The Deutsche Bank Skyliners Didn´t Need A Four Leaf Clover Or A Leprechaun But Had Dashaun Wood At The End Getting By BK Ventspils 72-71 In Eurochallenge Play

Sometimes when a team has nothing to lose, they are uncaged  and able to perform with pressure as if it was the easiest thing in the world to master like it is eating a hot fudge sundae. Despite having to win their last two Eurochallenge games, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners played as if pressure was as distant as Antarctica is and were as motivated to win against BK Ventspils as Santa Claus is to carry out beautiful presents to all kids in the world, Tom Brady is winning and bringing that fourth Super Bowl trophy back to New England this season, The San Antonio Spurs wanting to win another NBA championship with the big three of Tim Duncan, Mano Ginobili and Tony Parker and Gekas of Eintracht Frankfurt is to not leaving the field after 90 minutes without scoring. It was another very hard fought game, but The Deutsche Bank Skyliners took the toughness from the Phoenix Hagen win and transformed into the BK Ventspils game escaping with a 72-71 win and winning the two game series against the Latvian team. Despite having pressure, Frankfurt dealt with it without getting negatively effected by it. “We had a lot of pressure and couldn´t afford to have little mistakes. We knew that we only had a slim chance to advance so we had to win. We are 2-0 against BK Ventspils which will help us advance if we are tied at 3-3 after next week”, stressed Skyliner guard Dashaun Wood. “Frankfurt played like as if they had their backs to the wall. They executed and my hat goes off to them. Their win reminds me a bit of when I played at UCONN and we were down by 8 points with 2.51 minutes to play against Duke in the NCAA Final 4 and we came back to win”, commented 2004 NCAA champion Rashad Anderson. In a long basketball season, every team needs the basketball god and luck. Frankfurt had been a bit neglected with luck in the losses in Haifa and Yunzy, but had fortune on their side against BK Ventspils. “Frankfurt had a little luck winning this game. BK Ventspils made a huge mistake at the end where Ingus Bankevics was on the rim and Frankfurt got to in bound the ball at the other end with 3,4 seconds to play. However Wood showed that he had nerves and made his free throws. That was simply quality”, stated ex EnBW Ludwigsburg coach Silvano Poropat. Frankfurt is on a one game winning streak in close victories and would love to keep that streak going even if it isn´t realistic. “This was an important win. Winning close games like this will help us later in the season. Of course it would be nice to win all close games that we are in, but it just doesn´t work like that in basketball”, warned Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak. “That was a very bitter loss. We had the game in our hands and then we lose like that. I am very angry and upset now”, warned Rashad Anderson. “The key to the win was that we never gave up. They are a smart team, but we never quit”, stressed Dashaun Wood.

One player that the Deutsche Bank Skyliners had to keep an eye on was 27 year old 195cm small forward Rashad Anderson from Lakeland, Florida. The 2004 NCAA champion with UCONN is playing his first season with BK Ventspils after having played in countries like Greece and Italy and in the D league. In 2008-2009, he had a great season in Italy for Amatori Snaidero Udine (Italy-SerieA) playing 25 games: Score-2(18.2ppg), 2.8rpg, 1.5apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 76.3%. That he is playing in a lower league like Latvia is very surprising, but the American sees it as a good situation. “Latvia is cool. There is not much nightlife here, so I can focus on my game and get better with my skills. I don’t take any days off except on the days that we travel for Eurochallenge. I am always working hard. It is cold here, but I think that it was colder at UCONN”, joked Rashad Anderson. The American has had great games in the Eurochallenge scoring in double figurers in every game including 27 points against Khimky Yunzy and 26 points against Maccabbi Haifa and is averaging 17,8ppg, 3,0rpg and 1,6apg in Eurochallenge play, but was limited to two points against Frankfurt in the loss in Ventspils, but found his touch again scoring 15 points in the 72-71 loss to Frankfurt. Anderson wasn´t impressed by just one Skyliner. “I am impressed by that whole team. I know Wood from Italy. He is a great player”, warned Rashad Anderson. Skyliner guard Quantez Robertson had to guard Anderson and didn´t have a cake walk defending him. “Anderson was tough to guard. He rebounds very well, rebounded well and attacked the rim nicely. I am happy that I was able to control him a little”, added Quantez Robertson. Anderson likes playing in Europe, but still has nice memories from the big stage he had in the NCAA and still has a big ambition to play in the NBA. “My fondest memory was hoisting the NCAA trophy in the air after we beat Georgia Tech. I loved playing with guys like Ben Gordon, Charlie Villaneuva and Emeka Okafor. All guys were great in their own way. I want to get to the Euroleague and the NBA. I feel as if I am one of the best in Europe. I feel that if you don’t want to strive to get to the best level, then you shouldn´t be playing the game”, warned Rashad Anderson.

