After not allowing any brittle air or unwanted snow to enter the Eisbaeren arena last weekend to somehow get Bremerhaven on track, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners not only had to put up with the Braunschweig basketball team, but also had to keep an eye on the mysterious phantom who is always lurking in the Volkswagon arena shadows and has that unpredictable aura in his movement, but the club was able to block all this out and withstand any hardships as they were as focused in their game as 20 year old Sacremento King American Demarcus Cousins was as he showed how unpleased he was not getting the ball at the end of a loss which got him ejected off the team plane because of tensions with a teammate or legendary American actor Mickey Rooney showing astern face and not letting his stepson rob him off his earnings and keeping him 100 yards away as Frankfurt won their third game in a row 68-67 against The New Yorker Phantoms. “The Braunschweig phantom mascot isnt dangerous looking at all, but moreover just looks funny. Kimmo Muurinen used his cape tonight to fly all over the place hitting jump shots and getting rebounds. He set the tempo and without him we would have been in trouble”, stressed 2011 BEKO BBL MVP candidate Dashaun Wood. “I have to thank our own fans, because I feel that they took the fear away from the Phantom with their cheering”, added Marius Nolte. “I think that our Phantom has the possibility to scare little kids, but if he is as scary as Toby the dragon, I dont know since we travel to Artland in two weeks”, joked Nick Schneiders. ” The Phantom looked funny and really should pull up his pants. Our Dunky Kong is a animal and the Phantom a half man”, laughed Quantez Robertson. It is never easy loosing on a last play especially when it happened twice in both games against Frankfurt. Tony Skinn looked as serious and sad after the loss as his X box had been banned from him for life. “This is a game that we should of won. We were up by 7 points in the fourth and lost which shouldnt happen. Frankfurt didnt beat us, but we beat ourselves”, commented Braunschweig guard Tony Skinn. “Frankfurt dug down harder and maybe found something at the end, that we didnt have”, added Braunschweig guard Kevin Hamilton.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners also demonstrated that the Volkswagen arena in Braunschweig is a suitable cozy living room far from home as the club has been unbeaten for 59 months dating back to their last loss in March 2006. Frankfurt has won their last 11 games in a row and their sixth in a row in Braunschweig in this time and have had a nice combination of luck and skill in the last years. Teams in the BEKO BBL grow and fall apart with the coming and going of players each season, but no matter if Charles Barton, Keith Simmons, Ilian Evtimov, Jemeil Rich, Konrad Wysocki, Koko Archibong or Derrick Allen, all players have won against Braunschweig in a Skyliners uniform. “I had heard that Frankfurt has a long winning streak against Braunschweig which is hard to believe considering the talent that this team has. I would never have bet my life that Braunschwieg had won 10 games in a row. Braunschweig is a type of team that yu never want to play. This is a big accomplishment for Frankfurt”, warned Dashaun Wood. “It is very hard to believe that we have won so many games the last years considering the success that coach Sebastian Machowski has brought this team and also because of the so many thrilling games in the last years that have gone the way of Frankfurt”, added Marius Nolte. I never look at how many games a team has beaten another team in a row. teams change each season and the only important game is the current game”, warned Nick Schneiders.
One player who was really missed by The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig was 26 year old German 221cm giant Nick Schneiders who had a ligament problem in his knee and sat out. The German big man who saw very little minutes in the first three months has been finding his rhythm in the last month with increased minutes. “I had to get used to the European style of basketball. I had to get used to more pick and role play in the BEKO BBL and the play is also more physical. I feel like that I am at the level where I can help the team”, added Braunschweig center Nick Schneiders. Schneiders who played at the University of South Carolina at Upstate started with basketball at a very late age as some how nobody encouraged him earlier to start the game on account of his size. “I come froma very small town where basketball wasnt important. I started to play when I was 13, but then quit and played soccer until 14. I played Oberliga until going to Upstate at age 20”, added Nick Schneiders. Schneiders will probably continue to find minutes in the stretch run and be a factor in the playoffs coming from the bench and even surprise some teams with a hidden strength? “I think that my defense is a strength that isnt always noticed. I think that I can be the intimidation factor on the court. I also am always positive and can bring my teammates to laugh”, added Nick Schneiders.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners went into the game looking like a wounded World War 2 vessel as the list of the walking wounded was increased to four players as captain Pascal Roller, Dominik Bahiense De Mello and AJ Moye all were unavailable to play. Frankfurt played with a shortened rotation of 8 players even though one could of easily described it as being a 6 man rotation as 10:37 minutes were shared by PRO B license players Fabian Franke and Carl Lindbom. The tight and precarious situation seemed not to gnaw at the Deutsche Bank Skyliners as they exploded on a 16-2 run to start the game similar to what John Wall did in the Freshman-Sophmore 2011 Allstar game getting 22 assists. Frankfurt was motivated and running their plays very well as Kimmo Muurinen hit his first two shots and Dashaun Wood scored inside and with a pull up jumper. The team also got production from a Quantez Robertson three pointer and a Jimmy Mckinney lay up as he continued to penetrate strongly. However Braunschweig kept their cool and composure and basketball is a game of runs, closed out the first quarter with a 11-4 run to close out the first quarter trailing only 20-13 and getting back into the game. Kyle Visser scored twice inside including once on a nice head fake past Marius Nolte, Lamarr Greer scored inside and Kevin Hamilton drooped a big bomb form down town. “We had a big lead at the start and that is usually the time when Pascal Roller and Roger Powell come in to keep it going, but we got a little tired letting them come back”, added Dashaun Wood. “We slept at the start, but we then made better decisions and hit our shots”, stressed Nick Schneiders. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 53% from the field and 50% from outside while The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 36% from the field and 20% from outside. Braunschweig had the narrow 9-7 rebound edge and two turnovers while Frankfurt had one turnover.
