Basketball will most likely never match the interest level of football in Germany as old footage of the 2018 Eintracht Frankfurt cup win will show as the entire Romer place in downtown Frankfurt was covered in a sea of Eintracht Frankfurt colors and estimated 25,000 fans with about as much room left for an undernourished fly while in 2016 as the Fraport Skyliners celebrated their third club title Fiba Europe Cup, only 400 fans showed up while innocent bystanders were wondering who the tall dudes up on the balcony who were celebrating as hard like little kids who had been told school had been cancelled for a whole year. Who cares how many people show up, because a title is a title and for both clubs to come together one season and win a title together is dream material. When you have a club like FC Bayern Munich dominating football, then dreaming is always the norm for any other club. It might not have occurred to each Fraport Skyliner fan on the day of the do or die game against the big mighty FC Bayern Munich that there could have been the possibility that within 48 hours the cosmopolitan city Frankfurt could have two historic wins against Germany´s most famous sports team from Bavaria in basketball and football as on Saturday was the German cup final where Eintracht Frankfurt had surprisingly reached the final for the second consecutive year. But dreaming in this sense is a better choice than actual reality occurring because the odds of something like that happening was more likely than pigs flying over the Fraport arena and Lebron James joining them. Ok Lebron is the best player on the planet and can do the most amazing things, but in all respect to the king, let´s keep Michael Jordan doing the flying to the rim, because he was the first one to really make flying basketball acceptable. Granted it would not have been a title for the Fraport Skyliners had they been victorious in Munich in game five and been only the ticket to the BBL semi-final and a clash with the next annoying opponent Brose Bamberg, but anytime you beat FC Bayern Munich, it has to always feel like something extremely special almost like celebrating a holiday. All the Fraport Skyliners had to have done was win game five, because Eintracht Frankfurt did the seemingly impossible in Berlin beating FC Bayern Munich 3-1, so at least Frankfurt will be celebrating for weeks after that. The Fraport Skyliners came a lot farther than most expected forcing FC Bayern Munich to five games and pulling off two wins in a row something they had never done before against them. It was another interesting season for the Fraport Skyliners with many highs and lows, but in the end their instant high against FC Bayern Munich was brutally brushed off by the Bavarian squad as they ended Frankfurt´s season with two swift blows in game four and game five. The fantastic and magical Fraport Skyliners fairytale playoff run was fun, but unrewarded.
A week ago the Fc Bayern Munich basketball club had woken up not in high spirits, but unnerved and distraught most likely totally ruining for some players their traditional Bavarian Sunday breakfast of Weiss Wurst and soft scrumptious pretzels as they weren´t staring at a commanding 2-1 series lead against the ambitious and annoying Fraport Skyliners, but instead were reeling on the tight rope down two games to one with their season on the line. One of the biggest easyCRedit BBL playoff upsets was possible as the #8 seed Fraport Skyliners were close and on the verge of sending the #1 seed big mighty FC Bayern Munich packing and on their way into summer vacation. The 72 hours until game four must have been extremely brutal for everyone in the FC Bayern Munich organization as no one there had expected anything but an easy series win, but not having to experience such a pest like the Fraport Skyliners making their basketball lives very excruciating. The thoughts of the players for those 72 hours must have been wandering like crazy day and night. A Danilo Barthel might have thought was I not aggressive enough or was my beard not scary enough, A Jared Cunningham might have looked back to his NBA days and wondered what tips a Lebron James had given him when he experienced tough times that he could use now in this time of need in Germany or big tough German national player Maik Zirbes remembered what it took to win 5 titles in two seasons with Crvena Zvezda Telekom Beograd as everyone knew now there was no time for screwing around any longer on the court, but it was time for big business and bring some pride and clutch wins back to Germany´s most famous sports brand. A week later FC Bayern Munich is back in the Audi Dome not with disappointed and embarrassed faces saying farewell to their faithful fans and coming up with excuses why they stunk up the house against the Fraport Skyliners, but instead are the big mighty FC Bayern Munich again and on top of the world as they are in the easyCredit BBL semi-finals having to now battle reigning champion Brose Bamberg. The question now is can FC Bayern Munich use this high and momentum and play a better and less nerve wracking series against Brose Bamberg or will they panic and let the leagues big surprise team the last two months march into the BBL final? They have pure motivation to get Munich a title even more after the football department couldn´t overcome Eintracht Frankfurt in the cup final losing 3-1.
