The Fraport Skyliners season was still alive, but for the team to reach the playoffs now there will have to be a miracle and many wins happen at once or can one recruit Jordan Theodore back for the stretch run? The 2000 BBL cup winner has just been too up and down to deserve a playoff berth as at the start of February they lost three games in a row, but then buckled together and won three of four games, but currently had found another dry spell losing two games in a row and seeing their playoff hopes sink to horrible proportion. In their last loss, they controlled the game for the first half, only to watch s.Oliver Wurzburg crawl back and be aided by the Frankfurt turnover fest which ended with 25 especially in crunch-time experienced Tyler Larson had difficulty taking care of the ball and English national player Gabriel Olaseni gave Frankfurt a lesson on how to dominate the boards. With the Fraport Skyliners hanging out in 13th place and three wins behind the eighth placed team, they had a giant hurdle meeting number one ranked team FC Bayern Munich who had said farewell to the Euroleague season and now could concentrate fully on the easyCredit BBL. In the first meeting FC Bayern Munich won at home 80-71 and Frankfurt didn´t play that bad totally dominating the boards, but couldn´t handle their depth and consistent three point shooting as the Bavarian team scorched Frankfurt with 12 three´s. The only positive thing for Frankfurt fans was to see the return of German national player Danilo Barthel who departed Frankfurt in 2016 for Munich and since then has become the top German power forward in the easyCrdit BBL with some asking why he isn´t in the NBA like a Daniel Theis or Maxi Kleber. Barthel returned back to Frankfurt and was focused as usual while the Fraport Skyliners were playing for pride and had nothing to lose and took the guests to 50 minutes and two OT´s, but had some misfortune at the end missing some easy baskets and rebounds losing 91-87. After the tough loss ex Arizona State guard Tra Holder tried to reflect on the tough loss. “This was one of the craziest games in my career. We gave all we had against the best team in Germany and one of the best in Europe and had a chance to win. This was a great learning experience. We played hard, but some rebounds didn´t go our way and they hit some tough shots. We put ourselves in a good position to win. You can´t ask for more than that”, added Los Angeles native Tra Holder. FC Bayern Munich didn´t have their best day and seemed sluggish after winning 48 hours earlier against Gran Canaria in Euroleague action, but they came up big when they had to to secure the victory. “We struggled for 35 minutes and they played us tough. We put on more pressure in the last five minutes and that was the difference”, stressed FC Bayern Munich guard Braydon Hobbs.
4,900 fans made the trek to the Fraport arena on a beautiful spring day and saw Jason Clark and Richard Freudenberg out while German Niklas Kiel was rewarded for his fine game in Wurzburg with a starting nod. No team needed to take long to find their offensive rhythm as both teams were hitting shots and there were six lead changes in the first 5.12 minutes of the game. In the early going offensive onslaught, the Fraport Skyliners were led by guard Akeem Vargas who had the hot hand early scoring five points, German center Leon Kratzer was aggressive netting 4 points while American Tyler Larson made a lay in and Quantez Robertson made free throws. For FC Bayern Munich they also got solid support from many as ex Alba Berlin center Leon Radosevic scored twice, ex Skyliner Danilo Barthel nailed a trey, ex Valencia foreward Vladimir Lucic scored inside and Icelandic national player and ex FC Barcelona guard Petteri Koponen iced a catch and pop jumper, but Frankfurt led 15-13 thanks to a Kiel tap in off a Robertson miss. The Fraport Skyliners had no offensive break downs and defended well going on a 11-2 run to extend their lead to 26-15. In the run, they received superb guard play as Larson added 5 points on a trey and a runner while German Garai Zeeb gave huge minutes from the bench hitting a runner and scoring on transition. The Fraport Skyliners did a great job keeping up with the furious Munich tempo and with many shots made heightened their self confidence while the current BBL champion didn´t seem totally there playing at about 60%-70% of their abilities and missing open shots. FC Bayern Munich then got a break pouching on the Frankfurt bench that was inserted and breaking out on a 6-0 run as ex Columbia(NCAA) guard Maodo Lo scored three points and ex Bellarmine(NCAA2) guard Braydon Hobbs dropped a trey to cut the Frankfurt lead down to 26-21. “Frankfurt came out very aggressive and played very hard like they wanted to win very badly. Munich was too relaxed like nothing would happen. Frankfurt lost a little moment tum at the end as Munich made a push”, stressed Lich(Regionalliga 2) guard Jermale Jones. The Fraport Skyliners shot 65% from the field and 40% from outside and had 8 rebounds and 1 turnover while FC Bayern Munich shot 53% from the field and 50% from outside and had 5 rebounds and 1 turnover.
