Ali Traore And Lok Kuban Wear Down The Fraport Skyliners Slamming The Door 69-58 In Eurocup Play

After 40 minutes in the thunderbird cage in the Enervie arena last weekend, the expression of relief on the sweaty face of Skyliner captain Marius Nolte spoke volumes as if he had finally got that long awaited guitar lesson from Guns and Roses Slash, defeated good friend Steven Esterkamp in a three point shooting contest despite the Ulm player being blindfolded or knowing that he doesn´t have a Santa Claus job at the Frankfurt Christmas market as a second job, but all that happened was that the Fraport Skyliners had finally won again after 52 days of being winless in the Beko BBL. 72 hours later, The Fraport Skyliners wanted to win their first game in Eurocup play and were as focused as German national player Heiko Schaffartzik was taking three pointers at Wetten Das, NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki watching his teammate taking shots at Wetten das or how Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been playing this season, but their opponent Lok Kuban were too strong in the second half wearing down Frankfurt 69-58 and moving to 3-1 in Eurocup play as the Skyliners get elimated. “We were as focused as we were in Hagen. We did come out sluggish, but we played them toe to toe until the end. We were very focused”, stressed 2011 NBA Draft pick Jon Leuer. “Frankfurt is a god team. When they are able to play their pace, then they can beat anyone. We are 3-1 now in Eurocup play and just take it one game at a time. We know what it takes to get to the next round. We will continue to dig down, execute and win games”, warned ex NBA player Lionel Chalmers. The Fraport Skyliners lost their fourth game in a row in Eurocup play, but gave a spirited effort. “We got off to a slow start and did a good job battling back, but were unable to bounce back”, said Skyliner guard Michael Thompson. Just like in Russia a week earlier, Lok Kuban took control in the second half. “We tightened up our defense in the second half and didn´t look back anymore. We kept up our intensity until the end”, added Lok Kuban guard Roderick Blakney.

Before the game started, the Rookie mascot did a great job trying to annoy NBA Draft pick Lionel Chalmers as he was coming on to the court during warm ups and German national player Tim Ohlbrecht and 2011 Silver medal winner with France at the European championships Ali Traore mingled a bit before banging under the boards during the game. The good start in Hagen didn´t seem to rub off on the Fraport Skyliners as they got off to a dismal start as 2011 Eurochallenge finalist Lok Kuban raced out on a 13-3 lead without their stars and playing four Russians with Nikolay Padius, Grigory Shukhovtsov, Nikita Shabalkin and Maxim Sheleketo. They scored 11of the 13 points and showed the talent level that comes out of Russia. The three S players are all big and strong and took control inside. Shabalkin scored the first two buckets inside, Shukhovtsov dunked getting a fine lob pass from Shabalkin and then scored two more times as Frankfurt seemed helpless defending them inside. However then all of a sudden as if Lok Kuban no longer were able to nip at their power drinks at the bench lost control of the first quarter as The Fraport Skyliners raced out on an 8-0 run and finished the first quarter trailing only 13-11. Jermareo Davidson nailed two typical jumpers from the mid distance, Michael Thompson made a beautiful floater not hesitating when he saw daylight in the zone and Jon Leuer finished a fast break with a lay in. “Frankfurt defended a lot better in their run and were pressuring the ball well. On offense Jon Leuer took control”, stressed Fraport Skyliner junior Jan Novak. Lok Kuban was shooting 56% from the two point range and 0% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the two point range and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the 11-9 rebound edge and both teams had three turnovers a piece.

In the second quarter, The Fraport Skyliners were able to duplicate their 8-0 run of the first quarter and make it a 16-0 run and took the lead 19-13. Thompson started the second quarter with a difficult jumper in traffic and after had a surprised look as teammate Davidson was smiling at that masterpiece of shot. “Thompson is a good solid guard that you can´t leave open. He is patient, a good penetrator and leader”, added Lionel Chalmers. Leuer then scored inside and nailed a three pointer and Ohlbrecht made a free throw. Lok Kuban then went on a mini 5-0 run as 2007 Gold medalist at the European championships Sergey Bykov made two free throws and dazzled the fans with his quick release hitting a three pointer, but Frankfurt still led 19-18. After Jimmy Mckinney missed a jumper, Ohlbrecht did  atip in dunk for the 21-18 Frankfurt lead. Lok Kuban then went  on a 6-0 run to lead 24-21 as Roderick Blakney took advantage of  Frankfurt turnover going coast to coast with a lay in, Jeremiah Massey scored inside and Bykov hit a runner. However Frankfurt never lost their composure and kept battling and found themselves on a 9-2 run to close out the second quarter with the 30-26 lead. Quantez Robertson still had the energy and his athletic wit from the Hagen game as he scored on a flight to the hoop over Massey and hit free throws. Davidson continued to shine hitting a jumper and getting inside to dunk. “Lok Kuban seemed more nervous and Frankfurt continued to defend well and there rebounding was very good as well”, commented Fraport Skyliner junior Jan Novak. “Frankfurt came back into the game as we allowed more turnovers which they made into transition points”, added Roderick Blakney. “We were rebounding very well, rotating well and didn´t allow any easy baskets on defense”, expressed Skyliner forward Danilo Barthel. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 39% from the two point area and 33% from the three point line while Lok Kuban was shooting 44% from the field and 17% from the three point line. Frankfurt still had the rebound edge 21-17. Lok Kuban had nine turnovers and Frankfurt only seven turnovers.

