With Christmas rolling along as quickly as the Green Bay Packers are mowing down NFL competition towards a perfect regular season as if they are finding four leaf clovers each weekend, the Eurocup competition is also slowly coming to an end for the Fraport Skyliners. In the last Eurocup home game of the Fraport Skyliners, the team welcomed home Keith Simmons who played in the Main city from 2008-2009. The last time the New York native and ex teammate of bBC Bayreuth guard Kevin Hamilton at Holy Cross played in the Fraport arena, Ilian Evtimov was still shousing bombs from the parking lot, Lorenzo Gordon was still melting little girls hearts with his warm smile, and no day went by in the BCM where one didn´t hear old coach Murat Didin say the word Bubba at least 40 times. Since then Simmons has found a new home in Turkey with Banvit where he has played since 2009 and entered the Fraport arena with an extra portion of Baklava helping his team slip past the Fraport Skyliners 62-56. Simmons might not have led his team in scoring, but did in rebounds and assists and helped spark the defense in the victory. “Simmons is an all around great player. He doesn´t always have to score, but when they need anything like rebounds, assists or defending then he is there and does his job”, stressed Skyliner guard Michael Thompson. After the game, Mckinney and Simmons were joking around as if they were still teammates. Mckinney noticed that the game of Simmons has grown since his Frankfurt days. “Keith has always been a great defender and makes it so tough on offense. He just does his job. He has improved his shooting. He was already a good shooter with Frankfurt, but now he is a great shooter”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. Simmons was glad to see his old friend again. “It was cool being back in Frankfurt. It was good seeing the Skybembels and Jimmy of course. The blue light outside in the front of the arena looked nice. Fraport seems to have done a good job. Jimmy played a strong game against us in Banvit, so it was key today to slow him down a bit even though he did get loose a bit. We trashed talked a bit, but it was all in good fun”, added Keith Simmons.
The Fraport Skyliners were looking for their first win in Eurocup play, but instead suffered their fifth loss and slowly have inherited a sickness of being good enough to come back in games, but not win them. The team was on the heels of Banvit, but once again couldn´t close the door in crunch time and rather got the door slammed in their faces. “We were so close at the end, but we gave up some costly offensive rebounds. We just don’t seem to be able to get over the hump. It is always the stupid things that cost us games at the end”, stressed Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney. Banvit came into the game with a 2-2 record and needed to win and made a step in the right direction moving to 3-2. Now they need to win against Lok Kuban to advance to the next round. “We really needed and wanted to win this game. We have been playing better the last weeks and it wasn´t easy playing against a tough team with Frankfurt. We gave up more points in the second half and Frankfurt almost caught us. It was the little mistakes that cost Frankfurt the game”, stressed Banvit center Cemal Nalga. The game also marked the Frankfurt debut of American forward Jacob Burtschi who came from ACB team Zaragosa. Burtschi who shot 44% from outside last season in the Beko BBL and won the 2011 three point shooting contest at the Beko BBL Allstar game had a tough game shooting 2/10 and finished with six points, three rebounds and two assists. However Burtschi did show that versatility could be his middle name as he hit big shots, rebounded fierce and even made a behind the back pass. “It was a bit nerve wracking the first time out and I would have liked to have played better, but I am still finding my role. The Beko BBL is more up and down while the ACB is more set plays. My body has to get used to the Beko BBL style again”, stressed Jacob Burtschi.
Before the jump ball happened to start the game, there were some interesting things to observe as Jermareo Davidson and Charles Davis met again after having been teammates together with NBA player Mo Williams at Alabama(NCAA). Justin Gray son almost scared away Davis with his pint sized basketball. The Fraport Sklyiners seemed relaxed as Michael Thompson stole a ball from Quantez Robertson in warm-ups. When the game finally did start, one had to get used to the jail like Banvit uniforms as they had colorful stripes and it seemed like the players were on their way to a kids birthday party and the only thing missing was Bozo the clown. The Fraport Skyliners got off to a quick start leading 4-1 after one minutes As Tim Ohlbrecht made a dunk and Thompson hit with one of his fancy floaters. However Frabkfurt was unable to hold their intensity long as Banvit quickly found their rhythm going on a 18-2 run to lead 19-6 as Frankfurt had no cure how to slow up the Banvit offense. Banvit was playing an intelligent inside out game that was very effective. Charles Davis scored back to back buckets with a mid distance shot and a pretty finger tip roll in. Top Turkish point guard Baris Ermis who won a silver medal with Turkey at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey also scored on a lay in. Ex Skyliner Simmons scored twice and the Banvit bench stepped up as Clemson graduate Clifford Hammonds hit a three pointer. Robertson closed out the first quarter with a hoop as Banvit led 19-8. Banvit was doing a fine job getting the ball inside fast, rebounded well and there strong defense sparked their offense. Robertson closed out the first quarter with a hard penetration lay in over Nalga. “Frankfurt had too many turnovers. Banvit played strong aggressive defense and Frankfurt had problems getting the ball inside due to the big and strong defenders. Banvit also controlled the boards”, added Fraport Skyliner PRO B player Jan Novak. Banvit was shooting 50% from the tow point range and three point range while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the two point range and were 0/3 from outside. Banvit controlled the rebounds 9-6. Frankfurt had seven turnovers and Banvit two only.
