Deutsche Bank Skyliners-New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig 2011 BEKO BBL Cup Preview. Will 12 be a charm for Braunschweig?

The way players come and go in the BEKO BBL, remembering a streak is often not in the cards for players, because they don´t stay long enough to enjoy the highs and mope with the lows. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig have not won against The Deutsche Bank Skyliners in 60 months dating back to April 2006 as they slipped by Frankfurt 81-76. Back then, current Skyliner coach Gordon Herbert was coaching Racing Paris and still far away from landing as an assistant with The Toronto Raptors some years later and in the dreams of many Skyliner fans of ever returning to Frankfurt, ex Phoenix Sun forwad Dan Langhi led Braunschweig in scoring with 19 points in the win, Skyliner Kavossy scoot Franklin led his team in scoring and hobby rapper and Skyliner guard Nino Garris had a smoking hot game making 14 points, four assists and four steals. Frankfurt has won the last 11 games and maybe the 12th game will be a charm for Braunschweig? Possibily playing Frankfurt on neutral ground for the first time will give them luck? “I think that Braunschweig just have to play their game and not worry about the streak, cause once the ball goes up it doesnt matter anymore about the past. I just think they have to come out and play hard and anything can happen they will be alright”, stressed TBB Trier guard John Bynum. Frankfurt on the other hand have a 1-3 record on neutral ground since 2002. They lost to Alba Berlin 100-88 in a cup game in Berlin, lost to The Telekom Baskets Bonn in the Frankfurt Festhalle 89-82 and lost to Alba Berlin in teh 2009 semi final cup game in Hamburg and then beating Duesseldorf in the game for third place. “I think playing on a neutral court can be tough but at the same time if it is neutral neither team does have an advantage. I think Frankfurt will adjust just fine”, added TBB Trier guard John Bynum.

Since this Frankfurt winning streak, the two most memorable games were from the 2008-2009 season. Who could forget the 68-58 win in the cup game which brought Frankfurt to the TOP 4 in Hamburg. That game displayed the best performance by guard Adam Emmenecker who came out of his shell and proved he has no nervous shooting hand as he left captain Pascal Roller on the bench as he had the hot hand leading the team with 13 points. However in the regular season game in Braunschweig, Roller got his revenge as he led the team to a 55-53 win as his last minute clutch jumper paved the way to the win. Last season, Frankfurt swept the series winning 81-77 as Frankfurt came from behind to win as Aubrey Reese poured in 21 points and prevailed at home 71-62 as Derrick Allen steered 18 points to the triumph. However the two regular season games of the teams this season were as exciting as the months leading up to the Lebron James decision to what team he would go to last season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners pulled out a thrilling 94-91 win at home in the first game. Frankfurt fought back in the fourth quarter as they came back from being behind 90-87 and close out the game on a 7-0 run as Skyliner captain Pascal Roller hit  a huge three pointer and Dashaun Wood a shot. Frankfurt did a fantastic job distributing the ball as seven players scored in double figures led by Pascal Roller and Kimmo Muurinen with 13 points a piece. Frankfurt dominated the boards 38-24. In the second game 6 weeks ago, Frankfurt pulled out another come from behind win 67-66 as they were trailing 63-56 in crunch time and Dashaun Wood tied the game with 11 seconds getting fouled and making the and one free throw.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have had a very strong and inspiring season considering the stress that has gone on behind the scenes with the uncertainty of a new sponsor coming on board as well as losing fan favorite AJ Moye for the season and always having to regroup as new players got injured. Players have come and gone like Brad Buckman and Jermaine Bucknor, but Herbert was always able to quickly get the team on track, despite with all the disturbances happening. Gordon Herbert did an excellent job putting together a team that has played with a lot of heart and showed team basketball all year round. He showed his stroke of luck as if he could jump on the chair of who wants to be  a millionare and win all the dough or just play Lotto once and win by bringing in Dashaun Wood(19,4ppg, 4,7rpg, 5,7apg) having been injured and sitting out the entire last season, but the Detroit native found his rhythm and knee pretty quickly and has been the huge MVP favorite leading the team in scoring and second in assists behind Tuebingen guard Bane Ratkovica. The team has a great supporting cast with ex NBA player Roger Powell(11,6ppg, 5,2rpg) who started his stay with spectacular dunks, but has toned down his NBA show time highlights and stood out more with his rebounding and three point threat as he continues to improve his shooting from outside. The unsung hero has been Kimmo the ice man Muurinen(7,9ppg, 4,0rpg) who is known as the invisible Finish player who does the dirty work. Everybody talks and remembers Wood after games, but without the hustle and aggressive defense from Muurinen, some games might have ended differently. Muurinen can shoot and recently has shown his interest in penetrating to the hoop which he might have gotten from watching his roadrunner teammate. Center Chris