Lovable Skyliner AJ Moye playing against his old club Tuebingen might not be as spectatcular as when Lebron James will face the Cavs for the first time, Randy Moss facing the New England Patriots for the first time, or when Dominican Republic baseball hulk Manny Ramirez faced his old club Boston Red Sox for the first time and stroking out a home run in his second game back at Fenway park, but the zeal that AJ Moye has for the game of basketball is as great or even greater as Formula one racer Michael Schumacher has for that sport, singer Justin Timberlake has for not using facebook, but rathr staying in touch with his loved ones with his phone, or former tennis legend and three time Wimbeldon champion Boris Becker has for not hiding in the closet, but displaying his private life now as a retired tennis player at boris-becker.tv. Moye might not document his life yet daily with the camera, but Moye would have given an extra 180% when he faced his old club Walter Tigers Tuebingen after playing for them from 2006-2009, but as is so often the case, sometimes life threatening situations arise which can´t be stopped. Skyliner forward AJ Moye suffered a stroke and is currently in a Frankfurt hospital undergoing intensive tests. On Monday, Moye and another player collided with their heads, but the two players were able to continue to practice. On Monday night, the step father of Moye spoke with his step son and noticed that he had problems speaking. On Tuesday at the morning shoot around before the Eurochallenge game against Maccabi Haifa, there was abnormal behavior detected with the Los Angeles native. As his behavior got more intense, Moye was brought to a Frankfurt hospital. At the hospital his condition worsened. The diagnosis that Moye had a stroke has been confirmed in the hospital. Further diagnosis about his recovery and therapy can not be determined at the present moment. Skyliner sports director Kamil Novak spent the whole day in the hospital with Moye yesterday. ‘The family of AJ arrived in Germany today. AJ is the most professional player that ever played in our organization. There are situations in life where basketball becomes a minor matter. Right now our concern is with AJ’, stressed Kamil Novak. ‘AJ is a strong person, he will pull out of this situation. God Bless him and his Family’, said Glen Mcgowan who is playing in South Korea now and played in the BEKO BBL with Cologne.’A.J. is a very good player in my eyes because he was very tough to score against. He played with his heart and left it all on the court. Get well soon because basketball not only needs you, life itself do. God Bless and you are in my prayers’, stressed Monta McGhee who played against Moye with Nordlingen and is currently playing for Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-DBL). “On the court or off the court AJ Moye is great guy. I just want him to know that everybody out here is praying for his speedy recovery. Honestly Im at a lost for words right now”, strtessed 2009 BEKO BBL leading scorer Omari Westley.
Playing against an old team seems to always bring out the emotion in the player and the fans. “I am sure that AJ would have been excited to play against the team where he spent some time in his career. This first game will bring back many memories, but it will also give him the chance to compete and once the ball goes up all that will go out the window”, stressed TBB Trier guard John Bynum. Moye might be a gregarious player that can smile in the same league with a Michael Jordan(MBC), Titus Ivory, and Immanuel Mcelroy, but come game time, he would have wanted to show how much he has developed in Finland and his few months in Frankfurt. “I am sure a part of Moye would have felt different playing against his old team. I am always excited about playing an ex team, but at the same time, I always wanted to show that team how much I had grown as a player”, warned Phoenix Hagen American Quentin Pryor.
Not only is AJ Moye would have wanted to try to make a mark in the game against his old team The Walter Tigers Tuebingen, but so will also quarterback of the Tiger offense Bane Ratkovica. At the moment in Europe, there are top point guards like Andre Collins in France, Kareem Reid in France or Marcelinho Huertas in Spain and in Germany presently there is not to much doubt that the top playmaker is Bane Ratkovica who is playing his third season in Tuebingen. The 193cm Serb has developed each season and improved his assist rate each season from 2,3apg to 5,7apg to 7,3apg this season. Tuebingen has many central important figures in the team, but the engine doesn´t run without Bane. “Ratkovica is having a very solid season and getting his teammates the ball in the right area and its showing in the stats. He makes that team go and and is the head of that monster in that team. He is definitly one of the best point guards in the BEKO BBL this season”, stated John Bynum. As so often is the case, Ratkovica credits his teammates for his success. “My team mates are responsible for my good passing as they follow me in the game in the best possible way. What is left for me is only to find the right solution on the spot”, said Bane Ratkovica. For some players, the NBA is the lifelong dream and if that isn´t possible then there is always the highest Spanish league the ACB. “The ACB is the best league in Europe and it is certain that every player wants to play there. Therefore the competition is huge, but I believe I will go to Spain one day”, warned Bane Ratkovica. Ratkovica might not be the best for every player in the BEKO BBL, but he is respected. “I think that my teammate Mark Dorris is the best point guard at the moment. I think Ratkovica is the second best. He does so much setting up his teammates”, stressed Quentin Pryor.
