With Christmas only a week away, folks of all ages will be having the holiday season on their mind, like thinking if there will be a white Christmas in New York city, what one can give Miss have it all Paris Hilton for Christmas, can the Miami Dolphins upend Tom terrific Brady and the New England Patriots on Christmas eve, or who would be the perfect substitute for the white bearded Santa Claus, Mickey Rooney, Leslie Nielsen or Tim Allen? However on December 18th, The Fraport Skyliners will have clash with 2011 beko BBL cup finalist New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig and for at least two hours, stockings, eggnog, presents, Christmas caroling, and Rudolph the Reindeer will be secondary. Young fans in the Volkswagon arena in Braunschweig wont be dreaming of presents an dif Santa Claus can really fit through the chimney with his chubby stomach, but will be hoping of athletic and stimulating take offs to the hoop by Quantez Robertson, no look passes from Immanuel Mcelroy who could ask Jermareo Davidson some advice of how to cover your body correctly with additional tattoos, Robert Kulawick three point bombs from the corner, and making bets when Johannes Herber will cut or trim his overwhelming long beard. Fans come into the arena´s to enjoy basketball anytime and might forget that players this season wont be in their real home for Christmas dinner, but in their home from home in Germany trying to tell their little children that Santa Claus has to use the balcony to distribute presents. “The Beko BBL continues to make it very difficult for the players to find any kind of Christmas spirit. We play in Oldenburg on December 27th and have to practice on the 24th, 25th and 26th. One of my favorite things at Christmas is having home made goose. My mom cooks it and is the best cook in the world”, stressed Walter Tigers Tuebingen forward Ruben Spoden. “Sure it is tough being away from home during the holiday season but it is part of your job and even if you want to be back at home, you have to still perform and make the best out the situations that you are put in”, added TBB Trier guard John Bynum.
The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig continue to be very solid and consistent as they reached the Beko BBL playoffs the last two years including the 2011 cup final and are looking to reach their third playoffs this year. Last season, the club finished in fifth place with a strong 20-14 record losing a tough and hard fought five game quarterfinal playoff series against The Artland Dragons. After a slow start where they went 3-5 including a four game losing streak, the club rebounded nicely posting a 11-4 record until they met Frankfurt and lost in mid February. “I do think that Braunschweig was stronger last season, gothen two years a. They had a lot of weapons at the offensive end and played really good basketball, and they were a contender and one of the top teams in the BBL. I think they showed that they were a team that could scare people in the playoffs and be capable of beating top teams as well. They got better and better each week”, warned John Bynum. Their three biggest wins this season all came at home and show that they arent scared of any top teams as they defeated Alba Berlin, The Telekom Baskets Bonn and The EWE Baskets Oldenburg “I think their strength last season was that they had a lot of guys that can score the ball and play really good team basketball. They had great guard play and guys on the perimeter that can play multiple positions. Weaknesses that is a tough one, but if I would say anything it would be depth down low”, warned John Bynum. TBB Trier did beat Braunschweig 74-65, but Bynum remembers the game well. “They really had good guard play and that stood out the most. The guards were always attacking and making plays and Visser and Cain as well as Goree played solid underneath the basket”, stressed John Bynum. Braunschweig finished the season with huge wins in Bremerhaven, Goettingen and Bonn. Despite the big success the last two seasons, the club was unable to hold a core of the players as they did a gigantic hose cleaning letting go nine players. Guys like Kevin Hamilton, Brandon Thomas, Tony Skin Marcus Goree and Jason Cain were the main support of the team as they averaged combined 55 points out of the team 77 points. Despite so many guys leaving, the club still was able to hold onto some important components like Mr New Jersey Lamarr Greer who can score from downtown Jersey city, inside magnate kyle Visser, 221cm tree and biggest player in the Beko BBL Nick Schneiders and mr versatile and captain Nils Mittmann. During the team shopping spree last summer, the club got a beko BBl star and fan magnate Immanuel Mcelroy who has been the top defender in the league before Luka Pavicevic arrived in Berlin in 2007, strong shooter Robert Kulawick, vestaile Branko Jorovic that adds a taste of Serbia to the team, Stephen Dennis who is an interesting and talented point guard who has had inquiries from the NBA and experienced Rich Melzer who gets a second chance in the Beko BBL after having a short stint in 2007 with the Artland Dragons. The team seems not to be as strong as last season on paper and reaching the playoffs this year wont be a cakewalk as the league has gotten stronger each season. “If we reach the playoffs, then it is a good season”, stressed Braunschweig head