The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig got out of the gates quickly in the second quarter going on a 6-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 22-19. Braunschweig heightened their defense adding more pressure as they twice forced two turnovers where Frankfurt was unable to get a shot off in the allowed 24 seconds. Braunschweig scored on the fast break once as Greer scored retrieving a touchdown pass from Hamilton and Marcus Goree who had been held scoreless in the first quarter got on the board with a lay in. Jason Cain then scored on a reverse lay up beating Kimmo Muurinen. However Muurinen did take long to grieve about his error, but returned the favor on the next play easily beating Cain on a reverse lay up as Braunschweig trailed 24-19. Goree and Muurinen then traded buckets as Frankfurt still led 26-21. Braunschweig was getting that desired groove on offense and were threatening to take their first lead of the game as they went on a mini 5-0 run to dead lock the game at 26. Skinn nailed a three pointer and Greer a jumper. Runs seemed to be controlling the game now as two more followed with a 4-0 mini Frankfurt runas Super Tez scored over Greer and Muurinen also got into the action penetrating past Cain as Frankfurt led 30-26. Then it was time for a mini 4-0 Braunschweig Greer run as he scored on a nice spin move inside and then grabbed an offensive rebound and got a put back. Wood and Hamilton closed out teh scoring with free throws as both teams went into the break with the tie even at 32-32. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 29% from the three point line while The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 43% from the field and 22% from the three point line. Braunschweig still had the slim 17-15 rebound edge and both teams had five turnovers a piece.
The third quarter remained very tight as there were four lead changes as no team led by more than five points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners got the jump on The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig with a 5-0 run as Muurinen nailed another three pointer and Wood hit a pull up pop jumper. Frankfurt then slept a bit allowing Brandon Thomas to score twice in the penetration and it seemed like they underestimated his first step as once he started, he was quick in the lane and quickly scored as Frankfurt led only 37-36. Frankfurt then got an early TOP 4 gift as Goree tipped in a ball accidentally in the hoop giving Frankfurt the points. Thomas then got tired of penetrating and showed that he should never be left nailing a bomb from the corner as the score as tied at 39-39. Goree who ha splayed in 105 Euroleague games gave Braunschweig their first lead of the game 42-40 with a three pointer. Braunschweig was able to hold the lead as Greer continued to stay hot hitting jumpers, but Frankfurt stayed alert and always had answers as Mckinney nailed a three pointer and Wood scored on a tough penetration move with the shot clock down as Frankfurt trailed only 48-47. Then both teams exchanged leads as Robertson scored inside and center Kyle Visser who was teammates with NBA star Chris Paul at Wake Forest for scored a pretty fade away jumper over Nolte as Braunschweig led 50-49. However Jimmy Mckinney then with two seconds took a page out of Ratiopharm Ulm´s Lee Humphrey by netting a fast line drive jumper giving Frankfurt the close 52-51 lead after three quarters. “The game had a certain tempo at this point. It was going back and fourth and both teams had some runs. It was like a boxing match as both teams really wanted to win”; expressed Dashaun Wood. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 45% from the parking lot and The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 49% from the field and 31% from the parking lot. Braunschweig did a better job rebounding in the third quarter having the 25-20 rebound edge, but they had nine turnovers and Frankfurt only six turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, it was The New Yorker Phantoms again who got the better start going on a 10-2 run to lead 61-54 and it seemed like they had the momentum as the crowd was getting louder and Frankfurt knew that the would have to react quickly. It really didnt matter where Greer was on the floor, because he hit just about everything and there was simply nothing anyone could do. Greer nailed two consecutive three pointers and then made a steal feeding Skinn for two quick points. Skinn then scored again on a lay up as he read a nice shot fake by Visser who found the American scooting in form the wing for the easy lay up as Frankfurt trailed 61-54. However Frankfurt had their own special Greer version in Mckinney who once again showed his slick and suave play drooping two bombs from the parking lot as Frankfurt crept back 63-57. Muurinen playing with four fouls then tried the penetration again and was successful with a lay up cutting the Braunschweig lead to 63-61. One could of had a blindfold on and guessed that the next big three pointer had to have been from Greer and it was. He made a seemingly impossible rainbow jumper from the arc that was well defended as Braunschweig kept on the pressure leading 66-61.
