After The Deutsche Bank Skyliners witnessed a combination of a seemingly huggable teddy bear and the curliness of Seth Rogens hair in John Bryant 9 days ago in Ulm where he showed more the banging fierceness of Shaq lost in the Kuhberg arena without his Kazaam DVD than the shyness of a Dwight Howard after missing a pregame meal and not being effective as the gang of Gordon Herbert wanted to extend their unbeaten streak in the Ballsporthalle to 11games and were as focused to halt John Bryant and Ratiopharm Ulm in their tracks like American rapper Gucci Mane was too shock the world with an ice cream tattoo on his cheek, Dallas Mavericksowner Mark Cuban suing The United Football League for not repaying a loan and Borussia Dortmund staring off the second half of the Fussball Bundesliga with a win against Bayer Leverkusen. It wasnt pretty at the end, but Frankfurt was able to win again at home with a 7-0 run at the end and didn´t let John Bryant dominate again like in Ulm. “We used our home court advantage well tonight. It is never easy to stop Bryant and the best you can do is slow him down. Bryant will play well anyway, but we were able to shave his totals from Ulm from 22and 12 to 9 and 13”,stressed current BEKO BBL top scorer Dashaun Wood. Despite the loss, Ratiopharm Ulm coach Mike Taylor was pleased with the way his boys played and sees a few things that can be corrected especially in crunch time. “We need to grow and execute better at the end of games. Guys still get excited and make mistakes. There are little fine details that the team is missing for example on the last play as Bryant was double teamed on the lob pass and Guenther didnt go to the wing to improve the passing lane. Its small things that cost us games. We need to approach game winning possessions in the fourth quarter like fourth quarter game winning possessions and not like first quarter possessions”, warned Ratiopharm coach Mike Taylor. “We got stops at the end on defense which was big. We can always improve on defense”, stated Skyliner Chris Moss. “We didnt use our chnaces at the end and we had enough of them. Mckinney hit a big three pointer. We have to make less mistakes at the end to be able to win”, warned German National player Robin Benzing.
The game marked the return of German national player Robin Benzing who started his career at TV Langen which is only a 20 minute drive from the Ballsporthalle. With a 80 man fan club group in the arena, the 20 year 208cm power forward felt very much at home and showed early that he wanted to compete with Dashaun Wood as the game top scorer as he had 16 points. Benzing is a big reason why Ratiopharm Ulm is nipping at the playoff door. After a difficult World Championships in Turkey, the German quickly erased the bad experience as is having a superb year averaging 15,0ppg, 4,4rpg and 1,3 apg. “Robin didnt have a good World Championships, but we showed him right away that we stand behind him and he got the feeling that its no crime to make a mistake. Even after a bad shot, he doesnt have fear to be able to take another shot. He is on a good way, helped us win the game in Bremerhaven. Americans in the BEKO BBL also have good and bad games, but for some reason it is always the Germans that get Criticized”, stressed Ratiopharm Ulm manager Thomas Stoll. People tend to forget that Benzing is unable to work on certain things in the off season, because he is with the German National team. “It is not easy for Robin. During the summer when he should be working on his muscles in the weight room to increase his jumping ability, he is with the German National team. He has to work on these things now during the season, but he is progressing well. We help him with his goals, but he has developed well. He is dunking more and his rebounding is up from last season”, added Thomas Stoll. Benzing was less of a factor in the second half making four points and finishing with 20 points, but the NBA draft speculations continue to grow with each good game. “I think that Robin could of been drafted last season. I am pretty sure that he will get drafted in 2011 late in the first round or early in the second round. It all depends if he can do NBA draft workouts, because he will be with the German National team. He needs to play a good season and has the total support of his teammates. His teammates know that he is better than they are. What many dont know is that Benzing is a lot better in practice than in games”, expressed Thomas Stoll. Stoll isnt to keen about the negativity in Germany regarding how criticism should be used. “Germany is too negative. Benzing would be hyped in any other country about his game. It is only normal that players in their early 20s will have set backs. Critics in Germany need to understand that young players need time to develop to give back success”, warned Thomas Stoll.