coach Sebastian Machowski. Tuebingen Forward Ruben Spoden played against them last season and already this season and is impressed of them. “Last season they had many great players like Marcus Goree and two point guards on the court with Hamilton and Skinn, but this years team is different. They have a super team with great players and the mix seems to be rght especially with Immanuel Mcelroy on board”, stressed Ruben Spoden. “Braunscweig has been up and down but can compete with everyone in the the BBL. They have good guard play and some big men to compliment there style of play”, commented John Bynum. This season, The New Yorker Braunschweig have a 6-5 record and have been up and down. They do have positive records At home 3-2 and on the road 3-3. Their biggest wins were a road win in Oldenburg where it is never easy to exit with a victory and big wins at home against the s. Oliver Baskets Wurzburg and the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. They also suffered a bitter 72-71 loss at home against the Artland Dragons, a 70-69 win in Ludwigsburg and a total collapse in Tuebingen losing by 31 points. Braunschweig is still far from having found their total potential and as soon as they get their rhythm will add a dynamic spark to the playoff race. Braunschweig is a team that can beat any team in the Beko BBL on a good day. “They have a very balanced team. They have a top center with Kyle Visser who has nice moves, two strong shooters with Nils Mittmann and Robert Kulawick, an allrounder with Mcelroy, a super point guard with Stephen Dennis who is quick and takes care of the ball and Rich Melzer who is a very aggressive rebounder”, stressed Ruben Spoden. After losing Nick Williams, the club does have a weakness. “They don´t have a real back up point guard. Dennis Schroeder is a big talent and I am happy that he can play so much, but he is still developing. The team hasn´t found their rhythm yet, but they will be atotally different team in the second half of the season”, stressed Ruben Spoden. “I think their strength is their guards. I really haven’t saw them much but I think if there guards play well, then they are tough to beat. I think their weakness is depth down low. If Visser Or Melzer get in foul trouble then you can attack them down low on a more consistent basis”, warned John Bynum. The Fraport Skyliners want to go into Christmas with a win on the road in Braunschweig This will be a huge test for Frankfurt as Braunschweig is one of those teams that will be around the playoff places come May. Both regular season games last season were nail bitters and this could be another game that could be decided in the last minute. “Frankfurt has to speed the game up and attack in transition. They also have to pressure the ball on the defensive end and make speed the tempo up like I said before. Braunschweig has to keep it a half court game run their sets and make Frankfurt play defense. Defensively I think you have to make someone else besides Mckinney make plays”, warned John Bynum. “Frankfurt has to be aggressive and attack their pick and roll defense and try to get Kyle Visser into foul trouble and control the rebounds”, added Josh Young. The Fraport Skyliners have lost 13 of the last 14 games and will need for then just their fighting spirit to exit the Volkswagon Halle with a victory. “We have to continue to play our style. We have to rebound better and it is always key to have a low number of turnovers. We also need to continue to keep Burtschi involved”, stressed Michael Thompson. Mckinney as won most of his games as a Skyliner against Braunschweig and should transform some of his current confidence to his teammates. “We have to go into that game and play with confidence and aggressive and control the boards and limit our turnovers”, added Jimmy Mckinney. New Skyliner Jacob Burtschi will be playing his first Beko BBL game with Frankfurt and already seems to have done his homework on the plane ride from Spain to Frankfurt. “Braunschweig is a top 8 team, are tough and have lost some tough games. We have to play at least 35 minutes of very good basketball”, warned Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners have had very very fond memories of The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig as they have a 12-1 record since March 11th, 2006 as Braunschweig won 81-76 then. The two most memorable games were from the 2008-2009 season. Who could forget the 68-58 win in the cup game which brought Frankfurt to the TOP 4 in Hamburg. That game displayed the best performance by guard Adam Emmenecker who came out of his shell and proved he has no nervous shooting hand as he left captain Pascal Roller on the bench as he had the hot hand leading the team with 13 points. However in the regular season game in Braunschweig, Roller got his revenge as he led the team to a 55-53 win as his last minute clutch jumper paved the way to the win. In 2009-2010, Frankfurt swept the series winning 81-77 as Frankfurt came from behind to win as Aubrey Reese poured in 21 points and prevailed at home 71-62 as Derrick Allen steered 18 points to the triumph. In teh first game this season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners pulled out a thrilling 94-91 win at home. Frankfurt fought back in the fourth quarter as they came back from being behind 90-87 and close out the game on a 7-0 run as Skyliner