If someone had had the audacity to have whispered in the ear of Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert a few hours prior to game one stating that this wasn´t a late April Fools day joke that eight days later, Frankfurt would be plastered with their backs to the wall down 2-0, he probably would have given a soft response in his low Canadian voice and muttered “I sure hope that doesn´t happen”, but in reality everyone´s thinking in basketball Frankfurt that the Fraport Skyliners would quickly dispose of ratiopharm Ulm and march into the final were about as wrong as anyone that suggested that the Golden State Warriors would get by the Oklahoma Thunder with ease. In the first two games the Fraport Skyliners played under their capabilities losing that defensive force and edge that had carried them the whole season as they were 21 points over their average giving up 86 points per game instead of 65. They also were unable to match the physicality and cleverness of their opponent as they were only able to get to the free throw line 42 times as Ulm did 78 times. The other big factor for the two loses were their inability to execute in OT as Per Guenther buried them in OT in game one and in game two, Frankfurt let ratiopharm Ulm escape out on a 10-0 run in the last two minutes to prevail and lead 2-0. Having do or die games are never easy, but this season, the 2004 Beko BBL champion has been able to master these type of scenarios rather well as they had a 4-1 record going into game three at home. Frankfurt beat the EWE Baskets Oldenburg to get into the Beko BBL cup Top 4, but lost to Alba Berlin in the cup competition, but disposed of Maccabi Rishon to reach the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 and there won do or die games against Enisey and Varese. The Fraport Skyliners wanted to keep their illustrious season alive and force a game 4 in Ulm and lived to see another day in basketball terms as they found back to their creative and inspiring Skyliner basketball destroying ratiopharm Ulm 85-54. After the win, Fraport Skyliner guard Jordan Theodore had a different mimic than usual as he wasn´t so much the confident tell all story teller about the game, but more reflective and thankful that his season was prolonged as he discussed why Frankfurt was able to continue. “We had two rough games against ratiopharm Ulm, but got back on track again. The difference was that we didn´t play Skyliner basketball in the first two games, but did in game three where we executed on offense and scored off our defense and played good defense. I have to credit out bigs for doing a good job on their bigs. We understood that it was a do or die game and just played great defense and kept them out of their comfort zone”, stressed ex Seton Hall point guard Jordan Theodore. Ratiopharm played an inspired game for 15 minutes, but then as if dark storm clubs had come, were unable to execute any longer at a consistent rate on offense and just couldn´t get stops as the Frankfurt offensive arsenal just kept scoring and scoring at a much more consistent rate as in the first two games and more at ease. “Frankfurt wanted it more than we did. They were very aggressive on offense and defense. They did a good job winning the matchup problems and got Raymar Morgan into early foul trouble. You have to give respect to Frankfurt as they played with heart and had to win at home”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm guard Carlon Brown.
5000 basketball were packed into the Fraport arena to witness the Fraport Skyliners prolong their season and quickly saw Frankfurt take the 3-0 lead as German national player Johannes Voigtmann made a put back and free throw. However it didn´t take 2013 Beko BBl finalist Ulm long to find a rhythm on offense as they led 5-3 as German national player Per Guenther drilled home a trey and then made a beautiful shovel lay in as he did a fantastic job finding his spots and sneaking to the basket for the easy bucket. Jordan Theodore displayed his easy knack of scoring on the penetration whenever he wants tying the game at 5-5. However ratiopharm Ulm then escaped out on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 12-5. Ratiopharm Ulm got production from three different players as ex West Virginia(NCAA) forward De´Sean Butler nailed a three pointer, ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb scored in traffic in fine fashion high off the glass and ex Walter Tigers Tuebingen forward Augustine Rubit was blocked by Voigtmann, but got the loose ball back for the put back. Ratiopharm Ulm did a good job taking advantage of the Frankfurt turnovers, spread the offense and just played calmly choosing high percentage shots. Jordan Theodore then got Frankfurt back on the comeback trail using his most dangerous weapon his drive as he scored twice cutting the Ulm lead to 16-12. However ratiopharm Ulm continued to execute on offense continuing to spread the ball around as ex Charlotte(NCAA) guard Pierria Henry sneaked inside making a difficult underhand lay in extending the Ulm lead to 18-14. However as is so often the case in basketball, at times it can be one player that can spark a team and change a game and Frankfurt got that from ex Gotha(Pro A) guard Konstantin Klein. Klein who has had a tough season and tough series had lots of pressure on him, but he drilled home back to back three pointers as his self-confidence ruled over any doubt as Frankfurt led 20-18. “I didn´t think about my situation, but about how we can win this game. Usually when I think too much about my shot, I miss and when I don´t I make my shots”, stressed Konstantin Klein. Frankfurt didn´t have the lead after one quarter, but ratiopharm Ulm did as Chris Babb connected on a trey as Frankfurt trailed 21-20. “It was an even game for the most part, but Ulm shot well early. We did a good job defending their bigs and we got the ball inside. Klein hit big three pointer´s and almost a third. That was important setting the tone early”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Max Merz. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 53% from the field and 43% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 23% from outside. Ulm had the 10-7 rebound edge, but five turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, both teams continued to fight at a high level and latter part of the second quarter is when the contest turned in favor for the Fraport Skyliners who would get their first lead in double digits and never trail again in the game. Ex N.Dakota St(NCAA) guard Taylor Braun got ratiopharm Ulm on the board first to begin of the second quarter with a lay in as ratopharm Ulm led 23-20. Frankfurt didn´t wait long to go on a 5-0 run to take the 25-23 advantage. In the run, it was Mr Canada Phillip Scrubb that connected on a tough off balance trey and Mike Morrison finished off the fast break with a lay in after a Klein steal. Ratiopharm Ulm then tied the score at 25-25 as henery found Braun back door with an alley-oop tap in. Frankfurt had little rhythm with Theodore on the bench, but continued to defend solidly while Ulm did a good job staying in the game despite having a Morgan in foul trouble. After a big three from German U-20 national player Joschka Ferner, it was then German national player Danilo Barthel that used the mismatch against Ferner finishing over him to tie the game at 28-28. Then came the turning point of the game. After a fierce collision between John Little and Guenther, the German made both free throws for the 30-28 lead, but Frankfurt closed out the second quarter with a bone crushing 14-0 run to lead 42-30 at the break as they played smart offensive basketball and stayed away from turnovers. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners were fortified by four separate players as ex Auburn(NCAA) star Quantez Robertson hit a trey, Barthel took advantage of another mismatch scoring inside, Theodore nailed a trey and Florida native Mike Morrison took Frankfurt into halftime with two lay ins inside. “We didn´t have our rhythm in the first two games, but found it in the second quarter as we executed better and played our game. We also gave up less easy points”, added Fraport Skyliner Max Merz. “The Klein shots kind of set the tone for Frankfurt going into the second quarter. We couldn´t control the tempo or get stops”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm guard Carlon Brown, The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 34% from the three point line while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 27% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 20-15 rebound edge and both teams had nine turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter, ratiopharm Ulm couldn´t get any offense to get going while the Fraport Skyliners started to hit from all areas of the court extending their lead more and more. The Fraport Skyliners took advantage of ratiopharm Ulm not being able to execute on their first four possessions as they went on a 5-0 run as Robertson hit over Braun and Theodore found Barthel for the massive dunk extending the Frankfurt lead to 47-30. Ex BG Goettingen forward Raymar Morgan who was taken almost totally out of the game made one free throw. Frankfurt continued to work on their growing lead as Robertson nailed another three pointer and Theodore hit a runner for the 52-31 Frankfurt advantage. Frankfurt continued to have a mindboggling 29-1 run dating back to the last Per Guenther free throws for the last Ulm lead at 30-28 as Voigtmann scored inside and Little made a three pointer extending the Frankfurt lead to 57-31. Ratiopharm Ulm was unable to generate any offense and score from the field, but had to settle for trips to the free throw line that weren´t always successful. Canadian national player Aaron Doornekamp made a trey late giving Frankfurt the enormous 63-34 lead. Ratiopharm Ulm almost was held to no field goal, but reserve German player David Kramer came to the rescue hitting a tough runner from the baseline with 9 seconds remaining closing out the third quarter as ratiopharm Ulm trailed 63-36. “Ulm had no rhythm and we hit two big shots which helped us build a bigger lead. We continued to defend very well keeping their bigs away from the paint and took advantage of the mismatches”, stated Fraport Skyliner Max Merz. “After the 5-0 run by Frankfurt to start the third, we looked at each other thinking whats going on? We had this situation in the Oldenburg series, but the difference was that Frankfurt had many big men to rotate in and out which Oldenburg didn´t have. We were a bit down under the hoop”, added Carlon Brown. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 55% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 30% from the field and 22% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 28-25 rebound lead and 12 turnovers while Ulm had 15 turnovers.
Ratiopharm rested some of their starters in the fourth quarter for game four understanding that game three had been decided. Both teams played their young Germans and at one point there were seven German players on the court. Per Guenther got ratiopharm Ulm on the score board first with a three pointer to cut the Frankfurt lead to 63-49, but then it was the Fraport Skyliners again that started to get their offense going as they went on a 12-3 run to extend their lead to 76-44. Besides a trey by Chris Babb, it was all Frankfurt who got production from Morrison twice as nobody could stop him inside, Richter free throws and big three´s from Stefan Ilzhoefer and John Little. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert had already subbed in Germans Johannes Richter, Stefan Ilzhoefer and Max Merz as the game was more than decided. The Frankfurt youth and second string displayed spirited basketball and great ball movement on the two three pointers. ratiopharm Ulm also gave Germans Ferner, Kramer and Bjoern Rohwer extended minutes and they contributed well. Richter had the third best efficiency rate for Frankfurt as he finished with five points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block and had a simple explanation why the offense continued to look sharp with the young German trio on the floor. “We have been playing together for years and know each other well on the court. I played more center and tried to be physical. When you are up by 25, it is easier to play”, smiled Fraport Skyliner center Johannes Richter. Frankfurt kept up their impressive play while for ratiopharm Ulm, it was David Kramer that carried the team best he could in the second half scoring nine points in 13 minutes and finished with the highest efficiency rate on his team. “I would have enjoyed my play more if we had won. I just came in and tried to help my team as best I could starting with defense and I hit some shots”, added David Kramer. Kramer ended the game with a three pointer as Frankfurt won 85-54. “We had fun again today. We executed our game plan and didn´t focus on them, but us. We had our backs to the wall and played better defense and rebounded better. Key also was limiting Morgan and Rubit”, said Fraport Skyliners guard Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jordan Theodore with 12 points. Danilo Barthel and Mike Morrison chipped in with 11 points a piece. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Chris Babb and Per Guenther with 11 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners shot 55% from the field and 46% from outside and ratiopharm Ulm shot 35% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 39-29 and had 15 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm coughed up the ball 17 times.