The basketball Hessen Derby is one of the highlight dates to mark each season along with the Big Three B games with Bamberg, Berlin and Bayern Munich as the rivalry between the Fraport Skyliners and Giessen 46ers is unmatched in the easyCredit BBL as in the last 10 years there have been some unforgettable games like the Desmond Ferguson 30 point game in Giessen or the Rouven Roessler buzzer beater in Frankfurt which left the one or another hardcore fan with the name Rousler forever enshrined in his mind. But there was also a down period from 2013-2015 where the Hessen Derby between the two clubs was absent as the Giessen 46ers moved down to the Pro A and came back to the BBL in 2015 thanks to the hardnosed and precise coaching of ex German national player Denis Wucherer. The Hessen Derby has a special explosive force every season simply because of the intense atmosphere especially in the Giessen arena, but also because of the fan support, but this season this out of the ordinary rivalry was getting a special player spice that it had never seen before, but unfortunately there will be no head to head dynamic Scrubb Duo in the Hessen Derby this season. It is not every day that there are two brothers playing in the easyCredit BBL, but even rarer when two brothers of the amazing magnitude of Philipp Scrubb and Thomas Scrubb who are legends at Carleton university in Canada and would probably be even more known if the country didn´t have ice hockey as their main sport. Philipp Scrubb already wooed the BBL last season with the Fraport Skyliners coming in mid season and being a vital spark plug from the bench and was a key contributor in their success and winning the Fiba Europe cup. He shone with his all-around stellar play and total unselfishness of a player even if his deadly shooting stood in the focus. Even if they would have been foes on the court this weekend, it is refreshing to know how thankful one brother was for having the chance to play together with his brother in college. “It was great playing with my brother during my university career. We never won together in high school so it was great to win so much together at Carleton”, added Thomas Scrubb.
In June, the warm announcement came that Thomas Scrubb would be moving to the Giessen 46ers after a strong rookie season with Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 40 games: 14.1ppg, 7.5rpg, 1.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP-1(62.8%), 3PT-1(44.4%), FT: 79.0%; FIBA Europe Cup: 12 games: 12.3ppg, 8.1rpg, 2.2apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 65.4%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 86.4%. “I had a great time playing in the Finnish league. It helped a lot that I got to play major minutes every game in my first year being pro. It allowed me to grow and improve without having to worry about playing time. Playing in the FIBA Europe Cup gave me experience against teams such as ASVEL and Maccabi Rishon which play in top leagues. Getting to play against those teams has given me confidence that I can play in a great league like the BBL”, stressed Thomas Scrubb. The only disappointment in the Scrubb family may have been that the brothers weren´t reunited in Frankfurt, but Giessen reacted the quickest and reeled him in before any other team had even noticed what had happened as most BBL observers were still in awe of the Bamberg playoff sweep. “I asked my brother about what he thought about Giessen as a team and as a city. I know that he is confident that I am able to play in this league so he was happy with whatever decision I was thinking of making”, stressed Thomas Scrubb. Thomas Scrubb is a 25 year old 198cm forward who has needed no adjustment to coping with the physicality of the easyCredit BBl as he is averaging 11,9ppg, 6,3rpg and 1,8apg. The Canadian did improve in one aspect of his game, but this season has fallen into a rut from downtown considering he shot 49% twice at Carleton. “I think the biggest thing that I improved over the year in Finland was my 3 point shooting. I was very bad to start the year so teams started to leave me open. Eventually I started to make all of my open shots and my confidence everywhere on offense started to grow from there”, added Thomas Scrubb. So far this season in the easyCredit BBL, Scrubb is shooting only 25% despite a solid start as he shot 50% 7/14, but in the last four games is shooting 0/14 and is due for a breakout shooting night against the Fraport Skyliners this weekend. Thomas Scrubb definitely profited in two areas from his brother in the countless summer training sessions as well as Carleton practices that aren´t always noticed from him right away on the court. “I would say I can pass make good decisions better than people think”, added Thomas Scrubb.
Event though Philip Scrubb started the season inactive due to knee problems, there was hope that he might return in time for the Hessen derby against Giessen, but recently the Fraport Skyliners announced that he would need knee surgery and miss the whole season totally wiping out the intense anticipation of the Dynamic Scrubb Duo battling head to head against each other for the first time as professionals. For Canadian powerhouse school Carleton, the Scrubb brothers won an incredible 16 titles combined with 10 CIS and six OUA titles and the only thing missing was having the chance to show what they could have accomplished in an NCAA tournament. Thomas Scrubb is 14 months and one day older and seven centimeters taller and both played at Carleton from 2010-2015 while Philip Scrubb played 127 CIS games while Thomas played one less. If one was really clever one could probably come up with loads of nicknames, but the dynamic duo also fits and from their game style, Philip Scrubb would resemble Batman most as he is more the thinker and creator while Thomas Scrubb would be the boy wonder Robin as his sidekick who in a way was always in the shadow of his brother simply because Philip got most of the press and has been considered as the greatest Canadian university player of all-time. Their game is a lot different though. “I feel that my ability to post up smaller guards and rebound well is what separates me from Phil. I also feel that Phil is more of a ball handler while I like to move and find ways to score without the ball”, warned Thomas Scrubb. Despite his brother having this status and being in his shadow, it never bothered or hindered Thomas in achieving success on the court with his game. “I never really felt that way around people that were close to us even when Phil was much better than me. I know he also got more attention from media and some fans but I wouldn’t want that attention anyway. Within our team, family, and friends I didn’t feel like they put him on a pedestal over me”, stressed Thomas Scrubb. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert has said that Philipp Scrubb needs to get even more aggressive if he wants a shot at the NBA. The NBA often looks for a player that can do one thing well and he can shoot out the lights. Thomas Scrubb has kept a good head on his shoulder and it is apparent that there is absolutely no brother rivalry with the Scrubbs a she talsk about bhis brother with extreme adulation. Thomas Scrubb knows that hooting might be the ticket for Philip to the NBA? “I think it could be. I also think he is a better passer and smarter than 90% of the players in that league”, warned Thomas Scrubb. Even if the first professional Scrubb Dynamic head to head confrontation will not take place this season, the Scrubb Brothers might meet the next time for some head to head battle this summer on the court. Of all the countless titles the Scrubb´s have won, it isn´t what they did as young men that stands out most to Thomas, but what they did as kids as his fondest memory. “Playing on our Fisher Price basketball hoop in the garage was my fondest memory with my brother”, stated Thomas Scrubb. Even if it will be difficult to make predictions to the Hessen derby game this weekend, Thomas Scrubb stays faithful to 100% of every other basketball player out there when it comes to saying who would win a one on one with his brother Philip. “I would win”, said Thomas Scrubb. With Philip Scrubb being out this season, Thomas Scrubb surely would have the advantage this summer in a one on one duel with Philip having been injured and not active and that is something that his brother Philip might even agree with.