BK Ventspils were without Chester Mason who had been released leaving Rashad Anderson as the lone American on the squad. The Ballsporthalle was poorly filled which was expected at a rare midweek game, but the game did produce some well known spectators with ex BG Karlsruhe coach Silvano Poropat and ex TV Langen player Sebastian Barth. BK Ventspils got off to a quick 6-2 lead. Saulius Kuzminskas scored over Marius Nolte, Rashad Anderson nailed a fade away jumper over Robertson and Arturs Berzins scored with a left handed hook shot. Frankfurt knew that they could take the Latvian team lightly. “We knew that it would be a close game from the start. We knew that they play aggressive and have good three point shooters”, stressed Quantez Robertson. That this game would live with mini runs was no surprise either as Frankfurt took the first one going on a 9-0 run to lead 11-6. Frankfurt got production from Jermaine Bucknor with a jumper, A De Mello lay up going on a coast to coast sprint and lay up, Robertson making a jumper from the wing and Wood making a runner in the lane. The teams started to trade runs as much as kids trade Many Ramierz and David Ortiz baseball cards as BK Ventspils countered back with a 7-2 run to dead lock the game at 13-13. BK Ventspils got to buckets from Janis Strelnieks and a basket from Anderson. Frankfurt continued to hit at a very high percentage as Dashaun Wood nailed a jumper off the screen and Skyliner captain Pascal Roller made a jumper in the lane. After one quarter, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners led 18-15. “Both teams were equal in the first quarter. There were a few small runs and there was more shooting from outside than inside”, said Silvano Poropat. “Both teams were subbing many players in and out and there were some crazy shots being taken”, added NBC German Sebastian Barth. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 66,7% from outside while BK Ventspils was shooting 46,7% from the field and 20% from outside. Frankfurt had the slim 12-9 rebounding edge and had three turnovers while BK Ventspils had four turnovers.

The second quarter was began by a quick 7-0 run by BK Ventspils as they retook the lead back 22-18. BK Ventspils continued to prefer to launch bombs from outside or score on transition. Ingus Bankevics scored on a pretty fade away jumper and on a three pointer while Arturs Strelnieks made a steal and went coast to coast for the basket. Frankfurt was able to recover from this fast onslaught by going on their own 5-0 run as Pascal Roller had the hot hand again after having 0 points in Hagen last weekend. Roller scored on a jumper and then on another jumper getting free from a defender with an extra nice dribble behind his back. BK Ventspils stayed on the heels of Frankfurt tying the game at 24-24 with two Bankevics free throws, but were always able to rely on hot shooting. Roller and Wood responded with back to back three pointers as Frankfurt was able to slowly distance themselves again from BK Ventspils 30-24. However Frankurt was unable to hold the more comfortable lead as BK Ventspils came storming backa s Maris Gulbis made two free throws and Anderson hit a contested three pointer over Dominik Bahiense De Mello as Frankfurt led only 30-29. The last few minutes remained a close affair as Robertson scored on a lay in after getting fed beautifully from Roller and Wood dropped a three pointer leading 35-31. BK Ventspils had some luck on the last possession as Kuzminskas got a lucky bounce and put a loose ball home. Frankfurt led 35-33 at halftime. “Anderson, Janis Strelnieks and Kuzminskas were carrying BK Ventspils. Roller and Wood were the difference for Frankfurt. Both teams were playing solid defense, but most of the teams mistakes resulted from the offense than from the defense influencing it”, commented Silvano Poropat. “Roller and Wood were shooting very well. BK Ventspils was playing very nice inside/ out basketball”, stressed ex BBC Bayreuth German Sebastian Barth. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 43%from the field and 60% from the three point line while BK Ventspils was shooting 41% from the field and 27% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 20-16 rebound lead, but nine turnovers while BK Ventspils had seven turnovers.

