This coming Sunday, Germany´s team FC Bayern Munich will try to get revenge in their comfy living room from their early season loss on the road against the Fraport Skyliners. For some before the basketball has even started there will be various delicious attractions in the Audi Dome like getting to the food line early and being able to feast on a traditional 5 Euro German Brat Wurst which is the American equivalent of the good old hot dog or seeing how many Bayern Munich celebrities one can witness from the football department like former president Uli Hoeness who is one of the main reasons why the basketball department got the needed funding to make it´s course to the Beko BBL or 1996 European champion and current head of the board Matthias Sammer or any of the various players like Jerome Boateng or Holger Badstuber who have visited games in the past. When one finally has got their share of enough food and celebrity watching, then comes time for the basketball encounter at 3.00pm. On the basketball side, there are enough fine attractions to wet one´s mouth again even after the fourth Brat Wurst as one can be astonished by the big man duel of power vs elegance between John Bryant and Johannes Voigtmann or witness the ultimate team player like Aaron Doornekamp doing the nitty gritty work inside or the ultimate duel of the high flyers Quantez Robertson who is his own special airline every time he is gliding through the air and Bryce Taylor who can electrify any crowd with his crushing dunks even awakening that poor tired soul that dared to fall asleep during the game. However put all these scrumptious treats aside as the biggest and most anticipated battle will be the revival with the ex Fraport Skyliner Justin Cobbs against the potential league MVP Jordan Theodore.
After the last shot of ex Fraport Skyliner point guard Justin Cobbs fell short in the 2016 Beko BBL cup final, the Alba Berlin players on the floor were dancing and going wild as any guys would after just winning a title, while a dejected FC Bayern Munich lot were scrambling back to the bench and in total shock after not being rewarded for their courageous 7-0 run in the last minute and a half being beaten by a Dragan Milosavljevic floater that fought its way through the tense Audi Dome air with authority. Way up in the arena stands were the faithful Alba Berlin fans seated as a big sea of yellow was present and as excited as if they had just won the first club title, even though it was the third cup victory in the last four years. While on the other side closer to the basketball floor in the first row, German ski jumping legend Sven Hannawald was taking in the atmosphere, but not letting any emotion get in the way as you wouldn´t have been able to tell if he was a real hard core basketball fan or not while about 20 feet to his right in the third row the contrast in emotion was about as opposite as the effectiveness of a Steph Curry three pointer and that of a Shaq. In the third row, one could observe legendary FC Bayern Munich team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller Wohlfarth watching the cup presentation like any of the other many ceremonies he has witnessed in his almost 40 years of service to Germany´s most famous sport club while FC Bayern Munich football club president Uli Hoeness was sitting two places from the doctor and had a very sullen expression on his face as if he was attending the funeral of his best friend. Even his most powerful thoughts about FC Bayern Munich football were taking the back seat momentarily to the bitter basketball loss. But that is expected considering all the dedication and work the German has done putting FC Bayern Munich basketball on the map as well as his natural love for the game and his club. Even 20 minutes after the loss, members of the FC Bayern Munich organization like youth coordinator Volker Stix were sitting dejected looking straight ahead as if they had just seen a nasty ghost as this loss will take a long while to digest. These were some of the stories that were told minutes after Alba Berlin had won their eighth cup title and 19th overall in their illustrious club history. All in all, the 2016 Beko BBL cup weekend was another great event that was sparked by exciting games, dripping water and Alex King´s smile.