Everybody was anticipating the debut of new center/forward Chris Moss. Moss who is a 30 year old 204cm player from Virginia passed with flying colors in his first game having nine points and ten rebounds(7 off rebounds) in 22 minutes. He had no easy task defending big 290 pound John Bryant, but did a good job. “Moss is a good player. He has very much strength for his size and it wasnt easy getting position in the post against him. He ran the pick and role well with Wood. He is a good ´defender and uses his advantages well”, added Ratiopharm Ulm center John Bryant. Skyliner captain Pascal Roller can talk in detail or be concise and too the point when needed and with Moss he had little to say, but had only positive words for the ex ACB player. “He played very well being it was his first game. He showed his presence under the boards cleaned up with rebounds and gave support to Marius Nolte when he was on the bench”, added Pascal Roller. Moss was a big factor for John Bryant not getting to play his game. “I guess you could say that Moss made the hair of Bryant stick up in fear. He contained Bryant well”, added Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen. “Moss is a good player. He is a big physical post player and will get better”, expressed Ratiopharm Ulm American Rocky Trice. Despite his good debut, Moss will still have individual training this week, because he hasnt played in seven months. “I felt good today. I am in relatively good physical shape, but not basketball shape. It doesnt really matter how much you run and hit the weights, it wont do you much good, if you arent in basketball shape. I will continue to work on that this week”, commented Chris Moss. “Moss got lay ups today and it was a good first game. He will help us a lot in the future. He just needs to get into basketball shape”, warned Dashaun Wood.
Before the game started, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners announced that power forward Roger Powell got an extension of his short term contract to the end of February, but likeable Canadian National player Jermaine Bucknor did not get a contract extension. Bucknor was a good sport and supported Frankfurt and will be remembered in a nice way. If he will come back a third time is teh question, but stranger things have happened in basketball. 4,660 people showed up to the Ballsporthalle and were greeted by two that started with a very high intensity as both offenses found their groove on offense. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners jumped out on a 5-2 lead as Marius Nolte made a lay up and Dashaun Wood nailed a three pointer. Benzing got on the board quick scoring and Trice made his patented fade away jumper as Ratiopharm Ulm trailed 5-4. Wood has three main strenghes as he can penetrate, hit the jumper or pass and one never really knows what he will do. Wood dazzled the crowd with a nifty cross over getting by Bryant easily and then changing the ball from his right hand to his left hand and scoring. Frankfurt led 7-4, but it was Benzing making his second shot drooping a three point bomb from the top of the key not hesitating as he buried the jumper. Moss then entered the game and quickly got an offensive rebound before getting fed beautifully by Wood for an easy lay up as Frankfurt led 9-6. Ratiopharm Ulm continued to stay at the heels of Frankfurt as Trice made a difficult jumper over Kimmo Muurinen as Frankfurt led 9-8. The game last weekend against The EWE Baskets Oldenburg was remembered with the many dunks and this game also would feature breathtaking dunks. Quantez Super Tez Robertson continued to get in valuable game time dunks for the 2011 BEKO BBL Allstar game by coming from the right side faking a shot and getting Trice in the air and then charging to the hoop and finishing with a big dunk as Frankfurt led 11-8. Ratiopharm Ulm countered with two Per Guenther free throws to cut the Frankfurt lead to 11-10. A basketball game cant survive without runs and the first quarter ended with two of them. Frankfurt started with a 8-0 run as Quantez Robertson hit an open three pointer after getting a nice kick out pass from Jimmy Mckinney, the St Louis native then made three pointer from the wing and Moss a lay up after getting an offensive rebound. Frankfurt led 19-10, but couldn´t hold the momentum as Ratiopharm Ulm closed out the first quarter with a 9-1 run as Frankfurt led 20-19 after one quarter. Ratiopharm Ulm spread around the ball as Trice made another fade away jumper, Benzing a three pointer, Coleman Collins a lay in over Moss and Travis Walton a pull up jumper as the buzzer sounded. Sitting behind the Ratiopharm Ulm bench was a big blond looking guy that looked a bit from the side of the face like German national player Jan Jagla, but really was the brother of John Bryant and was rooting for his brother. “The first quarter was very high paced. There was a lot of running. I thought that Ulm was moving the ball well. Benzing was shooting well, but my brother wasnt as involved”, stressed Josh Bryant.