A sweep is a sweep, but for anyone who didn´t see a second of the series and only read the scores and neglected to gaze at the box scores might have thought that Brose Bamberg experienced a tasty cake walk with little interference against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, but that notion is deceiving because the series was a real battle and a lot closer than what the scores indicate. The Telekom Baskets Bonn can go into summer vacation with their heads held high because they have nothing to hide. The Telekom Baskets Bonn played well, had a little misfortune here and there and gave Brose Bamberg a real run for the money. In game one, Brose Bamberg won in Freak City 87-74. The Telekom Baskets Bonn did a great job securing the rebound duel for themselves and coughing up the ball only 7 times, but their three extra possessions didn´t help them further.
Never count out a John Patrick no matter what the circumstances are. The American experienced coach who has no difficulty having a sound conversation in German at anytime has shown it over and over in his career no matter where he has coached that he is capable of not only building a talented team, but also be able to mesh each player´s qualities together so they function properly on the court at a consistent rate. Not too mention not always having a sufficient budget to operate from, he consistently gets the most out of what he has to work with. The ex Stanford(NCAA) player displayed his coaching expertise bringing BG Goettingen to the BBL and reaching the playoffs at a consistent rate while topping his run off with the Eurochallnege title in 2010 and also discovering guys like John Little, Chris Oliver, Kyle Bailey and Taylor Rochestie and putting them on the basketball map. With s.Oliver Wurzburg he led the team into the playoffs and upset Alba Berlin in the 2012 playoffs. He came and saved the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in 2013 being a fireman and since then has led the organization into the playoffs five consecutive times. So when the 2018 Basketball Champions League Final 4 were completed and nobody witnessed the big smile of Thomas Walkup on the winner´s podium, but instead a dejected team escaping Athens with a disappointing fourth place finish, many might of thought that the club would return home and have difficulty erasing the weekend blues from Greece. Ok so my 3-0 FC Bayern Munich prediction over the Fraport Skyliners made me eat my words and now I´m officially going to eat my words again after my medi Bayreuth-MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg prediction of 3-2. I have to be honest, I always believed that John Patrick and co would beat the Bavarian squad 3-0, because I have always believed and respected Patrick´s work but wanted to be right had a medi Bayreuth upset occurred. Shame on me! How could that ever have happened. John Patrick is a coaching master and once again showed how quickly he could transform a dejected squad to a focused team. With the amazing 3-0 sweep of medi Bayreuth, Patrick was able to reach the semi-finals for only the second time in his career. The question now is can he keep the team momentum going and upset the mighty Alba Berlin that has a core of snipers that could possibly outgun the Golden State Warriors with them having a semi cold night. Never count out a John Patrick no matter what the circumstances are, because if you do then you will get bit in the butt quicker than a David Mccray reflex can lead to a steal and transition bucket.
The road to the easyCredit BBL semi-finals wasn´t as easy for Alba Berlin and in no means a cake walk as they had to tough out an exciting 5 game series against the Ewe Baskets Oldenburg where each team won their home games. Alba Berlin went into the series with the EWE Baskets as the heavy favorite not only with their incredible regular season, but also because how the underdog had presented itself in the last weeks. But as one had seen last season, when you have a Rickey Paulding you always have a chance a she showed last season against Bayreuth and Ulm. The 2009 BBL champion didn´t hide their faces in the sand, but really came to play. In the first two games, Alba Berlin were far away from being a fourth best defensive team in the league as the EWE Baskets Oldenburg averaged 96 points per game 20 more than what Alba Berlin allowed all season. It was no secret that both teams can put up points quickly and both did. However Alba Berlin was able to make good adjustments after every loss and let up less points each home game while never really losing consistency on offense as they averaged 92 points in the high scoring series.
Many people that don´t know Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert will call it a miracle while people that know him better in terms of basketball mastery won´t be at all surprised what he has been able to get out of his team in the last week. 11 days ago after the disappointing 85-72 loss which for many wasn´t untypical, the Fraport Skyliners and Philipp Scrubb had a long bus ride home and had a lot of soul searching to do already noticing in that game that they had the game to compete with Germany´s most famous team. A week later the ever so reserved Mr Canada Philip Scrubb had another long bus ride home, but this time he could probably sneak in the one or other smile after hearing a Robertson and Morrison joke, because the Fraport Skyliners were up in the best of five series 2-1. Who would have thought that at the start of the series? Many thought after the game two win in Frankfurt that they would see one last home game at home and then summer vacation would begin. Instead with the help of a furious 29 point third quarter that rescued the 2004 BBL champion from 18 down, they showed extended heart and won in Munich 86-83 with the help of a gigantic Scrubb trey with 18 seconds to go and overall 13 three´s that the club dropped as a shocked FC Bayern Munch were wondering when this nightmare would end? FC Bayern Munich CEO Marko Pesic had another annoying reminder just how dangerous a Philip Scrubb is in crunch-time moments. The Fraport Skyliners returned home with an ace up their sleeve having the momentum and ready for the knock out as FC Bayern Munich now had their backs to the wall and suddenly had to play their best basketball to survive and did crushing the Fraport Skyliners 85-50 forcing a game 5 on Thursday night in Munich.