One of the good things about an ugly win is and when its in Europe Cup play is that a club has a lot of time to watch film, correct errors and then also get prepared for the next opponent and with FC Bayern Munich in town Gordon Herbert needed as much time as possible to digest the disgusting game against Slovenian team Novo Mesto that Frankfurt won 67-65, but with their exhibition of lack luster offense,they would have been creamed by the Bavarian team by at least 25 points. Even after the ugly win Cincinnati native Quantez Robertson found a short instance to joke that the club could of scared away the team if Frankfurt had had 5 leatherface masks on, but really Novo Mesto wasn´t scared of Frankfurt the whole night. Frankfurt had no consistent rhythm on offense and except for a nice 14-0 run in the third quarter had no instant offense the whole game. Costly and untimely turnovers scared all observers as the Fraport Skyliners really showcased untypical Frankfurt basketball. Their defense is the only part of their game that continues to be in harmony as their chemistry is there as they have allowed 65 points on average in the last 5 games. But where is that good offense that comes from their strong defense which is usually the result? The Fraport Skyliners had 5 days to digest the weird win and prepare for FC Bayern Munich while Germany´s most famous sports brand had only 72 hours after playing Euroleague Friday night in Spain against Real Madrid. Two weeks ago fans may have experienced a horror show, but the club got some fortune as the German big three of Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Konstantin Klein are healthy again which makes their roster deeper again. However one needs a lot more than a deep roster when you have the eccentric character of Svetislav Pesic roaming the sidelines and a star ensemble of players like Bryce Taylor, Deon Thompson, Nihad Djedovic, KC Rivers and Alex Renfroethat could fill the Frankfurt Alte Oper and probably the one or the other dazzle with their footwork with a ballet cast with the biggest cheerleader being big country John Bryant applauding from the first row. However the Alte Oper or ballet wasn´t on the menu, but top notch basketball as The Fraport Skyliners entered the game with a five game winning streak and wanted to show the home crowd that their inconsistency of Eurocup offense was over as they met the 2014 Beko BBL champion FC Bayern Munich and were like reborn not being kicked out of the arena by 30, but by playing hard -nosed defense and being inspired in the second half by Jordan Theodore´s 21 points and Vinnie Johnson microwave steam as they won their sixth game in a row stifling FC Bayern Munich 74-69. After the win Theodore was humbled by the comparison to microwave great Vinnie Johnson of the Detroit Pistons, but after scoring only one point in the first half and no offense generated, his 21 points in the second half felt refreshing. “I wasn´t aggressive in the first half and I am an attacking point guard. I was trying to get a feel in the first half and getting guys involved, but I knew that I would be able to pick my spots in the second half. Vinnie Johnson was a great player. I started to hit shots and felt comfortable and the hole started to look big. I just tried to help the team anyway that I could. I credit my teammates for letting me take the shots. The big thing though was our defense. We want to hold teams to 70 or under and did that tonight. We also fed off the crowd as there was a great atmosphere in the arena”, stressed New York native Jordan Theodore. Skyliner good luck charm Jason Boone was in the arena watching good friend John Little play and was impressed by Theodore, but not surprised by his heating up. “Theodore hit crazy shots. He was in the zone and like a microwave. Munich didn´t do a good job keeping him out of his comfort zone. When you compete at this level and against a team like Munich you have to know what to do to win and Theodore knew what he had to do and once he got going took that to his advantage getting in a groove and securing the win”, said 2010 Eurochallenge winner Jason Boone. After a big win against FC Bayern Munich one can always be in a joking mood. “Theodore wasn´t a microwave. The way he played is what we expect from him. He hit tough shots and made free throws. He showed great leadership and found guys and made the right plays”, stated Cincinnati native Quantez Robertson. Fc Bayern Munich was reeling off a bitter 101-99 loss at Real Madrid, but made no excuses for the loss, but were honest. “This wasn´t one of my best games. We didn´t have the Real Madrid game in our heads. We play basketball for a living and know how to move on from game to game. We didn´t execute the way we know how and didn´t do the things that we know how to win games. We actually did nothing right”, stressed ex Brose Baskets Bamberg guard Alex Renfroe who remained scoreless.
One thing will never change in the Bavarian capital of Munich and that is that football will always outlast basketball in popularity like a juicy steak bone will for a dog over it´s master. FC Bayern Munich basketball could win the next 8 titles in a row, give away a free Audi at each home game or sign a Lebron James for a 3 game contract and still it probably wouldn´t change much except for a few more clicks on their website and the one or another new visitor to the Audi Dome to see what the fascination is for basketball something that the football infested country of Germany still hasn´t been able to understand as they rather follow the slower sport for 90 minutes and go home satisfied with a 0-0 game. Especially in the last weeks, there has been much gossip talk with the FC Bayern Munich football team with the seemingly from another planet play of Robert Lewondowski who has been scoring goals at an amazing alarming rate as recently it was 5 in a span of 8 minutes, the play of favorite son Bastian Schweinsteiger who tries to lead Manchester United to titles and FC Bayern Munich legend and current honorary president Franz Beckenbauer