Moss(6,3ppg, 4,7rpg) came recently and has helped under the boards and has shown glimpses of scoring. Quantez air Cincinnati Robertson(7.9ppg, 5,5rpg, 1,8apg) continues to shine on defense and on the fast break and hits big important three pointers at times showing that he loves the rainbow coming from his release. The team recently picked up Jevohn air canada Shepherd(4,7ppg, 2,7rpg). In his first three games, he amazed the crowd with three thunderous dunks and continues to get used to the beko BBL after coming from the PRO A. The team has much support from their three elder statesmen Pascal Roller(4,3ppg, 1,0rpg, 1,3apg), Dominik Bahiense De Mello(5,9ppg, 1,6rpg, 1,3apg) and Jimmy Mckinney. The two Germans were injured for some time and are slowly coming back. Roller doesn´t play much anymore, but any coach would want him for big shots in crunch time. The game of Mckinney(9,6ppg, 2,7rpg and 1,4apg) has been like day and night since Murat Didin left. His shot is back like in his rookie season with little hesitation when shooting and his self confidence is back also. Second year man Marius Nolte(5,0ppg, 2,9rpg) may be the teams most improved player as he has shown good play as a starter or from the bench. He still has problems with fouls, but what counts is his hustle and that is always there.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners currently are in second place with a record of 22-7 and 2 more wins then The Artland Dragons and Alba Berlin. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have had two seven game winning streaks this season. The only crack in their strong record has been the fact that they lost both season series to three time BEKO BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg and eight time BEKO BBL champion Alba Berlin. one of their big strength is their defense as the ydon´t focus so much on one on one defense, but continue to stick together as a team especially in difficult phases of a game. The club has kept the opponent to 70 or less points 15 times and under 60 points seven times. The offense revolves around the smart play of dashaun Wood either scores scores and scores as he scored 30 points or more twice or 20 or more points 12 times and the team usually wins, wins games with his playmaking and less scoring or what is most deadly for the opponent when his scoring assists and rebounds are high, then his stat sheet looks like a combination of Monta Ellis, lebron James or Dwayne Wade. Of course Frankfurt has enough good other scorers, but at times it seems like the team is too dependent on the American point guard. It doesn´t really matter, because no team has been able to stop him except for Duesseldorf(4 points) and Artland Dragons(8 points) as he has scored in double figures in  27 out of 29 games. Wood is so versatile that he can score on the penetration about as easily as Kemba walker does hitting game winners this season, can shoot the three pointers and kills teams with his passing skills. Wood just plays what the defense gives him. He doesn´t really need to score for Frankfurt to be successful. Guys like Powell, Mckinney, Robertson and Muurinen all have contributed in scoring when it was needed. Having sharp shooters like Roller and De Mello come from the bench only adds additional thorns in the side of opponents.
Currently The New Yorker Phantoms are in fifth place with a record of 17-12 and are proving that last seasons semi final appearance wasn´t a fluke. After a slow start where they went 3-5 including a four game losing streak, the club has rebounded nicely positing a 11-4 record since November 13th until the 67-66 loss against Frankfurt in February 20th.  Since the bitter close loss, the team has been up and down, but over 500 with a 3-2 record. With a current fifth place in the standings and a date in the BEKO BBL Cup Final 4 with Frankfurt this weekend, The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig seem like they could be ready for an upset “I do think that Braunschweig is stronger this season. They have a lot of weapons at the offensive end and are playing really good basketball right now, they are a contender and one of the top teams in the BBL. I think they are a team that could scare people in the playoffs and be capable of beating top teams as well. They are getting better and better each week and will do damage in the playoffs”, warned John Bynum. Their three biggest wins this season all came at home and show that they arent scared of any top teams as they defeated Alba Berlin, The Telekom Baskets Bonn and The EWE Baskets Oldenburg. “I think their strength is that they have a lot of guys that can score the ball and they play really good team basketball. They have great guard play and guys on the perimeter that can play multiple positions. Weaknesses that is a tough one, but if I would say anything it would be depth down low”, warned John Bynum. TBB Trier did beat Braunschweig 74-65, but Bynum remembers the game well. “They really have good guard play and that stood out the most. The guards are always attacking and making plays and Visser and Cain as well as Goree play solid underneath the basket”, stressed John Bynum. Frankfurt is the favorite and could Braunschweig use their underdog role to their advantage or could it even be a disadvantage? “No, I  dont think so, I think it helps them being the underdog if thats what you want to call them. They have nothing to lose and if they take that attitude they can do a lot of damage with the team that they have”, warned John Bynum.