After two seasons in the Pro A, the Giessen 46ers had a triumphant return back to the BBL last season and just missed the playoffs. This season the club has been holding their own currently at position 10 with a record of 4-5 and is always good for a major surprise as Bamberg experienced last weekend escaping from Giessen with an embarrassing 79-77 victory. There was like last season no guarantee how the team would perfrom simply because there was only so much the club could reel in according to their budget which is in the lower half of the league., However Wucherer did another fine job reeling in the perfect players with the hope of being able to play an athletic brand of basketball as their back court got bigger and front court smaller, but more athletic thus the team has been able to perform very flexible. The club is averaging 79 ppg and giving up 78ppg and look fine on offense, but know they have the ability to defend even better. So far they have beaten the teams that they had to like a Hagen, Jena or Tuebingen and had a big win against talented Wurzburg, but also have displayed that they are just itching for that big season breakthrough win as they have annoyed top teams Munich and Ulm also losing only by four points to each.
The key player has been Cameron Wells who played at less known basketball school Citadel(NCAA) and was competing and holding his own against future NBA star Steph Curry 7-8 years ago, but as a professional always had to prove himself over and over in Holland and in Germany never getting the respect he deserved, but now in his third season in Giessen and one where he played in the Pro A has made his breakthrough as he has the reigns from Wucherer and has doubled his scoring average from last season currently averaging 16,0ppg, but also continues to be a solid playmaker and tough defender and last weekend had his best professional game pouring in 30 points in 31 minutes against Bamberg. The only thing missing was getting a ride from the fans on the court after the win which just didn´t want to happen. Also key was the gamble from Wucherer signing three players with Thomas Scrubb(Finland), Skyler Bowlin(Denmark/Sweden) and rookie Justin Sears(Yale (NCAA)) who in a way were unproven in comparison to the top level BBL, but all have proved so far that they can play. The question remains will these guys be able to continue to be consistent. Wucherer doesn´t have big name players from the bench, but again unproven guys like Dwayne Evans(Trier) or a Marco Voeller(Gotha) who made his BBL debut at 27, but so far they have panned out. Role players Joshiko Saibu and Benjamin Lischka all have BBL experience and the grit to overcome diversity on the court while guys like Canadian Jahenns Manigat and Andreas Obst are always waiting for their chance to prove themselves. Nobody gave Giessen much of a chance last season to survive and they did and almost made the playoffs. The team this season isn´t as talented or as deep as last season, but they are surviving. The success and survival rate of the club so far has to do with the coaching effort of Denis Wucherer who continues to grow as a coach. If the team suffers extreme injuries then it could become a difficult season, but so far the club has chemistry and show extreme effort and heart for 40 minutes something other teams wished they had in the BBL this season.
Even if the Giessen 46ers lost to Bamberg in a nail bitter last weekend at home, the club may have sucked in the most self-confidence this season and go into the game at home against Frankfurt poised for the next win. They have lost three of the last four games, but played Ulm and Bamberg tough and they never give away anything at home in front of their own fans. The Fraport Skyliners on the other hand don´t want to be begging at the moment, but secretly they might be doing that for a win as at the moment winning is as far away as head coach Gordon Herbert ever saying that his back is 100%. Frankfurt has lost eight of the last 10 games including their last five BBL games. The club hasn´t had much fortune on the road either being 1-4 winning only in Berlin. The two biggest problems that the Fraport Skyliners have is putting points on the board as they are last in the league with 67ppg. Their other problem is closing out games. In past weeks they showed in BBL loses to SC Rasta Vechta and BG Goettingen and in Denmark a few days ago against Bakken that that special consistent crunch time player is nonexistent. The club is unable to come together when they need it most. The excuse of that the club still needs time to come together is getting old as it is slowly becoming now or never for Frankfurt. On paper, the Fraport Skyliners are a better team than Giessen, but Giessen have the home court and the vital sixth man as their place is one of the most difficult places to play in. This will be another very tough game for Frankfurt who will have to rely on their bread and butter defense to keep them in the game, but will their offense finally perform consistently? The best news would be if Philip Scrubb magically was activated for the game and could give that needed extra push, but these days all you can do in basketball Frankfurt is dream.