have been the announcement of the year and the best news since their 2016 Fiba Europe Cup title had they been able to sign Jordan Theodore, but the money demands must have been so high that Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert most likely didn´t want to think about it, because so severe head aches would have needed extra extra strong pain relieving pills to digest the sum. For the Fraport Skyliners the pre-season has been less of a whirlwind, because for the first time in many years the club had picked up all their pieces early something that hadn´t been the norm as guys like Jordan Theodore and Andrew Rautins had been picked up very late in recent years. The Fraport Skyliners also didn´t have the most optimal pre-season conditions as numerous players were away for a time playing with their national teams for World Cup qualifying, but as always the club made the best out of the conditions. Less than a week before the begin of the 2018-2019 season, the Fraport Skyliners had their last test of the pre-season inviting their BBL neighbors Telekom Baskets Bonn over into their living room for a friendly battle and the full packed BCM crowd wasn´t disappointed as it was a dog fight in the second half which Frankfurt grinded out for the 76-73 win. The first half was a tale of two stories as the Fraport Skyliners dominated the first quarter while the Telekom Baskets Bonn fought back in the second quarter to get back into the game while the second half remained as tight as a full blown up NFL football as Bonn had the last two shots to send the game into OT, but were denied. After the last second win ex NBA player Erik Murphy reflected on the win and the pre-season. “We started slow the last games and this time wanted to come out with more energy. We played well on defense and executed on offense. They are a good team and we knew that it would be a battle. Our fast start helped us. We had foul trouble, but we locked in at the end and got the win. We are still learning how to deal with end of game situations, but we showed good things tonight”, stressed Fraport Skyliner forward Erik Murphy. The Telekom Baskets Bonn played a solid game that had it´s highs and lows, but just were unable to execute properly in the last two minutes. “The first 5-6 minutes of the game put us in a big hole. We showed resilience fighting back, but it´s hard to win in the BBL when your down by 15 points. Important was that we were able to stick together”, stressed ex Giessen 46er TJ DiLeo.
The Fraport Skyliners big men Erik Murphy and Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann scored the first eight points which got Frankfurt rolling quickly. Murphy scored the first four points and with the game dead locked at 4-4, cruised out on a nasty 16-0 run to run up the lead to 20-4. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners set offense was working well and they also got out on transition which produced three fast break buckets. Three point sniper Brady Heslip was extreme active getting open and buried two three´s while Wolfarth-Botterman scored three baskets as he did a good job against Bonn bruiser Charles Jackson using his physicality positively. Bonn finally got on the board with James Webb free throws and a Josh Mayo free throw. 20 year old Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance who produced 21 points the night before in the Frankfurt Pro B win came in in the last minute getting a lay in. He has found some minutes in the BBL pre-season and for now is seen as a guy that will carry the Pro B team, but he is still burning for the BBL opportunity. “The BBL is a little quicker. I will continue to work hard and I feel if I show that I´m good enough than I will play”, warned Elijah Clarance. The Fraport Skyliners led 24-9 after one quarter. Quantez Robertson and late Chris Williams friend Jermale Jones who played with Lich in the Pro B some years ago took in the game and was pleased with the action. “Frankfurt jumped all over Bonn and played inside ball. The duo of Murphy and Wolfarth-Botterman could become a dominant duo in the BBL. They remind a bit of Bathel and Voigtmann”, warned Jermale Jones.