The last weeks before the FC Bayern Munich playoff series have been at times a disgusting roller coaster ride for the Fraport Skyliners and for a Philip Scrubb he might already have completed a short season ending vacation to Paris or secretly been in Munich for a meal with Marko Pesic concerning lucrative bucks for next season and been back in Ottawa where he is in the offseason and already getting up extra shots in preparation for next season had the club lost their last regular season home to Science City Jena which they were very close to doing after a seemingly curse was erased by the basketball God as three mishaps were rewarded by defensive stops and a Shawn Huff shot saved their season. Two weeks later the Fraport Skyliners aren´t at home digesting a second non playoff season and wondering where they would be with a Jordan Theodore, but are back at their basketball home Fraport arena with seemingly help from the basketball God again as they sit in the driver´s seat having an amazing and really unbelievable 2-1 game lead against Germany´s most famous sports club FC Bayern Munich and can end their season that had very high expectations on Tuesday with a victory. But then again is this really a miracle, because over the years Gordon Herbert has time in and time out shown what he can master even when the odds look bleaker than a tornado filled Oklahoma sky and produce success. He has showed again how he can get the best out of each player at the right moments and how his pinpoint scouting can bring an experienced and so talented team like FC Bayern Munich to unending riddles to how they can counter react when Frankfurt makes a successful adjustment. No matter how this series ends, the Fraport Skyliners should follow Science City Jena and do what they did for Bjoern Harmsen and give him a indefinite contract. He deserves it because he lives for the Fraport Skyliners even if his back would rather decline comment on the matter. Maybe Gordon Herbert is a basketball God in disguise. The last week, he surely has driven his team to go above and beyond, but can they make that last step and slam the door on this season best and most successful team FC Bayern Munich?
If there is anyone in Frankfurt basketball country that had the audacity to say now that they had predicted a Fraport Skyliners series win, they are most likely lying. I have been a staunch believer in the masterful work of head coach Gordon Herbert over the years, but as this series with FC Bayern Munich approached, I saw no hope in this team surviving against Jared Cunningham, Devin Booker, Danilo Barthel and co. I predicted an easy sweep by FC Bayern Munich and then corrected myself giving them possibly one win already remembering that the Fraport Skyliners had won games against FC Bayern Munich in the past and had won game 2 in their living room in the 2015 series. I just wanted to be on the safe side, but my inner thoughts were flooded with sweep, sweep, sweep for the Bavarian side. It was a normal basketball reaction from me as basketball reality was staring in my face. How could I predict a Fraport Skyliners series win after seeing Frankfurt stink up the house against Science City Jena and being crushed in Berlin as the team suffered one of it´s worst defeats in franchise history.
16 hours after the Fraport Skyliners had lost game one in Munich, the team had already had their post game cool down in their training facility BCM in Frankfurt and some guys exited the gym with Quantez Robertson, Tai Webster, Jordan Sibert and Mike Morrison who were in a good mood especially the latter with the Florida native who when he saw my Boston Red Sox shirt started to marvel about the amazing game three finish by the Boston Celtics. They had won on the expertise of possible NBA coach of the year Brad Stevens as the 17 time NBA champion last second inbounds play as ex NCAA champion with Florida Al Horford created a mismatch hauled down the lob and made the difficult basket for the win. That game three started at the time where the Fraport Skyliners were journeying back to Frankfurt on the bus trying to digest the tough 85-72 loss so it was more than likely that many of the players tuned into the NBA thriller to help pass the time and help forget the 21 point effort by Vladimir Lucic. The Fraport Skyliners came out to a quick 12-3 lead and played a solid first half, but overtime couldn´t handle the overpowering Munich team as they produced less points each quarter as they watched the favorite be able to play their game and dominate the boards and ease by them with their pinpoint shooting accuracy when they needed it most. The Fraport Skyliners needed a win desperately at home to salvage some kind of leverage going back to Munich and not having their backs to the wall down 0-2. In a way the Fraport Skyliner´s situation was a bit like the Celtics, who also were the underdog against the Philadelphia 76ers. Possibly the Fraport Skyliners could remember some of that energy and excitement the Boston Club presented on that bitter Saturday night as they were coming home from the bitter loss and they could possibly take some of their spirit and create extra toughness to give the Bavarian side a game that they would never forget. The Fraport Skyliners came to play and controlled the game for 40 minutes even if FC Bayern Munich was always on their doorstep, the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup teams slammed the door on the faces of the Bavarian team