For basketball fans waiting for the lovable Shaq to make a free throw, waiting for a winner between the Oklahoma Thunder and The Memphis Grizzlies in one of their playoff games which took three overtime periods, actor Robert de Niro choosing society girl Paris Hilton as his next love interest in a movie or Tom Brady finally taking a hint from teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber to finally cut his wild, long and out of control haircut feels like an eternity, but waiting 10 days during the always exciting playoff time for the next opponent for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners was long enough for Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney to sneak back to St Louis and do a cameo in a Nelly interview, current Skyliner MVP Dashaun Wood to go on the road with his MVP trophy and do public speaking on how to win a coveted award like that and Skyliner energy bundle Quantez Robertson could of secretly fled back to Cincinnati to conduct a playground street ball dunk contest with friend Mark Dorris and nobody would have noticed. Despite all this free time and temptation, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were all present for game one with less game rhythm against 8 time beko BBL champion Alba Berlin and were as ready as Derrick Rose was for Lebron and The Miami Heat in game one, mountain climber Apa Sherpa climbing to the peak of Mount Everest a record 21 times or Roger Federer getting more competition form the young guns like Nadal and Djokovic as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners never gave up, but lost the game in the last seconds on account of a loose ball falling 81-80 in game one of the beko BBL semi finals against Alba Berlin. “Having such a long rest can be good or bad. WE were fresh were able to prepare well for the opponent, but we didn´t have game rhythm like Alba Berlin. One may hae thought that they may be tired after a long series against Oldenburg, but they were not tired in game one”, stressed Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen. “The 10 day rest didn´t hurt Frankfurt at all. They worked hard in this game. A long lay off can work for or against you, but Frankfurt has a great coach and players and this game could of gone either way”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Bryce Taylor.
One German basketball legend that is still roaming arenas in the beko BBL is ex North Carolina Tar heel and German national player Ademola Okulaja that once played for Alba Berlin and now works as a basketball TV analyst for Sport 1 and was rather surprised that Alba Berlin didn´t shut down Oldenburg earlier to reach the series against Frankfurt. “After Alba Berlin was up 2-0, I was sure that they would win the series at least 3-1. But you have to give Oldenburg credit, the yhave very good players and a good coach. But the problem continues to be their consistency. They have good games or bad games like in Goettingen recently. But Alba Berlin also are stronger with their aggressive defense and more fast break hoops. They also seem to have more freedom in their decision making under new coach Muli Katzurin. Getting more easier baskets also has helped the team”, added Ademola Okulaja. Alba Belrin was able to beat The Deutsche Bank Skyliners for the second straight time without star shooter Julius Jenkins, but they were helped by many many many unsung hero´s that stepped up when needed. “The big winner under the new coach ahs been Bryce Taylor. I would love to know what his stats were before and after the coaching change. His energy and athletic play is his biggest strength. Taylor Rochestie also has been a big factor. He isn´t that consistent and doesn´t always make the best decisions, but I don´t think that he is 100% a point guard either. Miro Raduljica has played great and when do you see a 213cm 120 kilo guy move like a forward and pass like a point guard? Alba Berlin has so many added weapons and unsung hero´s that now in crunchtime, you don´t have to give the ball to Jenkins, but have so many other options”, stressed Ademola Okulaja.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners won many tough games this season, but losing game one 81-80 on a loose ball in the last 15 seconds is a loss that might take some time to digest, but coach Gordon Herbert will have to find a way to get his guys ready for game two as quickly as possible. As the buzzer sounded two Serbs were in their arms as Tadija Dragcevic and MiroRaduljica were hugging each other while Skyliner players had long faces and that last play dancing in their heads on rewind mode. “To loose by one point to a tough team like Alba Belrin is very tough to take in. Both teams played hard, but they made their free throws and three pointers which was important”, stressed Skyliner guard Quantez Robertson. ExSkyliner Derrick Allen had a big grin on his face after the game and despite the big win, he was calm and cool and not celebrating after the win, because he had a lot of respect for his ex club. “This was an unbelievable win for us. Frankfurt showed great charachter in that whenever they were down, they got up and came back. Mckinney and De Mello played great, but we did different things on Wood which helped us get the win”, stressed Alba Berlin forward Derrick Allen. “I expect all games to be like this one. It was a dog fight and one ball can decide the game. I think that with a little more defense and rebounds and we would of won this game”, added Skyliner guard Dashaun Wood. “This was a typical dog fight playoff game. Both teams played hard and it didn´t look pretty, but both teams wanted to win very badly, but one heart was left on the court”, commented ex Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Bryce Taylor.
It is always interesting to see what is happening on and off the court before game time in the Ballsporthalle. Derrick Allen chants were heard early in warm ups, Telekom Baskets Bonn coach was using his free time to take in the game, Heiko Schaffartzik spent a lot of time in the stands getting focused for the game and the Skyliner organization had some special masks made for the game possibly as help for Alba Berlin to hide their heads after a loss for them, but at the end of the game, no Alba Berlin players needed any masks to sneak out of the arena. The first quarter gave a lot of good basketball for the fans as offense was in the focus and no team was able to break away. There were 7 lead changes and Alba Berlin quickly took the 4-2 lead as Derrick Allen scored on the transition. Frankfurt got much needed support from Dominik Bahiense De Mello who dropped a three pointer and gave Frankfurt the first 5-4 lead. Allen and De Mello then traded buckets as Frankfurt still led 8-6. Alba Berlin displayed quickly that they would not shy away from banging the ball inside as Yassin Idbihi made a left handed lay in and Bryce Taylor snuck past Wood and went hard over Chris Moss for the hoop as Alba Berlin led 10-8. De Mello then made his third three pointer in a row and Taylor Rochestie also nailed one from outside as Alba Berlin still led 12-11. Alba Berlin then held the lead until the end as the tempo remained high and both teams continued hitting their shots at a sound rate. Alba Belrin then went on a 6-2 run to lead 20-15 as Alba Berlin got added easy buckets inside twice from Idbihi. However Frankfurt closed out the first quarter with a 5-2 run as Wood who ahd been pretty tired until the end nailed a three pointer and got lay in as Frankfurt trailed only 22-20 after one quarter. “I was surprised how well both teams were scoring. There had been only two fouls and the game was fast paced. We gave up too many easy rebounds”, stressed Alba Berlin sports director Mithat Demirel. Alba Berlin was shooting 61% form the field and 0% from outside while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 57% from outside. Alba Berlin had the 8-6 rebounding edge and two turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners jumped out on a quick 4-0 run to retake the lead 24-22 with Marius Nolte free throws and a Jimmy Mckinney jumper, but Alba Berlin stayed calm and stepped up their offense going on a 10-0 run to lead 32-24. Serb Miro Raduljica continued to out muscle Moss and nolte getting buckets inside while Dragcevic and Heiko Schaffartzik nailed open three pointers. Frankfurt lost some concentration on defense allowing more open looks to Alba Berlin. After Immanuel Mcelroy and De Mello traded three pointers, Alba Berlin still led 35-29, but Frankfurt stepped up their defense and got consecutive steals from Quantez Robertson and Chris Moss which led to fast break points from both guys as Frankfurt trailed only 37-33. Frankfurt continued to stay on the heels of Alba Berlin trailing only 39-37 at halftime as Jimmy Mckinney nailed another jumper this time shortly before time elapsed. “The Frankfurt rebounding kept them in the game. I thought that we were defending well and had good ball movement on offense. Mcelroy and Schaffartzik also did a good job on Wood, but I was sure that Wood would get stronger in the second half”, stressed ex German national player Mithat Demirel. Alba Berlin was shooting 54% from the field and 43% from the three point line while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 43% from the three point line. Both teams had 16 rebounds, but Alba Berlin eight turnovers and Frankfurt only seven turnovers.
In the third quarter the game remained close and exciting as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners continued to chip away at Alba Berlin never letting them get on a roll and get a bigger lead. After ex BG Goettingen guard Taylor Rochestie nailed a three pointer, Frankfurt went on a lightening 4-0 run as Super Tez Robertson and Roger Powell scored twice on the fast break as Frankfurt trailed only 42-41. Derrick Allen then made a sweet spin move around Wood coming form the wing and making a hrd runner and De Mello sunk a jumper after moving to his left as Frankfurt only trailed 44-43. Then the game was presented with 5 lead changes as the Ballsportthalle continued to see high level beko BBL playoff basketball. Powell and Bryce Taylor traded baskets as Alba Berlin led 46-45. Wood then gave Frankfurt the lead with free throws, but Derrick Allen struck back with a lay ina s Alba Berlin led 48-47. Frankfurt then took the lead and closed out the third quarter with a 15-8 run and lead. Frankfurt went on a 7-2 run to lead 54-50 as Dashaun Wood scored and set up Moss nicely while Powell hit a three pointer. Frankfurt tried to extend their lead as Jimmy Mckinney scored inside and dropped a three pointer, but Alba Berlin continued to answer with timely three pointers from Dragcevic and Mcelroy. “Imac was our MVP tonight. He stepped up in timely plays and did a good job on Wood”, stressed Bryce Taylor. Wood ended the third quarter with two free throws as Frankfurt led 62-56. “We got more defensive stops and just played our Skyliner basketball. Everything that was gained in the third quarter was erased in the first 36 seconds of the fourth quarter”, stressed Dashaun Wood. “Coach had reinforced pick and role defense at halftime. He told us to handle this problem better. The Alba Berlin big men were rolling too easy for lay ups. We defended the pick and roll defense better where the big guy play one on one against the point guard and the little guy comes down on the bigger guy to box him out”, stressed Kimmo Muurinen. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 42% from the parking lot while Alba Berlin was shooting 49% from the field and 55% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the slight 25-24 rebound edge and 10 turnovers while Alba Berlin had 11 turnovers.
