15 minutes after the massive Eurocup win against big favorite Fiat Torino Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark most likely didn´t have any real specific play of the 45 minute battle in his head anymore, but moreover was still in awe after waiting in line for the traditional handshake. He congratulated big time players like two time NBA champion James Michael Mcadoo or ex NBA players Jamil Wilson and Tyshawn Taylor and probably didn´t even notice that another ex NBA player and Olympic Gold medalist Carlos Delfino of Argentina didn´t even make the trip because of an injury, but it was only normal that the American was only focused on one person, the legend Larry Brown. When he finally reached the ex NBA and NCAA champion Brown with Detroit and Kansas which must have felt like an eternity waiting in line that one could have wished to just bowl down the line of players with a huge bowling ball to finally get to the basketball legend. Clark wasn´t disappointed as the head coach uttered the flattering words which Clark will never forget with “That was a great game and you’re a hell of a player”. After a big win like that and getting possibly the most amazing compliment in his life, how does one return 72 hours later and react in the next huge game against ratiopharm Ulm in a do or die cup game where there is no return game, but that win or go home result. After the disappointing opening season loss in Ludwigsburg, the Fraport Skyliners returned and gave an impressive showing against highly favorite Fiat Torino winning 88-85. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t have much time to let his players come down from that huge high over Brown and now they had to follow that up with a cup duel. The good news was that the Fraport Skyliners entered the game with a lot of momentum after the victory against Larry Brown while ratiopharm Ulm had lost their first Eurocup game against Crvena Zvezda 88-73. It is always a big battle when these two teams face off as who could forget the Frankfurt three OT win in 2012 in Ulm or the Ulm playoff series win in 2016. This cup dance was once again a vicious battle as it went to the wire and the Fraport Skyliners had numerous key figures executing like the duo of Heslip and Murphy who combined for 39 points and a rejuvenated Quantez Robertson who had been cold for three quarters and came alive down the stretch, but it was rookie Trae Bell-Haynes who gave the club incredible support in the last minute playing like a veteran and making key baskets to help Frankfurt reach the cup quarterfinals. After the big win a very content Jason Clark reflected on the 40 minute battle. “Both teams went at each other and it was a game of runs. We did a good job staying composed and staying solid on offense and defense. We had our ups and downs, but stuck together. Tez struggled, but came alive and Heslip and Bell-Haynes were huge. We did what we had to do as a team to get the win”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm fled slowly out of the locker room to the bus and ex Radford(NCAA) standout Javonte Green was upbeat despite the loss and saw positives. “I thought we played well despite this being our third loss in a row. We played more together as a team tonight. We just didn´t put it together at the end. We had mental lapses on defense that cost us the game”, said Javonte Green.
If one were to put Fraport Skyliner identity figure Quantez Robertson and ex NBA player Toure Murray face to face at a table, it would be interesting to see how long it would take for the conversation to mention the word NBA. The NBA was never a reality for freak athlete Robertson who would have made it had offense been omitted from the game and defense been the only option while Murray made it to the big show playing parts of four seasons in the G-League and 53 games for the New York Knicks and Washington Bullets. There could be other topics like where the United States will go with Donald Trump, if the Houston Astros can repeat as World Series Champions as Murray hails from that city or if the Cincinnati Bengals where Robertson is from will ever win a Superbowl. But would the conversation ever get to the topic of which team´s start into the current EasyCredit BBL season was more surprising? It probably wouldn´t as American players are always joking and talking about home and other comical things, but in basketball Germany, this is a topic that has left many bewildered. No disrespect to Alba Berlin who have made a great comeback and start to this season after underachieving last season, but what ratiopharm Ulm and the Fraport Skyliners have produced in the early going have been the biggest surprises in the league so far. In a way the Fraport Skyliners and ratiopharm have traded roles if one remembered how they started last year. Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison if confronted with this reference would just smile gently and with his pleasant Floridian tone reply with a funny and witty gesture concerning the undeniable strong team basketball that his club is displaying.
If you had been in a closet or taken a month vacation to the outback and been offline and returned back to Germany and checked the BBL standings and seen the 0-5 Ulm record most wouldn´t have believed it. How can such a deep and talented roster with so many scoring options not be 5-0 or at least 4-1? There are some reasons why the club has played under expectations.
