Maccabi Haifa may not have the name, tradition or player personal of neighbor Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the club has proved this season that they can beat any team on any day and have made a fine transition to the Premier league similar to how Phoenix Hagen is slowly making a name in the BEKO BBL in the early going, BBC Bayreuth American Jaivon Harrs making a solid jump from the German PRO A to the BEKO BBL and showing his potent basketball skill or Formula one German racer Nico Hulkenberg making his mark as a rookie this season as he was the first German racer getting a pole position in his first season. Maccabi Haifa displayed a calm and cool head down the stretch in the fourth quarter that they can beat teams in Israel, France or Germany as they defeated The Deutsche Bank Skyliners 83-78 in the first Eurochallenge game in Frankfurt. “The Israel league is tough. Maccabi tel Aviv has a lot of tradition and history and are always in the final game. I think that we can give them a good game this season. I would put us in the top half of the league in israel. We hope to keep moving up ladder and getting as good as Maccabi Tel Aviv”, warned 22 year old Maccabi Haifa American Derrick Low. Skyliner forward Roger Powell who played in Israel a few years ago and was lauded in the best merits from Maccabi Haifa management didn´t have to think much about what a Maccabi Haifa can do in Israel. “In Israel any team can beat anyone. Maccabi Tel Aviv is a great team while Maccabi Haifa is a decent team.You can´t take any team for granted in the Israel league”, warned ex NBA player Roger Powell.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners didn´t get off to a good start in Eurochallenge losing at home and it was a game that Frankfurt should of left the floor as the winner, but lost it in the fourth quarter. “We could of won this game. I always look fiirst at myself and then at the team of how we played and we could of played better as a team. We turned the ball over a lot, they fought very hard and our runs simply weren´t enough”, stressed Skyliner American Roger Powell. It seemed like Frankfurt might of been gasping for air in the fourth quarter as the Maccabi Haifa bunch seemed to have that extra wind from the Israel mountains. “Key in winning this game was that we outrebounded them and limited them to one chance often on offense. We also out ran them and they seemed a bit tired at the end. Our training facility is in the mountains and we are always running. On normal ground our wind is always going to be stronger”, commented ex Indiana forward Marco Killingsworth. On the question how he would run against Derrick Allen in the 100 meters, he had a very confident response. I played Derrick in college. I hear he is doing good in Berlin. Well if he can run the 100meters in 10,7 then I can run it under 10 seconds. You have to remember that I have long legs. Derrick is an active guy and I see him running that fast”, joked Marco Killingsworth. A loss is a loss and being tired is no excuse and Skyliner coach Gordon Herbert was angry and made an interesting observation who teams could of reacted after the loss in other countries. “In otehr countries, some of the players would have been in the next plane home after a performance like that”, warned Gordon Herbert.
One player who made his debut in Germany was young American Sylven Landesberg who is a 20 year old 198cm forward who finished the evening with 19 points in 28 minutes. People have compared his game to Portland Trailblazer Brandon Roy. He played at Virginia(NCAA) for two years and then turned professional. “I left Virginia early, because I felt that I could make the next step. The NBA didn´t work out as teams said that I need to mature more, but it was a great decision to come to Israel. I still need to improve my jump shot”, stressed Sylven Landesberg. His teammate Larry O Bannon thinks that Landesberg is one the right path to the NBA. “He is a young talent that can shot, drive and is so athletic. His best asset is his jump shot. I give him one or two years and then he should be in the NBA”, expressed ex Louisville player Larry O Bannon. Teammate Frank Robinson who also has an eye on the NBA after being cut by the Atlanta Hawks a few years ago knows an NBA player when he sees one. “Sylven is a very very unique player. How many Americans can you count that are 6’6, athletic, can shoot the ball, can handle the ball and also is taking great pride in learning how to become a great defender? He does not belong here in Europe and eventually he will not be here only to visit his friends in Israel. Seriously Sylven has the tools to be an NBA starter and once he puts it all together and learns how to play the game at a professional level he will do just that. Everyday we have battles in practice and I know we make each other better even though I always win. I am the veteran so I cant allow anything else and I have to get my wins while I still can”, warned ex EnBW Ludwigsburg guard Frank Robinson. Skyliner Roger Powell who was one of the last Chicago Bulls cuts a few weeks ago was a little careful about not hyping Landesberg to early. “Landesberg is decent, but the NBA is not easy and no cakewalk. He will have to keep working, but his advantage is that he is still young”, said Roger Powell. O Bannon and Landesberg are competitors not only on the court, but also have a friendly bickering about who smiles best. “The best thing that he does on the coutr is smile, but its hard to beat my smile”, joked Larry O Bannon. “I am a better looking man than Larry”, laughed Slyven Landesberg before the game against Frankfurt.
