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.
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.
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.
The weekend was supposed to start off with a bang for the Fraport Skyliners as the easyCredit BBL season was winding down with three games remaining as they were involved in a playoff dog fight with s.Oliver Wurzburg for the eighth and last place. Instead of beginning the weekend with a big victory in Berlin, the 2004 BBL champion stunk up the building so badly losing 106-69 that even NBA legend Jack Sikma who was watching his son Luke play must have thought did Frankfurt really deserve that? The embarrassing loss in Berlin brought back putrid memories from more than 10 years ago when coaches like Charles Barton and Murat Didin had to exit the then O2 arena with nasty 20 plus point slap in the face loses. The only positive effect to the lousy evening was that Wurzburg battled hard in Ludwigsburg, but ran out of gas in the second half losing 87-77. The Fraport Skyliners had one win more than the Bavarian team, but also knew that if they ended up late Tuesday afternoon tied in the standings that they would have an early summer vacation as Wurzburg would get that last ticket because they had the better head to head record. Wurzburg had an easy road game in Tuebingen while Frankfurt welcomed Science City Jena who had beat Giessen at home 48 hours earlier by 21 points and wanted to end their season in fine fashion as they were resting in 13th place. Even if this was a huge must win for the Fraport Skyliners, it is always a delight for the fans to be able to observe three BBL legends of Derrick Allen aged 37, Julius Jenkins aged 37 and Immanuel Mcelroy aged 38 for another time as these guys just don´t want to quit. When looking at the three Americans, you see unending experience and the three role models combined share 112 years of age. The three players brought combined 43 professional seasons into this season including 38 seasons in Germany displaying their amazing dedication to playing in Germany. The three BBL legends also aren´t short on titles as combined they share 13 professional titles and they share 11 BBL allstar appearances. The three also share 1,163 BBL games, 268 international club games and 66 Euroleague games experience. You could almost call them brothers as all three have a dedication to the game and their body that has allowed them to play so long into their thirties. Unfortunately for the fans only 1/3 of the three legends were active as Jenkins and Mcelroy didn´t make the trip due to injuries, but the Fraport Skyliners still struggled very badly as with a lot of breaks at the end, they didn´t witness a curse, but got around it surviving the guests 67-65.
There was a short span midway through the fourth quarter where it seemed like the basketball God had had it with the Fraport Skyliners and had set a curse on them. First Quantez Robertson made a steal, turned around and collided into Mike Morrison forcing a turnover, Robertson then missed two free throws and Tai Webster missed an easy lay up. Frankfurt was doing all it could to lose, but somehow the basketball God turned it´s head the other way in the last minute as Frankfurt escaped Science City Jena with a 67-65 victory. Mr Canada Philip Scrubb was calm after the win, but knew they had to quickly forget this loss and get focused for Oldenburg as a win there on Tuesday and a Wurzburg loss against Bayreuth would send them to the playoffs. “We toughed out a win. They hit shots early and quickly had confidence. We didn´t respond well to that and were sloppy taking care of the ball. We´ll take the win. There was no curse, but sometimes when you go through adversary, you don´t always get the bounces, but we did get the stops when we needed to. I hope we get all the right bounces on Tuesday in Oldenburg”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Philip Scrubb.