Ratiopharm Ulm was able to take the lead in the second quarter with a lay in from Mr energizer Sebastian Betz to lead 21-20. However The Deutsche Bank Skyliners seemed to still have their first quarter run in their minds and proceeded to go on a 8-2 run to lead 28-23. Roger Powell didnt show anything form his 20% shooting from the parking lot as he nailed a three pointer, which was followed by a clutch three pointer with one second left on the shot clock. American Coleman Collins interrupted the run with a dunk, but Mckinney made a pull up jumper. Ratiopharm Ulm stayed on track as Trice scored from outside. Ratiopharm Ulm was doing a super job moving the ball around quick whenever Bryant was being covered well and finding the open man and getting points. Wood then found Moss with a two handed dunk via a bounce pass as Frankfurt led 30-26. Ratiopharm Ulm remained very feisty continuing to score as they marched on a 10-2 run to retake the lead 33-32. Ratiopharm Ulm got free throws from Bryant and Guenther and heads up play from Benzing who scored seven points and stayed alert getting a tip in off a missed Bryant free throw as Frankfurt was sleeping and then a tricky off balance lay in as he had to move to his right and get by Kimmo Muurinen. The 20 year old German then made a three pointer as Bryant was out of commission inside. Ratiopharm Ulm would hold the lead until halftime. After a Moss dunk, Bryant found some daylight scoring an easy layup as Frankfurt trailed 38-34. Wood then as usual did some of his magic finding the right spot and making a lay up, but Benzing washed away that highlight hitting another three pointer from the top of the key as Ratiopharm Ulm led 41-36. Wood and Benzing then traded baskets again as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners trailed 43-38 at halftime. “Frankfurt was hitting a lot of contested shots. Ulm was rebounding better and my brother was doing better at the end slowly warming up”, added Josh Bryant. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 55% from the field and 44% from the three point line while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 48% from the field and 50% from the three point line. Ratiopharm Ulm had the 18-15 rebounding edge and both teams had six turnovers a piece.
In years past, the third quarter hasnt always been a favorite quarter of The Deutsche Bank Skyliners as they stumbled at times, but this season, coming on to the court from halftime has somehow stimulated the play of the club. Last weekend a 26-0 run to begin against Oldenburg and this time only a 6-0 run, but the lead back into the hands of Frankfurt. Wood made a lay in as did Marius Nolte. Nolte then made free throws as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners led again 44-43. Trice then scored after getting an offensive rebound off a Benzing miss, but Robertson not only was dunking but had his range from downtown as he nailed a three pointer as Frankfurt led 47-45. 30 year Sean Sonderleiter then made a nice lob pass inside which Bryant gobbled up and put home for two points as the game was deadlocked at 47-47. Ratiopharm Ulm went back to the basics getting Bryant the ball inside. Frankfurt then went on a mini 4-0 run as Wood scored and Nolte did as Muurinen found the German with a bullet pass and once again showing his precise passing skills. Wood then found Super Tez as he showcased a monster two handed dunk as Frankfurt led 53-49. Ratiopharm Ulm stormed back to take the lead as German Sebastian Betz somewhat took over the role from 2006 & 2007 NCAA champion Lee Humphrey as he nailed another three pointer as Ratiopharm Ulm led 54-53.
No club wanted to trail for more than a few seconds as Frankfurt stormed back to go on a 7-0 run to lead 61-55 as Powell nailed another three pointer and Wood scored again inside as his quickness just left any opponent in striking distance in the dust as Frankfurt led 58-54. Sometimes it seems like Wood is in such á hurry to get to the rim as if pop queen Rihanna were waiting for him and counting each second where he isnt at her side. It is always amazing to see how quickly Wood decides if he will penetrate and finish or find a player somewhere in striking distance? “I see things that happen before I drive and make a picture. I know where each guy is most of the time. Tez and I had some nice combinations today, but we have been working hard in practice to get these plays down. It is like a quarterback and receiver who have to be on the same page”, stressed Dashaun Wood. Quantez Robertson then dunked again this time over Benzing. Ratiopharm Ulm closed out the third quarter with a 7-2 run as Frankfurt led only 63-62. 2009 NCAA finalist with Michigan State Travis Walton made a floater and Benzing a tip in off a Collins miss. Nolte then scored inside getting a beautiful pass from Wood who was creating, but Betz who is known first for his defense knocked home a three pointer. “The third quarter was very tight and we were missing too many open shots, but we finally got back into the game as we started making more shots”, stressed Kimmo Muurinen. The Deutsche Bank Sklyiners were shooting 58% from the field and 41% from the parking lot while Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 53% from the field and 50% from the parking lot. Ratiopharm Ulm still had the rebounding edge 25-23, but 10 turnovers while Frankfurt had only eight turnovers.