Just as quickly as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners ended the third quarter with the momentum, they lost it as rapidly in the first 36 seconds of the fourth quarter as Immanuel Mcelroy and Taylor Rochestie silenced the Ballsporthalle crowd with a rapid 6-0 run on two three pointers as all of a sudden Alba Berlin had knotted the game at 62-62. “They made great plays in that 6-0 run. The momentum truned and we hanged from then on. It was a tough game that could of gone either way”, said Kimmo Muurinen. Moss then gave Frankfurt the 64-62 lead with free throws, but Idbihi responded with a left handed lay in to tie the score at 64-64. Wood then set up Moss with a lay in and the Frankfurt lead again, but Mcelroy nailed another one of his four three pointers as Alba Berlin retrieved the lead 67-66 .De Mello then tied the score at 68-68 with a lay in and showed such a high level of self confidence never seen before as if he had just learned that he had won the lottery and could live life to the fullest. Alba Berlin regained the lead 71-68 with a Idbihi lay up and one free throw. Frankfurt continued to stay on the door step of Alba Berlin and would cut the lead down to one point four times, but they were unable to get over the hump and get the lead back. Wood cut the Alba Berlin lead down twice to one point scoring on a pull up jumper and on a lay in that reminded one of Dallas Maverick Jose Barea did in game one against the Thunder a day earlier. “I played against Barea twice in college and beat him both times”, smiled Dashaun Wood. After De Mello cut the Alba Berlin lead down to 76-75, it was Mcelroy that came flown in out of nowhere to scope up an offensive rebound and lay it in for the 78-75 lead. With less than a minute to play, Powell scored inside and Dragcevic scored as Frankfurt trailed 81-77. Mckinney then dropped a three pointer again as Frankfurt trailed only 81-80 with 30 seconds to play. There was still enough time to get a stop and come back for the win. Frankfurt got the needed stop, but couldn´t get the rebound as the ball was tipped away and Alba kept possession as the clock winded down to 0:00. “Jimmy tried to get a hand on the ball, but couldn´t get possession. They played keep away from us and ran out the clock”, added Quantez Robertson. “The biggest key in this game was giving up those two three pointers to start the fourth quarter. You can´t give the team the momentum back like that in a playoff game. We still played well enough to win.You are not going to get 20 points and 10 assists against a team like this. They defended well, but we executed well and got other guys like Moss, De Mello, and Mckinney involved”, stressed Dashaun Wood.
Alba Berlin was led by Immanuel Mcelroy with 17 points. Yassin Idbihi added 15points. Derrick Allen produced 12 points and Tadija Dragcevic 10 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dominik Bahiense De Mello with 19 points. Dashaun Wood had 17 points, three rebounds and six assists. Jimmy Mckinney contributed 14 points and Chris Moss 13 points and six rebounds. Both teams shot very well and Alba Berlin won the rebound duel 34-31. Alba Berlin head back home with the home court advantage and can take some positives into game 2 on Saturday. “We fought hard and shared the ball well for 40 minutes. We defended well and a plus is that we have so many dangerous weapons that you can´t focus on just one player”, warned Bryce Taylor. Frankfurt was so close, but at the end the only thing that counts is the win. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners showed that they didn´t have many highs or lows in game 1. “I think that we were very consistent and were able to hold the same level throughout the game considering the level of the game was very high”, warned Kimmo Muurinen. “We came out fighting, played aggressive and never gave up”, commented Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt knows that if they return home from Berlin with a game 2 loss, that they might have to book early flights home. Frankfurt goes to Berlin in a do or die type of game and know what they have to do to be successful. “Alba Berlin got too many offensive rebounds and easy put backs. We have to concentrate on doing that better as well as one on one defense”, warned Kimmo Muurinen. “We have to cut down our turnovers and get more second chance buckets and get a win and bring the home court advantage back home”, stressed Quantez Robertson. Alba Berlin is in the drivers seat now, but know that they can´t allow Frankfurt to come into their living room and dictate the game. “We can´t let Frankfurt do what we did in game one. We have to be focused and have no let downs”, warned Derrick Allen. Alba Berlin host The Deutsche Bank Skyliners in game 2 Saturday May 21st at 17:00.