Since coming into the BBL in 2004-2005, the Walter Tigers Tuebingen have been treading water in the BBL middle standings and at times scrapping the deregulation area. The best finish of the club was 2006-2007 as they finished in 10th place. The Tigers have been more a harmless creature that seems to have their mouth sealed with little power escaping instead of showing their absolute unconquerable qualities of a tiger on the court. The team has been known for developing a healthy fan base and letting guys like Rasko Katic and AJ Moye(his first year) develop into top BBL players, but then again also have gone the usual BBL route of signing an abundance of Americans and closing an eye for further developing German players and the organization also has been prone to getting involved with minor scandals like in 2006 with Tamien Trent and Mike Moten who were banned by the German basketball federation following a drug test. Making the jump to the BBL is not easy and if one were to ask experts in the Tuebingen surrounding, one would always here three things. A lack of management know how, a slim budget and not getting the right mix of players.
Ex coach Tolga Ongoren came in the middle of the 2007-2008 season and started getting the team in a right directionEx coach Tolga Ongoren came in the middle of the 2007-2008 season and started getting the team on the right path saving the team from stepping to the PRO A. In the 2008-2009 the team struggled again landing at 13th place. It was never able to go on a big run being able to only go on a three game winning streak. The six game losing streak in the middle of the season hurt their chances considerably for reaching the playoffs and finishing the season losing five of their last six games didn´t necessarily speak for the nerves or stability in the team either. Despite not winning much, they had some highlights including beating the 2009 BBL champions EWE Baskets Oldenburg on Eurosport, sweeping the Artland Dragons season series as well as the TBB Trier season series including a exciting 102-100 win in Trier as well as a 98-95 nail bitter in Ulm. Their 5-12 road record was miserable and their knack for losing five close games by a combined total of only 13 points didn´t speak positive of displaying nerves of steal in crunch time. The team had talent, but may not have had the right ingredients in the game plan in the offense to be successful on a consistent basis which is needed in the BBL. “It seemed like Ongoren liked to hype the big man play which didn´t really allow any of the guard play to be featured in scoring. The team had Katic and Haynes in the top ten scoring of the league. The team also didn´t have a deep bench”, stressed Ratiopharm Ulm German Jerome Bridgewater.
Last season, the Walter Tigers Tuebingen did´t start off like a possible Cinderella team as they had a 2-7 record despite beating 8 time BEKO BBL champion Alba Berlin at home. Then came a solid stretch where the club won three of four games and the team was proving more and more that they had a lot of potential. However then came a small dry spell as they lost against top clubs Oldenburg and Bonn, but then they went on a six game winning streak having beaten Bamberg, Artland and Frankfurt at home and MBC on the road. However after their sixth win in a row at home against The Deutsche Bank Skyliners, they seemed to be at the peak of the basketball mountain and then suddenly as if a severe wind storm had hit them, fell down the mountain losing five of their next six games and losing ground in the playoff race. A few more wins earlier in the season might have let the Walter Tigers Tuebingen survive the wind storm hanging onto the peak and reaching the playoffs last season. “I think what was missing last season was that they got behind early losing too much at teh start of teh season. I feel that if they would have won a few more games at the start that they could of made the playoffs”, stressed Quentin Pryor. “Last season we blew a few games. We lost on 2 buzzer beater shots and lost a home game to Braunschweig. when we was up 10 with 255 left and lost”, stated ex Water Tiger Tuebingen guard Steven Wright. After this bad streak, The Walter Tigers Tuebingen finished the season with a record of 4-3 winning their last two home games against Bonn and Oldenburg and sending the fans home hoping for more luck in the next season.