countless times with big shots that denied the opponent to get over the hump winning 75-69. After the win, Mr Canada Philipp Scrubb who´s beard had gotten a bit bushier since game one reflected on the big win. “Key today wasn´t only that we had many guys hit key shots at the right time, but also got rebounds and stops at the right time. When they went on a run and we lost energy, it was our bench that really stepped up. Bonga, Sibert and Huff were huge”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Philipp Scrubb. FC Bayern Munich snuck out of the locker room one by one, but ex Giessen 46er and Mr game changer Braydon Hobbs gave his reflection why his team was unable to go home with a 2-0 series advantage. “We have to give Frankfurt credit. They played good defense and we lacked the needed energy. When you score only 69 points, it won´t be easy to win games”, stressed FC Bayern Munich guard Braydon Hobbs. Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t leave the Boston Celtics subject totally untouched and gave his two cents to how a NBA coaching poll of coaches didn´t give one single vote to Brad Stevens for coach of the year. “I don´t know how that can be, but I like to take things from his coaching style”, smiled Gordon Herbert.
It was supposed to be the big weekend for the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Athens with the perfect story book ending with the club returning home with the 2018 Basketball Champions League title bringing some added special prestige to the 87,000 populated city of Ludwigsburg, giving the club only the 5th international German club title, bringing the versatile Thomas Walkup some added elevation in his stock as he is on the verge of the NBA and Euroleague and bringing head coach John Patrick another step up into the elite coaching corner in Germany as his development of the club in the last years has not only deserved unending praise, but the utmost respect as his work is exemplary, but instead the team returned home without a title and only a disappointing fourth place finish as they lost both games. The most satisfying aspect the club most likely could bring back to German soil was having had a free 48 hour vacation in the breathtaking city of Athens as a visit off the court to the famous Akropolis which is as much of a must see as it is visiting the Residenzschloss in Ludwigsburg and on the court having the pleasure and opportunity of witnessing the amazing Oaka Olympic Indoor Hall that seats 18,989 crazy and loud fans that make an arena visit so unforgettable that just being there for a game can supply exciting stories for a lifetime that could easily overshadow any incredible play, amazing shot, no look pass or crushing dunk seem like an absolute side note. Perhaps the unbelievable energy level and noise level of the OAKA arena could of doused the intense thoughts of head coach John Patrick at times after the loss in the arena, but then again his competitive nature most likely didn´t let him. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg lost their semi-final game to the French squad Monaco on Friday night 87-65 that boasted ex Alba Berlin center Elmedin Kikanovic and played a solid first half, but lost their rhythm in the second half getting outscored 51-27 and had problems taking care of the ball. One of the worst things about a final 4 tournament is losing in the semi-final and having to play that unwanted game for third place. Instead of hiding your head in the sand and then flying home quickly, one has to remain and battle the unending thoughts about what went wrong in the semi-final and what could have been done better to win as well as try to focus on winning the game for third place. The German club were unable to salvage at least one positive thing on the court and went home 0-2 losing to Spanish side Murcia 85-74 as they got killed on the boards as the injured Justin Sears really was missed. Instead of leaving Athens on a massive high, the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg have to shift gears now and get ready fast for the easyCredit BBL playoffs as they meet tough opponent medi Bayreuth. Can the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg forget their disappointing Athens weekend on the court and be ready for medi Bayreuth, or will they suffer a second heartbreak in a row? Anyone that knows John Patrick, knows that he is a fighter and will have his torn and battered club ready for medi Bayreuth and not fall over and wilt like a flower.
It was an incredible season for the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in the easyCredit BBl as they finished in third place with a record of 26-8 which was their best record dating back to the surprise second place finish in the 2006-2007 season. It was also the most successful season for John Patrick with the MHP Riesen as coach as he had two eighth place finishes and one fifth place in 2015-2016. They started well winning 8 of their first 9 games, but then had a little drought losing 2 of three games getting beat by Munich and Wurzburg. Then they were back to their old consistent ways winning 11 of 13 games, but did get swept by FC Bayern Munich. They finished the season with a 5-3 record losing to teams like Bamberg and Alba Berlin. John Patrick did a great job being able to build a strong team that quickly found their chemistry and their roles as he almost completely added new players as the only guy from last season was veteran David Mccray.