In the second quarter Turkish team Banvit kept the lead, but Frankfurt continued to fight and claw back something they have done much this season. Simmons and Thompson exchanged jumpers as Banvit led 21-10. Clifford Hammond then unveiled a nifty finger tip roll in and Davidson hit one of his typical mid distance jumpers as Banvit still led 23-12. Frankfurt had some misfortune after Banvit turned over the ball after getting three consecutive offensive rebounds. Frankfurt then went on a mini 4-0 run as German national player Tim Ohlbrecht connected with a hook shot and Mckinney made a runner as Frankfurt trailed only 25-16. It continues to be the same old story when Frankfurt is playing catch up, they get caught and give up a run as Banvit scored five consecutive points to lead 30-16 as Hammonds scored on a jumper and Ermis showed his quickness in traffic scoring. Frankfurt continued to play catch up going on a 7-0 run to trail only 30-23. Mckinney made two free throws, nailed a three point bomb and Marius Nolte scored inside. Ermis and Nolte exchanged buckets inside to end the second quarter as Banvit led 32-25. “Frankfurt got more points on transition and rebounded better. Good defense helped spark their offense. Frankfurt also did a better job taking care of the ball and having less turnovers”, commented Jan Novak. Banvit was shooting 48% from the two point area and 50% from the three point line while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 59% from the two point area, but only 13% from the three point line. Banvit had the rebound edge 16-12 and only six turnovers while Frankfurt had nine turnovers.
Banvit kept the lead in the third quarter, but could never totally break away from the Fraport Skyliners as they continued to be a pest like a fly that gets caught in your soup. The third quarter started off with a 4-0 Frankfurt bang as Mckinney hit two free throws and Jacob Burtschi made a steal and fed Thompson on the fast break with a behind the back pass as Frankfurt led 32-19. However Frankfurt continued to be unable to get consecutive stops as Banvit went on a 4-0 mini run to lead 36-29 as Hammonds made two free throws and Kenan Bajramovic a fade away jumper. Thompson bit into the run with a nasty three pointer from the wing as Frankfurt trailed only 36-32. Runs in basketball are as common as it never snowing on the Bahamas as Banvit hurt Frankfurt with a new 5-0 run to lead 41-32. Nalga made one of two free throws, Ermis scored inside after getting fed nicely from Nalga and Bajramovic dunked inside. Frankfurt was conserving their energy well and closed out the third quarter with a 125 run to trail only 46-44. Jermareo Davidson who likes to step out and take the mid range shot mostly, but also knows how to flick a quick pass inside when needed as he saw Robertson sprinting under the basket and fed him for a reverse layup. Davidson then hit with a baby hook shot as Frankfurt trailed 43-38. Burtschi then hit his first shot hitting from outside. Bajramovic then hit a huge bomb from outside as Banvit led 46-41. Frankfurt had one chance left and mr money shot Jimmy Mckinney hit a buzzer beater ending the third quarter allowing hope in the fourth quarter. “We came back in the third quarter with good defense”, stated Jacob Burtschi. Banvit was shooting 50% from the two point range and 33% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the two point range and 27% from the parking lot. Banvit had the 23-19 rebound advantage and nine turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners remained so close, but they were never able to regain the lead simply because Banvit continued to shoot at a high rate. Bajramovic scored on a lay up and Burtschi reacted with his second three pointer of the game as Frankfurt trailed only 48-47. Then it was another mini run by Banvit as Daviss cored consecutive hoops as Banvit led 52-47. Davidson then caught a no look Super Tez pass dunking as Frankfurt trailed 52-49. Even with time elapsing, Banvit continued to stay consistent and still displaying much energy as Frankfurt seemed to get a bit tired as Hammonds dropped an open three pointer and Davis dunked all alone taking advantage of the Robertson mismatch as Banvit led 57-49. Mckinney and Davis then traded baskets as Frankfurt trailed 59-51. Danilo Barthel then made one free throw and Robertson scored inside as Banvit led 59-54. With 1.22 to play and a two possession game, Frankfurt still had all cards in their hands for winning, but then let up two consecutive offensive rebounds which was penalized by Bajramovic who beat Barthel at the free thow line and scooted to the basket as if he was out on a Sunday stroll as no Skyliner came to help as Banvit decided the game and led 61-54. “Rebounding is a group effort. We should of collapsed down better, but they capitalized on it as Bajramovic scored. Securing the rebound could of changed the game”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. Davidson scored on a dunk and Davis made one of two free throws as the game ended 62-56 for Banvit. “We got the necessary defensive stops at the end. We gave up many offensive rebounds at the start of the season, but we did a good job getting rebounds tonight”, warned Keith Simmons.
Banvit was led by Cliff Hammonds with 15 points. Charles Davis added 14 points. Kenan Bajramovic produced 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jimmy Mckinney with 14 points. Michael Thompson contributed nine points and Jermareo Davidson eight points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 50% from the two point range and only 26% from outside while Banvit shot 56% from the two point range and 33% from outside. Banvit dominated the boards 33-22 and had 15 turnovers while Frankfurt had 14 only. The biggest problem for the Fraport Skyliners remains to be the ability to come back and get a lead and win. Finding an answer seems difficult since it seems to be a mystery that desperately need to be cured. “If we knew what the problems are why we can´t win games at the end then we would change something. It is the little things that hurt us”, stated Skyliner forward Danilo Barthel. A quality that is always good to have is not laying down and dying and Frankfurt seem to keep having the battling outlook no matter what. “Our best quality was that we never gave up and continue to fight. It is good that we have Burtschi. He is still learning the system, but he played effective”, warned Michael Thompson. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig host the Fraport Skyliners December 18th.