The team is led by 34 year old 201cm 106 kilo Marcus Goree. He played at West Virginia and since 2001 has been playing for some of the top teams in Europe. He is a typical European league PF, a little undersized to play the four, but very effective in low post game, thanks to strength and good fundamentals; runs very well the court, can defend well and even press on the perimeter; has great instincts for the game, and is also a good rebounder and shot blocker. He played for teams like Macabbi Tel Aviv(2003 cup winner), Benetton Trviso(Italy cup winner 2005 & 2007) or CSKA Moscow where he helped win the Euroleague in 2008. He has played 105 Euroleague games. Last season, he averaged 12.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.1apg, 1.3spg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 44.4%, FT: 72.9%. This season, he is averaging 12,2ppg, 5,7rpg and 1,1apg. “Goree is a very experienced player and knows exactly how the game is played. I think with the numbers that he is putting up that he plays younger than his age is”, stated Quentin Pryor. The main guy to shut down will be Marcus Goree. “The guy to stop is Goree. He is a strong post presence and they use him in many different ways to set up other players as well. He still plays very strong and does not play like he is 33”, expressed Brose Baskets Bamberg American Kyle Hines. “Goree is very strong and just knows how to get great position and score in low post”, said ex Braunschweig guard Steven Wright. The experience of Goree will be bolstered by basketball globe trotter Lamaar Greer. “They give the team added leadership and will keep the team level headed. I think that they will be big for the team having success”, warned Quentin Pryor. A big surprise last season was known scorer Brandon Thomas from San Antonio, Texas who quickly showed that he could continue to score at the next level in the BEKO BBL. He is a 25 year old 198 cm shooting guard/small forward who started last season with MEG Goettingen, but left, because he was supposed to play a position that he was not used to playing. Even though, he only played sparingly at UMASS in his senior year averaging 4,0ppg and 1,1rpg in the 2006-2007 season, he came to Europe in 2007 and exploded in the leagues in Norway and Austria. In Norway, he led the league in scoring with Fog Naestved averaging 24,5ppg, 4,6rpg, 3,2apf, 2,0spg and 1,0bpg. He was the Danish player of the year in 2008 and was MVP of the 2008 Allstar game. In 2008-2009, in Austria, he played for Kraftwerk Wels averaging 20,2ppg, 3,2rpg, 2,5apg. He has a great basketball IQ, can defend anyone and likes to finish around the rim. Last season for Braunschweig, he played 40 games: 10.6ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 74.6%.Currently he is averaging 13,6ppg, 4,2rpg and 1,9apg. He got a double double in the 74-71 loss to Bamberg. “I do believe my game is progressing and hopefully will continue to get better”, stressed Brandon Thomas. Thomas has been injured a bit this season, but came back strong.
The team also added some experience this season which will go hand in hand with Marcus Goree by welcoming Lamaar Greer who is a 34 year old 196cm guard from New Jersey. Already in high school, he was a known player as he grew up in Cape May Court House and played his high school ball at Middle Township. He was the New Jersey High School Player of the Year in 1994 and led Middle Township to two Group II state titles. As a second team Parade All-American, he scored 13 points in the McDonald’s All-Star game and had 16 points and 10 assists in Magic’s Roundball Classic. He played at Florida State from 1994-1998. Since turning professional in 1998, he has played in countries like Italy(3 years with teams like Record Napoli (Italy-A2, Media Broker Messina (Italy-Lega2), and Pompea Napoli (Italy-LegaA). He also played in Russia for Uniks Kazan and three years for BC Kyiv (Ukraine-Superleague) from 2004-2007. In the last three years, he played in Greece, Cyprus, Jordan and Israel. Last season, he played for ASU Sports Club (Jordan-Premier League, starting five), in Dec.’09 moved to Ironi Nahariya (Israel-Premier League): 14 games: 14.9ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 64.5%. He has played 44 Eurocup games in his career. This season, he is averaging 11,0ppg, 1,8rpg and 2,0apg. The team also brought back Kyle Visser who is a 25 year old 211cm center from Grand Rapids, Michigan and played for The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig from 2007-2009. Last season, he played for EnBW Ludwigsburg (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): 32 games: 10.7ppg, 4.9rpg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT-2(50.0%), FT: 55.7%. He played at Wake Forest from 2003-2007 and was a teammate with NBA top point guard Chris Paul. He is a center who still hasn´t reached his fullest potential and could have his breakthrough year this season. Currently he is averaging 9,0ppg, 4,9rpg and 1,0apg.