Even though Wood had not had his best shooting night, one knew that in crunch time he would be commanding the ball the same way Boston Celtic Larry Bird did in the day and if the jumper wasnt sitting there was still his biggest weapon of all his penetration which sometimes seems like he has a switch which controls exactly what he wants to be done. Wood scored on a lay up and Muurinen followed with a big tip in in traffic as the blond Forward from Finland showed once again that he is the invisible man that does the dirty work as Braunschweig led only 66-65. Visser then only made one of two free throws. With time running out, Wood made another one of his spectacular penetration drives tying the score at 67-67. Wood then made the winning free throw for the 68-67 win. An interesting stat to both games this season is that Frankfurt closed out the 94-91 win in Frankfurt with a 7-0 run and tonight with a 7-1 run. “I had made some mistakes earlier, but a basketball game has 40 minutes. I played a lot missing shots and making mistakes, but I wanted the ball at the end and felt like I made up for the past mistakes”, added Dashaun Wood. “You always have to be point on against a team like Frankfurt. We made bad team decisions down the stretch. Wood is so quick and you always want to try to take him out of his game, but he made a tough shot at the end and I dont know how we could of stopped him any better”, stressed Tony Skinn. “We switched on the last play and they made a good play screening the big guy which caught us by surprise”, said Braunschweig American Brandon Thomas. “We dug down at the end getting big stops and Jimmy Mckinney made big shots”, added Quantez Robertson.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Kimmo Muurinen with 20 points and five rebonnds. Dashaun Wood added 17 points, four rebounds and five assists. Jimmy Mckinney poured in 16 points. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were led by Lamarr Greer with 25 points. Kyle Visser chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds. As was the case in Bremerhaven, not shooting to quick and waiting was a huge plus for Frankfurt in Braunschweig. “Frankfurt did a great job finding the open man on the drive and hitting their shots”, stressed Brandon Thomas. It was apparent that getting a win in Braunschweig would be a cake walk considering the many missing Deutsche Bank Skyliners, but what is the secret of Frankfurt being able to be so successful despite the injury and sickness pains that have plagued the team so often this season? “I think it has to do with the character of the team. It starts with the coach and he makes us believe that we can win every game no matter what the circumstances are. I may be the floor leader, but Herbert is our true leader and just makes us believe”, warned Dashaun Wood. “I dont know where our great team spirit comes from, but I hope that it stays”, smiled Skyliner sports director Kamil Novak. “Frankfurt showed how strong they really are coming on the road with injuries and winning. They deserved to win”, added Brandon Thomas. Wood and Muurinen might of scored the most points for Frankfurt, but he saw another player with the biggest stat of the night. “Tez played 40 minutes. I have never seen a guy like him who kept his speed same despite playing the whole game”, added Dashaun Wood.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners won the warm up game in Braunschweig, but the real test will arrive on April 3rd in Bamberg as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners will clash against The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig again for a trip to the 2011 BEKO BBL Cup final. “It was weird how the teams that were drawn this weekend for the TOP 4 pairings also played against each other this weekend. This will be a great weekend. Both teams are very strong and have good weapons. Braunschweig will want revenge, but honestly this game is still in the future as we have to focus on other games first”, added Marius Nolte. The Braunschweig players were so sad coming out of the locker room after the game that even though they might not admit it, they will have that upcoming game on their mind very much in the next few weeks. “You know what I totally forgot about the cup game. This loss was still in my head. Now I feel better knowing that we can make up for the two close loses to Frankfurt. We will be very motivated to win”, added Brandon Thomas. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host The Artland Dragons February 27th at 15:00.