The Frankfurt Skyliners have been an organization that have been used to winning since they entered the Beko BBL in 1999. Except for a weak phase between 2005-2007 where the team struggled to win games the way Spanish soccer teams did this week in the Champions league against German teams, Frankfurt was always in the playoffs and won the cup in 2000 and championship in 2004. However the last two seasons have been untypical for a club that was mostly successful as the last two years had high and lows and no playoffs. Last season, the Fraport Skyliners had a miserable first half, but bounced back in the second half of the season finding their rhythm and beating most of the top teams only to go home for the summer unsatisfied missing the playoffs on the last game in a do or die loss in Bonn. This season Frankfurt had a similar first half like last season, but had difficulty following up their strong second half this season. Injuries and some players that didn´t work out and had to go helped for the inconsistency. The arrival of ex LTi Giessen 46er Americans Ryan Brooks and Laquan Prowell were more of a help than the departed Americans Ted Scott and Dion Dowell, but because too many loses in the second half of the season had been as fat as a turkey on Thanksgiving day, the season for the Fraport Skyliners comes down to a do or die game on Saturday against the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg. If Frankfurt hadn´t celebrated big wins over top teams Berlin and Bamberg in March, then the team could already have booked dates with PRO A teams like Cuxhaven, Crailsheim and Heidelberg next season.
John Patrick recently came as a fire man coach to the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg. The former Pac-10 Point Guard and 1992 Stanford University graduate has been 5 times Coach of the Year and won 3 Championships in the last 7 seasons in 4 different leagues. (Japan Super League, 2nd German Bundesliga, BBL, and FIBA Eurochallenge) His low-player-budget BBL teams qualified for European competition in each of the last four seasons. Last season, Würzburg’s inaugural season in the BBL after finishing 2nd in the Pro A (German 2nd league) the previous season, Coach Patrick’s team had the lowest scoring defense in the BBL, and knocked Alba Berlin out of the playoffs, before dropping 3 hardfought games to Thorsten Leibenath’s RatiofarmUlm in the Semis. He psoke to German Hoops after the 79-73 win at home against ratiopharm Ulm.
Congrats on the 79-73 win against ratiopharm Ulm. Have the derbies against Tuebingen and Ulm in general been more intense then what you experienced in Goettingen and Wurzburg?
I don´t think that the derbies here are more intense as the Wurzburg fans were very motivated against Munich and I still here Goettingen fans talking about games with Paderborn and Braunschweig. I think the only difference is that we have three derbies here with Wurzburg, Tuebingen and Ulm. The game against Ulm as against Tuebingen were sold out. It was amazing how loud the Ulm fans were in the arena. Already an hour and 15 minutes before the game started they were singing. This was a big win, but I don´t want to get too euphoric about it. This was a special game for Lucca Staiger who grew up in the Ulm area. I am happy that we were able to beat the 2012 BBL finalist and 2013 Eurocup quarterfinalist Ulm. Our team and fans were very motivated tonight.
Ludwigsburg had a strong start with the 24-9 lead after one quarter. What was key for keeping the Ulm offense in check?
I have to admit that we were lucky that Ulm missed some open shots and we were fortunate to hit shots. We gave 100% effort and I have to give a lot of credit to John Turek and Eric Coleman for their job defending John Bryant and their defending the pick and role and pick and pop play. When you play against Ulm, you can´t only worry about John Bryant, but they have a great offense and you have to help on the point guard, but still get back on Bryant. We were also a bit lucky that Bryant wasn´t hitting all his shots. When he gets going then you can go home.