The last time the Fraport Skyliners were able to make the playoffs, world class basketball player Luka Doncic was playing his last season in Europe, Isaac Bonga was still in Germany, Ishmail Wainwright was real far away from the NBA and Chris Paul still was ringless in 2018. Back then the Fraport Skyliners played their hearts out against FC Bayern Munich with the likes of Quantez Robertson, Phil Scrubb, Taj Webster and Mike Morrison and were even up 2-1 in games, but then allowed a fatal 35 point drubbing in their own living room to tie the series which led to a tough 20 point defeat and season ending in Munich. One could really say out of the perspective of the team now that those were the good old days. Back then the team had top coach Gordon Herbert who is having incredible success with Team Germany having won the Bronze at the 2022 Euro, but ever since he departed in 2019, the fortunes of the team have gone in the opposite direction down. It came to an all-time low last season as the team officially was demoted, but were saved with the wild card and had to pay 750,000. Some years ago up and coming coach Sebastian Gleim did a solid job in Frankfurt and really showed potential which was rewarded with reaching the next step with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim, but last season was a disaster as the experiment going the Spanish way with Diego Ocampo was a flop as it showed trying to find the next Pedro Calles is no cake walk. The Fraport Skyliners have won 3 titles and have had substantial success in their 20 + year history and paved the road in the youth development for other organizations. They don’t only want to find back to the winning track, but have to. They can’t afford another disaster like last season which will put them in the Pro A. They hope to have found the right direction with up and coming Dutch head coach Geert Hammink . There is absolutely no more playing around as the Fraport Skyliners have to produce in the 2022-2023 season.
The first duty of business in the off season was bringing in a new head coach. As always finding the right instructor that will be able to form a harmonious team that will develop chemistry and hopefully have a successful season. That is often easier said than done. After the failed Spanish way, the Fraport Skyliners decided to go the Dutch route. There were some German coaches on the markt, but instead of taking a more known name, the organization decided to go with Geert Hammink . At first glance more educated basketball heads will right away have recognized the name. ‘Wasn’t he a basketball agent or is’? Then the more older generation may have remembered him from his playing days when he suited up for Alba Berlin where he played during the club’s magical run in the last 90’s into the 2000’s where they won 6 BBL league titles in a row before the Opel Skyliners stopped the run in 2004. He was there for 3 years and racked up 5 titles. The 1993 NBA first round pick that played with Shaq at LSU also has 3 sons playing professional basketball with Shane being the best known. After his playing career, he decided to become an agent and joined forces with the well known agency Courtside in 2004 until 2016. He then decided to try coaching coaching the Dutch Windmills and then took over Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden and in a span from 2020-2022 had instant success winning 3 titles including the 2022 BNXT title, a new league combing the teams from Holland and Belgium. He now wants to make the next step in a higher and top league in Europe the easyCredit BBL. The question is can he bring his philosophy and style and have success?
When looking at the new roster of the Fraport Skyliners, one thing stands out right away. There isn’t a abundance of Americans as there usually are. Last season it was 4 and in 2019-2020 it was 6. Over the last 6 seasons, the team had almost 5 Americans on average per season. That isn’t the case this season as there are only 2 Americans with Fraport Skyliner legend and lifer Quantez Robertson and veteran J.J Frazier. 2 key players this season won’t be Americans, but actually 2 Lithuanians named Einaras Tubutis and Laurynas Beliauskas.A third with Martinas Geben could be the icing on the topping. In the past 2 seasons he had fortune with Lithuanians like Arunas Mikalauskas and Tubutis who he reeled along to Frankfurt. Tubutis (BNXT League 11.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 68.9%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 55.9%; is a guy that Hammnik not only hopes can continue his scoring punch, but also be a defensive factor in a higher league. While Beliauskas (Monbus Obradoiro CAB Santiago de Compostela 5.3ppg, 1.1rpg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 85.7%) is a guy that brings 2 seasons and 63 ACB games experience to the BBL: He is a shooter and the club will have to depend on scoring from him. Martinas Geben was an excellent pick up for the injured Haarms. He is a physical inside player with Euroleague experience with BC Zalgiris. Last season he averaged 7.4ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 65.5%, FT: 72.7% with Bamberg. The team should try to keep him for the season after his 2 month contract expires. J.J Frazier (Samsun BSB Anakent Turkey-TBL, 17.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.9apg, Steals-1 (2.2spg), FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 88.5%) is the point guard and as usual will be a main focus for the success. He has good experience and even if he tore up the Serie 2 in Italy for many years, it is a good sign because it is a well respected league and maybe the best second division in Europe. He now has to prove that he can play well at a higher level. Quantez Robertson (8.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.6apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 25.7%, FT: 82.4%) just doesn’t go away and that is good. He is playing his 14th professional season and 14th with the Fraport Skyliners. The athletic freak who probably could have played in the NBA in his prime if he was needed as a defensive stopper will turn 38 in December and obviously isn’t getting any younger. He averaged 30 + minutes in his career in 10 of 13 seasons. Last season was his lowest 29 minutes per game since the 15-16 season where the team was stacked with overwhelming talent and one can be sure that the minutes will dip again. His leadership and role model function will once again be important with all the young players on the squad. The team also kept Dutch national player Matt Haarms (7,4ppg, 4,5rpg, 1,3bpg) who got injured at the Euro and will return soon. He had a solid rookie season in Frankfurt, but sky is still the limit for him. He can become a top rebounder and is talented enough to up his scoring by continuing to use his three while becoming more of a rim protector.
