The one club Alba Berlin is looking to get back to the top of the German basketball totem pole while the other club FC Bayern Munich in a way also is. Because since arriving back to the BBL in 2011, Munich has only won two titles in that span, but now could win two titles in a season and get the club looking like a great basketball organization instead of only a good basketball organization. That would also have FC Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness content that all the effort he gave the program is finally paying off. Let´s rewind back last weekend, where Alba Berlin started their dominating quest of getting back to the top of German basketball by making an amazing sweep of the German U-16 and U-19 championships beating FC Bayern Munich and the Young Rasta Dragons. The U-16 team led by Elias Rodl, Evans Ripieque and Nolan Adenkunle breezed through the semi-final and easily disposed BBA Ludwigsburg 89-60 and then beat Fc Bayern Munich 96-82 defending their title from last season. The NBBL team of Alba Berlin had their backs to the wall in both the semi final and final, but thanks to nerves of steel, timely execution, the heart of a lion and clutch shooting from Franz Wagner, Jonas Mattissek and Badu Buck, they were able to make the double perfect for the team from the German capital. After the nerve wracking come from behind 77-68 win against the Young Rasta Dragons, Franz Wagner who is the brother of Michigan(NCAA) standout Moritz Wagner and was able to make a 180 degree turn in looks as like some of his other teammates, he traded the comb for the razor and shore off his hair and one could only have guessed he was related to the big Mo with that special twinkle in his eyes. He was a bit miffed by the question what was still missing for Alba Berlin. He then learned that all that the great organization Alba Berlin was missing now was the triple with the league title in the easyCredit BBL. After a gasp and smile, he quickly reshifted thoughts and agreed that the triple would be a nice thing. Franz´s brother Moritz may be the big news story and have the limelight at the moment, but if Alba Berlin can win their third title within weeks, then Alba Berlin will be at the top again and both Wagner brothers won´t be bored telling their great accomplishments from the past season and flashing that warm Wagner smile that has continued to grow as their habit of racking up titles continues to grow. FC Bayern Munich experienced a lot of FC Hollywood especially with the coaching change which was made so prematurely in the crunch time of the season, but with a few weeks left in the season, they are in the driver´s seat in the final and with good chances of securing that second league title since returning back to the BBL in 2011. The only thing that will hinder FC Bayern Munich from hoisting their second title of the season will be inconsistency. So it is Alba Berlin that has played the most beautiful basketball of the season against FC Bayern Munich who has the better experience and depth. Both teams looking for that true recognition and respect which only one team will get while the other will have to wait another year for redemption as it will be a battle to the finish and go 5 games. Franz Wagner as a very talented 16 year old already has sniffed BBL air this season and with the title could start that amazing Wagner summer as his brother Moritz most likely will be drafted by an NBA team in a few weeks.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 2018 NBBL Top 4 MVP Franz Wagner
Alba Berlin breezed into the easyCredit final by sweeping the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. Many were expecting a tighter series, but Alba Berlin overpowered them and the underdog just didn´t have enough gas left in their gas tanks after a very long, but successful season. Alba Berlin didn´t defend as well as they are capable of except in game two, but it was their dangerous offense that carried them into the final as they averaged 96 points in the three game series. In game one, Alba Berlin won the shoot out 102-87 as was their 28 free throws and controlling of the boards helped them get the win. Luke Sikma had his usual great game giving his two cents in every way as he scored 19 points, grabbed six boards and dished out six dimes.
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.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex NBA player Jared Cunningham after the 87-83 FC Bayern Munich win in Frankfurt
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.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Reggie Redding after the big 85-50 FC Bayern Munich win in game 4 in Frankfurt
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?
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 2018 easyCredit BBL scoring champion Philip Scrubb after droping 8 points and dishing out 8 assists
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.
