After recuperating from an annoying and controlled pressure from BG Goettingen last weekend, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners met the previously hot but since two games very much cooled down Walter Tigers Tuebingen and aside from many tough players the game concentrated on two players. It is always a treat to watch top point guard duels in Europe like in the ACB in Spain with Marcelino Huertas and Omar Cook, in Italy between Marques Green and Travis Diener or in the Russian league between Anton Ponkraskov and Marcus Wilson. In the BEKO BBL, the Paul Horn arena in Tuebingen witnessed the duel between the top two point guards Dashaun Wood who leads the league in scoring and Branislav Ratkovica who leads the league in assists. The battle between the two guards was very intense and Wood remembered his 34 point, 24 free throws and Frankfurt victory effort in the Ballsporthalle earlier in the season and after a slow first half was as focused as Carlos Arroyo who has been playing behind Rajon Rondo in Boston, the way the Los Angeles Clippers will have to continue to play after losing another key player in Eric Gordon and the way the Miami Heat are about winning after many players cried recently after their 87-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls recently. Frankfurt had been trailing for 36 minutes, but then got their first lead and it was Wood in the last minutes that helped propel the team to the 80-76 win. “The duel Wood-Ratkovica was a very nice duel. Ratkovica has been just as important for his team as Wood has been for us this season, but tonight Wood was more important”, stressed Skyliner center Marius Nolte. Wood always gets up for the challenge and was impressed by the play of the Serb. “Ratkovica is a very smart player that ran his team well. He attacks the pick and roll well and he did a great job getting the ball to his teammates”, added Skyliner guard Dashaun Wood. “The wood- Bane match up was intense. I thought that we did a good job on Wood in the first half, but at the end he still had 22 points. No team can totally shut him down. You just have to hope to contain him a bit”, added Tuebingen forward Dane Watts.
It was the eighth win in a row for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners while The Walter Tigers Tuebingen have cooled down a bit after their fantastic six game winning streak some weeks ago as they lost their third game in a row and their playoff hopes get squashed a bit more with each loss the same way the title hopes become less of a reality for the Boston Celtics with every embarrassing loss after the trading deadline where key players like Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson were dealt away. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners trailed for 36 minutes until Jimmy Mckinney gave the team their first lead and the club held the nerves as their performance was about as far from a Picasso painting in worth. “This was an important win for us. We didn´t play well and never found our rhythm, but it was worth so much being able to win the way we did”, stressed Skyliner sports director Kamil Novak. Despite the bitter loss, The Walter Tigers Tuebingen have nothing to be ashamed of by losing this game. “We didn´t execute well in the last two games, but tonight we fought well and gave a good team effort. We played with a lot of intensity and it was just sad that we lost it at the end. I am proud of our team. This loss made reaching the playoffs even more difficult. We can control how we play, but will need some help form other teams”, stressed Dane Watts. “We didn´t play well tonight, but we never gave up and we played with a lot of heart”, stressed Dashaun Wood.
Dashaun Wood didn´t have a strong first half and in one instance saw the top leading scorer of the BEKO BBL sitting on the bench not near to where Skyliner coach Gordie Herbert was showing the team the next play in the time out which seemed a bit peculiar, but in the second half, the American from Detroit got stronger and showed his usual crunch time heroics leading the team with big free throws and getting help from his supporting cast like Mckinney and De Mello who hit big shots. However with the increased success of The Deutsche Bank Skyliners in crunch time and calm and cool play by Wood, one sometimes could think that Wood with his luck and skill at the end of games is similar to someone playing a slot machine and getting three hearts and the dough. It really does seem like all Wood has to do is pull down the slot machine handle and boom three hearts=another Skyliner win. “I have a lot of respect for Wood. He is a great clutch time player. He always seems to come through at the end. I can describe him best concerning the slot machine as skill is when luck is routine”, warned Marius Nolte. Wood could only agree with the comment by Nolte about that luck is routine. “I agree with Marius. If you look at all the good players in the world, like a Kobe Bryant or Kemba Walker, they all share some kind of this luck. I want to be like these players and make these important shots in crunch time on a regular basis. For me this was just another typical day for me”, warned Dashaun Wood. “Wood does so many things well, but the most important thing is that he wins games for us”, said Kimmo Muurinen.
