Summer is slowly moving on as Fraport Skyliner fans are still trying to digest the departures of players like Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Jordan Theodore, but at the same time having the amazing 2015-2016 Fiba Cup title win in the back of their minds and looking ahead to this season as the 2004 Beko BBL champion Fraport Skyliners will take part in the new competition Champions Cup. There hasn´t been much buzz with new player signings yet for the Fraport Skyliners so the 2016-2017 Champions Cup draw was a refreshing way to dream and predict which teams could be drawn for Frankfurt during the slow and boring draw procedure. As if the basketball God had secretly had his hand in the pot, the Fraport Skyliners got a date with ex Skyliner Jordan Theodore who was one of the key figures for the success of the team last season and will return back to Frankfurt with his new team Banvit of Turkey where he surely will be greeted with a massive ovation. The Fraport Skyliners also drew Aris of Greece, CEZ Nymburk of the Czech Republic, Helios Suns of Slovenia and AS Monaco. Two more teams will be added, but won´t be known until a future date when the qualifying results are in.
What do former NBA players Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Chauncey Billups and current professional Jordan Theodore all have in common? At first glance, it isn´t hard to notice that all played the game they loved at one time or another featuring that bald head and all were point guards. The bald head of Theodore makes him a tad more experienced in appearance and gives opponents the vision that he has been around the block even if he just completed only his fourth professional season. All those former NBA great´s had illustrious careers in the world´s greatest league while Theodore is on the brink of captivating himself to a new level on the court having had his best season as a professional as for the first time he played for a great team the Fraport Skyliners that just won it´s third club title which had been in waiting for 12 years. When one is closely observing Jordan Theodore on the court, the first thing that stands out in his play is his presence on the court, but as a point guard and basketball conductor that is his job as he has to lead his team to a win every time on the court the same way music conductor Charles Dutoit guides an orchestra around the world in places like London, Paris, Berlin or Moscow. Theodore helped close out an amazing regular season in the Beko BBL finishing in the top 3 teams and conducting the club to the best Fiba Europe Cup record of 18-1. Now Jordan Theodore who is the pride and joy of Englewood, New Jersey that has brought world stars like John Travolta, Eddie Murphy, Tony Bennet, Lil Kim and Bill Parcells just to name a few has made that degree between him and the other basketball pride and joy of the 27,147 populated city 1981 NBA finalist Bill Willoughby who has the distinction of being the first player drafted in the NBA out of high school closer as he brought his hometown the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup title and now has ordered and gotten Englewood immortality stature. ”Bill and I have met a couple of times but I don’t know him that well. I read a lot about him growing up. Us being from the same town and me wanting to leave a legacy behind like he did. I haven’t made it to the NBA yet but I’m building a resume that a lot people can look up to”, added Jordan Theodore.
In the third year of the Fraport Skyliners three year plan where in the first year the club focused on giving the young German players more minutes, in the second year reaching the playoffs, everything came true to plan as head coach Gordon Herbert had preached at the start of the season proclaiming that the team would become a top 5 team, reach the cup Top 4 and win the Fiba Europe Cup. However after all the enormous success that the organization Fraport Skyliners had in the regular season steam rolling over the competition for long stretches of the season and losing only twice at home and winning the Fiba Europe Cup and being only the fourth German team to ever win an international tournament, everyone in Skyliner country got a bit greedy and even had the audacity to predict capping off the season with the Beko BBL title and for some reason boldly neglecting to remember that the 31-3 Brose Baskets Bamberg were the team to beat. One could compare the successful climb up the Beko BBL standings and towards the Fiba Europe Cup title a bit to the worlds most famous mountain climber Reinhold Messner. Messner is best known for being the first guy to climb Mount Everest without Supplemental oxygen and the first mountaineer to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8000 meters above sea level. The Fraport Skyliners climbed up many difficult steep hurdles this season with the most adventurous and most bothersome at the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 in Chalon, France where they had to win back to back games against Enisey and Varese to clinch the clubs third club title. However the Fraport Skyliners met their most crucial challenge in the playoffs with ratiopharm Ulm in the semi finals and were continuing to climb new heights and fighting to reach the final and despite being down 2-1 in games and having a 6-1 record in do or die games, the 2004 Beko BBL champion were near the peak, but came up a little short. Whereas a Messner has to battle weather problems when they occur in order to make the perfect climb to the peak, the Fraport Skyliners were denied by the clock and a deflection on the last play from Jordan Theodore to Mike Morrison that ended their season.
