The last time Americans Ben Jacobson, Jason Boone and John Little were on the floor together before this season, they were celebrating immense success with BG Goettingen winning the Eurochalenge and reaching the Beko BBL playoffs on a regular basis. It seems that they could be successful at many things besides basketball like putting on aprons and baking delicious cookies for a late afternoon snack for president Obama, doing a slick basketball trick routine on American Idol ala Globetrotters style and getting Simon Cowell to utter a smile and thumbs up or being able to kick a soccer ball off a beer mug through the goal wall hole at the Aktuelles Sport Studio at ZDF the way German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer did because it seems like whatever they do on the court can also turn to gold in other activities. With the aid of John Patrick, the BG Goettingen connection has helped the s. Oliver baskets Wurzburg get out of the gates to a 2-0 record, but against the Fraport Skyliners there was no trick up the sleeve of the American coach or his players that was able to stop Justin Gray as he dropped a buzzer beater bomb in ala Eric Chadfield(2006 buzzer beater to beat ratiopharm Ulm) style as the Fraport Skyliners shocked the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg 80-78. Despite the disheartening loss, John Patrick knows that his three ex Goettingen players have many talents and will help lead the team to many more wins in the future. “All three guys know what it takes to get a winning team going. They know when to have fun, but when we are in practice they are all business. Jason Boone can eat a hamburger in one bite, Ben Jacobson is an Iowa guy and is the best golfer on the team and eats more dairy queen meals than anyone I know and John Little is simply indestructible and has run through more walls than anyone I know”, stressed s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg head coach John Patrick. “We have helped with the leadership and helped the other players translate over to the style of John Patrick. The Goettingen guys have a very close bond”, stressed Ben Jacobsen. Skyliner center Marius Nolte also noticed how important the ex Goettingen guys have been for the Wurzburg team. “I think everybody saw tonight how much Goettingen is sticking in the Wurzburg system on the court”, warned Marius Nolte.
It was only the third regular season game, but as the game got going the play on the court was hard and had a playoff intensity to it. Both teams were fighting hard and for the game to come down to a last possession with seven seconds to play and end with a buzzer beater from Justin Gray was about as unfair as the few Superbowl wins by the New England Patriots that ended with a game winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired, but that’s the beauty of basketball as the game isn´t over until the buzzer sounds. After the shot was made, Gray ran to the fan block followed by his teammates as the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg had jaws dropped to the floor and nightmares ready to happen that night. “This was the kind of game where you can lose sleep over. This was a very tough loss. We kept fighting back. Key in this game was the third quarter where Gray hit so many shots in a row which really helped his self confidence. I am proud how we fought and it was a good battle that ended with fireworks for the other team”, commented Wurzburg guard Ben Jacobson. For the Fraport Skyliners it was the second dramatic win in a row which will continue to boost their self confidence in crucial moments of games. “We knew that they are a team that never fall down and die. It was a tough game and we had some bad phases, but if you are able to win the game at the end then that is what is most important”, said Marius Nolte. “It was one of those games where the team that withstood the fight the best would win and we did it better”, commented Jermario Davidson.
The biggest moments in sports is usually winning a game with a last second goal, field goal, hit or a basket, but these are the special moments that only happen so often. In the last years, the Frankfurt Skyliners have had these moments like when Eric Chadfield ruined the debut of Mike Taylor and ratiopharm Ulm in the Bundesliga in the first game of the season with a buzzer beater, or Chris Moss beating ex Skyliner coach Murat Didin and The Gloria Giants Duesseldorf with a last second mid distance shot from the wing last season. Winning a game with a last second is what players dream of as little children and after Justin Gray had executed with the buzzer beater, one could see a grown man with the twinkle in his eyes of a child as he was answering questions after the game. “I remember hitting shots like these in college, but this shot was big today. I am happy I made this shot and sometimes there is luck on your side. Often when I am in practice at the top of the key, I am thinking this is my money shot. In the time out, coach told me to drive or kick it out, but their defense slowed me down and I just stepped back and shot it. It felt good as I released it”, smiled Justin Gray. Ex NBA player and injured Jermario Davidson watched in awe from the bench as Gray made the heroic shot. “That was a great moment. I have so much confidence in the game of Gray. I knew it would go in”, added Jermario Davidson. “Gray hit from downtown Frankfurt. Little was on him and another guy was coming, but I think that we should have run two guys at him to try to get the ball out of his hands”, stressed Ben Jacobson.
