Sometimes parallels can be small and unconventional, but it can still make one think the Arsenio Hall famous thought hmmmmmmmmmmm as back in 2004 the last time Frankfurt won the beko BBL title then known as The Opel Skyliners, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski were about to start their flight as successful German national soccer players, Lady Gaga was still screeching songs under the shower and actress Katie Holmes still had her cute school girl crush for future husband Hollywood tycoon Tom Cruise. Current Skyliners Jimmy Mckinney was making a name for himself at Missouri with guys like Travon Bryant, Rickey Paulding and Linas Kleiza, Roger Powell was still working on his game at Illinois with future NBA players Deron Williams and Luther Head and Dashaun Wood was a road runner in the making at Wright State. Back then in 2004, Frankfurt had a 27 year old Pascal Roller and raw talent coach Gordon Herbert who won the final against Bamberg in a game five series where each team won their away games until game five where Frankfurt was able to win at home. Now seven years later, Roller and Herbert were both wiser and more experienced and had the same chance to win another game five at home after the first four games had all been won on the road by the away team. Frankfurt also had a positive omen in which they had beat Alba Berlin twice in a playoff series since 2005 and wanted to make the triple against the Spree team in 2011 and despite a fresh Pascal Roller, Alba Berlin ruined his fathers day ending the season of The Deutsche Bank Skyliners 87-68 moving on to the final where they will meet three time beko BBl champion Brose Baskets Bamberg. The past success in 2004 didn´t seem to rub off on Roller and Herbert as Frankfurt was unable to win in their living room losing the fourth game in a row this season in the Ballsporthalle. “I think Roller and Herbert might have looked in their eyes with a small smile thinking about what they did in 2004. Remembering that success might have given them strength to do it again tonight”, stressed ex North Carolina Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja before the game. “I don´t think that Roller or Herbert will have remembered this. I don´t think they would have thought a second about it. It is different circumstances and you can´t compare it”, stressed Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak before the game. Alba Berlin won their fourth game in a row in Frankfurt and just outplayed Frankfurt in so many areas as the sadness was present on the faces of the Skyliners after the game. “This loss hurts very much. You work a whole season to get to the final and then it ends like this. A big problem was the rebounding. We got way to little second shots and we didn´t get on transition enough”, stressed Skyliner forward Jimmy Mckinney. “We did a good job finding the open man on offense. Our big guys also did a good job on the boards and also finding the open man. Idbihi and Taylor gave a lot of energy under the boards”, stressed Alba Berlin manager Mithat Demirel. The game five loss by The Deutsche Bank Skyliners also was the curtain call by captain Pascal Roller who had stated that he would step down from the court at the end of the season at the age of 34.
When Roller came on the court with three minutes to play, the Ballsporthalle got even louder as fans stood up and started chanting Pascal Roller. Roller who played 122 games for the German National team in 11 seasons in Frankfurt displayed unending leadership qualities on and off the court and was instrumental for the cup win in 2000 and German championship in 2004. As the game was over and the Whitney Houston classic song “One moment in time” was played, even the most hard core Skyliner fans were unable to hold back a few tears. Roller hugged all his teammates including getting a gigantic hug from ex German national player Ademola Okulaja who picked him up from the ground as he finished the game with four points in 12 minutes. After the game hearing the comments by his teammates were amazing, but at the same token not surprising the way Pascal Roller has been as a player and person in the Skyliner family. “Pascal was a great leader. I don´t have one negative thing to say about him. He accepted his role with a lot of class when I came on board. Even when he wasn´t playing, he was the leader. He was always positive, never quit and I have never seen a guy like him in my basketball career”, stressed 2011 beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood. “Pascal has been a good teammate and a good person on and off the court. I really enjoyed playing with him”, stressed Skyliner guard Quantez Robertson. “The end was very emotional. Pascal had a great career and was a great player. I played many years with him and enjoyed it”, commented Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney. Before the jump ball, the Ballsporthalle was about as loud as it ever has been as everybody was ready for a tight and exciting game which turned out differently, but the atmosphere proved to be very playoff basketball worthy. Ex Skyliner Derrick Allen was as focused as ever and Sky girl was back again getting into the mood running around the court with a Skyliner flag. Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak had stressed before the game that the team that got into the game quicker and who had the most balls would have the best chances to win. Both points proved to fair better for Alba Berlin throughout the course of the game. Alba Berlin got going fast taking a quick 6-2 lead. Alba Berlin quickly wanted to establish their advantage down low as Miroslav Raduljica scored inside twice making it look as easy as Lionel Messi sometimes does on the soccer pitch. Frankfurt also tried to establish an inside game as Chris Moss scored back to back dunks as he was set up nicely by Quantez Robertson and Dashaun Wood. However it seemed like the Alba Berlin motor was fresh and running smooth in second gear and quickly went to fourth gear as they continued to hit shots as 2006 beko BBL champion with Rhein Energie Cologne Immanuel Mcelroy scored two three pointers, Derrick Allen scored with ease inside and Yassin Idbihi nailed a jumper as Alba Berlin led 16-5. Those two quick Mcelroy three pointers seemed like a bad omen, because Mcelory had done the same earlier in the series in Frankfurt. Frankfurt was giving up too many easy points and slow on help defense while Alba Berlin was shooting well and just concentrating on finding the open man. Alba Berlin continued to keep the big lead Taylor Rochestie dropped a three pointer and got to the free throw line as Alba Berlin led 21-10. Idbhi and Roller traded the last two baskets of the first quarter as Alba Berlin led comfortably 26-13. “We started well finding the open man on offense. Miro Raduljica had a good start and we did good job not getting to hectic and losing our heads, but staying calm”, said ex German national player Mithat Demirel. Alba Berlin was shooting 75% from the field and 100% from outside while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 0% form outside. Alba Berlin had the 9-5 rebound edge and both teams had two turnovers. In the second quarter, it was Alba Berlin and not The Deutsche Bank Skyliners with the better start. Alba Berlin jumped out on a 5-0 run to lead 31-13 as the club continued to do a great job moving the ball around and with extra passes finding the best open man. Bryce Taylor scored on the baseline with an easy lay up and Julius Jenkins dropped a three pointer. Roger Powell saw some daylight doing the dirty work inside and getting a put back and then nailed a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 33-19. Derrick Allen then got going scoring inside and making a jumper. Alba Berlin continued to hit some difficult shots as Frankfurt also countered back with a Jimmy Mckinney jumper and might have been able to cut the lead down more had they just been more consistent on defense with producing stops. A late Dominik Bahiense De Mello jumper cut the Alba Berlin lead to 43-36. Ex Telekom Baskets Bonn American Bryce Taylor ended the second quarter with two free throws as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners trailed 45-36 at halftime. “We lost some concentration in the second quarter, but I feel our strong rebounding kept the lead up. We made some bad decisions on offense and missed free throws which kept Frankfurt in the game”, added Mithat Demirel. Alba Berlin was shooting 62% from the field and 67% from the three point line while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 31% from the three point line. Alba Berlin had the slim 16-15 rebound edge, but six turnovers while Frankfurt had five turnovers.
The third quarter told two tales as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners started a furious comeback at the start, but then allowed Alba Berlin to go on a big run in the latter half of the third quarter and regain their big lead again. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners clawed their way back into the game. Alba Berlin did get on the board first as Taylor made a free throw and Derrick Allen made a very tough lay in under the hoop as he seemed to be in no mans land. Frankfurt then slowly started scoring and getting stops on defense. Marius Nolte battled for an offensive rebound and made a put back. Quantez Robertson then scored on a lay in getting fed from Wood as the American came in from the wing and scored this typical play which had become as common as Dunking Kong entertaining kids each game in the Ballsporthalle. Wood then found room inside for two points and Robertson nailed a three pointer over Mcelroy as Frankfurt trailed only 50-46 and the Ballsporthalle was exploding with noise again. However basketball never can shy away from being a game of runs as Alba Berlin coach Muli Katzurin seemed to have the right touch inserting little used ex German national player Sven Schultze as he led the team on a 15-3 run to end the third quarter 65-48 in favor for Alba Berlin.