After the hard fought and down and dirty Fraport Skyliners 59-56 victory against Russian team Enisey heaving them into the Fiba Europe Cup final where the only thing missing had been a Delroy James vs Danilo Barthel stare down in the paint area, Jordan Theodore was stretching after the duel when suddenly a media representative cleared up the Englewood, New Jersey native that he had seen him play when the good spirited point guard had played with Antalya Buyuksehir Belediye (Turkey-TBL). After some small chit chat, both had smiles on their faces for the short break down of memory lane. It had been another normal day at the office for Theodore even if it took him and the club some deep soul searching in the fourth quarter to grind their way into the final. In his first three seasons as a professional in Europe, Theodore had very solid stats, but in the end that didn´t mean anything as he always played on losing teams and went home early to Englewood, New Jersey to catch the NBA playoffs. However this season with the Fraport Skyliners everything has changed as his scoring, assist and steal rate is back up to his rookie season, but the massive difference this season is that he has become a real leader for a winning team and MVP candidate in the German Beko BBL. And a little side note, he has dominated not only the country league and been consistent, but also belonged to the top guards in the FIba Europe Cup competition, the first time in his career that he has played in an international club tournament. He also finally has broken out of his outside shooting slump as he is near 40% while he shot only 25% in his first three seasons. Plus all season long he has matched up against the top point guards in both competitions and looked real good. In the FIba Europe Cup, he battled against guys like Thaddus Mcfadden, Earl Calloway, Mark Lyons and Tony Taylor and stepped off the court as the winner. In his quest to win his first professional title in Chalon, France in the Fiba Europe Cup, the pride and joy of Englewood, New Jersey had to face one last dirty confrontation not with one, but against two strong ex NBA point guards Maalik Wayns and Chris Wright who he also knew well from the NCAA with Villanova and Georgetown as he had played against them with Seton Hall. Theodore put on that last mean Fiba Europe Cup face of the season and went to battle for the title with the Fraport Skyliners and really had to do some serious soul searching and just break out of his shell in crunch-time as he had been taken out of the game well for three quarters, but when it counted most, he stepped up once again winning the battle against the guards of the opponent and led his team to the title. “We didn´t play our brand of basketball in the first three quarters. They played harder and wanted it more. When we were down by nine points after three, my teammates told me not to worry that I would pick up my game. We have played team basketball all season long and showed it at the end. Morrison and Robertson picked it up and we got tougher as a team. We just didn´t want to lose and I knew that we would come back. This is my first title in Europe. It feels so amazing. It is great when hard work pays off. I am so excited. It´s great for the city of Frankfurt and I know Englewood is tearing it up now”, stressed Englewood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore. Italian team Varese played spectacular for 30 minutes and pretty much gave the Fraport Skyliners a taste of their own medicine playing their brand of defense and beating them with their kind of ball movement, but just couldn´t hold down the fort for 40 minutes as Frankfurt made that last amazing run. “I am so disappointed. We were so close and too lose it like that at the end was very tough. They are a good team and played great. Congrats to Frankfurt”; added ex Philadelphia 76er Maalik Wayns.
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.
The Fraport Skyliners went into the last weekend Beko BBL Top 4 in Munich with such high hopes of returning home with a third team title, but instead were home when it was still light out something that can be traced back to unneeded and unwanted water entering the Audi Dome court cancelling the game for third place. The Fraport Skyliners had a long bus ride to digest the bitter 79-76 loss against Alba Berlin in the semi-finals which puts their season record against head coach Sasa Obradovic and his boys at 0-2. The Fraport Skyliners were so close as the Jordan´s battled to the end, but Theodore made one shot too little as Taylor made the last one to make the victory stick. Maybe not being able to play the game for third place was a blessing in disguise as the club had many not so healthy players like Johannes Voigtmann, John Little, Aaron Dornekamp and Mike Morrison. One thing that has been beneficial to the Fraport Skyliners this season has been that whenever that they have suffered a loss in the beko BBL, they have been able to escape to the Europe Cup where they were always unbeaten and in the zone and something they could go into holding their chest high. The Fraport Skyliners dismantled of Cypriot team AEK Larnaca without difficulty at home 83-60 and now headed back to the warmth and palm trees of Cyprus to slam the door on AEK Larnaca and earn a ticket to the Europe Cup quarter finals. The Fraport Skyliners arrived Tuesday in sunny Larnaca with 21c and unending sunshine something that was more than appealing to Engelwood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore who is used to the cold of home, but if any of his friends or family told him that on game day it wasn´t that much difference in temperature as it was unseasonally warm at 14c is unknown, but Theodore was in Cyprus not to go strolling down the beach, but to forcefully control the paint area with his quick steps and playmaking and win the game for the quarterfinals. The Fraport Skyliners had to go into a foreign arena again for the seventh time this season in Europe Cup play and once again left victorious as they gave a real battle in the trenches with AEK Larnaca winning 56-44 remaining undefeated at 14-0 and heading into the quarterfinals. “Tonight was a very ugly game for us. We came out not ready to play and it showed. We did miss a lot of open shots also. We were able to get stops when we needed them. We knew that this team was very good at home and they have two guys who can really shoot the three. They came out tough and matched our intensity in the beginning but our defense got us the win in the end. We were able to close out possessions with rebounds and get out and run”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Jordan Theodore. “Shots we usually make in our sleep didn’t fall tonight, I say for both teams, both teams played good defense but still I felt like we got the shots we wanted and they got the shots they wanted. They just made more plays at the end, the game could of went either way”, stressed AEK Larnaca guard Thaddeus Mcfadden.