having to answer to the current DFB scandal. It would be giant news as if in say 10 years when the illustrious career of Schweinsteiger ends, he joins the FC Bayern Munich office for duty, but for Steffen Hamann the ex captain and recently retired guard has began the same duty for the basketball department and that was a side note in a press release. As if FC Bayern Munich basketball wasn´t already deep in the shadow of the football department, they now have even more freedom and calmness to work hard for their goals which is just winning, winning and hardly losing something that Germany´s most famous sports brand has stood for ages at least when you mention the football department whereas in basketball since reaching the Beko BBL in 2011 still have a very long road to go down to be able to achieve success and hardware at the rate of the soccer players as they have only one title in their first four seasons being the 2014 league title. After their win in 2014, they returned last season as the defending champions and beat the Fraport Skyliners 3-1 in a series where they somewhat underestimated the BBL 2004 champion and then went to the wire with 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin being down 2-1 and needing to win their last two games and did needing two nail bitters to reach the final. In the final they were beaten by the Brose Baskets Bamberg who were back on the top of the throne while FC Bayern Munich had to carry the recognition as a finalist and crawled back to Bavaria while nobody noticed as the off season jibber about which new stars would be hauled in by Pepe Gaurdiola were in the heads of everybody expect for family Pesic who had a long summer in front of them. Two years ago they won with an American point guard Malcom Delaney who was key and power forward Deon Thompson and big country John Bryant while last season only the massive center was on board and there was no American point guard. This season an American point guard is back again with Alex Renfroe and Thompson is back to be that stabilizer again on defense and Bryant as always hasn´t moved either. This could be the season where FC Bayern Munich win a title again stopping a wanted dynasty start in Freak city as the craving and expectations soar each day in basketball Munich. “Pesic got the right players with Renfroe and Thompson that were missing last season. With Renfroe they gained a player that has the creativity and can make the needed space for his teammates and with Thompson a player that gives the team the needed athleticism and he was missing in the Euroleague last season. He knows Pesic and the BBL and is a very versatile inside player”, stressed Giants Nordlingen head coach Mario Matic.
If there was any last spec of proudness and energy that the Fraport Skyliners had carried over from the blistering 24 point annihilation of FC Bayern Munich in game two in Frankfurt, it disappeared as quickly as cheese balls did back in the day when Chris Farley was put into a cage having to eat as many as possible in a short time as in the fourth quarter of game three as Bryce Taylor put more salt into the wound hitting 10 points and a bit of alcohol for bad measure as little used ex TV Langen forward Robin Benzing stroked home a last three pointer ending the game 82-64. After the buzzer sounded, the Fraport Skyliners went into the locker room getting some verbal confidence from head coach Gordon Herbert. The team then trudged slowly back onto the court and preceded to do their stretching with one player looking more depressed than the other. Top point guard Justin Cobbs just stood starring as if he had just found out that his home team Los Angeles Dodgesr had suffered through a 21-0 drubbing or a Quantez Robertson even had difficulty finding his usual right words for the defeat. As Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi explaned, the Fraport Skyliners had suffered a vice versa experience as FC Bayern Munich were flattened by 24 points 48 hours earlier and now that what FC Bayern Munich couldn´t do in game two was set upon the shoulders of the 2004 BBL champion Fraport Skyliners who stunk up the Audi Dome losing by 18 points. This time the great big ocean which was as huge as a valley now was as tiny as a fountain as they shot only 2/17 and they were hammered on the boards 40-32 giving up nine offensive rebounds. In game four the question now was would the Frankfurt fans witness a role reversal and see a same kind of game like in game two, or could Frankfurt pull out a nail bitter or would FC Bayern Munich move on winning the series? This time there would be no vice versa as FC Bayern Munich had learned from their game two mistakes and carried on with their strong play from game the game three win in Munich and now overpowered the Fraport Skyliners in the second half with crushing 92-71 victory winning the series 3-1. The physicality of FC Bayern Munich was simply too much as the 2014 champion had not only banged up the Fraport Skyliners on the court with their offense, but also their bodies as a Danilo Barthel had to witness countless times as a Nihad Dejedovic countered one too many elbows in the direction of the Heidelberg native which got head coach Gordon Herbert to explode at the end of the game. “Munich was the better team for 40 minutes today. They got stronger in the second half and really hit their shots in the fourth quarter. We broke down and they didn´t let off”, stressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. Except for game two where FC Bayern stunk up the Fraport area, they were the better and more consistent team in the series and picked up from their strong game three win in Munich and closed out the series in spectacular fashion closing out the last quarter with 32 points. “We came out focused like in game three. I felt we played at a high level for 40 minutes defending and rebounding. We didn´t hit as much at the end of the third and going into the fourth, but we got a lot of offensive rebounds that helped”, stressed FC Bayern Munich guard Heiko Schaffartzik.