“I got my chance and took advantage of it. I don´t really think it had anything to do with me, but how the team played. We played aggressive here three times which won us the series”, said Sven Schultze. Allen got Alba Berlin going in run fighting for an offensive board and put back. Then it was Idbihi that got the next offensive rebound and finished with a left handed mini hook shot. Then it was Schultze who nailed two three pointers and Julius Jenkins scored inside getting an offensive rebound. All the luck seemed to go against Frankfurt as they didn´t get rebounds, loose balls and missed easy lay ups. Alba Berlin simply made all the hustle plays. “Sven Schulze brought a lot of energy and just did his job. He is such a reliable player. Despite Frankfurt changing defenses, we continued to hit shots and could play transition”, added Mithat Dmirel. Alba Berlin was shooting 52% from the field and 55% from the parking lot while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were shooting 39% from the field and 26% from the parking lot. Alba Berlin had the big 30-22 rebound edge and both teams had 10 turnovers a piece. In the fourth quarter, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were down by 16 points and needed some kind of miraculous comeback, but instead were hit by a 14-5 Alba Berlin run to start the fourth quarter as the 8 time beko BBL team extended their lead to 79-53 and were slowly thinking about their next opponent Bamberg as the final was getting more and more like a reality. Frankfurt started ok going on a 5-3 run as Jimmy Mckinney hit a floater and Powell a runner, but it was Sven Schultze again showing his coolness from outside keeping his stroke as Alba Berlin still led 68-53. However Alba Berlin then went on a back breaking 11-0 run as Idbihi scored twice, Heiko Schaffartzik hit one of his typical bombs from outside that had been normal during the 2009 European championships in Poland and Bryce Taylor hit a tough fade away jumper with one second remaining on the shot clock. Alba Berlin led 79-53 as they had showed that despite the loud Ballsporthalle, it was more their living room then that of The Deutsche Bank Skyliners. Frankfurt seemed hand cuffed by the run as time was running down and the season seemed in jeopardy. “Alba Berlin played a box and one in the second half. We had many open shots, but we missed so many. That tends to hurt the defense. You can only make so many stops. You also have to make some shots”, stressed Detroit native Dashaun Wood. Frankfurt did close out the game with a 14-8 run, but they simply did too little for 40 minutes to be able to keep par with Alba Berlin. Quantez Robertson scored eight points in this run while Julius Jenkins kept the pressure on scoring six points, two on lay ups and one on a thunderous dunk from the wing. After 40 minutes, Alba Berlin left the court with a well deserved win. “We ran out of gas. We missed many easy shots and free throws. It was a long season. We had to win two games in Berlin which cost us a lot of energy”, warned Dashaun Wood. “We defended well and rebounded well. We also were able to slow down their two key players Dashaun Wood and Roger Powell making them work for everything”, stressed Bryce Taylor. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 20 points and five rebounds. Roger Powell added 14 points and three rebounds. Dashaun Wood chipped in with nine points, three rebounds and seven assists. Alba Berlin was led by Yassin Idbihi with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Derrick Allen had 15 points and five rebounds. Julius Jenkins contributed 11 points and Heiko Schaffartzik 10 points and five assists. Ex Skyliner Derrick Allen will go to his second straight final as his ex teammates will have to watch at home and cross their fingers for his first ring. “I am not happy for D.A that he is going to the final, but happy for his success. I am a competitor and would rather be there”, added St Louis native Jimmy Mckinney. “I am happy that D.A has the chance to win it. I hope that he will it”, expressed Quantez Robertson. Alba Berlin shot 54% from the field and 57% from outside and out rebounded Frankfurt 37-27, which made it very difficult to beat an experienced and well coached team like Frankfurt. It was a great run for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners who will be called Fraport Skyliners next season as nobody except maybe manager Gunnar Wobke would have thought before the season that the club would be so close to reaching the beko BBL final. “We have been through so much this season with contract issues, the sponsor, injuries and the AJ Moye accident. We fought the whole season and by reaching the semi finals, we should all end the season with a smile on our faces”, warned Dashaun Wood.