Both teams found themselves in the Fraport arena for an untypical Wednesday game as German national player Johannes Herber who had been quiet with his shooting the first two games quickly got the monkey off his back nailing a three pointer for the 3-0 lead. The Fraport Skyliners then quickly jumped out to a 10-4 lead as the Fraport Skyliners were doing a good job figuring out the Wurzburg press defense and getting into their offensive sets fast. German Danilo Barthel continued his rise getting his second consecutive start and scoring inside, Jon Leuer hit a three pointer and Justin Gray made free throws. However the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg started to find their rhythm slowly as they continued to chip away at the Frankfurt lead closing out the first quarter with a spirited 18-8 run. After Boone and Leuer traded baskets and Frankfurt led 12-6, Wurzburg drew three fouls in a row, but had problems hitting from the free throw line. After a Nolte bucket, American Ricky Harris got by the Frankfurt press and nailed a three pointer form the corner as Wurzburg only trailed 14-13. Quantez Robertson then made a flight from the wing scoring with a lay in and the 16-13 Frankfurt advantage. Wurzburg then went on a 9-2 run to end the first quarter which was sparked by a foul drawn by Ricky Harris behind the three point line. He made only two, but that sparked his team as Jacbosn made a jumper which was followed by a Harris runner off the glass an dthe first Wurzburg lead of the game. Ex Skyliner Alex King then surprised the whole arena nailing a three pointer something he struggled in his early days in Frankfurt. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg led 22-18 after one quarter. “Jon Leuer got Frankfurt going. Justin Gray didn´t have to do much. The fourl behind the three point line and the three pointer by Ricky Harris seemed to irritate Frankfurt”, stated Licher Basket Baeren head coach Igor Starcevic. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were shooting 45% from the field and 29% from outside while the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were shooting 53% from the field and 50% from outside. Wurzburg had the 11-5 rebound edge and both teams had three turnovers a piece.
The second quarter turned out to be a battle as there were 7 lead changes and no team to be able to go on that big run to make an early statement. German national player Tim Ohlbrecht had struggled in the first two games, but came alive in the first minutes taking Frankfurt on a mini 4-0 run to knot the score at 22-22. Ohlbrecht showed his wits under the hoop waiting until Gilbert Brown was up in the air to draw the foul and make the basket. Then it was Jacobson who hit a three pointer to give Wurzburg the lead back only to have Nolte score inside and Michael Thompson give Frankfurt the lead back at 27-25 with his first three pointer as a professional. American second year man Chris Kramer then made himself noticeable to the crowd scoring on a coast to coast run and 30-29 Wurzburg lead only to be upended by a Joe Herber catch and pop three pointer and 32-30 Frankfurt lead. Super Tez then set up Ohlbrecht for a massive two handed dunk, but it was Alex King again that hit from downtown and the game was tied again 34-34. After Harris gave Wurzburg the 37-35 lead, it was Leuer that hit a jumper over Robert Tomaszek and Michael Thompson dropped another three pointer and the lead 40-37. Gray then scored inside as the Fraport Skyliners led 42-39 at halftime. “Frankfurt was playing aggressive defense and Wurzburg was having trouble with the Frankfurt pick and role. Both teams were shooting very bad from the free throw line”, added Igor Starcevic. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 45% from the three point line while the s. Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were shooting 44% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Wurzburg still had the overwhelming 22-12 rebound edge, but nine turnovers while Frankfurt had seven turnovers.
The big runs that were missing, would suddenly appear in the third quarter. Jon Leuer might have gotten some patrons to find ketchup from their hotdog on their face as he exploded into the lane and jammed home a reverse dunk for the 44-39 Frankfurt lead. However that didn’t get the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg scared as they accelerated onto an 11-0 run and the 50-44 lead. Elliot hit two free throws which was followed by back to back three pointers from Jacobson and a three pointer from Harris. The strong Wurzburg defense sparked the offense and Frankfurt was playing sloppy basketball and seemed to have lost some concentration. However as is so often the case and seems still to be unknown in basketball, one big run was met by a new big run by the opponent. The Fraport Skyliners then went off like a missile going on a 16-0 run to retake the lead 60-50. The run was started by the best offensive ball movement of the game to that juncture by the team of Muli Katzurin as Herber made a three pointer. The it was Justin Mr downtown Gray that gave the meaning scoring in bunches a new meaning as he scored 11 points in a row sparked by two three pointers and many free throws. Leuer ended the run with a tip in off a Gray miss. “I knew that I had to be more aggressive. I was looking to get in the paint and just take my opportunities. But the whole team played well in this run”, stated Justin Gray. “Gray is a scoring guard. Usually a guard is there to penetrate and create, but sometimes he has to score to. He really stepped up as a leader in that run”, added Jermario Davidson. After three quarters, The Fraport Skyliners had the comfortable 65-54 advantage. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while the s.Oliver Baskets were shooting 38% from the field and 47% from the parking lot. Wurzburg still had the 30-22 rebound edge while both teams were coughing up the ball a miserable 16 times.