After the big 83-60 win against AEK Larnaca in Europe Cup action that upped the Fraport Skyliners record in that competition to 13-0 which was another simple day at the office where the 2004 Beko BBL champion once again had transformed head coach Gordon Herbert´s scouting report from paper on to the court with a dynamic masterful performance, two of the club´s key performers Jordan Theodore and Philip Scrubb were stretching on the sidelines. Two guys side by side while Theodore was yapping around yet still being focused on his legs while Scrubb like usual was the silent, but observant rookie taking everything in and seemingly taking mental notes about this new experience for his vast memory bank. Both guys winning journeys in their short career´s have been about as different as you can ever find comparable to a Michael Jordan who won his share of titles and Karl the mail man Malone who played 20 seasons and never won a title and came to the Los Angeles Lakers a few years too late otherwise he would have got that ring. With Theodore and Scrubb as odd as the comparison sounds is a bit similar not in how many seasons they have played, but in title talk. Theodore who is the pride and joy of Engelwood, New Jersey, didn´t win anything at Seton Hall and played his first three professional season´s on losing teams in Turkey with Antalya and Mersin and last season in France with Bourg, while Scrubb at the age of 23 already has the distinction of being the greatest Canadian college player of all time as he won 5 CIS and 3 OUA tournaments while racking up 3 player of the year titles, One MVP and one rookie of the year. This is a huge contrast in the career´s of both players, but with the combination of the winning mentality and experience of knowing how to win by Scrubb and the undying will and need to win by Theodore, the Fraport Skyliners had two very special figures entering the game against 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin ready to do their magic and help carry their team into the 2016 Beko BBL cup final in Munich, but it was Alba Berlin guard Jordan Taylor that stole the show hitting a huge shot at the end with 1,1 seconds to play propelling Alba Berlin into the 2016 Beko BBL cup final 79-76. After the loss, Scrubb was his usual emotionless self, while one could see the sadness of Theodore painting a clown´s expression after nobody laughed at his latest stunt. Theodore wanted to win badly, but will have to wait for a new chance. “Phill, I and the whole team wanted to win this game very badly. I was a little up and down in the first half. I was nervous, because this was the first meaningful game that I had been in as a professional. I was forcing too much and not letting the game come to me. In the second half, I was calmer and hit some shots. I was so hyped for this game, because I love the big stage. I feel like I have to prove myself new every game, because I always want to be the best”, stressed Jordan Theodore. After the contest, it was the two Jordan´s who were in deep conversation on the sideline as Taylor was more smiles, while Theodore at times seemed to be somewhere else in thought. Possibly that last shot will be in his mind for a long time? “I grew up playing with Jordan Theodore and all the other gaucho´s in New York. It is always nice to see a familiar face and I was just fortunate to make some shots. I was happy to find a rhythm after my long injury and hope it will carry into the next games”, stressed Wisconsin Badger Jordan Taylor. Frankfurt made a courageous come back in the second half, but their unsatisfactory second quarter got them in an early rut putting Alba Berlin in the driver´s seat. “The second quarter was hard on us. We tend to have bad stretches in games, but you can´t do that against big teams. We have to play at a high effort for 40 minutes”, warned Jordan Theodore.