Lok Kuban came out with more intensity in the third quarter and also played more physical, but The Fraport Skyliners were able to keep the lead for the first -4 minutes. Under the watchful eyes of his dad, Jon Leuer made a beautiful runner letting the ball leave his left hand and finishing high of the glass. Bykov then showed his flashy quickness from the baseline easily keeping Robertson in the dust and already making a reverse lay up before Davidson even knew what had happened. Frankfurt led 32-30 as both teams continued to trade baskets as Robertson hit two free throws and Blakney hit a pull up jumper as Frankfurt still led 34-32. Davidson then hit a another mid range jumper from the wing as Frankfurt led 36-32. Then came the most important turning point in the game as Lok Kuban took control of the game going on a 12-0 run to lead 44-36. Lok Kuban got a lot of production inside taking advantage of costly Skyliner turnovers which resulted into transition points. Massey scored inside, Blakney went coast to coast for a lay up, Massey went the distance for two easy points, Blakney made free throws, Traore scored inside and Blakney made a difficult off balance shot. Lok Kuban was doing much right in the run taking Frankfurt off their pace, playing more physical, getting the ball inside and running and getting easy points. Bykov and Traore got to the foul line and Lionel Chalemers scored from down town and Mckinney made a mid distance jumper as Lok Kuban led 51-40 after three quarters. “They executed very well and got easy buckets. Good teams like lok Kuban will do that from time to time”, stressed Skyliner forward Jon Leuer. Lok Kuban was shooting 53% from the two point land and 18% from the parking lot while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the two point land and 25% from the parking lot. Lok Kuban led the rebounding duel 29-27 and both teams had 10 turnovers.

In the fourth quarter, The Fraport Skyliners made one last grasp at coming back as they jumped out on a 7-0 run to cut the Lok Kuban lead to only 51-47.Mckinneystarted the run with a pull up jumper and then made a nifty runner drawing a foul. Quantez Robertson followed with a crushing dunk bring back life to the Fraport arena and 1,240 patrons that had come to watch the game. However Lok Kuban had one more ace up their sleeves as it wasn´t 374 game NBA and Slovenian  legend Primoz Brezec who came in and dominated, but 26 year old France national team player Ali Traore who scored 13 of his 18 points in the last seven minutes helping the Russian team wear down the Fraport Skyliners. Traore scored inside and Mckinney followed with a difficult step back jumper over Bykov as Frankfurt trailed 54-49. Traore then scored hard inside with his left hand, but Davidson answered with a lay in, but Lok Kuban still led 56-51 as Frankfurt continued to stay on their heels with time slowly elapsing. Blakney and Thompson then exchanged three pointers as Frankfurt still trailed 59-54. The game continued to flow at a high level, but the Frankfurt big men were in foul trouble and had to defend a big hulk like Traore who was taking advantage of the foul problems. Traore then scored twice with a dunk and mid distance shot and Blakney made two free throws as the 6-0 run gave Lok Kuban the 65-54 lead with two minutes to play. Davidson did get to the free throw line twice, but made only two free throws, while at the other end Traore scored two more times slamming the door on the Fraport Skyliners. “Our goal in this game was to get Frankfurt out of their rhythm and we did that in the second half”, added Lionel Chalmers. “We got into foul trouble in the second half and they took advantage of it getting the ball inside”, said Michael Thompson.

Lok Kuban was led by Ali Traore who produced 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Roderick Blakney added 17 points. Sergey Bykov contributed 11 points and six rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jimmy Mckinney with 13 points. Jon Leuer added 12 points and Jermareo Davidson chipped in with 12 points and ten rebounds. Frankfurt lost the rebounding duel 38-32 and shot weak from the three point line at 22%, but cut down their 23 turnovers from the Eurocup loss in Russia to 12. Despite the loss there were some positives taken out of the win. “We played for 40 minutes and never gave up. We were very aggressive on defense which led to more easy baskets”, stated Danilo Barthel. “We controlled the tempo well, took care of the ball better and rebounded well on the offensive boards”, stressed Michael Thompson. The big question mark remains will Jon Leuer stay or be in Milwaukee in the next days to play for the NBA team Bucks? “My agent has been talking with them and we are listening. There should be a decision in the next days. There is a pretty good chance that I will leave the Skyliners to play for the Bucks. It has always been my dream as a kid to play in the NBA”, stressed Jon Leuer. The Fraport Skyliners host BBC Bayreuth on December 10th at 18:30.

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