Even now when you can see amazing big name players Like Kyre Irving aka uncle Drew, ex UCONN NCAA champion Kemba Walker, ex Milwaukee Buck Brandon Jennings or future NBA legend in the making Kevin Durant on any given night at the legendary Monsignor Kett Playground a.k.a. Dyckman Park in the Washington Heights/Inwood section of Manhatten, but there was a time when these guys and others were balling and battling each other when they were younger and not as known as they were now and they might have been replaying classic basketball events on the court or just being Michael, Sir Charles, Clyde the glide Drexler or Doctor J Erving and making big time shots in clutch moments or at the buzzer. Some of those guys that have been playing on this legendary playground Dyckman have been Jordan Theodore, Jeremy Hazell of French team Chalon and ex NBA player Scott Machado of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. What they once dreamed about as younger players, now turn into real time situations. Do or die games are always present in all kinds of professional sports, but especially when it´s playoff time and in international club play as the Fraport Skyliners and Israeli team Maccabi Rishon had for the ticket to the Fiba Eurocup Final 4. New York native Mark Lyons came up big last week saving Maccabi Rishon from being kicked out of the competition with a strong 19 point game against Frankfurt and had to show his A-game again while Theodore and the Fraport Skyliners had their second do or die game of the season after disposing of Oldenburg a few months ago to register their ticket to the Beko BBL cup top 4. The Fraport Skyliners have had their ups and downs in do or die games as in the past they won a game five at home in 2004 against the Brose Baskets Bamberg winning their first league title, lost a game five in the 2005 final losing in Bamberg as their opponent got revenge, lost a game five in the 2010 final in Bamberg again, lost a game 5 in 2011 in the semi-finals against Alba Berlin and last season won a game three against Russian team Enisey as they were powered by German national player Johannes Voigtmann with 26 points securing a berth in the Eurochallenge final 4. With having won a do or die game already this season against Oldenburg, the Fraport Skyliners were looking be 2-0 in these types of games and stayed unbeaten as they cruised into the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 with a big 91-75 win over Maccabi Rishon as it was a total team effort as always. Fraport Skyliners Jordan Theodore didn´t have a typical great game, but was solid and with another step closer in his journey to winning his first professional title and was in a talkative mood about the win and do or die feeling playing against friend Mark Lyons that at times can go on and on as if he were a basketball poet. “It is a blessing to be able to compete at a high level for something so important like the Fiba Europe Cup. This is my first season, but so many guys on the team have been here longer and after losing last season really want to win it this season. I have said it so often in that when we play good defense and move the ball, then we are hard to beat. Our bench came in and it speaks volumes of our team that no one plays for their self, but for the team. Our goal is to continue to get better and win this title. I was so nervous coming in and could hardly sleep. I just wanted to get it over with. Me and Mark Lyons went head to head. We both break down guys and find ways to help teams win. He had a good game whereas I didn´t as much, but we came out on top. I don´t know if there will be a rematch this summer as he lives in Arizona so maybe we will have to meet in between in Miami”, smiled Englewood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore.
After the bitter loss, it was clear that Maccabi Rishon was very disappointed, but nothing to be ashamed off, but proud of a great Fiba Europe Cup season. “Frankfurt played good. We were in it for three quarters, but they then went on a run and we couldn´t come back”, stated ex Arizona(NCAA) guard Mark Lyons. Maccabi Rishon head coach Sharon Drucker still had energy after the 40 minute game and press conference to give his five cents to the loss. “I give congratulations to the Fraport Skyliners and my friend Gordon Herbert. We came in as a fourth seed and were a game away from the final four. I am very proud of my team and see a big future. Key for the win was that they played with a lot of intensity and we stayed with them for 25 minutes, but then got tired and their bench overpowered us 45-9. We fought hard, but not having Chris Wright hurt. We showed that we could compete with Frankfurt. We made Frankfurt sweat one more time. I think Frankfurt will win the cup. Enisey is good, but Frankfurt is better”, warned Sharon Drucker.