In the fourth quarter, it was time for another big run, but now from the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg who continued to claw up out of their hole never seeing daylight inching closer and closer as they got out of the gates going on a 10-2 to cut the Frankfurt lead to only 67-64. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg got five straight baskets inside from Ivan Elliot and twice from Jason Boone that dunked and scored inside as he seemed to be already on the way to the hoop before he had even caught the ball in the low post. American Chris Kramer also contributed two buckets inside as he proved more and more a very valuable commodity for John Patrick who had signed him recently. “Kramer did a great job getting into the lane being very aggressive”, stressed Justin Gray. “Kramer helped us get back into the game. He is quick and strong and not afraid to attack the basket. He made big plays and he is a great defender one of the reasons we got him”, warned Ben Jacobson. Mckinney then hit a big three pointer from the corner getting a strong fast kick out pass from Michael Thompson for the 70-64 Frankfurt lead. However the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg continued to hang around like that nagging little nagging brother that just wont go when you want to get busy with the girlfriend as Kramer made an acrobatic off balance lay up and Alex “why can´t we have players like that” King hit his third three pointer off the game as Frankfurt led only 70-69. However as quick as the Wurzburg mini 4-0 run came a new 7-0 Frankfurt run as they led 77-69 with three minutes to go. In this run, it as Mckinney that broke through again with a bomb from the parking lot and Leuer hit a turn around jumper and a dunk off the fast break. “Leuer is always important. He is a natural scorer. I always tell him to just play his game and rebound. If he just plays his game, he will always help us”, stressed Jermario Davidson.
Just when you thought that Wurzburg was out of gas, John Patrick secretly had filled up their tanks as the Baskets had enough air for another run going on a 8-0 run to tie the game at 77-77 with seven seconds to play. Boone started the run with a hook shot, which was followed by an Elliot three pointer as Frankfurt led only 77-74. After a Thompson miss from the corner, Jacobson hit one of two free throws, then Frankfurt lost a ball out of bounds, but Harris could not tie the game as he made only one free throw as Wurzburg trailed 77-76. With the seconds running down, Frankfurt made a costly turnover as Boone stole the ball, but Kramer was unable to hit both free throws as the game was knotted at 77-77. Gray then won the game with his bomb from Frankfurt airport terminal 1 for the 80-78 victory. Had Wurzburg shot better from the free throw line, then the game might have been decided a lot earlier. Skyliner guard Michael Thompson was happy about the win and his play “We kept our composure at the end and stayed together as a team. A big player hit a big shot at the end. It felt good to finally play. I thought I played solid, but I can play better. I have to cut down the turnovers and get the offense into the sets faster. As a point guard one has to know where the players are”, stressed Michael Thompson. “Thompson gives us added deepness and gives Gray a rest so he had power at the end for the buzzer beater”, added Marius Nolte.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Gray with 18 points. Jon Leuer contributed 17 points. Johannes Herber added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were led by Chris Kramer with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. Ivan Elliot contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds and Ricky Harris also added 13 points. Ben Jacobson produced 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 51% from the field and a respectable 44% from outside while the s.Oliver Baskets ended the day with 44% shooting. Wurzburg won the rebound duel 39-31 and Frankfurt had a horrible 21 turnovers while Wurzburg had 17. “We didn´t rebound well and we didn´t box out well at all let them push us away from the basket and didn´t do a good job with the long balls. However I thought that we played solid defense. We had problems giving up offensive rebounds, but we did a better job limiting their offensive rebounds as Tez really sparked us”. The Fraport Skyliners and s. Oliver Baskets Wurzburg both have a record of 2-1, but the season is still young and Skyliner captain Marius Nolte thinks that the team is on a good way. “I think that you have to take it step by step. The season is long and we are making good strides. We have to continue to keep working hard”, warned Marius Nolte. The Fraport Skyliners host The Telekom Baskets Bonn on October 15th at 20:00.