The club also brought back 25 year old 208cm forward Jason Cain from Philadelphia who has the most experience in a Phantoms jersey. This is his fourth season in Braunschweig after coming from the University of Virginia.  “Jason has played extremely well. He played great in college and now he is in his fourth season in Braunschweig and he always plays hard on each play. He can rebound and play defense and just does his role”, commented Gloria Giants Duesseldorf guard Steven Wright. Last season, he played 40 games: 10.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 62.9%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 72.6%. Currently he is averaging 9,8ppg, 4,5rpg and 1,3apg  The team might have landed one of the bigger steals last season landing 25 year old 193 combo guard Kevin Hamilton from New York. He played at Holy Cross with ex Skyliner Keith Simmons from 2002-2006. He played in Poland the last few years and in the summers in Puerto Rico. He played under coach Sebastian Machowski in Poland and was made into  a point guard even though he has been a shooting guard most of his career. He scored 17,9ppg in his last season at Holy Cross and last season he led the Polish league in assists. What makes him so dangerous is his scoring and his potential and ability to score are limitless. “In college, I averaged almost 18 points per game. I have been a shooting guard for most of my career. Two seasons ago, I had to play point guard in Poland. I always thought that I was a good passer. I think passing has come naturally to me. I have enjoyed playing point guard”, stressed Kevin Hamilton. The best thing that teams can do is to keep the ball out of Hamiltons hands, but that is about as impossible as doing the same to Lebron James. “We tried to keep the ball out of his hands. We didn´t want him to make plays. He is a true point guard. He is a great passer and makes things happen for them. When he gets going, it is hard to stop the team”, warned ex Braunschweig guard Steven Wright. Last season, Hamilton played 39 games: 10.1ppg, 3.8rpg, Assists-3(5.4apg), Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 63.7%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 77.6%. He is one of those rare players that has triple double potential. Currently he is averaging 8,1ppg, 4,1rpg, 4,1apg and 2,1spg.
Braunschweig also brought in Tony Skinn who is a 27 year old 185cm  guard from Washington DC that has the Nigerian/American citizenship. He is a combo guard with great leaping ability, who can run an offense at the point or excel at the scoring department. He played at George Mason from 2002-2006 and was a teammate with Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Folarin Campbell. He reached the NCAA Final 4 in 2006. After finishing at George Mason, he took part in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 10.0ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.7apg, 1.3spg, 0.3bpg, 2FGP: 43.3%, 3PT: 37.5%. He played his first three seasons in France and last season for Pistoia (Italy-Lega2, starting five): 34 games: 15.8ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.6apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 30.2%, FT: 67.0%. For Clermontois Basket Auvergne (France-ProA) and BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-ProA), he averaged 16ppg. Opponents will have to get used to his leaping ability. “I am usually the smallest on the court. I can do a bit of everything. I can play defense and shot. I think that my athletcism gets overlooked. I can jump. Its seems like that isn´t noticed, but check my videos at you tube as you can see I can jump”, stressed Tony Skinn. Currently he is averaging 11,3ppg, 3,0rpg and 3,4apg. 30 year old 201cm German Nils Mittman is playing his sixth season in Braunschweig after having played there from 1998-2001. He is the ultimate team player that will do anything to win. He played two years in Ulm, two years in Wurzburg and three seasons in Ludwigsburg. Currently, he is averaging 3,3ppg and 1,8rpg. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig also added 26 year old 221cm German giant Nick Schneiders that was born in Bielefeld and grew up in Rietberg. he has experience having played in the States for S.Carol.Upstate (NCAA2) from 2005-2008 and then transferring to USC Upstate (NCAA) and playing there from 2008-2010. In his senior year, he played 29 games: 12.4ppg, 6.8rpg, 3.0bpg, FGP: 46.3%, FT: 57.6%. Currently he is averaging 2,7ppg and 1,8rpg. The team recently added 24 year old 190cm  Serb Uros Duvnjak bringing him in for the injured Tony Skinn.. He started his basketball career with Partizan Belgrad. Last season, he played for Basket Poznan (Poland-PLK, starting five): 26 games: 7.1ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 76.8%. Currently he is averaging 4,5ppg and 1,8rpg.