The Fraport Skyliners started out on fire similar to the way they did against BG Goettingen 72 hours earlier as Canadian Aaron Doornekamp scored the first eight points and against Maccabi Rishon, it was ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore hitting a trey and 15 footer and German national player Danilo Barthel sneaked inside for the lay in as Frankfurt led 7-2. However the tide in this basketball scenario changed rapidly as Maccabi Rishon found their rhythm and went on a furious 14-4 run to take the 16-11 lead. In the run, the Israeli team did serious damage in the paint area as their two premier scorers Darryl Monroe who won the Italian second division cup with Verona last season and ex Xavier guard Mark Lyons scored twice inside and Nitzan Hannochi dropped a valuable three pointer. Maccabi upped their defense getting more disruptive and forcing Frankfurt to bad decisions and shots while on offense they took apart the paint area. However when you have such a well-oiled offensive machine like the Fraport Skyliners, it doesn´t take long to find it´s groove again as they retaliated out of their momentary hole closing out the first half with a strong 11-4 run to reclaim the lead at 22-20. In the run, it was once again the presence of Canadian Phillip Scrubb who time after time comes from the bench supplying the needed energy as he made two buckets including a timely tip in at the buzzer and Frankfurt also got support from Doornekamp with a three pointer and two baskets inside by Barthel. “They played good defense and it isn´t always being comfortable on offense. We settled down after their first run and moved the ball better and scored better”, stressed Phillip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 56% from the field and 25% from the field and Maccabi Rishon was shooting 80% from the field and 60% from outside. Frankfurt had the 5-4 rebound edge and two turnovers while Maccabi Rishon had four turnovers.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners kept the lead, but could never get a lead in double figures except early as Maccabi Rishon just kept fighting and never let up. Basketball never ceases to be a game of runs and in the first three minutes, both teams jumped on each other with a form of getting many points while limiting their opponent. The Fraport Skyliners like in the first quarter took control quickly going on a 8-0 run to extend their lead to 30-20 as they got back to back three pointers from 2010 Eurochallenge winner John Little and German national player Konstantin Klein and a beautiful old school hook shot from Danilo Barthel. Then came some spurt of offensive energy from the Israeli team as they went on a 8-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 32-28. In the run, Maccabi Rishon was sparked by 35 year old Israeli/American Tony Younger with a trey and ex Austin Torros American Kevin Palmer with a three pointer and work horse Darryl Monroe scored in traffic. Frankfurt got some more input from Theodore with a lay in and Doornekamp lifting Frankfurt to the 39-30 advantage, but Maccabi Rishon always had an answer from their two main weapons Lyons who connected on a reverse lay up and Monroe scored inside cutting the Frankfurt lead to 39-34. After Johannes Voigtmann dropped free throws, Maccabi Rishon took a chapter out of the supreme ball movement book of Frankfurt as Kevin Palmer made the extra pass finding Lyons for the three pointer and Monroe made a free throw cutting the Frankfurt lead to 41-38. Frankfurt closed out the second quarter with a beautiful dime from Theodore feeding Florida native Mike Morrison with the perfect alley-oop for the throw down as Frankfurt led 43-38 at halftime. “Maccabi Rishon stayed in the game, because they shot well and kept getting Monroe the ball which forced us to rotate more and double him leaving their shooters open where they hit shots”, stressed Phillip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 29% from the three point line while Maccabi Rishon was shooting 61% from the field and 55% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 12-11 rebound edge and two turnovers while Maccabi Rishon had seven turnovers.
In the third quarter, The Fraport Skyliners continued to have the lead, but Phillip Scrubb came back in the game supplying the needed offensive energy and ripping apart the heart of Maccabi Rishon where they just couldn´t recover putting Frankfurt in the driver seat towards the ticket to the Fiba Europe Cup final. It doesn´t always have to be Scrubb as the Fraport Skyliners have so many weapons as this time it was German national player Johannes Voigtmann that gave scoring in bunches a new meaning as he scored the first three field goals for Frankfurt with a lay in, 15 footer and three pointer giving Frankfurt the 51-42 lead. However Frankfurt then got sloppy as they just couldn´t find a consistent basis against the disruptive Maccabi Rishon defense coughing up the ball time after time while the opponent executed with their extra offensive possessions going on a 8-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to only 51-50. In the run Maccabi Rishon continued to get consistent support from their beast Monroe with two buckets while the reliable Younger nailed another three pointer. With Maccabi Rishon losing energy and a thin bench, Frankfurt finally put the game out of reach with a back breaking 16-5 run to lead 67-55 after 30 minutes. In the run, Frankfurt continued to get great support from the bench as John Little made a semi floater and Morrison a massive two handed dunk which only happened, because Scrubb saved the ball and while high in the air found the big man all alone as Frankfurt led 59-51. Maccabi Rishon continued to claw back with eroding energy as Monroe executed the pick and roll with Dawson to cut the Frankfurt lead to 59-53. However it was Mr Canada Scrubb that slammed the door on the motivated Israeli team with two crushing three pointers as Frankfurt led 67-55 with ten minutes to play. “The game was at a standstill. Then it was like here comes Phillip Scrubb. Game over. He simply took over. He may be a rookie, but he is so smart. He knew how to pick his spots and played so well”, stressed Jordan Theodore. “I wouldn´t say that my two shots necessarily at the end were key for the win, but everyone stepped up and played well. Voigtmann got us going at the start and we played as a team”, added Phillip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 38% from the parking lot while Maccabi Rishon was shooting 51% from the field and 43% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 22-17 rebound edge and seven turnovers while Maccabi Rishon had eight turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners led by as much as 22 points as they just did what they do best and that is wear down teams. They quickly went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 78-55 as it was Phillip Scrubb who left off from his offensive damage in the third quarter and powered Frankfurt with a beautiful left handed lay in as he saw open daylight in the paint, made a free throw and then executed on another three pointer while Morrison got two easy buckets inside. As is often the case by big leads, the leading team tends to lose a little focus and get out of their game plan and that is what Frankfurt did allowing Maccabi Rishon to climb back on a 12-5 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 82-67. In the run, the Israeli club profited from some costly turnovers and fouls from Frankfurt as Monroe continued to be the main scoring option making three buckets while Ben Chimol made a steal and went coast to coast for the easy lay in. After a Little lay in and Ben Chimol three pointer cutting the Frankfurt lead to 84-70, Frankfurt closed out the game with Scrubb free throws and a Doornekamp three pointer and Morrison alley-oop tip in off the perfect feed from Scrubb. “We wore them down. Our bench was ready. Little, Klein and Morrison kept the energy up and when we can keep that up for a whole game then we are tough to beat. Key was our defense tonight in that we played together and helped each other out”, stressed Phillip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners had six players in double figures led by Phillip Scrubb with 20 points, five rebounds and six assists. Jordan Theodore and Mike Morrison added 13 points a piece. Danilo Barthel contributed 12 points, Aaron Doornekamp 11 points and Johannes Voigtmann 10 points. Maccabi Rishon was led by Darryl Monroe with 29 points and Mark Lyons added 23 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 525 from the field and 37% from outside while Maccabi Rishon shot 50% from the field and 38% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebounding duel 31-22 and had 12 turnovers while Maccabi Rishon had 11 turnovers.