The fourth quarter seemed to be somewhat of a mystery when one compared it to the first three quarters where offense seemed to be the first order of business. In the last 10 minutes, the game had much less scoring and many more errors a sonly a total of 16 points were scored. The fourth quarter was dominated with three runs of four, five and seven and then the game was over. Frankfurt got on the score board first with Nolte free throws as Frankfurt led 65-62. It took three minutes before the first field goal was made as Skyliner captain Pascal Roller made a pull up jumper as Frankfurt led 67-62. Ratiopharm came back and went on a 5-0 run to tie the score at 67-67. Bryant scored inside, Benzing made one of two free throws and Trice scored on the fast break. Frankfurt was making many turnovers, but Ratiopharm Ulm had stepped up their defense a bit. But The Deutsche Bank Skyliners played tough defense when it counted most in crunch time not allowing Ratiopharm Ulm to score in the last three minutes as they closed out the game with a 7-0 run to win 74-67. Wood then dished out another one of his 12 assists again fooling the Ratiopharm Ulm defense setting up Super Tez with a lay up as Frankfurt led 69-67. “Ratiopharm Ulm coach Mike Taylor gave Wood the ultimate compliment following the loss. Wood had 12 assists the same number that we had and I thought that we were moving the ball very well”, added Mike Taylor. Mckinney then sealed the win with a clutch three pointer making up for some missed open three pointers earlier in the game. Wood made two free throws ending the game. “The key was good defensive stops. We played hustle defense, getting steals and loose balls which helped. We showed by example of good defense how we can get fast break buckets”, added Kimmo Muurinen. “It was a tough loss. We were in it until the end. We got some steals, but then always turned the ball over”, said ex BG Goettingen forward Rocky Trice. “Ratiopharm Ulm is a very good offensive team. They have a good point guard that can penetrate, a strong big man and good shooters. Benzing can do it all. We showed great toughness holding that team to only 5 points in the fourth quarter. You would never have sold me a dream before the game that we would hold such an offensive team like that to so little points”, stressed Dashaun Wood.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 17 points and 12 assists. Quantez Robertson added 14 points and six rebounds. Marius Nolte added 12 points. Jimmy Mckinney chipped in with 11 points. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Robin Benzing with 20 points. Roderick Trice had 13 points and five rebounds. Sebastian Betz gave valuable stability from the bench with 11 points.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners remain unstoppable at home as they won for the 11th time and once again showed that they had nerves of steel in crunch time not letting Ratiopharm Ulm use their arsenal of weapons on offense. The shooting percentages went down in the fourth quarter as both teams didnt shoot well. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners shot 44% from the field and 33% from downtown and came back to win the rebounding duel 35-34. Ratiopharm Ulm had 17 turnovers while Frankfurt had 13 turnovers. Frankfurt surprisingly also won the points in the paint battle 38-30 as they got many points off the penetration from Wood and didnt really play that classic inside post up play to Nolte and Moss for points. The Brose Baskets biggest weapon besides their team chemistry is their ball movement something that Frankfurt continues to improve and develop. “I was really impressed how well Frankfurt moved the ball. Wood really killed us on the ball screen”, added Rocky Trice. Chris Moss may only be on the team a week, but he has had no problems fitting into the team on the court. “I only knew two plays, but I had little problems getting involved becuase of the good team chemistry. each guy knows their role and there are no selfish players. the team is always working to get the best shot”, warned Chris Moss. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners now have a two week break until the next game in Duesseldorf. Dashaun Wood, Jimmy Mckinny and Quantez Robertson will be traveling to The BEKO BBL Allstar game in Duesseldorf. Super Tez Robertson is really motivated to win after getting beat by Jamal Shuler last season and has many guys on his side. “I am sure Quantez will win. I thought he won last year”, joked Rocky Trice. “Tez can get up. I am sure he has a good chance to win. I will be rooting for my teammate”, said Chris Moss. The Gloria Giants Duesseldorf host The Deutsche Bank Skyliners January 29th.