In the second quarter the Telekom Baskets Bonn fought back, but the Fraport Skyliners still led comfortably at the break with 44-33. The second quarter looked like a copy of the first quarter only this time that it wasn´t Bonn that was getting hammered, but Frankfurt. The Telekom Baskets Bonn cruised out on a 11-0 run and Frankfurt missed on their first seven possessions and couldn´t buy a bucket or free throw. Rookie Trae Bell-Haynes and Wolfarth-Botterman missed back to back free throw opportunities. The Telekom Baskets Bonn broke free fast as new player Shane Gibson who averaged 21,0PPG in his last two seasons at Sacred Heart(NCAA) drilled home two three´s to get Bonn back into gear. “Gibson is a nice passer on the pick and roll and reads the game well. I hope he will be that second pick and roll player on the second unit with me”, added TJ DiLeo. Webb free throws and a Jarelle Reischel three point play brought Bonn closer to 24-20. Murphy hit Frankfurt´s first field goal of the second quarter at the 6.21 minute mark and after that Frankfurt got back into groove and were back on their way to having a double digit lead. Especially their long range bombers Heslip and Murphy connected as Frankfurt led 33-24. The Frapor Skyliners mixed it up well bringing back their inside presence as Murphy and Wolfarth-Bottermann continued to get easy baskets in the paint upping their advantage to 41-28. On defense Frankfurt did a good job putting Bonn under more pressure and reading their plays better and forcing them to turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners defense was limited drastically with Quantez Robertson when he is off the floor, but when he returned he drained home a deep three as Frankfurt led 44-33 at the break. “In the first minutes Bonn did a better job putting more pressure on Frankfurt and they couldn´t hit shots whiel Bonn played their game. Frankfurt did find their rhythm again in the second part of the quarter getting their lead back again”, added Jermale Jones.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn fought back in the third quarter carving down the 11 point Frankfurt lead and then it was a real old fashioned dog fight as there were eight lead changes and Frankfurt led by one point after 30 minutes. Yorman Polas and Robertson traded trey´s to start off the third quarter as Frankfurt still led comfortably 47-36. But then came a huge dent in the lead of Frankfurt as the Telekom Baskets Bonn rode out on a 13-1 run to retake the lead 49-48. Bonn played with more intensity and did a good job getting production from behind the three line as Rashad James who had had a quiet night and once hit for 51 points in the G-League hit a trey while Jackson and Polas scored in the paint. Then both teams traded back leads as ex Baylor(NCAA) stand out Brady Heslip and ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas nailed treys while Bonn got good production from American Shane Gibson who dropped a three and hit a step back jumper. However Frankfurt got the last laugh as Quantez Robertson hit a buzzer beater trey giving the home team the one point lead. “It was a very even game where both teams made the right plays on offense”, added Jermale Jones.
The Fraport Skyliners couldn´t buy a bucket in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as they couldn´t execute on their first seven possessions as they suffered four turnovers, but the Telekom Baskets Bonn couldn´t make the most of their opportunities scoring only seven points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn got easy baskets inside as ex Crvena Zvezda Beograd forward Bojan Subotic scored as did German Martin Breunig twice to give Bonn the 66-60 advantage. After ex Ludwigsburg forward Shawn Huff hit free throws, it was Breunig again who snuck inside getting an alley-op pass from DiLeo for the 69-62 lead. However the Fraport Skyliners buckled down and didn´t want to disappoint the packed house and made one last push going on a 7-0 run tying the game at 69-69. In the run, Frankfurt got key buckets from rookie Canadian Trae Bell-Haynes who played at Vermont(NCAA) made a pretty reverse lay up and Murphy connected on a 15 footer. Ex NBA player James Webb made a pretty hook shot to give Bonn the 71-69 advantage, but Frankfurt countered with a Murphy three pointer to give Frankfurt the 72-71 lead. Murphy has been known as being a great big man shooter, but it looks like he will have a big role as an inside scorer with Frankfurt. “I feel good in the Frankfurt system. I know the game so getting adjusted here hasn´t been hard. I played more inside in college, the G-league and in Turkey, but now have come back to feeling good around the basket. I don´t shy away from passing out of the post even if Tez gets mad at me and says I should score more”, smiled Erik Murphy. Just when one thought that nothing really spectacular could happen in the last minutes, it did as Charles Jackson flew to the hole and slammed down the ball with massive authority for the Bonn 73-72 lead. “That dunk was crazy. I shock a bit. It was a nice dunk, but nothing I couldn´t do”, smiled Elijah Clarance.
Wolfarth-Bottermann then made a tap in showing his consistent aggressiveness as Frankfurt regained the lead 74-73 and would never look back again. A timely Heslip steal led to a Wolfarth-Bottermann dunk as Robertson handed him the dime for the 76-73 lead. With a few seconds remaining, the Telekom Baskets Bonn had one play left. They made a nice play trying to find Rashad James who got the ball cutting to the hoop but kicked the ball to the open Gibson on the wing who missed, but Bonn got the loose ball, but the last second desperation shot by Mayo was off the mark giving Frankfurt the win. “We were super locked in in the last two minutes and had very good communication of defense”, stated Erik Murphy. After the loss, TJ DiLeo reflected on Bonn´s pre-season and his role. “We had Gibson here for the first time, but we are learning our tendencies better, but we need to read the game better. We can be a good defensive team and be a team that it won´t be fun to play against. My role this season is a bit different. Last season Mayo and I were more ball handlers and were more on the court together. This season we will be more initiators and not on the court together as much. I have to continue to be aggressive on offense and look for others while not forgetting about myself”, warned TJ Dileo. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Erik Murphy with 18 points. Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann added 15 points while Brady Heslip added 12 points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Shane Gibson and TJ DiLeo with 12 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners shot 51% from the field and 43% from outside, had 35 boards and 15 turnovers while the Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 35% from the field and 30% from outside, had 35 rebounds and 12 turnovers.