Can The Fraport Skyliners Make History In Intercontinental Cup Sunday As Germany´s Only Two Time International Title Winner?

Usually titles are finalized in May and June of each year while September is the month where clubs are putting their final touches on the rosters, new American rookies are still getting acquainted with the gear stick in their team cars and in Skyliner country key players being signed late as they have demonstrated in the last three years with guys like ex NBA player Andrew Rautins, Jordan Theodore and new point guard Markel Starks being brought in as prices were reduced. However this season, the Fraport Skyliners have the big chance to reel in the club´s fourth title after the 2000 BBL cup, 2004 BBL League title and 2016 Fiba Europe Cup win with the 2016 Intercontinental cup. If Fraport Skyliner captain Quantez Robertson made any wishes on New Year 2016 about winning the Fiba Europe Cup is unknown, but if someone had told him he might win two titles in 2016, he probably would have screeched “sayyyyyy what”? But sometimes three is a charm as the Fraport Skyliners snuck in through the back door as originally they had no right playing the INtercontinetal cup, but only snuck in because CSKA Moscow and Galatasaray Istanbul were banned from the Fiba from playing this game which is known as the world title as it pits the Euroleague winner against the South American champion. The Fraport Skyliners will clash against South America champion Guaros de Lara. This Intercontinental cup  may not have much prestige, but a title is a title and they don´t necessarily grow on trees for an organization like the Fraport Skyliners so if one can be the beneficiary of a rift between the Fiba and CSKA Moscow and Galatasaray Istanbul, then one takes advantage of the early Christmas gift. If the Fraport Skyliners win, they will be the first team with 2 international titles as the only other German clubs with international titles are Alba Berlin, Mitteldeutscher BC and BGGoettingen with one each.

Guaros De Lara is from Venezuela and was founded in 1983. They won their first title this year as they won the Liga America´s the South American version of the Euroleague. They play in the country league LPB where they were league finalists in 2005,2006 and 2015 and also battle in the Liga America´s. In the last years, playing in South America has become very lucrative for American players as well as more and more European players go south to where the weather is warmer and money hotter. In the past ex NBA players like Delonte West, Smush Parker, Jamario Moon, Stephon Marbury brother Zach, Devin Green, Marcus Fizer, Kim English, Mardy Collins, Damien Wilkins and Cedric Ceballos all played for guaros De Lara. Ex BBL players like Brant Bailey, Marcus Hatten, Je Kel Foster also played for them. Last season the club had three ex NBA players on board with Damien Wilkins, Andre Emmett and Tyshawn Taylor. This season they have a solid roster that held their four Venezuelen national players including Gregory Echenique who played for the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in the 2013-2014 season for head coach John Patrick as well as American Zach Graham who played at Mississippi (NCAA) as has much international experience in countries like Turkey, Spain, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Last season he was a vital producer in the Liga Americas playing 8 games averaging14.3ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 42.1%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 80.0%. The team brought in three vital veterans with ex NBA player Damion James. He was a standout at Texas(NCAA) where he played as a freshman with Kevin Durant before he moved to the NBA and put up 18/10 stats as a senior. He played his first 5 professional seasons in the states bouncing around from D-league to NBA teams and mustered only 35 NBA games. He often put up monster stats in the D-league with double doubles, but couldn´t find the right fit with the right NBA team that would grant him longevity. Davon Jefferson played at USC(NCAA) and has vital European experience as he was a top rebounder in the Israeli Premer league with Maccabi Haifa and also had exceptional stats in France and Russia with two different teams with Enisey and Triumph Lyubertsy where in the Russian League, he played 22 games: Score-1(20.3ppg), Reb-1(7.9rpg), 2.6apg, 1.5spg, Blocks-1(1.0bpg The club also picked up 32 year old Serbian veteran Branko Cvetkovic. He played in top leagues in Europe in Greece, Ukraine and the Endesa league in Spain where he always put up solid stats. He won 5 titles with BC Astana (Kazakhstan-D1) from 2011-2014.

The Fraport Skyliners come into the title game having lost their last three preseason games after winning the first four games. They recently lost to French team Chalon and in a tournament in Belgium lost to Belgium team Ostende and Croatian team Cibona. The Fraport Skyliners  defended solidly giving up 74 points in the last two loses, but had their problems on offense not scoring at a consistent rate. But as is so often the case with the exception of the long list of young Germans who know each other well on the court, the timing and precision on the court is still being developed as the three new import players rookie Shavon Shields, Antonio Graves and Markel Starks who hasn´t been in Frankfurt more than a week still need time. Wrapping a title game around their neck now is a bit unfair, but the club will have to do the best they can. Frankfurt only has two real veteran players with Quantez Robertson and Mike Morrison in the lineup and a totally revamped starting lineup as the twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel were as well oiled in the paint as a Jordan and Pippen back in the day as the German passing game will be very missed in Frankfurt as well as Aaron Doornekamp and Jordan Theodore have all departed. Interim head coach Klaus Perwas will have to play the young kids like Niklas Kiel, and Mahir Agva as they will have their hands full with Mr double double Damion Jones. Frankfurt will still be without Mr Canada Philip Scrubb who is expected to be out until December/January and Stefan Ilzhoefer has a muscle strain and won´t play.

September is obviously not May or June so this game may have title like atmosphere and intensity as both clubs know the worth of the game, but may not be in abundance of beauty and accuracy as both clubs are still searching for their chemistry and precision on offense and defense. Even if the Fraport Skyliners lost many key players, they still have a sound chemistry among the young Germans coupled with the 9 years Skyliner experience of Robertson and Morrison and possibly not at such a disadvantage in comparison to Guaros De Lara as they do have 5 returning players form their title win, but all five are only in their second seasons with the team and seven new players are new to the team this season. A big factor and advantage for the South American champion is their experience as the team has an average of 28 while the Fraport Skyliners have an average age of 22. Take away 31 year old Roberston and Graves and the Fraport Skyliners are like a kinder garden team with big feet. Frankfurt have four veteran import players and one rookie while Guaros De Lara have three veteran import players and therefore match up very well. A key to the game will be how well the National players of each team do where Guaros De Lara have four Venezuelen national players who have an average age of 27. Key also will be the inside game as Guaros De Lara have massive experience with James, Roberts, Echenique and 198cm guard Zach Graham who not only can score at ease, but is a strong rebounder as these four players will be lurking inside looking to overwhelm the Skyliners youth. Morrison will have to hold the fort together and the question will be if Shields can withstand the pressure of a title game and perform at a high level as a rookie. Guaros De Lara are the favorite, but Frankfurt has the home court and team captain Quantez Robertson as usual will be all over the court doing his best on every play making sure that his team is in the best position of winning. Fans may see history three times in the making with the possible professional debut of 16 year old NBA prospect Isaac Bonga, a fourth club title for the Fraport Skyliners and another token as to why Quantez Robertson´s jersey will be next to Pascal Roller´s up in the rafters in the future should the team win or lose.

 

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