Witnessing those special basketball playoff head to head battles is something that is always appetizing for any fanatic watching the intense focus of both guys giving 180% on both ends of the court until full exhaustion. The NBA has had these amazing and unique duels seemingly forever as it is always a pleasure to look back on these NBA legends making history. In the 60´s, you had the fierce battles between the two best centers of all-time with Boston Celtic Bill Russell and Mr 100 points Wilt Chamberlain with the Celtic winning in 1964 and 1969 in seven games amassing 11 titles in his career while Chamberlain only could boast having two NBA rings. In the 70´s a fondly remembered duel was Chamberlain against New York Knick Willis Reed who had 37 and 38 points in the first games, but only four points in game seven, but it was enough to win the 1970 final despite Chamberlain averaging 23 points and hauling down 24 rebounds in the series. The 80s had two unforgettable duels with the most famous possibly the 1984 classic Bird vs Magic encounter where both owned the court where their teammates could have easily taken the bench and watched the two legends fight it out to the finish which Bird won in seven and the 1988 match up between Isaiah Thomas and the bad boys of Detroit against Magic and the Lakers and despite 43 points by Thomas in game 6, the Lakers won the title. In the 90´s few will forget the 1992 battle between Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler and the Trailblazers pitting the leagues best two shooting guards, but Drexler´s supporting cast couldn´t match Jordan´s as the Bulls won. In this decade the 2012 duel between Lebron James and Kevin Durant is a classic as the best player on the planet finally won his first NBA title with the Miami Heat while Durant might get his first in a few weeks. Even if the easyCredit BBL is far from the NBA, even here there have been incredible head to head battle over the years and last season in the quarterfinals, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg faced off against up and coming team ratiopharm Ulm as the last three games were decided by a combined total of only 9 points. Two BBL identity figure players Ricky Paulding and Per Guenther had the games of their lives where Per Guenther dropped 35 points and dished out nine assists in game two while Paulding had 26 points in the loss. In game three, Paulding dropped 30 points in the win while Guenther had 16 points and eight assists. In game 4, Paulding had 16 points in the 80-79 loss while Guenther was held in check with six points, but his front court of Raymar Morgan and Augustine Rubit combined for 45 points to send Oldenburg into summer vacation. Now a year later and with Paulding at age 34 and Guenther at age 29 and not getting any younger, both are back again facing off against each other on a big stage for the ticket to the final, but despite Pauldings loss last season to Guenther, he still leads their head to head title chase at 2-0 while the German has the Buffalo Bill phobia with 4 final appearances and still yearning for that first title.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg marched into the quarterfinal playoffs not getting buried in the mega hoopla of the surprising successful medi Bayreuth season and jumped on them taking a 2-0 series lead seemingly quicker than Oldenburg legend Ricky Paulding could ever utter the phrase “Ich Bin Ein Oldenburger” in Japanese.
It must have been Déjà vu for Chris Babb last Sunday when he possibly caught the first quarter of his ex team Boston Celtics with whom he played 14 NBA games for in the 2013-2014 season as they somehow allowed the Washington Wizards to lead 16-0 in the first quarter in game one. It has been almost been four months since the bitter Ratiopharm Ulm cup loss to current playoff opponent the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg that dashed their hopes of the Cup Top 4 final and technically was their first loss of the season, but didn´t interfere with their 25 game BBL regular season winning streak that ended against FC Bayern Munich on April 8. Just like in Boston, ratiopharm Ulm had a horrible first quarter in the cup affair against Ludwigsburg being scoreless for seven minutes and mustering only 7 points and allowing 21 points. In Boston the mighty Isaiah Thomas who has had his real break out season this year and easily belongs to the top 5 point guards in the NBA had a painful experience losing his tooth, but that was exactly what he needed as well as his team to get out of this woeful period and he sucked up the strain with adrenaline and dropped 33 points to help his team to the victory. In game two, he didn´t need another lost tooth as he exploded for 53 points the most points in a playoff game since Allen Iverson´s 55 in 2003. Babb who learned his basketball trade at iowa(NCAA) never played a NBA minute with Isaiah Thomas, but joined the Boston Celtics on April 12 2015 again after spending the season in the D-league with Maine and witnessed the last 6 Celtic games of the season from the bench including five against the Cleveland Cavaliars which included the 4 game sweep against Boston. Thomas was a known player in the NBA and already showed signs of becoming a superstar dropping 34 points against the Detroit Pistons. Babb probably already knew in his mind two years ago that Thomas had the potential to get to where he is now. If ratiopharm Ulm ever have a slow start in a playoff game or are suffering a very down period, Chris Babb will surely remember the Isaiah Thomas tooth caper in Boston. He also will recall how Thomas rebounded from a 3-26 shooting span against Chicago in the last three games and rebound against Washington to shoot almost 50% from outside and with or without a painful experience use that as fuel to his advantage when he is on the court to get his team out of a jam especially with his three pointer as he is shooting 42,9% from the parking lot.
The season of ratiopharm Ulm so far has been like a Cinderella story even if the club has belonged to the top 5 teams in the BBL for years, but the fewest people would have ever believed that they could flirt with an undefeated season except for maybe head coach Thorsten Leibenath and manager Thomas Stoll.
Braydon Hobbs is a 27 year old 196cm point guard playing his third season in Germany and first with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he played for the Giessen 46ers playing 33 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.8apg, Steals-3(1.7spg), FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 86.8%. Two seasons ago he played for rent4office Nuernberg (Germany-ProA) where he averaged 11,9ppg, 4.1rpg, Assists-4(5.9apg), Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 82.4% . He started his basketball career in 2008 with Bellarmine (NCAA2) playing a total of 133 games. He turned professional in 2012 and played for Caceres Basket (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 35 games: 7.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 87.9%. In 2013-2014 he played for Alba Fehervar (Hungary-A Division, starting five): Eurocup: 10 games: 11.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 52.3%; Hungarian League: 32 games: 9.1ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-2(2.3spg), FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 72.7%. He also played three summers professionally in Australia. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Braydon thanks for talking to German HoopsYou have spent your third Easter in a row in Germany. What have you learned to appreciate most about Easter in Germany that you haven´t had in the States?
