One Thing that is always interesting to observe in professional sports is when a player returns back to his old stomping ground for the first time since his departure. How an athlete is received by the fans can be positive or negative. Ken Griffey jr returned back to Seattle in 2007 as a Cincinnati Red and received a 15 minute tribute, Michael Jordan came back to Chicago as a Washington Wizard and got several minutes of standing ovations or Wayne Gretzky returning back to Edmonton where he won 4 Stanley Cups as an L.A King listened to 4 minutes of standing ovations and got cheers every time he touched the puck while other returns have not been as memorable as Johnny Damon of the New York Yankees came back to Boston and witnessed as the fans unleashed a fury of boos, or Bret Favre going back to Green Bay where he won a Super Bowl in 1997 as a Minnesota Viking and was violently booed by fans. However for Derrick Allen to be booed, who played three season with the Deutsche Bank Skyliners and was loved by everyone was about as unlikely as Charlie Sheen letting the cat have his tongue for at least 24 hours as it seems like he is constantly talking to some media outlet. Allen led Alba Berlin in scoring with 17 points and helped his team make a furious come back in the third quarter and lead the 8 time BEKO BBL champion to a 79-70 win and was all smiles after the win. Allen was put in OT duty long after the win signing autographs for everyone while the first players had finished showering. At times it looked likes a swarm of bees were hovering around Allen and the American as the queen Bee as his yellow warm up suit made him fit that part “Wearing the yellow wasn´t as strange as coming back into the arena again. It already felt strange last night practicing here. It felt great playing here and I am very proud of my ex teammates and the type of season that they are having”, warned Derrick Allen. Everyone in Frankfurt talks about Wood for MVP while in Berlin its Allen. “Allen is our MVP. He represents the heart of the team. He is our leader and everyone else follows him in line”, stressed ex Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Bryce Taylor.
With Wood and Allen going against each other and the Frankfurt point guard having scored 32 points in Berlin last November, some were speculating on a harsh scoring duel between the two Americans and a possible 30 point effort by both players? “The chance of both getting 30 points was not likely. This was a tough game and both teams knew about the other player very well. Allen is a great competitor. I have played against a guy like him before that has so much fire, heart and leadership. He plays at 100 miles an hour in each play. I wish that I could of played with him in Frankfurt”, explained Dashaun Wood. Allen didn´t focus on a Wood-Allen show at all. I think that this wasn´t a Allen-Wood duel, but more a duel between Alba Berlin and Frankfurt. Wood is a great player. I thought that I had a solid game”, added Derrick Allen. Kimmo Muurinen may be the silent type, but was in awe about the work ethic and play of Allen. “Allen is a tough aggressive player, but not bulky but quick on the offensive rebound. It was a good challenge playing him. He is aggressive, but not a dirty player and I like that in him. I see a lot of myself in his playing style”, stressed Kimmo Muurinen. “Allen is a good player. He got offensive rebounds and just hurt us”, stressed Skyliner forward Roger Powell.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had their 7 game winning streak snapped while Alba Berlin won their sixth game in a row and are getting more and more into a groove under new coach Muli Katzurin. It was a very tight game until the end of the third quarter where Alba Berlin went on a run. took control of the game and held off Frankfurt in the fourth quarter for the win. “We fought against the problems that we had in the first half in the second half and got better on defense. The most important thing that we did in the second half was controlling the rebounds. This was an important and strong performance on the road”, stressed Alba Berlin sport director Mithat Demirel. “A loss is a loss. This loss wasn´t as difficult to take as say a buzzer beater, because we were prepared for it at the end. We had a chance to win, but after Alba Berlin got the 10 point lead, we were unable to recover and couldn´t come back”, added Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen.
Despite the many player changes in the last months and new coach Muli Katzurin coming on board, Alba Berlin has a strong 6-2 record and still have a way to go before being 100% ready for the 2011 BEKO BBL playoffs, but Alba Berlin CEO Marco Baldi is confident that his team will play a major role in post season play. “I think that our record isn´t the deciding factor at the moment. When you make mid season changes, new elements come into the game even though you can´t really change much. We have to learn to get more stability in pressure game situations and it is getting better. We play quicker and have more defensive systems and all in all are more variable and have more options. Before the season, no one really knew if Derrick Allen would be capable to produce the type of stats in Berlin like he did in Frankfurt with all the star players around him, but he has proved too all doubters that he can score if its with a BG Karlsruhe, Leverkusen, Frankfurt or Berlin. “I wasn´t sure if Allen would become our top scorer, but I knew that he would come through. He as fulfilled our expectations and I am very happy about that”, expressed Marco Baldi. Another topic of discussion has been German National player Heiko Schaffartzik who has not become the role player that many expected. In his first 10 games, Schaffartzik has scored only 9 points in 68 minutes, but got the confidence of Katzurin and came in early as Taylor Rochestie had two quick fouls. “Why doesn´t Schaffartzik play more is the same like asking why does Dashaun Wood play more than Dominik Bahiense De Mello? What we like about Schaffartzik is that he could of played elsewhere and played more, but he decided to come here and fight for playing time. He has to find his way here and when he does play then he knows that he has reached the highest level”, added Marco Baldi. “Heiko did a good job tonight and showed that he can play when called upon. He came in and kept the intensity high for us. He found the open guys. It was bad luck that he hurt his finger”, added Alba Berlin sport director Mihat Demirel. In the Dirk Nowitzki talks, it seems like FC Bayern Munich and The Brose Baskets Bamberg are the huge favorites to land the NBA star and nobody talks about the chances for him to go to the Spree and Alba Berlin. “It is hard to comment on him, because there is no lockout yet. We will try our best to get him, but he wont speak with anyone until a lockout is definite”, added Marco Baldi.