This season, The Walter Tigers Tuebingen had to say goodbye to key players Michael Jenkins, Aleksandar Nadjfeji, Romeo Travis and Steven Wright who averaged combined 45 points of the team average 77 last season. The team brought in Radovan Markovic, Nicolai Simon, Anatoly Kashirov and Chris Oliver. The question will be if the team can be as strong as last season and if the club can win more games and possibly be in the playoff hunt in the last weeks? “It is hard to say if they are as good as last season, because they hit their stride around the Allstar break last season. They are a pretty solid team right now”, warned Quentin Pryor. Currently The Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Despite the current 3-4 record, one should never underestimate the strength of the Tigers. “Tuebingen is a solid team and can compete with any BEKO BBL team on any night. They have great guard play and anytime you can throw in a Chris Oliver into the mix, he can cause match up problems because of his versatility to play inside out”, expressed John Bynum. With Kashirov and Markovic, the team has two players that can hurt you inside or out. “Tuebingen is a team with a good inside presence and strong shooters to space the floor. Their frontline is very big and can cause matchup problems and dangerous shooters on the wing”, stressed Quentin Pryor. They have one weakness where relying on their starting five to win might have to happen on more than one occasion. “They lack some depth and only go 7-8 deep”, warned Quentin Pryor. “We are better than what our record shows. We could have had afew more wins by now. We have to play with more toughness and be more physical to be successful in the future”, said Walter Tiger Tuebingen guard Whit Holcomb-Faye
The Walter Tigers Tuebingen is led by 25 year old 198cm power forward Chris Oliver who comes from Kernersville, North Carolina. This is his first season in Tuebingen. He is an excellent athletic with great hands that played at Radford for four years. He started his professional basketball career in Germany for Braves (Germany-ProA, starting five): 30 games: Score-2(20.5ppg), Reb-5(9.0rpg), 1.2apg, 1.3spg, 1.7bpg, FGP: 56%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 79.6%. He played at BG Goettingen the last two years winning the Eurochallenge last season. Last season, he played 35 games: 14.1ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 80.9%. “He is a great athlete and a pretty good shooter that likes to drive to the hoop. The kid has an all around game that will post up, shoot the 15 footer or take the three pointer. He plays well without the ball and doesn´t need a lot of shots to score. It is important to limit his touches, because he will shy away at times. On defense, he is long and covers a lot of ground. He is a good weak side shot blocker and rebounder. I think if you attack him when he is playing defense and make him guard you then that is something that he is capable of doing, but doesn´t do it a lot so Frankfurt should attack him inside”, warned Ohio native Omari Westley. Ex Giessen 46er Ricky Hickman remembers Chris Oliver very well from last season. “Oliver can do a little bit of everything. He is one of the toughest guys to match up within the league. When defending him, limit his open shots and be as physical as possible with him and give him nothing easy”, stressed Ricky Hickman. This season, Oliver is averaging 16,3ppg, 4,8rpg and 1,7spg.
The team signed 23 year old 215cm Russian Anatoly Kashirov who comes from CSKA Moscow and has gotten some experience despite the always deep rosters. He has played 16 Euroleague games and is a seven footer that has amazing sense of the basket especially in the paint. He has solid scoring aptitude and variability. He is really unbeatable in the paint. Last season, he played his first season in the BEKO BBL playing for the MBC Wolves playing 34 games: 12.0ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 52.1%, FT: 72.7%. He was a Euroleague finalist in 2007 and winner in 2008 and Russian cup finalist in 2007. He also was A Superleague Champion in 20 07 and 2008
and Russian A Superleague Regular Season Champion 2007 and 2008. He has very much talent and potential and needs to have higher rebounding stats for his size and has improved this season as he is currently averaging 14,5ppg and 5,5rpg. The club brought back Dane Watts who is a 24 year old 203 cm who is playing his third season in Germany and who is a modern day forward doing the job inside and outside. He played at Creighton from 2004-2008. In his senior year, he averaged 11,3ppg, 6,4rpg and 1,0apg. Last season, he quietly had a very solid BBL rookie season in Ludwigsburg averaging in 20 minutes averaging 8.9ppg, 3.8rpg, FGP-1(68.4%), 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 68.7% in 32 games. It wouldn´t be a surprise if most followers of German basketball didn´t even know that he led the BBL in field goal percentage at 68%. in 2008-2009 as a rookie. He is a team player that still has a lot of potential and could become a scoring option in Tuebingen. „“Dane has a lot of potential and has all the qualities that a big player of today needs. He can shoot, is athletic, has good ball handling and defends well. I am sure that he will surprise a lot of people except for us“, joked Jay Thomas. Last season, Watts played 34 games: 10.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 37.6%, FT: 71.0%. Currently he is averaging 13,2ppg, 5,8rpg and 1,3apg.