March 23 2018 might not be a date that FC Bayern Munich basketball fans will remember in 10 years, but the name Scottie Wilbekin will forever be linked in their basketball history as the guy who presented a lethal shooting clinic at the most inappropriate time blocking the team´s Eurocup run to the final. If you had just arrived in the Audi Dome on that fateful night of March 23rd and had the worst seat in the house and had forgotten your glasses, the 188cm guard who was rifling home jumpers left and right while then head coach Sasa Dordevic was scrambling to find the right defender to stop this annoying shooting rage, one may have thought that the Turkish team Darussafaka had given NBA superstar Steph Curry a one game contract. Not only does Wilbekin look a little like the Golden State NBA champion, but is also close to his size at 188cm and has a nasty habit of dropping trey´s as easily as it is for an American tourist to be holed up all evening at a typical Brauhaus Beer hall in downtown Munich. Wilbekin didn´t get the all-time Eurocup scoring record as that is held by Randy Duck of the Brighton Bears in 2003 with 49 points, but Wilbekin´s 41 points was 5th best in it´s history and in good company with guys like American Mire Chatman and NBA player Bobby Brown with 43 and 44 points. One could say Wilbekin shot Darussafaka to the Eurocup final as he scored 24 points in the first game and in all hit FC Bayern Munich for 65 points in the two game series. Wilbekin will try to win a second title in Turkey to add to his Eurocup chip, but with the Fraport Skyliners facing FC Bayern Munich in the playoffs, FC Bayern Munich Marko Pesic max be feeling some déjà vu again and wondering if his stomach will be ready to take on a possible new shooting clinic from Mr Canada Philip Scrubb. Scrubb has been a shooter his whole career and shoots the ball with authority the way Shaq dunked back in the day. He comes into the playoffs shooting 47% from outside and even when his shot doesn´t fall, it is hardly ever a bad shot, but so close that one has to wonder when the day will come when he will have a 10/10 or better performance from outside. Recently Scrubb had 25 points at the break against Bamberg and was so hot everyone was expecting 40 plus points, but the defense closed him down better in the second half and finished with 33 points. In two loses to FC Bayern Munich this season Scrubb finished with 16 and 23 points. Scrubb has the ability to match a Wilbekin 41 points game and as he has shown so often this season might have to take things into his own hands in this series when the team needs instant scoring over a long stretch. If Scrubb can have a Wilbekin like shooting clinic in this series isn´t known yet, but if he does start with a 18-20 first half scoring onslaught in game one, it could be bombs away and then it will be interesting to see if Marko Pesic starts a nonstop finger nail chewing contest. If anything the 2018 easyCredit leading scorer Philip Scrubb will be on Pesic´s mind during and after the series win or lose as this Canadian national player will most likely be on his summer shopping list for next season.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 2018 easyCredit BBL scoring champion Philip Scrubb after droping 8 points and dishing out 8 assists
Even FC Bayern Munich had some typical FC Hollywood moments this season with the peak of head coach Sasa Dordevic being dismissed after the Eurocup semi-final loss, they have been able to keep it together on the court this season as they didn´t encounter another Scottie Wilbekin type player this season as they finished in first place with a record of 31-3. They started off well with winning their first three games, but then surprisingly lost at home to Wurzburg and ex coach Dirk Bauermann. However that didn´t faze Germany´s most famous sports team as they then steam rolled the competition in the BBL and Eurocup. In the BBL, they won 20 games in a row and found a clear identity on offense just totally overpowering opponents with their scoring machine scoring 80 points or more 16 times. It also helped that they had a certain established team chemistry as they had held on to 7 players. They also did a good job bringing in the missing pieces that were able to strengthen the already very strong roster. Their powerful offense has led to nine players averaging more than 7,0ppg and their second five are often stronger than other teams´s starting five. They are very well fortified at every position and have that added athletic presence that team´s can´t match up to.
So often in the past years when the playoffs were drawing nearer, the Fraport Skyliners
BBL Topscorer Philip Scrubb made 5 of 8 three pointers and finished the game with 23 points
would go on a few days working vacation in order to do some last minute team building for the crunch-time period of the season. This season the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner went to the tourist infested Mallorca to digest their current two game losing streak that left them shaking their heads after the unexplainable and unacceptable loss to arch rival Giessen 46ers and their crunch-time fall out in Bayreuth. The Fraport Skyliners entered the top game of the season against FC Bayern Munich resting in seventh place and if the playoffs started tomorrow would have been in, but had teams like Bamberg, ratiopharm Ulm, Wurzburg and Giessen breathing heavily down their backs ready to attack as the club has a very difficult rest program. FC Bayern Munich didn´t enter the Fraport arena playing their best basketball either having won two of their last four games and playing a very suspect defense giving up 89 points on average in the last two wins. Their offense has been red hot as they scored 100 points or more in the last three games. FC Bayern Munich came to Frankfurt having a 12-5 overall record and positive 5-3 record in the Fraport arena. The Fraport Skyliners had had some very stellar performances against FC Bayern Munich in their living room in the past and were looking for their fourth win at home and another step toward a playoff spot, but instead saw an 18 point lead dwindle down in the fourth quarter as American guard Braydon Hobbs came from the bench and saved his team with the right kind of playmaking and just organizing the team the right way and had an incredible mix of big shots and handing out dimes leading FC Bayern Munich to an incredible 87-83 victory. For three quarters, it was the Fraport Skyliners playing energized basketball and shooting at a high rate, but were at their limit while FC Bayern Munich played uninspired and at times helpless as if it was a pre season game and were somewhere at 40% of their abilities. That all changed in the fourth quarter as the 2018 easyCredit BBL cup champion made a furious comeback to put another dagger in the playoff hopes of Frankfurt. After the victory, ex NBA player Jared Cunningham who has been playing up and down as of late and came into the game shooting 3/23 from the parking lot in his last nine games and finished with only 4 points was thankful the team could pull out the win. “Frankfurt came out very aggressive and we couldn´t get stops which resulted in them taking the lead. We came out harder in the second half started to make big shots and big plays which helped us get the win”, stressed FC Bayern Munich guard Jared Cunningham. Mr Canada Philip Scrubb had made not only huge shots all game long, but some amazing Steph Curry type shots from seemingly somewhere from the other side of Frankfurt, but when it counted most at the end, he was rejected by Reggie Redding ending the game. After the victory, Scrubb was as always prepared to digest another tough loss in his own living room. “We played well for 35 minutes. We were good for three quarters, but weren´t together in the fourth quarter and lost control. I know this was a tough game to lose, but this game showed that we can play with the best teams in the league. We will take some confidence from this game into the next one”, warned Philip Scrubb.