The Lego man with the #14 was back in the Ballsporthalle after making his debut in Giessen some weeks ago and tried to intimidate the Alba Berlin players. When the game finally started, the 5,002 fans would not be disappointed as both teams came out of the gates showing a fierce will to win. in the first few minutes, the game was tight as Alba Berlin had the lead through Immanuel Mcelroy and Miroslav Raduljica , but Frankfurt was able to tie the game twice with Chris Moss free throws and a lay in. Allen gave Alba Berlin the lead back 6-4, but Frankfurt then caught fire going on a 8-0 run to lead 12-6 as the team got a Muurinen three pointer, Moss dunk and Quantez Robertson lay in on the fast break. Frankfurt continued to keep the lead getting heads up play as well as Muurinen blocked Bryce Taylor and Wood picking up the wall and just throwing the ball towards the opponents basket and letting Super tez retrieve the ball like a dog a stick. Alba Berlin got a Mcelroy three pointer and a pull up jumper from Heiko Schaffartzik who had come into the game on account of two early Taylor Rochestie fouls. However despite the 18-11 Frankfurt lead, Alba Berlin was able to escape this uncomfortable situation with a 12-8 run to trail only 26-23 after one quarter. Alba Berlin got a Allen lay in and Mcelroy penetration hoop to cut the Frankfurt lead to only 18-16. Marius Nolte then scored inside and got rewarded with an end one. Schaffartzik then nailed one of his usual first step and release jumper as Alba Berlin trailed only 21-18. Alba Berlin then got a Tadija Dragicevic three pointer and Sven Schultze lay in as Frankfurt led 24-23. Skyliner captain closed out the first quarter with a jumper as Frankfurt led 26-23. “The first quarter showed just how intense this game was. Frankfurt played very physical, but we managed to come back”, added Mihat Demirel. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 20% from outside while Alba Berlin was shooting 63% from the field and 40% from outside. Frankfurt had the dominating 12-4 rebound edge, but three turnovers and Alba Berlin only two turnovers.
The second quarter was very interesting as it saw four lead changes and the first bigger Alba Berlin run of 8-0 as they took the lead 31-26. Dragicevic got hot nailing two bombs from outside and Mcelroy scoring on transition on a nice ally-op pass from Schaffartzik. Alba Berlin got two steals from Schaffartzik as the Alba Berlin defense pushed their offense. Frankfurt didn´t hesitate or fall more into atail spin, but took charge going on their own 8-0 run to lead 33-31 and prove that basketball si always a game of runs. Wood started the run and seems to discover a new kind of shot in almost every game as he scored submarine style, Jimmy Mckinney drooped a three pointer over Schaffartzik and Roger Powell scored on a left handed lay in. Allen and Wood then traded baskets as the Alabama native grabbed some offensive boards doing a good job boxing out Chris Moss and Wood scored on a floater. Nolte tied the game with a free throw 36-36. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners regained the momentum in the last minutes of the second quarter going on a 9-5 run to lead 45-41 at halftime. Powell nailed a three pointer and Wood made a steal and went coast to coast. The last two plays of the second quarter were very spectacular as Roger Powell made a powering and thundering one handed dunk over Dragicevic and Allen swooped on a Taylor air ball and put the ball home as the buzzer sounded. “We had massive problems rebounding the basketball which was the main reason why Frankfurt was able to stay in the game”, stressed ex German national player Mithat Demirel. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 30% from three point land while Alba Berlin was shooting 50% from the field and 42% from three point land. Frankfurt had control of the rebound duel 20-14 and six turnovers while Alba Berlin had seven turnovers.