The second quarter remained tight, but the Fraport Skyliners remained in control as FC Bayern Munich was unable to get over the hump and capture the lead back. 27 year old 203cm ex Los Angeles Lakers forward Derrick Williams began the second quarter with a bang making a huge dunk cutting the Frankfurt lead down to 26-23. “That was a real NBA dunk. Williams is familiar of putting guys on posters. He brought a lot of excitement to Munich”, added Lich(Regionalliga 2) guard Jermale Jones. Frankfurt didn´t lose any of their offensive zip and quickly cruised out on a 6-2 run to keep the 32-25 lead. In the run Frankfurt got big time production from ex Alba Berlin center Jonas Wolfarth-Botterman who supplied a hook shot and thunderous one handed dunk while ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb made an amazing circus shot in traffic after weaving in and out of some surprised Munich defenders. “That looked a foul, but he was totally focused on putting the ball in the hole. He played with instinct. If he knows where the glass is and has the right touch then the ball will have a good chance of going in”, said Alabama native Jermale Jones. This Frankfurt run somehow rattled Munich awake as they started to defend better and play more calm and intelligent on offense and they started coming back. FC Bayern Munich made it really tight down the stretch getting another big trey from Barthel and an off balance jumper from Koponen and Radosevic free throw to cut Frankfurt´s lead down to 37-35. “Barthel wasn´t so focused at the start getting two quick fouls, but then calmed down and made some shots and started to play better”, added Jermale Jones. After another Larson lay in, FC Bayern Munich surprised Frankfurt´s full court press by whipping a touch down pass over it from ex Alba Berlin guard Nihad Djedovic to Serbian guard Stefan Jovic for the easy basket. But on the last play of the second quarter, Tyler Larson made a massive veteran play as he was under severe pressure and almost every other American would have opted to finishing tough in traffic, but he timed the perfect back door pass to Finish national player Shawn Huff scoring at the siren as Frankfurt led 41-37 at the break. “FC Bayern Munich played a lot harder, got the ball inside more and made more shots. Due to Munich´s better defense, it forced Frankfurt to hold the ball longer and force tough shots”, added Jermale Jones. The Fraport Skyliners shot 57% from the field and 22% from the three point line and had16 rebounds and 6 turnovers while FC Bayern Munich shot 52% form the field and 44% from the three point line and had 10 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners began to play a lot better again and heightened their defense and led by double figures as FC Bayern Munich couldn´t muster consistent offense. The third quarter has usually been a sore spot for Frankfurt, but against FC Bayern Munich, they were all business going on a brutal 10-2 run to extend their lead to 51-39 and got the Fraport arena cooking as Frankfurt fans couldn´t believe the fortune of their team giving the huge Bavarian favorite massive problems. In the run the Fraport Skyliners did a great job banging the ball inside and using the mis matches as well as possible. Ex Bamberg big man Leon Kratzer connected three times, Kiel was supplied a back door pass from Larson for the easy bucket and Larson hit a step back jumper. FC Bayern Munich looked like a desolate pre season team that was coughing up the ball way too much. The Fraport Skyliners defended very well and their offense also didn´t let them down as they could hold their double digit lead getting solid production from Tra Holder with a shot in traffic, Larson hitting a deep three over Derrick Williams and Zeeb dropping free throws for the 58-45 advantage. FC Bayern Munich then added some pressure and closed out the third quarter strong going on a 7-2 run to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 60-52. In the run, Williams missed a dunk, but didn´t give up staying with it and finishing in traffic while ex Crvena Zvezda MTS Beograd (KLS ) forward Nemanja Dangubic made a strong dunk and Koponen hit a big trey. “We came out well. A big problem this season has been us coming out flat in the third, but we played well and kept the lead”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Tra Holder. “We can´t make excuses that we had a tough Euroleague game a few nights before. We came out sluggish and they hit tough shots”, added Ohio native Braydon Hobbs. The Fraport Skyliners shot 53% from the field and 19% from the parking lot and had 27 rebounds and 10 turnovers while FC Bayern Munich shot 44% from the field and 40% form the parking lot and had 18 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter FC Bayern Munich started to slowly crawl back into the game inch by inch and then force overtime with a huge shot at the end. Despite the guests getting some offense with Jovic free throws and a Lucic lay in, the Fraport Skyliners were still in control of the game early in the fourth quarter as they got huge contribution from their bench as Holder nailed two long three´s and one from Huff keeping their comfortable lead at 69-56. “I have confidence and just try to help my team as much as possible. Whether it´s being the cheerleader or being on the court, I just try to give my best”, added Tra Holder. FC Bayern Munich had some defensive break downs in this phase concentrating on the bigs inside and closing that down but not keeping an eye