The third quarter had BK Ventspils get the lead back on their first possession then lose it again and get it back on their last possession of the third quarter. Arturs Berzins got BK Ventspils on the board first with a contested three pointer as Kimmo Muurinen was in his face and BK Ventspils led 36-35. Frankfurt got the lead back with Nolte scoring on a lay up after getting a nice pass from Wood inside. Wood then got a easy lay up as Nolte made room in the zone for Wood to get through without being disturbed as Frankfurt led 42-38. Anderson struck back with a three pointer as BK Ventspils trailed 42-41. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners then found some day light going on a 8-0 run to lead 50-41. De Mello made a tough three pointer and Wood, Nolte and Bucknor helped with free throws. BK Ventspils kept fighting back going on a 5-0 run as Anderson nailed a three pointer as he made a little hesitation move on Bucknor and then fired away. Janis Strelnieks made a fade away jumper over Wood as BK Ventspils only trailed 50-46. Robertson then made a three pointer as Frankfurt led 53-46. BK Ventspils got some free throws from Bankevics and Anderson who was fouled behind the three point line. Skyliner center Joe Dabbert gave Frankfurt the 55-52 lead with two free throws. BK Ventspils had an extra touch of energy left in their tank as they closed out the third quarter with a 5-0 run to lead 57-55 after three quarters. Kuzminskas made the last five points scoring inside after Anderson made a beautiful fake shot firing  a bullet pass inside to him and then getting a nice feed from Janis Strelnieks. BK Ventspils was shooting 46% from the field and 35% from the parking lot and The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 53% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the narrow 28-25 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while BK Ventspils had nine turnovers.

BK Ventspils jumped on the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter going on a 11-4 run to lead 68-61. Bankevics gave BK Ventspils the 59-57 lead as he scored over Dabbert. The fourth quarter had some spectacular plays and one of them was as Dashaun Wood made a slick cross over move past Janis Strelnieks and penetrated giving a no look pass to Dabbert who finished with a two handed dunk as the score was knotted at 59-59. BK Ventspils then led 68-61 as Kuzminskas scored on a running left handed hook shot and Gulbis nailed a three pointer. Frankfurt was down by seven points with 3.30 to play and had to start a comeback. They did going on a 11-3 run to win 72-71. Frankfurt stayed calm looking for good shots and quickly cut the BK Ventspils lead to 68-66 as Dashaun Wood scored on a pull up jumper and then made a three pointer. Gulbis made a lay up as BK Ventspils led 70-66. With time running down, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners would end the game with three spectacular offensive plays. The first play consisted of a steal by Muurinen who made a quick outlet pass to De Mello who went one on one, but took a little tempo out of his game waiting for Super tez to creep up on the right and made a perfect lob pass that Tez put home for the dunk as Frankfurt trailed only 70-68. “We got the steal and Dom went down on the fast break, threw it up and I put it in. This was a good warm up for the Allstar slam dunk contest. I will be at the slam dunk contest”, warned Quantez Robertson. After an Anderson miss, Frankfurt came back as Wood timed a perfect ally-op pass to Kimmo Muurinen who tapped it in as the game was deadlocked at 70-70. Gulbis then made one free throw as BK Ventspils had their last lead of the game 71-70. With less than a minute to play, Frankfurt was unable to take the lead as Wood missed a shot and BK Venstpils came back, but Kuzminskas also missed as 3,5 seconds was on the clock. Frankfurt had one last try and it was obvious who the ball would go to. Wood had been unlucky missing his last three shots in crunch time, but he made his mistakes good by drawing the foul as 0,6 seconds was on the clock. “We were looking to go to Dashaun or Pascal, because they are good free throw shooters. If they would have been covered the plan was to get the ball to me or Jimmy who would have attacked the rim”, stressed Quantez Robertson. “That was not a foul on wood. We can´t have a mistake like that happen. We just can´t let it come to the last play”, stressed Rashad Anderson. Wood then made both free throws as Frankfurt led 72-71. BK Ventspils had 0,6 seconds to get one last shot off, but Anderson missed. “I might have been able to get open a bit more. I didn´t catch the ball the way I wanted to, but the release felt good”, added Rashad Anderson. “The difference on the last two plays was that Anderson had contact with me and I contested his shot in the corner. I had my hand up and if he makes the shot then he deserved to win”, expressed Dashaun Wood.

The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 27 points, two rebounds, four assists and two turnovers. Captain Pascal Roller added 13 points and two assists. BK Ventspils was led by Rashad Anderson with 15 points. Saulius Kuzminskas had 13 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Maris Gulbis added 12 points and six rebounds. Ingus Bankevics and Janis Strelnieks chipped in with 11 points a piece. The Deutsche Bank Sklyiners shot incredibly well with 53% from outside and 44% from the field. They also won the rebounding duel. Even though The Deutsche Bank Skyliners won, American dashaun Wood expects even better play in the next weeks. “It is always to win games like this. You have to remember that we are not at full strength. We have new plays to add and are still getting on the same page. Bucknor is back and Nolte is in the starting lineup so adjustments still being made. We are still finding our identity on and off the court”, warned Dashaun Wood. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host TBB Trier on December 18th at 18: 30.

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