A quiet foot note to this game was that ex Tuebingen fan favorite AJ Moye was back at his old stomping ground where he played from 2006-2009. The American from Atlanta had a long pre game chat with ex teammate Ken Wiliams prior to the game. The Tiger fans also made him feel right at home with thoughtful signs like “AJ Moye Is Back” or six signs with six letters of his name that was being paraded around the arena. Shortly before each game, the Paul Horn arena gets into the right atmosphere with the classic Guns & Roses song “Welcome To The Jungle”. The players must have been influenced a bit by the song as the team roared out on a 7-2 run. Dane Watts started the attack with a bomb from outside which was followed by two Chris Oliver free throws and a reverse dunk. Frankfurt was sluggish and was about as far away from their true rhythm as actor Charlie Sheen is from filming new Tow And A Half Men episodes. Frankfurt did come back going on a quick 6-2 run to cut the Tuebingen lead to 9-8. Frankfurt scored inside three times with Chris Moss and Quantez Robertson and Kimmo Muurinen who both fought on the offensive boards for rebounds and put backs. However Frankfurt was unable to hold this short momentum as Tuebingen again found more fire power in their offense closing out the first quarter with a 10-5 run to lead 19-13. Tuebingen got nice support from Russian Anatoly Kashirov with a runner in the lane and a Watts three pointer as Tuebingen led 15-8. Tuebingen was playing smart team basketball and Frankfurt wasn´t aggressive enough on defense. After a Herber turn around shot, Roger Powell scored inside and De Mello hit a big three pointer. “We struggled in the first quarter. We weren´t aggressive enough and didn´t execute on offense. Tuebingen got easy lay ups”, added Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen.
In the second quarter, it was new Skyliner Jevohn Shepherd that brought the needed energy from the bench rallying the Deutsche Bank Skyliners back to 25-23 with 8 consecutive points. After Oliver started the scoring with a running hook shot, it was the Canadian Shepherd who unleashed 8 unanswered points. It seems that he ha s one spectacular dunk in each game and in his third game as a Skyliner, he amazed the crowd with a stimulating furious dunk over 215cm Russian Anatoly Kashirov. After struggling against BG Goettingen from outside, he showed no shyness nailing two three pointers from outside. A Powell hook shot cut the Tuebingen lead to 25-23. The game continued to stay extremely tight, but Frankfurt still was unable to take their first lead, but never trailed by more than three points. Big runs in this game were taboo as Frankfurt stayed on the door step of Tuebingen as Powells cored inside as Frankfurt trailed only 27-26. However Tuebingen most often found a way to keep scoring as Ratkovica not only dazzled with his outside shot, but also took something out of the Wood book “A guide to the penetration as he made a lay up. Serb Radovan Markovic also was hot from outside and Dane Watts found many ways to score including falling to his right inside and scoring as Tuebingen led 34-31. After a Muurinen mid distance jumper from the wing, Frankfurt trailed only 34-33, but Tuebingen went on a mini 4-0 run to lead 38-33 as they made intelligent plays and hit tough shots. Johannes Herber found a streaking Nicolai Simon in the zone for a lay up as the German connection was perfect and Oliver hit a difficult jumper with Murrinen in his face form the wing. Skyliner Chris Moss then countered with his own mini run with a running hook shot in the lane and two free throws and Oliver closed out the second quarter with a lay in as The Walter Tigers Tuebingen 40-37. “Tuebingen continued to be very aggressive. They caught us by surprise. usually we are more aggressive, but they had that role all though out the game”, added Kimmo Muurinen. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 50% from the field and 56% from outside while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 25% from outside. Tuebingen had the 19-15 rebound edge, but six turnovers while Frankfurt had only two turnovers.