It is never easy getting fans into the Ballsporthalle for a mid week Eurochallenge game as the last years have proved as only 1,140 fans came for the game. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had a very unpleasant experience in the morning shoot around as Skyliner forward AJ Moye collapsed on the court and had to be brought to a Frankfurt hospital. No nearer details were supplied as the team had to play without their Mr everything AJ Moye who would do anything for his team and probably swim across the English channel if it would help the team get a win. Moye was missed, but the Deutsche Bank Skyliners tried to block out this misfortune as best they could on the court and started well into the game not allowing the guests a quick start. Larry O Bannon who is as dangerous from the parking lot as Lionel Messi is when he has the ball quickly gave the fans a taste of his smooth stroke hitting a three pointer. However this didn´t seem to bother Frankfurt as Dominik Bahiense De Mello fed Kimmo Muurinen for two quick points inside and then nailed a three pointer on the fast break for the 5-3 Frankfurt lead. Quantez Robertson then made a steal and found De Mello on the fast break for two quick points and the 7-4 Frankfurt lead. Maccabi Haifa then went on a 5-0 run to lead 9-7 as O Bannon drooped another three pointer from the top of the key and then Landesberg scored on the fast break getting a fine pass from Marco Killingsworth. Frankfurt continued to fight for open shots and Dashaun Wood used his chance by giving his team the lead back 10-9 with an open three pointer. Maccabi Haifa then did a super job reacting quick on a Frankfurt fast break and stealing the ball back as Sasa Bratic fed Killingsworth for a dunk. Bratic then scored from the wing with a hard lay up as Maccabi Haifa led 15-10. Pascal Roller then made a floater from the wing and Powell a open three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 17-15. After two Killingsworth free throws, American Jimmy Mckinney returned from his injury hitting his first shot of the game from outside as Frankfurt trailed 19-18 after one quarter. “The first quarter was pretty even. It was like a boxing match. Both teams were feeling each otehr out and Frankfurt was trying to see what I could do”, stated Marco Killingsworth. Maccabi Haifa was shooting 41% from the field and 50% from outside while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 50% from outside. Maccabi Haifa had the 9-7 rebound edge and both teams had five turnovers.
In the second quarter, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners got off to a good start as Joe Dabbert did a solid job drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line twice and scoring three points. De Mello then added a three pointer as Frankfurt led 24-19. However Maccabi Haifa then inserted 218cm big man Boris Rothbart who helped ignite a 12-0 run as the Israel team led 31-24. Rothbart seemed more like 238cm to the Skyliners as he was making life very difficult for them and picking rebound after rebound from the rim. Rothbart started the attack with a mid distance jumper, O Bannon scored on a pretty penetration from the wing, Frank Robinson nailed a jumper, Rothbart made a put back after getting an offensive rebound and Derrick Low made a three pointer. Frankfurt seemed paralysed as they had no resistance on defense as Maccabi Haifa was scoring from all over the court. Basketball is a game of runs and if Maccabi Haifa can do it so can The Deutsche Bank Skyliners who finished the second quarter with a 13-2 run to lead 37-33 after two quarters. It seems to be a riddle sometimes how one team can suddenly lose momentum and let the opponent go on a run. Roger Powell seemed to quickly weaken Maccabi Haifa as he scored eight of the 13 points. Powell drooped two three pointers and scored a beautiful lay in as he flew by sasa Bratic and making a finger tip role into the basket. Pascal Roller also gave support on the run with an open three pointer and Super Tez made two free throws. “Powell gave us a lot of spark at teh end of teh quarter. He hit big shots and made nice passes”, stressed Quantez Robertson. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 57% from the three point line while Maccabi Haifa was shooting 35% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Both teams had 17 rebounds, but Frankfurt already had 11 turnovers while Maccabi Haifa had nine turnovers.
In the third quarter, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners held the lead until Maccabi Haifa started a comeback in the last three minutes retaking the lead. Dashaun Wood who had been a bit unlucky in the first half with his road runner sprints into the zone was still feeling a lot of confidence as he scored twice in the lane and Rothbart continued giving Frankfurt immense problems inside scoring with a mid distance jumper as Frankfurt still led 41-35. “Rothbart really uses his length to his advantage and we had problems inside with switching defenses”, stated Skyliner center Marius Nolte. Wood then probably made his most spectacular bucket of the game as he penetrated again and somehow scored high onto the glass over Killingsworth as Frankfurt led 43-37. Killingsworth responded with a hard lay in to the glass over Dabbert as Frankfurt led 43-39. Derrick Low then scored with a nifty floater in the lane as Maccabi Haifa kept fighting and keeping the Frankfurt lead at bay 44-41. Frankfurt then went on a mini 4-0 run as De Mello made a jumper and Wood made a difficult lay up switching the ball from his right to the left and Frankfurt led 48-41. A seven point lead on this day seemed like a one point lead to Maccabi Haifa as the they always found a way to rebound and come back. Maccabi Haifa closed out the third quarter with a 11-2 run to lead 52-50. Landesberg started the offensive attack with two free throws. Rothbart then caught an offensive rebound and made an easy put back. Low then showed his exceptional strength coming from the bench and scoring big points as he drowned a three pointer and then scored on a lay up on the fast break tying the game at 50-50. Larry O Bannon then sunk two free throws for the 52-50 Maccabi Haifa lead. We were missing many shots, letting them get easy baskets and to the free throw line”, added Quantez Robertson. Maccabi Haifa was shooting 42% from the field and 41% from the parking lot while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 44% from the parking lot. Maccabi Haifa had the rebounding edge 29-22 and both teams suffered 16 turnovers to that point.