It may not have the exact same excitement factor as a meet and greet with Justin Bieber for an overzealous 12 year old girl, an American player returning back home after an arduous nine month season in Europe and returning to his favorite eating spot ready to chow down on his favorite food or an anti FC Bayern Munich football fan enjoying the rapid downfall of the football team in the last 13 minutes in the Champions league semi-final against FC Barcelona, but for most Fraport Skyliner fans returning back to the Beko BBL playoffs after a 4 year absence is surely a very happy and satisfying moment again even if they have to meet up against Germany´s most famous team FC Bayern Munich in a best of five series. There are only two key figures remaining on the Frankfurt team from the bitter five game semi-final loss to Alba Berlin in 2011 with the minister of defense Quantez Robertson and head coach Gordon Herbert. If you look at the current Fraport Skyliner roster and go back to the 2010-2011 seasons the German twin towers Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann were playing in the second Bundesliga for with USC Heidelberg and Science City Jena, the two rookies Justin Cobbbs and Sean Armand were rookies at Minnesota and Iona and role players Jacob Burtsch was just finishing his rookie season with the Phoenix Hagen, Canadian Aaron Doornekamp rookie season in Italy and put back and dunk specialist Mike Morrison was finishing up at George Mason(NCAA). After an unsatisfying finish to the Eurochallenge season where the Fraport Skyliners finished fourth at the final 4 in Turkey, they had their last challenge of the season with the playoffs and had an annoying opponent with FC Bayern Munich and were hoping to steal game one in Munich, but came up a bit short after staying with the FC Bayern Munich powerhouse for 30 minutes, but running out of gas in the fourth quarter as they were unable to match the consistency of their opponent losing game one in Munich 83-72.
The one guy looks like he could be a lumber jack with his strong build and curly wavy hair and be chopping down trees somewhere in the redwoods in northern California, but FC Bayern Munich center John Bryant who is known as big country actually comes from San Pablo which is across the bay from San Francisco and would have a quicker drive finding some tasty waves on the pacific than a tall red wood. The other guy Johannes Voigtmann who is one half of the Frankfurt twin towers comes from the former Eastern Germany Eisenach and looks like he could be a high school senior with piercing eyes as blue as the ocean on a crystal clear day and could even pose as Arnold Schwarzenegger´s son from a distance. Bryant is a 28 year old 208cm center that has been a dominating force since he entered the Beko BBL in 2011 and was the top rebounder in the league three years in a row with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he moved to FC Bayern Munich where his stats declined, but only because of the deep roster and so much scoring potential. This season Bryant is back to top stats averaging 13,9ppg and 8,1rpg and is third in rebounds and ninth in blocks in the BBL. Voigtmann on the other hand is a 22 year old 2010 cm center that has made a vast improvement since coming to Frankfurt in 2012 improving his points from 3,3ppg, 8,1ppg to 12,1ppg and 5,6rpg this season. He is on course to pick up the most improved player award and follow in the foot steps of teammate Danilo Barthel who won it last year. The Frankfurt big man has really been a force in Eurochallenge play averaging 15,7ppg, 7,1rpg and 1,8 apg. It is always interesting to see what kind of progress a young guy like a Voigtmann has done over the course of the season from the first meeting to the last meeting with a team. In the 80-73 loss in Munich John Bryant had a typical game of 12 points and 10 boards on 6/7 shooting while Voigtman had four points and four rebounds. Six months after their last meeting the two big men met again this time in Frankfurt and the German big man got revenge getting the winning bucket helping the Fraport Skyliners shock FC Bayern Munich 76-73. It wasn´t the best games of the two centers and Voigtman had eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and four turnovers while Bryant spread the floor with his inside out game getting 13 points and two rebounds. Voigtmann strives for getting this opportunity week in and week out against the best centers and was in awe mostly with that strong body of Bryant. “John Bryant has so much quality. He can shoot the ball and that unbelievable body, it is so strong that it is hard to get around him. He is one of the best players and its fun to compete against him”, stressed German national player Johannes Voigtmann. Jermale Jones of the Licher Baskets Baehren who is a regular guest in the Fraport arena has been observing Voigtmann all season long and was excited about the duel against Bryant. “Voigtmann´s game has really progressed this season especially his court vision. He is always in passing mode before he has even put the ball on the floor. He has become more physical. I remember him being softer last season. Voigtmann has understood through experience what it takes to compete. He knows that he has to do the little things. I am sure that he was able to take something from the game of Bryant”, stressed Alabama native Jermale Jones. “Voigtmann has improved so much with his physicality and passing. He has gone from a solid player to a potential player of the year candidate”, expressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi.