Despite the strong 3-0 start by The Telekom Baskets Bonn this season, Michael Koch might have entered the Fraport arena with an eerie feeling, because 6 months ago, the last time he had set foot in the Skyliner living room, Bonn was on the verge of not making the playoffs for only the second time in their history and the club was closing out the miserable season with a 2-14 record and he was undergoing a personal basketball nightmare as sad as the attitude of Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon who was caught partying shortly after the most epic September slide in baseball history who had blown 18 of their last 24 games not reaching the playoffs, a fan who had nothing better to do then launch a hot dog straight at golf legend Tiger Woods, who was concentrating on a putt or actress Lindsay Lohan racking up a 90,000 Limo bill and not having the decency to pay it. In their last meeting last season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners trounced Bonn 78-60 and Michael Koch had some revenge on his mind and left the Fraport arena with a very satisfying 79-64 victory. The difference between last years team and this years team is like night and day. “As a opponent you should always be happy to leave Frankfurt with a win. We started off well and I was happy with our play. It is obvious that not everything was working for Frankfurt. It is always nice in life when you can learn from your mistakes. We are playing team basketball and that is always best. We still have a long way to go, but am very happy with our play after four games”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn sport director Andreas Bottcher. Bonn not only is a totally new team from last season, but already has made big strides from their last meeting with Frankfurt in the Maritim Cup in September. “Bonn is a very good team that is coached well and has improved a lot. They had a very nice inside/out game, but we didn´t do a good job defending”, stressed Skyliner guard Michael Thompson. The eyes of Bonn quarterback Jared Jordan lit up when he described the Kochian team basketball of Bonn. “This style is so different from when I was here two years ago. It is more European style. It reminds me of the offense we had at Marist. I had two wings and athletic guys that I could just throw the ball up into the lane. It is funny, we were so awful in our first pre season game, but since then we have improved every day. I have never seen a team in my playing career improve in such a short time like this. We just want to always win and have a lot of fun playing together”, commented Jared Jordan.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game riding on a two game winning streak and were looking for their second home win while The Telekom Baskets Bonn wanted to keep their 2010-2011 Beko BBL season unbeaten streak alive and go to 4-0. After the exciting and emotional 80-78 win against the s. Oliver Baskets Wurzburg 72 hours early, it seemed like the Fraport Skyliners would come into the Bonn game firing from all cylinders, but instead seemed to be surprised by the very structured and pumping offense of Bonn that always went full steam and was just very hard to stop. “Basketball is a very simple game. We were bad in all aspects. We were unable to execute on offense and defense and paid the price. Bonn played intelligent basketball and we didn´t have an answer for their play”, stressed Skyliner head coach Muli Katzurin. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were lucky to catch FC Bayern Munich on the first game day with no real steady game fluid yet established and then played against weaker opponents like Phoenix Hagen and the LTi Giessen 46ers and with The Fraport Skyliners had a playoff type opponent, but they didn´t let any names faze their play as they saved their best so far for the Skyliners. “We play different than last season more European. We came together tonight, our chemistry is there and 25 assists speaks for itself. This was our best game of the season”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn head coach Michael Koch.
This season, the Fraport Skyliners have produced an incredible video illustrating the cooperation between the club Skyliners and sponsor Fraport with the theme ready for take off. This short film doesn´t only get the fans ready for the game to take off, but should also be the motivation for the Skyliners to take off out of the gates into a strong first quarter. Despite ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson still out of the lineup and Dunking Kong speeding around on his scooter, The Fraport Skyliners had difficulty finding their rhythm as the Telekom Baskets Bonn seemed to be on the airport tarp sooner taking off on a 8-2 lead. Last year it was the Americans that carried the load, but this season it will be Simonas Serapinas and Benas Veikalis who started a shooting frenzy early just like sharks do in the open water when they find a helpless seal bleeding to death. Bonn just showed great ball movement and the extra pass while Frankfurt was too lax. Frankfurt stayed with Bonn as Danilo Bartel who got his third start in a row scored twice inside as did Justin Gray as Frankfurt only trailed 8-7. Then it was Jordan who penetrated into the lane and then just threw the ball up to Ensminger under the basket who scored and Bonn led 10-7. Then came a very exciting NBA like show time as Qunatez Robertson dunked as did ex Boston Celtic Tony Gaffney twice as Bonn led 14-12. Gaffney finished with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks and was almost unstoppable. “Gaffney is a high energy player. He is an all around good player that brings very much energy to rebounding. He helps on rebounding and I see he worked on his jumper as well”, warned Justin Gray. “Gaffney can do it all. He is a team player and is all about winning. He fits in perfectly”, warned Jared Jordan. Down the stretch, Bonn was able to keep the slim lead as Veikalas hit a high rainbow that somehow got over the outstretched hand of Jimmy Mckinney and Jon Leuer hit a jumper to end the first quarter as The Telekom baskets Bonn led 20-18. “Bonn did a good job with ball movement. They also were excellent with finding and taking advantage of the mismatches and the athletic play of Tony Gaffney gave them a lot of stability”, expressed Frankfurt Skyliner PRO B player Amil Klisura. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 50% from the field and 100% from outside while The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 50% from the field and 33% from outside. Bonn had the slim 8-7 rebound lead and both teams had two turnovers a piece.
The game continued to be very tight in the first half of the second quarter as The Fraport Skyliners stayed on the heel of The Telekom Baskets Bonn, but were unable to get the lead. Mckinney tied the game with a jumper from the corner as the game was knotted as 20-20. Then it was 2007 NBA Draft pick Jared Jordan with a three pointer as he side stepped to his left from the top of the key and Justin Gray nailed a catch and pop jumper as Bonn still led 23-22. A big question mark this season with Bonn will be their deepness as the team has a 10 man rotation, but four are Germans with little experience except for 2009 Beko BBL champion Daniel Hain. Koch has not been shy of using a Fabian Thulig who has developed well in the last years and should get healthy minutes this season. Thulig was inserted into the game scored quickly inside and then dropped a jumper from the corner as Bonn led 28-24. Mckinney then hit a three pointer again, but Frankfurt still trailed 28-27. Tony Gaffney then blocked Jon Leuer where the Skyliner showed his best Ferris Bueller face not seeming to want to believe that there contact had not been seen by the ref. The block led Bonn onto a 8-0 run as Frankfurt trailed 36-27. In this big run, The Telekom Baskets Bonn continued to showcase their version of Kochian basketball as the extra pass and intelligent ball movement ruled as German Andrej Mangold hit a three pointer and 37 year old Ohio native Chris Ensminger scored inside twice. German national player Johannes Herber and Tony Gaffney traded three pointers in the last minute as The Telekom Baskets Bonn led 41-34 at halftime. “Bonn did a good job not letting us get good shots. The shot clock was down a lot. We were forced to tough shots. We didn´t defend well in the run with little communication on defense”, stressed Amil Klisura. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 53% from the field and 46% from the three point line while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 39% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Bonn had the 20-15 rebound advantage, but six turnovers while Frankfurt only had two.
The third quarter turned out to be the turning point of the game as The Telekom Baskets Bonn continued to shoot out the lights while The Fraport Skyliners couldn´t find a horse shoe on the rim as they were unable to make the easiest of shots and in and out also were present. The Telekom Baskets Bonn jumped out on a 19-5 run to lead 60-39 and just about decide the game with 13 minutes still to play. Simonas Serapinas that has played in 64 Euroleague games got the run going with an ally-op as Robertson was too slow as the Lithuanian snuck behind him and got a perfect pass from Jordan. Gaffney got hot nailing two jumpers and Serapinas hit a three pointer as Bonn led 50-34. Roberston and Barthel were forced to tough shots hitting only the backboard and captain Marius Nolte missed an easy layup. Jordan then fed Gaffney with another ally-op dunk. Veikalas and Serapinas hit back to back three pointers as Bonn had a 17-3 run and 58-37 lead. Mckinney then scored inside and Veikalas made a very difficult lay up driving hard to the glass as Frankfurt trailed 60-39. Frankfurt finished the third quarter with a 7-2 run, but Bonn had made enough damage leading 63-46 after 30 minutes. In this run, Leuer made a tip in, Mckinney a catch and pop three pointer and Gray a floater. “Coach Koch was stressing defense. We were talking more and rotating well. We are a good defensive team and it showed”, expressed Beverly native Tony Gaffney. “ There was a stretch of 3-4 minutes where we didn´t score. We were forced to taking bad shots. We needed that extra energy, but couldn´t find it”, warned Michael Thompson. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting were shooting 55% from the field and 43% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 33% from the field and 31% from the parking lot. Bonn had the big 32-23 rebound lead, but eight turnovers while Frankfurt only had three turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners started the fourth quarter better going on a 10-6 run to cut the Bonn lead to 69-56 as there still seemed to be a hope that some miracle was possible. Robertson scored inside, Mckinney a pull up jumper, Leuer went coast to coast after getting a defensive rebound hitting a jumper and Gray scored from the parking lot. Just as it seemed like the Skyliners were on their way back, it was the Telekom Baskets Bonn that continued keeping a good balance between offense and defense going on a 6-0 run to lead 77-56 as time was running down and the hopes of the Skyliner fans seemed to slowly dwindle. Serapinas started the run with a tip in,then a big defensive play by Bonn with a Gaffney block started the fast break as Jordan found Serapinas ahead of the pack for a simple lay in and Veikalas scored inside. Frankfurt closed out the game with an inspiring 8-2 run, but there was no time left to extend the run. Leuer was strongest in this run scoring three times including a fade away jumper over Serapinas and Barthel also scored to round out the Skyliner offense. “Anytime you have a big lead, there is the tendency to let up. We did lose the fourth quarter, but continued to play hard, rebound and kept our focus”, added Jared Jordan. “We didn´t defend well at all. We didn´t rotate well and just let their bigs finish to much”, responded Michael Thompson.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Simonas Serapinas with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. Chris Ensminger and Tony Gaffney added 13 points a piece. Zvonko Buljan added 10 points and six rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Gray with 21 points. Jon Leuer produced 16 points and seven rebounds and Jimmy Mckinney contributed 12 points and five rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners had a bad shooting day shooting 36% from the field and 33% from outside and had difficulty finding open shots. “We executed our game plan well and executed well on defense. I think we did a good job pursuing the mismatches when they went to a small lineup”, added Tony Gaffney. “We followed the scouting report well, helped each other and just knew what they were running on offense”, added Jared Jordan. Another game, another day at the office with less rebounds then the opponent. “We didn´t box out well and they just outworked us under the boards. We can´t let that happen”, warned Jon Leuer. Despite the disappointing loss, there was one positive aspect of the game that The Fraport Skyliners can take into the game against ratiopharm Ulm next weekend. “We improved cutting down on our turnovers. We did a good job taking care of the ball and should take that into the game in Ulm and just execute better and hit more shots”, warned Michael Thompson. Skyliner head coach Muli katzurin now has 5 days to help his team find their self confidence back and try to establish some kind of noticeable structure on the court, because the next 5 games are all against very difficult opponents. Ratiopharm Ulm hosts the Fraport Skyliners on October 22 at 19:00.