The third quarter remained very tight as The Walter Tigers Tuebingen continued to be unable to pull away as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners continued to show their fighting mentality and strong heart. Chris Moss started the scoring in the third quarter with a lay in, but Watts showed his versatile play sinking a shot from down town as Tuebingen led 45-39. Wood then made a runner, but Tuebingen showed their transition basketball skills catching Frankfurt napping as Oliver was ahead of the pack making the lay up as Tuebingen was threatening to run away again leading 47-42. However then it was Super Tez Robertson who had been quiet on the scoring front nailing a high rainbow as Frankfurt trailed only 47-44. Ratkoviva then suffered a technical foul after a body check on Wood and the American made both free throws as Frankfurt trailed 47-46. Herber then used a mismatch against Wood nailing a jumper over the American and Oliver made a free throw. At the end of the game the 11 missed free throws would haunt the club of coach Igor Perovic. Powell them made a free throw and free throw as Frankfurt was trailing only 50-49. However Tuebingen then took some added energy closing out the third quarter with a 9-4 run to lead 59-53. Watts made a floater and 28 year old Serb sharp shooter Radovan Markovic drooped two three pointers displaying some nasty explosiveness. Wood kept Frankfurt in the game with two typical unstoppable penetration sprints. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 53% from the field and 57% from the parking lot while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 22% from the parking lot. Tuebingen had the 29-22 rebound advantage, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had five turnovers.
The fourth quarter continued to be a see saw affair as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners continued to breath down the necks of The Walter Tigers Tuebingen and would finally take their first lead in crunch time. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners started hot going on a 7-3 run to trail Tuebingen only 62-60. Roger Powell started the new come back attempt with a tip in dunk off a Mckinney miss, Marius Nolte scored inside getting a perfect feed from Wood, Markovic hit a wild turn around catch and pop three pointer and Wood nailed a three pointer that flew down the net about as lightening quick as he can get into the lane. Kashirov then scored and made a free throw as Tuebingen got some extended breathing room with the 65-60 lead. Frankfurt slowly was sensing the urgency to take control of the game as Mckinney hit a big three pointer from the top of the key and Wood scored on a scoot inside over the 215cm Kashirov as Frankfurt knotted the game at 65-65. The game had already been exciting, but now captured its climax as the game was up for grabs and now who wanted it most would most likely come away as the winner. Mckinney made a fade away jumper and gave Frankfurt its first lead of the game 67-66. Tuebingen kept up the intensity as Ratkovica showed that he can also perform in crunch time scoring inside as Tuebingen regained the lead 68-67. De Mello then gave Frankfurt the lead back 70-68 with a three pointer as it was Wood who kicked the ball to the German. Tuebingen had one last gasp of breathe as they went on a 6-0 run to lead 74-70 as Markovic hit two free throws, Watts scored and Herber made a steal and went coast to coast. Mckinney scored inside and Watts hit two free throws as Frankfurt trailed 76-74. Then it was Mr slot machine Wood who drew a foul and canned both free throws and then set up De Mello with the winning bucket with a thee pointer as Frankfurt led 77-76. Wood then nailed three more free throws sealing the 80-76 win for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners. Wood was very impressed by the MVP signs of the Skyliner fans. “Whenever I hear the fans chant MVP for me, I think of a verse by Lil Wayne in one of his songs”, smiled Dashaun Wood. “We held our nerves at the end. We didn´t let the fans get at us and made our free throws. Wood took control in crunch time, but that is nothing out of the ordinary”, stated Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak. “Frankfurt got a big stop on defense and then Wood hit two free throws and De Mello a big three pointer in a matter of seconds which was a hard way to go down”, added Dane Watts.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists. Chris Moss added 12 points and Roger Powell 11 points and six rebounds.The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were led by Dane Watts with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Radovan Markovic produced 19 points. Chris Oliver contributed 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four blocks. Branislav Ratkovica chipped in with 10 points and eight assists. It was not a pretty win by The Deutsche Bank Skyliners, but a win is a win. Frankfurt lost the rebounding battle 37-29 which could not have pleased coach Gordon Herbert. The club gave one of their best efforts of the season in the turnover department making only six turnovers. Wood wasn´t content about the team performance and warns about a tough upcoming game against Alba Berlin. There was nothing positive about this win except our heart. We didn´t execute on offense or defense. The game against Alba Berlin will have playoff atmosphere. They are fighting for second place and we want to stay there. It will be a big test to see where we stand. They have made some changes and Derrick Allen is playing great. We have to come out with a lot of energy, defend their pick and role and rebound”, warned Dashaun Wood. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host Alba Berlin March 20th at 17:00.