25 year old 193 cm guard from Serbia Branislav Ratkovica is playing his second season with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. He played with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg from 2007-2009 and averaged 9,4ppg, 2,1rpg and 2,3 apg. Those were very good stats for a guy who was primarily a role player for a team with such a deep roster. He is quietly making a name of himself in the BEKO BBL as a potent point guad and as rajon Rondo is slowly getting closer to being the best point guard in the NBA, Rathkovica is becoming the best point guard in the BEKO BBL. His biggest strength is that he is a lethal scoring option and has been the strong play maker that the team was searching for. Last season, the Serb played 34 games: 10.7ppg, 2.6rpg, Assists-1(5.7apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 26.3%, FT: 67.8%. “I have seldom seen such a clever player like Bane. He usually sees things before they even happen and he is a good defender. I am sure that he will become one of the top point guards in the BBL this season”,added Jay Thomas. This season, he is averaging 12,0ppg, 2,5rpg, 7,8apg, 1,2spg. In 2005, he played the European Championships U20 in Moscow (Bronze): 8 games: 5.1ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.4%, 3FGP: 30%, FT: 54.5%.
The club also signed 28 year old 194cm guard Radovan Markovic who is from Serbia. he started his professional basketball career with Astra Banka Beograd in 2000. he played for Lavovi 063 Beograd (YUBA) from 2001-2004. He then played in Germany for Telekom Baskets Bonn (Germany-1.Bundesliga): ULEB Cup: 3 games: 3,3ppg, 1reb; German Bundesliga: 1 game: 0pts, played also for 2nd team in 2.Regionalliga. Since 2005, he has played in Serbia. he played for KK Swisslion Takovo Lions Vrsac from 2005-2009. Last season, he played for Tamis Petrohemija Pancevo (A League): 32 games: 16.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT: 88.4%. This season for Tuebingen, he is averaging 6,8ppg and 1,5rpg. He also is shooting 43% from the field and 40% from outside. One of the biggest surprises has been 25 year old 203cm power forward/center Kenny Wiliams from Miami Florida. He played at Mississippi and was a rookie with Tuebingen in 2008-2009 averaging only 3,5ppg and 3,1rpg in 13 mpg. He seemed to be a long term project for the club, but he has made huge strides last season as he played 34 games: 9.1ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 57.1%, FT: 43.9%. He is mainly there to clean up the zone and get rebounds, but last season, he showed that he can be a real scoring option scoring 23 points against Phoenix Hagen. “I saw an upside coming with Wiliams two years ago. He will get even better with time, but he is already leaving a mark now”, warned 2009 BEKO BBL scoring leader Omari Westley. Currently Wiliams is averaging 6,8ppg and 3,2rpg and 1,0spg.
One player who has lived to tell about what the definition of bad luck is, then its Johannes Herber who has been injured on and off the last years. In the last four years, the ex German national player was only able to play 63 games. He came to Tuebingen half way through last season and kept rehabilitating his injury. Now he is fit again and is averaging 3,8ppg, 1,3rpg and 1,5apg in 20 minutes per game. He started his basketball career with TV Langen and played there from 1999-2002. He then played at W.Virginia (NCAA) from 2002-2006. In his senior year, he played 33 games: 9.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.4apg, 1.0spg, FG: 40.6%, 3PT: 25.4%, FT: 79.2%. He reached the Tournament Elite Eight in 2005, and the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006. He played at the World Championships in Japan in 2006 and European Championships in Spain in 2007. 23 year old 191 cm guard Nicolai Simon is playing his first season in Tuebingen. He is made a comeback in The BEKO BBL last season after coming into the BEKO BBL in 2006-2007 after being heralded as a big German talent. In 2006-2007, he was able to play 33 games for Alba Berlin despite being on a team with a deep roster. In 2007-2008, he injured himself playing only five games. Last season, he took a step back and played for Ergas Ehingen in the German PRO B averaging 8,9ppg, 2,4rpg and 5,2apg. and to develop further as a professional basketball player. This past summer, he played at the World University games in Belgrad averaging 4,1ppg, 3,6rpg and 1,4apg. Last season, he played for Paderborn Baskets (1.Bundesliga): 31 games: 5.5ppg, 1.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 40.8%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 79.4%. This season, he is averaging
3,4ppg and 1,4 rpg in 13 minutes per game. His role is too give Rathkovica a breathier every now and then.