When looking at the individual positions, one has to give the edge to The Deutsche Bank Skyliners at the guard position. Not only is this justified by the strong play of Dashaun Wood, but Braunschweig will be without Tony Skinn which really will hurt the club. Braunschweig has a great passing/defending point guard with Kevin Hamilton and three point and crunch time threat with Lamarr Greer, but that is it. 24 year old Serb Uros Duynjak has too little experience to really be a factor. “Anytime you throw in Dashaun Wood then you have an advantage, but I like the overall guard play of Braunschweig. Their guards are big and can do a lot of things, but dont underestimate Mckinney, Robertson and Roller as well”, warned John Bynum. The position forward is pretty much even. Frankfurt has a strong duo of Powell and Muurinen that do different things well, while Shepherd brings flash and athletic play, but has a lack of experience while Braunschweig has experience, scoring, toughness around the hole and heart with Goree, a scorer in Thomas and heart and soul/three point punch with Nils Mittman. The center position edge goes to Braunschweig. With Kyle Visser and Jason Cain, the team has the needed routine and consistency while Frankfurt has Chris Moss and Marius Nolte who bring different things to the table, but wont do as much damage in the paint or in the scoring department as the phantom duo would. The team experience would have to go to Braunschweig also. Granted Skyliner captain Pascal Roller has 57 international team games and countless German national team experience and Roger Powell has played in the NBA, but  Lamarr Greer and  Marcus Goree have 24 professional seasons between them and with Goree, you cant really get more experience than 105 Euroleague games that he has and a 2008 Euroleague title. The coaching experience edge goes to Frankfurt and Gordon Herbert. Herbert has won a BEKO BBL title in 2004, coached in the NBA and in countries like France and Greece. Braunschweig coach Sebastian Machowski has been coach only since 2007, but in that short span ahs showed that he has the knack for leading teams as he won the 2009 Polish cup with SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg and led Braunschweig past 2009 BEKO BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg getting to the 2010 BEKO BBL semi finals. “I think the coaches are pretty even as well. Both coaches do a good job changing the game on the fly and both coaches will have there teams prepared”, added John Bynum.
The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig average 76 points per game and grab 33 rebounds per game. This will be no cake walk for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners as they will have some things to keep an eye on including every move of the Phantom. An interesting duel will be the Braunschweig guards against Dashaun Wood and Frankfurt should not forget who the x factor is for Braunschweig. I think Wood will see a lot of different guys, I think you have to give him different looks, because he is such a great offensive player, he will adjust. You just have to find different ways to try and slow him down”, stressed John Bynum. “It will come down to how Frankfurt defends the low post. Braunschweig will have edge on blocks. I am sure Braunschweig will try to pound it down low”, warned Quentin Pryor. Marcus Goree and running is something that Frankfurt can´t allow Braunschweig to get going. “Frankfurt has to limit the touches of Goree and don´t give him a lot of space to make moves and set up his teammates. They should also keep them in the half court and slow down the game. Frankfurt should run a good offense and take good shots. They are really strong at spreading the floor and it is difficult to guard them. Every guy can shoot it from long range”, warned Kyle Hines. “Frankfurt has to use their quickness and get their bigs involved in the pick and roll to get them away from the basket or in foul trouble”, said Quentin Pryor. “Frankfurt should attack on transition. Braunschweig isn´t as good defensively as last season. They should also use the ball screen a lot and continue the drive and kick with Wood. He is very talented and knows the game”, stressed Steven Wright. Frankfurt will have to do their usual thing to win and shoot the ball well and let Wood do his thing. Braunschwieg has to control the tempo and boards and make Frankfurt play defense”, stressed John Bynum. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners meet The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig in the 2011 BEKO BBL Cup semi final on April 2nd at 16:45.

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