Easter is always a good time of year, whether I’m in the US or in Germany. I appreciate the time I get with my family here in Germany though. A lot of the stores are closed on Friday and then again on Monday so it gives me a lot of time to spend with the family at home.
After winning 26 games in a row, you lost to FC Bayern Munich recently, but since beat Wurzburg and Giessen. Is basketball life back to normal in Ulm?
Basketball life is definitely back to normal after the loss. It was a tough loss, but I think we have responded in the right way.
Braydon Hobbs is a 27 year old 196cm point guard playing his third season in Germany and first with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he played for the Giessen 46ers playing 33 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.8apg, Steals-3(1.7spg), FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 86.8%. Two seasons ago he played for rent4office Nuernberg (Germany-ProA) where he averaged 11,9ppg, 4.1rpg, Assists-4(5.9apg), Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 82.4% . He started his basketball career in 2008 with Bellarmine (NCAA2) playing a total of 133 games. He turned professional in 2012 and played for Caceres Basket (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 35 games: 7.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 87.9%. In 2013-2014 he played for Alba Fehervar (Hungary-A Division, starting five): Eurocup: 10 games: 11.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 52.3%; Hungarian League: 32 games: 9.1ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-2(2.3spg), FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 72.7%. He also played three summers professionally in Australia. He spoke to German Hoops after the 84-74 win against Science City Jena last week.
Congrats Braydon on the 84-74 win Jena. Another BBL game and another win putting the team at 9-0. Would this undefeated season feel any better if the Brose Baskets Bamberg weren´t present?
The start to the season has been great for us. I don’t think it would be any different if Bamberg wasn’t in the competition.
With a long summer with no BBL basketball upon us where some days seemed longer and duller than a half hour doctor´s appointment, the last meeting between ratiopharm ulm and the Fraport Skyliners seemingly is like an eternity for some. However the game four loss in Ulm was only a little more than four months ago while the last win for Frankfurt against ratiopharm Ulm in game one at home was almost five months ago. For some peculiar reasons, the Fraport Skyliners enter their first meeting in the Fraport arena in the 2016-2017 season with a unique parallel with their game one meeting with ratiopharm Ulm in last seasons playoffs. In the 2015-2016 playoffs, the Fraport Skyliners entered the semi-finals of the playoffs against ratiopharm Ulm with unending confidence as they rudely kicked out 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin with the good old broom sweeping them leaving Serbian basketball legend and three time European champion Sasa Obradovic with a sour taste and paving the way for the end of his coaching reign in Berlin. However against ratiopharm Ulm, the Fraport Skyliners were also rudely awaited by their opponent as they didn´t expect the hard edge competition that German national player Per Guenther and co gave them. Many say that had Frankfurt won game one, they might have reached the final, but instead they were outplayed in overtime and Per Guenther scorched them with two three pointers paving the road to the final. Today the Fraport Skyliners welcomed ratiopharm Ulm on a high with immense self-confidence as after a lack luster 0-2 start finally found a bit too their game building a three game winning streak disposing of Bremerhaven, Alba Berlin again and the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg 48 hours ago. Ratiopharm Ulm also arrived in the living room of the Fraport Skyliners with a 4-0 season start, but remembered a disappointing 95-58 loss in Valencia in their first Eurocup game this week, but then again had a Per Guenther who also remembered the damage he did in the playoffs last season. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t celebrate a happy end in their own living room this time as they lost for the fourth time in the last five games against ratiophram Ulm and had their chances, but overall were unable to execute properly down the stretch and had their problems on the boards. After the loss a dejected Quantez Robertson had little revenge thoughts on his mind and couldn´t even sneak a smile about the possibility of visiting the famous Monte Carlo Casino in the next days before their Champions League game against Monaco. “I had last seasons playoff loss to Ulm pretty much out of my mind. It´s a new season with a new group of guys. I may have had more thoughts about that playoff loss had we had the same guys from last season back again this season. I know the outcome would definitely been different. I won´t see a casino. I will get rest so we will be ready to execute our game plan against Monaco”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Quantez Robertson. It wasn´t the best offensive game of ratiopharm Ulm as Frankfurt kept them to 19 points under their season average, but defensively they made steps as they kept Frankfurt well under their season average of 89 points. “This was a grind out game. We didn´t really execute the way we wanted to on offense and defense and how we did in the first four games. I feel we rebounded well, but had too many turnovers. I felt that we did a good job fighting and sticking together through tough phases”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm guard Braydon Hobbs. “We didn´t communicate well on defense and didn´t rebound the ball well either. I thought that Mahir Agva was a big spark off the bench. He played an all around good game”, added ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson.