In the last few years, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have been frequent visitors to the BEKO BBL Top 4 and have gotten used to playing basketball in early spring and not watching it on TV. Frankfurt wanted to book the Top 4 ticket to Bamberg and after getting rocked 4 days earlier in their own living room to the Brose Baskets Bamberg, the club was as concentrated on getting down to basketball business as winter weather was in the States preventing the Toronto Raptors from departing Indianapolis, firms showcasing the best ads for Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas and super duper actor Matt Damon cheering on his Boston Celtics bringing the team luck against The Los Angeles Lakers with a black hat and a big B on the front as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners didn´t want to stink up their house a second time in a row taking apart the Telekom Baskets Bonn 93-64. Frankfurt will compete in the TOP 4 in Bamberg on the first April weekend against Bamberg, Braunschweig and Artland Dragons. The loss against Bamberg was a wakeup call as Frankfurt took care of business against Bonn. “We had no choice, but to forget the loss against Bamberg fast. We had the choice to hang our heads or return and work hard and give a good effort against Bonn. We had a good practice Monday night and the team was pretty confident for the game. Bonn is a team where you never know what to expect. They won in Berlin, but lost at home before that. The whole team played together, there was a great distribution of the ball and in the third quarter where Bonn tried to come back, we always had an answer”., stressed Skyliner center Marius Nolte. Bonn was on top of the world after the win in Berlin, but quickly came back down to earth on the Ballsporthalle floor. “We weren´t focused. Each player should look in the mirror and ask what they did wrong. I am very disappointed. This was a big game, but we played very bad. We didnt bring any effort on defense. They shot very well, but we also gave them easy baskets. There was simply no effort from the first to the last guy in our rotation and we didn´t try to change anything”, said Bonn guard Folarin Campbell. “I think that everything that we did wrong against Bamberg, we did right tonight. We gave a good effort on offense and defense. We shared the ball, got a lot of assists and talked a lot. It was a complete win”, stressed current BEKO BBL top scorer Dashaun Wood. “We didn´t bring the same effort as in Berlin. We can´t afford to be up and down”, added ex Cologne guard Jeremy Hunt.
One player who has been strolling around in street clothes more than in uniform in the last years has been ex NBA player Vincent Yarbrough who is still rehabilitating and coming back from an injury. The 29 year old 201cm forward who played 59 games for the Denver Nuggets in the 2002-2003 season has only been able to play 51 games for The Telekom Baskets Bonn since he arrived in 2008. Yarbrough who is a strong defender and has been missed in their rotation is hoping to return back to action in March. Before the game, Yarbrough had a long chat with injured Skyliner AJ Moye, but also had diverse thoughts about the cup, strength of Campbell, Hunt and Wise, and notion that Frankfurt doesnt seem to be able to come to terms with the playing style of Bonn in recent years. “The cup is different than the championship in that cup time is a good indication of who is playing well. I think that the teams that reach the Top 4 is a good preview of what we will see in the playoffs. The Frankfurt game has no special meaning to me and is just like another game. It is more fun to see how my teammates and former teammates do like Alex King or Ken Johnson. I dont think that Campbell, Hunt and Wise are meant to do all the scoring. It just seems to happen a lot. Coach Koch wants a healthy distribution with scoring. Those three players are our best one on one players and if there is a missed communication or missed screen than it is usually they who get the ball in their hands, because they can make something happen, but all three are different type of players. In being successful against Frankfurt has a lot to do with the preparation. Former coach Murat Didin had a particular style of play that we came to terms with where you had to stop one or two players and you had the game won. It is the same with this team where if you control Wood, you have a good chance to win. With Moye and Powell out, Wood has had to take the load”, stressed Vincent Yarbrough.