The team recently gave Whit Holcomb-Faye a short term contract. Faye is a 26 year old 185cm guard from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and is a childhood friend of teammate Chris Oliver. Faye is a hard-nosed competitor; has the natural scoring instinct with the ability to draw the foul and convert the bucket; has the ability to breakdown defenses with his penetration; and is a very good free throw shooter; and an under rated three-point shooter. He played at Radford (NCAA) from 2002-2006 with Chris Oliver. In his senior year, he played 29 games: 23.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.0apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 39.5%, 3FGP: 33.5%, FT: 80.9%. He played the last four years in the German PRO A with Kaiserslautern for three years and one season with BBC Bayreuth. He always had first rate stats and it was sort of a mystery why it took him so long to reach the BEKO BBL. In the four years in the PRO A, he averaged 5,8 assists per season and led the PRO A twice in assists. Last season with Saar-Pfalz Braves he played 30 games: 16.0ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-1(8.4apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 26.6%, FT: 76.1%. Currently he is averaging 3,0ppg and 2,8rpg in 14,55 minutes per game. 30 year old 193 cm forward Jay Thomas will play his fifth season for Tuebingen. He has never really got a big chance to get many minutes as he is a role player coming from the bench. Before coming to Tuebingen, he played for TG Sandshausen, USC Heidelberg and two years with Bayern Muenchen (Germany-2.Bundesliga) from 2004-2006, where he averaged 10,0ppg. Last season for Tuebingen, he played 33 games: 1.4ppg, 1.2rpg. This season, he is averaging 0,8ppg, 2,3rpg and 1,0apg in 9,25 minutes per game. The team also has 20 year old 190cm guard Akeem Vargas who is a German American. He started his basketball career for SG Urspringschule junior team in 2005. He played for Erdgas Ehingen/Urspringschule from 2006-2009. Last season, he played in the United Staes for Iowa Lakes CC (JUCO): 31 games: 5.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.0%, FT: 94.0%. this season, he has played three games and averaged 1,28 minutes per game.
One thing riding for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners is that they have a 7-1 record against The Walter Tigers Tuebingen. The most memorable win was the 104-102 double overtime win in Frankfurt in 2007. Two seasons ago, Frankfurt won in Tuebingen 78-70 as Derrick Allen led all scorers with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Last season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners routed Tuebingen 72-59 as Keith Simmons poured in 25 points and six rebounds and left a lasting memory with a flying dunk through the zone like a bird. Last season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners destroyed Tuebingen 98-66 in the beginning of last season as Frankfurt had five players in double figurers as Derrick Allen had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Aubrey Reese had 16 points and six assists and Grayson Moyer had 14 points. Frankfurt then had their seven game winning streak broken in Tuebingen losing 91-70 as Tuebingen played one of their better games of the season as Dane Watts shined with 24 points. Currently The Deutsche Bank Skyliners are on a six game winning streak in the BEKO BBL and want to win their fifth game in a row in the Ballsporthalle against Tuebingen as their last loss at home was in 2005. Jimmy Mckinney is back in the lineup after returning with 12 points against Maccabi Haifa. Roger Powell and Dashaun Wood are currently playing explosive basketball, but the team will be hoping for a better performance from American center Joe Dabbert that had three points and three rebounds in 22 minutes and tw unnecessary offensive fouls. If Frankfurt can keep their strong form from the last weeks in BEKO BBL play, then they should be able to defeat a pesky Tuebingen team. “Key to winning will be controlling Ratkovica. Frankfurt has to keep constant pressure on him and keep him from getting in the lane to create the open look for the shooters”, warned Quentin Pryor. “I think Frankfurt must control the inside on Tubingen and dont let them get open looks. Also, they must keep Ratkovica under control”, stressed Gloria Giants Duesseldorf guard Steven Wright. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host The Walter Tigers Tuebingen on Saturday November 20th at 18:30.