Marco Killingsworth got Maccabi Haifa on the board first in the fourth quarter as he made a pretty fade away jumper faking one way and then falling the otehr way which remembered a bit to how Celtic legend Kevin Mchale made a good part of his points in his professional career. Killingsworth then made hook shot over Kimmo Muurinen as Maccabi Haifa led 56-50. It seemed like the momentum had changed again, but The Deutsche Bank Skyliners stormed back going on a furious 6-0 run to knot the game at 56-56 as Frankfurt displayed quick ball movement and Jimmy Mckinney hit an open three pointer from the top of the key and captain Pascal Roller followed with pull up jumper on the fast break. However then this furious quick run suddenly stopped as if ex coach Murat Didin had entered the Ballsporthalle and was giving a special free clinic on how to make the perfect Turkish Doner and Frankfurt was watching and not paying attention to the 17-2 Maccabi Haifa run which decided the fate and game for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners on this day as the guest suddenly led 73-58. After Killingsworth and O Bannon free throws, it was Killingsworth that scored without problem getting his own offensive rebound and stuffing the ball home as if he had enough time to pick some flowers. Landesberg scored inside and then O Bannon hit two free throws as Maccabi Haifa led 65-56. Frankfurt then showed some slick offense as Robertson sent a bullet pass to Wood under the basket and he handed the ball to Marius Nolte who laid it in. However Maccabi Haifa kept scoring and getting to the free throw line as O Bannon hit a three pointer and Robinson a runner in the lane. “We have had a type of lull in the fourth quarter in the last games, but tonight we stayed focus and finished strong”, stated Derrick Lowe. “We ran out of gas at the end, but that is how basketball is sometimes. usually the fourth quarter is our quarter, but not tonight”, commented Marius Nolte.
Mckinney then found some daylight with a three pointer, but then instead of building on that score, Frankfurt suffered a turnover as Robinson came between a guard to guard pass and finished with a left handed dunk. Time was running out, but Frankfurt kept fight and never gave up. After Powell made two free throws, Frankfurt set up a full court press and forced a steal by Muurinen and Mckinney finished with another three pointer as Frankfurt trailed only 76-68. Powell then cut the Maccabi Haifa to 77-70 as Powell made a forceful dunk. However Frankfurt was unable to get consecutive stops as Maccabi Haifa were too strong and kept scoring as Landesberg scored inside. Roller reacted with a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed only 79-73. Ben Chimol then made a nice cross over move and scored as Maccabi Haifa led 81-73 with one minute to play. A few more free throws were made and De Mellop hit a buzzer beater three pointer at the end, but it was too little to late s Frankfurt lost 83-78. “Turnovers always seem to be a problem for us and we have to lower that a bit in the next games. We were more aggressive at the end and every guy was totally tuned in which gave us teh win down the stretch”, said Derrick Low. “We didn´t really execute our offense as good as we usually can. We didn´t rebound well and had 19 turnovers which wont win you any games”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
Maccabi Haifa was led by Larry O Bannon with 20 points and five rebounds. Sylven Landesberg chipped in with 19 points and four rebounds. Marco Killingsworth produced 14 points and eight rebounds and Derrick Low added 10 points and five assists. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Roger Powell with 18 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Dominik Bahiense De Mello produced 13 points as did Dashaun Wood who also dished out six assists. Jimmy Mckinney added 12 points, and wasn´t happy with his performance despite having the hot hand. “We won six games in a row and then I come back and we lose. I kind of point a finger at myself. I was not satisfied with my performance. I have to play better defense and get my quickness back”, warned Jimmy Mckinney. Pascal Roller chipped in with 11 points, three rebounds and four assists. Despite the loss in Eurochallenge, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners can´t lose focus on the BEKO BBL. “We play in Israel again, but right now we have to forget this game and focus on Tuebingen”, stressed Quantez Robertson. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host The Walter Tigers Tuebingen on Saturday November 20th at 18:30.