Before the game started, it is always interesting to observe what happens in warm ups. Marius Nolte took a few minutes to catch up with BEKO BBL top rebounder in the years 2001-2005 Chris Ensminger as both guys had been teammates in the 2008-2009 season with The Paderborn Baskets. As the two veterans were chatting, Skyliner guard Dominik Bahiense De Mello showed some respect coming over and shaking the hand of Ensminger. With the game being on a Wednesday and also a German national football game against Italy happening, the crowd turnout was rather poor. Frankfurt had lost the seven games in a row to Bonn dating back to their game three win in the Ballsporthalle in the 2008 playoff semifinals. It was no secret that The Deutsche Bank Skyliners could not allow another slow start like against Bamberg. Both teams started carefully not letting the other team break away. Chris Ensminger started with a soft hook shot over Chris Moss, but Frankfurt responded with a pretty basket by Dashaun Wood as he got Ensminger in the air. BEKO BBL rookie Nic Wise then made a nice hesitation step fake on Wood and scored with a fade away jumper as Bonn led 4-2. Jimmy Mckinney then tied the score at 4-4 with a bucket. Wise then scored again inside dancing to the hoop with quick steps. As even as the game seemed, it suddenly changed as Frankfurt exploded on a sudden 11-0 run to lead 15-6 and slowly take command. Frankfurt was scoring inside as Moss scored and Quantez Robertson. Mckinney drooped a three point bomb and Wood scored inside again. Frankfurt was taking advantage of the poor Bonn help defense and scoring on the transition.
The last few minutes of the first quarter was pretty even as Frankfurt outscored The telekom Baskets Bonn 9-8 to lead 24-14 after ten minutes. Quantez Robertson challenged his 17% three point percentage by nailing a bomb from downtown and captain Pascal Roller started where he left off in the Bamberg game keeping his touch from the parking lot with a three pointer. “We scored a lot of points in the first quarter. We rebounded pretty well, we forced turnovers and began to shoot well. We showed early that our defense would control our offense”, stressed Dashaun Wood. “After our loss to Bamberg, we wanted to have a better start. The revenge factor against Bonn was also on our minds. We were aggressive and stayed together as a team early and carried it until the end”, commented Marius Nolte. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 83% from two point range and 50% from outside while The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 45% from two point range and 0% from outside. The Telekom Baskets Bonn had the slim 8-6 rebound edge and four turnovers while Frankfurt had only three turnovers.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners quickly found their rhythm in the first quarter and were slowing getting into cruise control as they quickly raced out on a 12-4 run to lead 36-18. Frankfurt continued to play a very balanced offense and just kept Bonn guessing on defense as they mixed it up continuing to get a lot of help from two Roller three pointers, drawing fouls and getting baskets inside by Wood and Nolte. Frankfurt was able to lead by as much as 22 points down the stretch of the second quarter. Frankfurt was getting production from everybody from the bench like De Mello and Nolte. Nolte would end with 11 points and 11 rebounds(6 offensive rebounds) in 24 minutes and continue to show why he is such a valuable player and that he should rack up many points for BEKO BBL 2011 most improved player. “I ma happy that I had a good game tonight. This afternoon when I was having coffee with my parents and wife I was extra nervous which isnt typical for me. However I was very focused and got off to a quick start getting some rebounds and then baskets. I was happy to do my part tonight”, expressed Marius Nolte. Chris Ensminger did a pretty solid job getting to the free throw line. Patrick Flomo scored as did Jeremy Hunt with a three pointer as Frankfurt led 47-28 at halftime. Skyliner coach Gordon Herbert gave an early indication that he would not shy away at playing young 18 year Carl Lindbom as he inserted him in the second quarter. Lindbom played 17 minutes with two points, three rebounds, two assists and a block and was content after the win with his performance. “It felt good playing so much. I played with a lot of confidence, but have to make my shots”, stressed Carl Lindbom. “Frankfurt was playing very good team defense in the second quarter and not giving up any open shots. On offense they were playing their systems and getting out on the fast break”, added injured Skyliner Filmore Beck. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 62% from the field and 54% from the three point line while The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 33% from the field and 13% from the three point line. Both teams had 15 rebounds and eight turnovers a piece.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn had to get back into the game fast, because there is nothing more difficult than trailing by a lot in the Ballsporthalle and being successful coming back. Bonn came out of the locker room with more intensity going on a mini 4-0 run as Campbell made a steal and scored coast to coast and Ensminger scored inside getting a sweet dish from Nic Wise as Frankfurt led only 47-32. But that was as close as Bonn would get in the second half as The Deutsche bank Skyliner started to get their offense attack into full throttle again going on a 8-0 run to lead 55-32. Wood took control and played his game which no opponent likes to witness as the American did his thing penetrating and letting Bonn play roulette by guessing pass or layup. In this run, Wood found Chris Moss three times for lay ups and Roller scored free throws. Bonn responded with a Hunt three pointer, but they were too inconsistent as they kept allowing Frankfurt to take new runs. Frankfurt now went on a 8-0 run to lead 63-35 as the game turned into a rout. Quantez Super Tez scored inside and from downtown and Wood also scored from the parking lot. “Everything that Frankfurt was doing on offense was killing us. We couldn´t stop their pick and roll or post play”, explained ex Artland Dragon Folarian Campbell. Frankfurt got support from Kimmo Muurinen with a jumper and Marius Nolte continued to fight and claw his way through the zone with an offensive rebound and put back off a Wood miss as Frankfurt led 69-37 as the third quarter was winding down. Bonn closed out the third quarter with a 6-2 run as German national player Tim Ohlbrecht made a dunk, young 21 year old German Fabian Thuelig made an off balance jumper and 33 year old American Jacob Jaacks a mini hook shot. Frankfurt led 71-43 after three quarters. “We didnt focus on defense. We gave up too many wide open shots and two many second chance baskets”, added Jeremy Hunt. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 59% from the field and 53% from the parking lot and The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 40% from the field and 18% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 24-18 rebound edge and 13 turnovers while Bonn had 14 turnovers.
The Telekom Baskets only had 10 minutes left to create a miracle, but Skyliner captain Pascal Roller quickly doused this dream as he nailed two consecutive three pointers as Frankfurt led 77-44. With a 33 point lead and 8 minutes to play, Bonn coach Michael Koch inserted little used Germans Sajmen Hauer, Fabian Thuelig(who had started and played 21 minutes) and 20 year old U-20 German national player Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann. Here and there, Bonn would find some daylight as Hauer and Jaacks hit consecutive three pointers to let Bonn creep back like an old and tired snail to 80-52, but the clock was running down and little hope in sight for any kind of a last quarter miracle. Frankfurt then went on a 8-0 run with a Mckinney three pointer and jumper and another Roller three pointer to completely ice the game and TOP 4 ticket in Bamberg to lead 88-55. Bonn closed out the game with a 10-5 run, but it didnt matter as most weren´t even paying attention anymore, but moreover dreaming about who Frankfurt might draw as a semi final opponent. Wohlfahrt-Botterman scored inside twice as did Thuelig and Mark Tyndale scored a three pointer. De Mello fed Linbom for a nice two handed dunk. Frankfurt exited the Ballsporthalle floor after 40 minutes with a 93-64 win and nobody even remotely remembered the big win in Berlin three days earlier. “We had a lack of execution. They played great defense and did a great job clogging the lane and making us take more jumpers. They denied us a lot and played harder than us. Frankfurt hit their shots. They got us collapsing and you can go down the list as Roller, Wood, Robertson, Mckinney and De Mello all hit their shots”, stated Jeremy Hunt. “We started off doing a good job on one on one defense which fueled our team defense. We did a good job rebounding a great job on help defense”, stressed Marius Nolte.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by captain Pascal Roller with 20 points. Dashaun Wood scored 18 points and dished out 6 assists. Quantez Robertson contributed 14 points. Marius Nolte produced 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jimmy Mckinney added 10 points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Chris Ensminger with 11 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners shot a thunderous 57% from the field and 54% from the three point line Keeping The Telekom Baskets Bonn far behind in their rear view mirror as they were unable to match their shooting finishing with 41% from the field and 26% from downtown. Frankfurt won the rebounding duel 31-29 and Wood noticed a huge difference to the 92-89 loss in Bonn recently. “We did a good job on their big men with boxing out and switching. Our little guys helped as well. In the first game in Bonn, there was a lack of effort and help. Tonight we had a lot of energy and everyone helped which was the difference”, said Dashaun Wood. The Top 4 will be played in the first weekend of April in Bamberg and the first chance for Frankfurt to win a title this season. “It is an achievement and honour to be able to play in the TOP 4. I am looking forward to it. There will be four great teams and it will be a dog fight. This is a great chance for a title and we will be ready”, warned Dashaun Wood. With the last three games in February against playoff teams Bremerhaven, Braunschweig and Artland, will the Deutsche Bank Skyliners get active on the market and get a short term replacement for Roger Powell until he returns for the Artland Dragons game on Fenruary 27th? Adam Waleskowski was let go by BG Goettingen and as a four man and a player with a German passport a player that could fit into the Frankfurt style? Skyliner sports director Kamil Novak was not lifting any secrets about a new player. “I have 40 players names on my desk. We had Waleskowski in for a tryout a few years ago as Charles Barton was the coach. It always depends about the situation and timing. If we get a player than he will have to fit our team”, stressed Kamil Novak. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven host The Deutsche Bank Skyliners February 12th at 17:50.