For many years there had been serious harmony in Freak City when head coaches Chris Fleming and Andrea Trinchieri had been at the helm as the most major scandal then would have been if a Daniel Theis and Elias Harris had gotten in a major fight, but not even that happened as despite major competition at their positions, the two Germans were very good friends. But this year the harmony was put on major hold as that once Bamberg consistency had disappeared quicker than ex NBA player Dorell Wright can fly to the rim as it has been a season to forget. Just some weeks ago, Bamberg wasn´t even in the playoff watch, but suddenly they have risen like an eagle and sit at position 4 as they came to Frankfurt. Only 48 hours ago, they disposed of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg winning their fifth game in a row which is their longest winning streak of the season. On the other hand the Fraport Skyliners haven´t played their best basketball either as they entered the game having lost three of their last four games and had lost their last two games at home against Giessen and FC Bayern Munich. Frankfurt erased their bitter three game losing streak with a solid 81-69 win in Bremerhaven and had no problems generating an offense without their second main scoring option Tai Webster as Phil Scrubb like always stepped up with 19 points and the club got steady contribution from Finish national player Shawn Huff and most importantly from Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson who finally had his shooting stroke alive as he responded to his poor shooting of 3/15 in his last four games from outside going 6/9 in Bremerhaven getting 18 points. The Fraport Skyliners and Bamberg have had unforgettable duels in Frankfurt since the 2003-2004 season and Frankfurt wanted to gain more leverage in the playoff picture and did by playing an all around spirited game for 40 minutes as they were able to get a super defensive performance and had a red hot Philip Scrubb who produced 33 shooting 63% from the field leading the way. It was the second win in a row for Frankfurt as they stayed at position 8, but have Wurzburg breathing down their backs are slowly getting into playoff form and heightened their self confidence one bit more for the last three games. After the big win, all of the Frankfurt journalists swarmed around Scrubb, but a Jordan Sibert was all lonely and had a big smile on his face after the victory. “This win was big for our playoff hopes. We needed this win and got it. We still have a long way to go though. We gave a good game on both ends of the court and Philip Scrubb carried us. Defense was our key to the win. We did a good job with our rotation and our matchups and just helping each other out all night long”, described ex Dayton(NCAA) guard Jordan Sibert.
Jordan Sibert may not know it yet, but he has a lot of NBA parallel´s with his new club the Fraport Skyliners and it starts each day when he wakes up and sees the enticing and mammoth Frankfurt skyline, when he drives to practice and ends each evening, when he returns home from practice and sees the lights and glitz of the Frankfurt high rise buildings. He would have a great chance of seeing that overwhelming Frankfurt skyline if he was living at the mall where most of his other teammates live, but he actually has an apartment 5 minutes away, but that inviting skyline is always lurking as you turn the next corner. In the NBA, cities have skylines just like in Frankfurt and the American remembers the one in Orlando where he lived when he was with the Orlando Magic. “The Frankfurt skyline reminds me a bit of the Orlando one, but Frankfurt´s is a lot bigger. Orlando has the Amway center and a few hotels to fill their skyline”, smiled Jordan Sibert. Just what NBA ties the Fraport Skyliners have had over the years, all he needs to do is have a 10 minute conversation with Fraport Skyliners CEO Gunnar Wöbke who would give him the low down with that sparkle in his eye. Sibert would hear the stories of how Mario Kasun helped the club win the 2004 BBL title before embarking overseas to play for the Orlando Magic or how dominant Jon Leuer was for a few months in 2011 as he strapped on the Skyliner jersey during the NBA lockout. Other interesting side notes that the ex Dayton(NCAA) star might hear was how they had a NBA draft pick with Malik Badiane on their roster as an unknown African gem, how Skyliner legend Pascal Roller and Tyrone Ellis played at the 2004 NBA Summer league with the Dallas Mavericks with the latter currently being an assistant with the Phoenix Suns. Ex NBA player Rick Hughes being briefly with the team before failing a medical test, or ex NBA player Desmond Ferguson dropping 7 threes in Giessen, current BBL player Danilo Barthel playing at the 2014 NBA Summer League being teammates with Shabazz Napier and battling Justin Hamilton on a daily basis, current teammate Isaac Bonga who is a projected 2018 NBA draft pick. And last but not least, the place where he practices each day the BCM has invited top players like Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Arroyo and Alan Anderson over the years as their teams practiced there with the latter dropping one of the finest thunderous dunks in 2009 with Maccabi Tel Aviv in a test game against Frankfurt. There are surely more stories that Wöbke could tell, but these are just some of the NBA stories that have been affiliated with the 2000 BBL cup winner.