As usual the club also kept many Germans that will fill out the roster. The club will be expecting a lot from Lukas Wank (6.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 74.3%) who was much to up and down last season and had games where one truly could only think why did he just make that decision. But he is young and will have a different role this season playing the 2-3 more. He is another guy that has enough talent to have his break out season with the team. The club also kept the German trio of Lorenz Brenneke (6,5ppg, 3,8rpg), Jordan Samare and Alex Richardson. Brenneke has the most potential to make the next step in his career. If he can develop his 3 more, then he could definitely make the next step. Hie has a nice inside game and his defensive physicality will help the team. Jordan Samare is still young at age 20 and a project, but can continue to develop getting good minutes in the Pro B. He has good offensive tools and can continue to work on his defense in the pro B. Alex Richardson is a very raw talent that has shown signs of brilliance in the Pro B, but still not fully ready for the easyCredit BBL even if he has played in 9 games. His biggest weapon is his oh my God body. If he can continue to get stronger then watch out. He will continue to play Pro B in order to work on his weaknesses like decision making which is common at a young age and possibly become more of a main focus in the offense. The team also added 2 young Germans with Joshua Obiesie, and Nolan Adenkunle. The most interesting player is Obiesie who is a massive talent and there was even NBA draft talk some years ago. He made huge steps in Wurzburg, but couldn’t make the next step with FC Bayern Munich. The kid is a winner having experienced success at a young age winning the Albert Schweizer tournament and getting a Bronze at the 2019 U-20 Euro. He is a combo guard with a consistent shot and strong athlete. He already showed in pre season that he wants responsibility on the court. Sky is also the limit with him. He hopes to have his BBL break through in Frankfurt. Nolan Adekunle is a young talent that learned basketball in the Alba Berlin system. He won the NBBL and JBBL titles with Alba Berlin and is an energetic athletic player that can be an impact player at both ends. He can shoot and drive on offense and will be a main focus in the Pro B, but also a player that could surprise some and have a Brenneke route and sneak into the BBL rotation of Hammink.
So how will the Fraport Skyliners play in 2022-2023. Hammink’s ex player Jhonathan Dunn who will battle his ex coach this season with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg had the best description.’ Coach is a good one being able to bring guys with different personalities and have us come together. He likes to play fast, active, and under control. He always said we have to play with controlled Chaos. Chaos for our opponents and control for us. He does his best seeing the court and being able to ask us what we see’, warned Jhonathan Dunn. This is a style that has never been seen before in Frankfurt with playing very fast and having rapid decision making. His play may be unorthodox, but hey if it works, it works. His track record the last 2 years has proven that his style can be successful. The question will be, can it be successful in a top league in Europe. Will he be able to hold on to it for a whole season. Often teams have success, but in the second half of the season, the scouting becomes better and teams know how you play. So where will the Fraport Skyliners end in May 2023? Could they be a surprise team this season or be a club that has to fight in the league from day 1? There is a pool of 5-6 teams that could have difficultly keeping up in the standings and Frankfurt could be one of those teams. Once again the first month could play a giant role exactly where the season could go. The good news this season is that the BBL didn’t give them a difficult start like last season where they met Munich, Berlin and Ulm in the first weeks. This season, they meet 5 teams with FC Bayern Munich and then 4 with Bayreuth, Heidelberg, MBC and Braunschweig where they have to look good and desperately need to begin well. Because after that their schedule gets tough with games against Oldenburg, Bamberg and Ulm. As usual injuries will play a huge role. The less the better. The team has to understand from day 1 that everybody is accountable and everyone needs to produce. Only that way will the team have success. The team will need consistent production from the 2 Lithuanians and good support from the German role players. The BBL continues to be a league on the rise and the competitive level is high. Frankfurt could be a surprise, but more likely a team trying to find their spot in the places 12-16. But if one remembers correctly back in 2008 an unknown John Patrick introduced 40 minutes of hell in Goettingen and was laughed at at first. But 15 years later, his style mostly gave his team success. Maybe this controlled chaos can be the start of something great in Frankfurt?