on the three point line. FC Bayern Munich then took advantage of Frankfurt´s fifth team foul at the 6.07 minute mark and went on a 6-0 run getting free throws from Barthel and Williams and a easy Lo lay in cutting Frankfurt´s lead down to 69-62. FC Bayern Munich concentrated better on defense and Frankfurt wasn´t moving the ball well a big problem for them this season as that has been up and down. Frankfurt couldn´t generate much offense in this phase except for Larson while FC Bayern Munich continued to supply fierce pressure going on a lethal 9-1 run to cut the Frankfurt lead down to 73-71. In the run, FC Bayern Munich got valuable production from Djedovic who dropped a trey and Williams was extra aggressive in the paint having no problems against double and triple teams showing why he played many NBA seasons making a hard dunk and lay in. Frankfurt should have won the game at the end, but Leon Kratzer missed two free throws and Robertson one. Had Tez made both then Frankfurt would have led by 4 points. Instead they led only 74-71 and Lo stepped down the floor and drained a huge three with 8 seconds on the clock. Larson missed a shot for the win forcing overtime. “We switched our defense picking up full court. We changed our intensity and Lo hit a big shot”, stressed ex Nurnberg guard Braydon Hobbs. “Lo made a tough three at the end. Kudos to him for making a shot like that”, added Tra Holder. The Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 30% from outside and had 38 rebounds and 15 turnovers while FC Bayern Munich shot 44% from the field and 36% from outside and had 26 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
In the first overtime, FC Bayern Munich got the lead at first and held it until the end where Frankfurt brought the game into a second overtime. Guard play dominated the first few minutes as Lo scored twice including a pretty floater while Larson also scored in the paint, but FC Bayern Munich led 79-76. Kratzer then made a line drive one handed shot to cut Munich´s lead to 79-78. Ex Tuebingen guard Akeem Vargas then missed two free throws and it seemed like he could be the tragic loser, but he redeemed himself after Williams made two free throws. With Frankfurt trailing 80-78 with one second to go, Vargas was on the free throw line, but this time he drained the two pressure packed shots like Rick Barry in his best days forcing a second overtime. “Both teams played great defense. Vargas hit big free throws. I was confident that he would make them”, stressed Tra Holder. “Vargas hit big free throws. He had a mental battle, but it was a good time for him to bounce back. FC Bayern Munich shot 42% from the field and 31% from outside and had 30 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 47% from the field and 29% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 17 turnovers.
FC Bayern Munich continued to keep the lead in the second overtime as Frankfurt just couldn´t get over the hump and get the lead back. Radosevic who had been invisible since the first quarter took a mis match on the first play and made the bucket for the 82-80 Munich lead. Holder then connected on another huge three giving Frankfurt their last lead at 83-82. FC Bayern Munich then did a good job drawing fouls and making free throws as Williams and Djedovic connected, but Larson made a floater dead locking the game at 85-85. Larson did a great job carrying the team for 50 minutes and finished with 24 points and 8 dimes. “Tyler was unbelievable and kept us in the game. He was hitting shots and distributing the ball all game long. He made a crazy lay up and when all is going well, all tends to fall. His two big three´s over Williams were also nice. He also encouraged me to do it when they were switching bigs”, smiled Tra Holder. Djedovic then hit a huge trey for the 88-85 Munich lead. Shawn Huff then made a huge block on Williams inside the paint which led to a Holder transition basket to cut Munich´s lead to 88-87. But FC Bayern Munich then did the little things to secure the win as Lo made a big time block on Larson and then on the next possession, Frankfurt couldn´t buy a basket inside as Larson and Wolfart-Bottermann missed easy shots. With 10 seconds to go, it appeared like Djedovic made the insurance basket, but at closer inspection, it had been Robertson who had tipped it in. The Fraport Skyliners had 8 seconds to go to bring the game a third overtime, but Holder missed a last shot from the corner. One had to wonder about the Frankfurt decision making here as Holder shot the ball a few seconds after the inbounds pass. Larson may have been the better option, but then again Holder had hit some huge deep three´s in the game, so he definitely was an option. “I was in a hard position and jumped wanting to pass the ball to Huff, but I couldn´t so I shot it. If I could do it over I would have liked to have passed the ball”, stressed Tra Holder. “We gave Frankfurt different defensive looks and made stops. Key was not giving up easy lay in´s like earlier in the game”, stressed Braydon Hobbs. FC Bayern Munich had five players in double figures as Derrick Williams, Danilo Barthel, Maodo Lo and Nihad Djedovic added 12 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Tyler Larson with 24 points. Leon Kratzer added 13 points and 10 boards and Tra Holder supplied 11 points. FC Bayern Munich shot 42% form the field and 32% from outside and had 36 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 29% from outside and had 48 rebounds and 18 turnovers.