In the beginning of the third quarter, both teams seemed a bit nervous, but Frankfurt scored first on a Marius Nolte lay in as Frankfurt showed good team offense on that score. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners remained in front as Wood scored on the fast break again and Nolte was set up by the current top scorer of the BEKO BBL as Frankfurt led 51-45. However Frankfurt was unable to keep the lead as they allowed a 8-0 run by Alba Berlin as they led 53-51. Alba Berlin did serious damage inside as Yassin Idbihi scored inside and drew a foul. Taylor scored on a reverse layup and Rochestie sunk a runner for the Alba Berlin lead. Frankfurt was careless on offense not letting it flow like earlier in the game and had some turnovers. The two clubs then traded leads as Wood scored and Rochestie made another runner. Robertson then scored on the fast break as Frankfurt led for its last time 56-55. Alba Berlin then closed out the third quarter with a 9-0 run to lead 64-56 making the Ballsporthalle as quiet as a libary. “Alba Berlin made plays and switched up things on defense and got the lead back”, added Roger Powell. Alba Berlin was shooting 50% from the field and 36% from the parking lot while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 27% from the parking lot. Alba Berlin was leading the rebound fight again 26-25 and had 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had 13 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, Alba Berlin got on the score board first as Derrick Allen presented his fade away jumper that had a touch of grace on it like that of Boston Celtic Kevin Mchale back in the day. One thing that The Deutsche Bank Skyliners would not do would be too give up. They fought and scrapped on a mini 4-0 run to trail only 66-60. An alert Pascal Roller saw Kimmo Muurinen open alone and fed him a perfect ally-op for the tip in. Wood then scored on his typical penetration lay up and suddenly the Ballsporthalle was alive and kicking again. However time was running out and Frankfurt was unable to get big defensive stops as Mcelroy nailed a three pointer and Taylor capitalized on a fade away jumper from the wing as Alba Berlin led 71-60. However Frankfurt still had some kick in their engine roaring right back and going on a mini 4-0 run to trail only 71-64. Robertson hit a fade away jumper and Mckinney a catch and pop jumper. After two Rochestie free throws, Frankfurt continued to hold hope as Powell made a hard fought bucket in traffic under the hoop and Super Tez made a difficult lay in traffic as well as Alba Berlin led only 73-68. Frankfurt was aided by some missed Alba Berlin free throws and Wood responded with a pull up jumper on the fast break as Frankfurt trailed only 74-70. Frankfurt couldn´t make anymore baskets as Mckinney missed, Tez couldnt slam home a ally-op dunk and Wood missed. Taylor scored insurance free throws in the last 30 seconds as Alba Berlin came up with a hard fought victory. “We got important rebounds, defended well and kept a cool head not letting Frankfurt bring us out of our rhythm”, stated Mithat Demirel. “They played good defense in the fourth quarter and took us out of the things that we like to do and they beat us up on the boards”, stressed Dashaun Wood. “We struggled with our offense in the fourth quarter. We were unable to get good shots and seemed to hesitate taking some shots which I don´t why. We will have to look on film why that was”, warned Kimmo Muurinen.
Alba Berlin was led by Derrick Allen with 17 points and nine rebounds. Immanuel Mcelroy chipped in with 14 points. Yassin Idbihi added 11 points and Bryce Taylor 10 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun wood with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Quantez Robertson contributed 15 points. Despite the loss, some critics may think that had Wood scored 32 points like in Berlin, then the team would of won, but according to the American that isn´t so. “I have been spectacular in 26 or 27 games. Even though 18 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists is decent, but I cant be spectacular in every game. We have to have a better balance on offense to win these type of games”, added Dashaun Wood. Alba Berlin shot better than The Deutsche Bank Skyliners, but Frankfurt won the rebounding affair at the end at 37-36. There are things that Frankfurt will have to improve on in the next game. “Our three point shooting at 19% was way off. We also missed easy lay ups early in the game. I thought that we did an ok job on defense. We were aggressive, but still gave easy put backs and gave up offensive rebounds. We could have been better on defense, but the effort was there”, described Kimmo Muurinen. The most interesting stat of the game was the free throw balance. At halftime Frankfurt was 12/15 from the free throw line and Alba Berlin only 2/3. After 40 minutes, alba Berlin was 17/23 and Frankfurt still at 12/15. The referee´s seemed to be a topic again at the end of the game, but for Dashaun Wood it was Alba Berlin that was cause for the win. “Fouls are a part of the game. The refs have to call the way they see it. In the NCAA tournament, three refs had to go after the St Johns game because they didn´t make a call in the last seconds. If it a foul then its a foul. You have to give Alba Berlin a lot of credit. They played more aggressive and got the ball inside and penetrated which is always a good way to draw fouls”, added Dashaun Wood. The loss against Alba Berlin should be a valuable stepping stone in the continued development of The Deutsche bank Skyliners. “This was a game where we got slapped upside the head. Now we must refocus and learn from this experience and get better for MBC”, warned Dashaun Wood. MBC hosts The Deutsche Bank Skyliners March 26th at 19:30