captain Pascal Roller hit a huge three pointer and Dashaun Wood a shot. Frankfurt did a fantastic job distributing the ball as seven players scored in double figures led by Pascal Roller and Kimmo Muurinen with 13 points a piece. Frankfurt dominated the boards 38-24. Last season, the Skyliners were 2-1and stretched their winning streak to 12 games as they won two memorable games winning 94-91 at home as they finished the game with a 7-0 run capped by a big three pointer by Pascal Roller. Seven players scored in double figures and nobody scored more than 13 points. In the return date in Braunschweig, Frankfurt pulled out a nail bitter 68-67 as Frankfurt was down 67-65 and Frankfurt won the game on their last possession as Dashaun Wood scored on a penetration and got the free throw to fall. Kimmo Muurinen led Frankfurt with 20 points. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig are led by Rich Melzer who is a 32 year old 203cm power forward that was born in Minneapolis. He played at : Wisconsim-River Falls (NCAA3) from 2001-2004. Despite playing NCAA 3 ball, he has had a very steady professional basketball career. As a rookie, he played at the Washington Wizards (NBA) pre-season camp: waived in Oct.’04, next month signed at Sioux Falls Skyforce (CBA, starting five): 47 games: 9.0ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 43%, 3Pts: 39.8%. Since then, he has played in countries like the Dominican Republic, France, Israel and even had a very short stint with the Artland Dragons in 2007. He also has played in countries like new Zealand and Australia. Last season, he played for Hapoel Holon (Israel-Premier League, starting five): 30 games: 16.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 75.3%. Kyle Visser is a 26 year old 211cm center from Grand Rapids, Michigan that is returning to Braunschweig for his fourth season and played for The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig from 2007-2009. In 2009-2010, he played for EnBW Ludwigsburg (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): 32 games: 10.7ppg, 4.9rpg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT-2(50.0%), FT: 55.7%. He played at Wake Forest from 2003-2007 and was a teammate with NBA top point guard Chris Paul and Skyliner Justin Gray. He is a center who still hasn´t reached his fullest potential and could have his breakthrough year this season. Last season for Braunschweig, he played 38 games: 9.2ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 60.2%, FT: 60.2%. Lamaar Greer is a 35 year old 196cm guard from New Jersey. Already in high school, he was a known player as he grew up in Cape May Court House and played his high school ball at Middle Township. He was the New Jersey High School Player of the Year in 1994 and led Middle Township to two Group II state titles. As a second team Parade All-American, he scored 13 points in the McDonald’s All-Star game and had 16 points and 10 assists in Magic’s Roundball Classic. He played at Florida State from 1994-1998. Since turning professional in 1998, he has played in countries like Italy(3 years with teams like Record Napoli (Italy-A2, Media Broker Messina (Italy-Lega2), and Pompea Napoli (Italy-LegaA). He also played in Russia for Uniks Kazan and three years for BC Kyiv (Ukraine-Superleague) from 2004-2007. In the last three years, he played in Greece, Cyprus, Jordan and Israel. In 2009-2010, he played for ASU Sports Club (Jordan-Premier League, starting five), in Dec.’09 moved to Ironi Nahariya (Israel-Premier League): 14 games: 14.9ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 64.5%. Last season with Braunschweig, he played 36 games: 10.8ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 78.6% He has played 44 Eurocup games in his career. Stephen Dennis is a 24 year old 198cm point guard from Pennsylvania that is playing his second professional season and first with Braunschweig. He had a strong college career at Kutztown (NCAA2) and in his senior year averaged 26.4ppg, 5.8rpg, 4.5apg, 2.1spg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 48.3%, 3Pts: 32.1%, FT: 75.2%. As a rookie, he knocked on the NBA door with the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA), only pre-season, then moved to Bakersfield Jam (D-League) playing 51 games: 10.6ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 75.0%. 31 year old 193cm guard Immanuel Mcelroy is playing his first season with the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig after successful years in Cologne and Berlin. He played at Cincinnati (NCAA) and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001. He already made a name for himself winning titles with Rhein Energy Cologne His overall quickness, combined with his mental toughness, makes him well-suited as a defender in the attacking defense. He is very athletic, a 40-inch vertical jump and a bench press approaching 300 pounds, ability to break defenders down with his dribble and his explosiveness to the basket makes him an effective scorer. He also possesses good court vision and excellent ball-handling skills, giving him the ability to distribute the ball, particularly in the transition game. He is a natural leader who makes others around him better players. He also has very much experience having won three BBL cups and two BBL league titles. “If you want to slow down Mcelroy, you have to deny him the ball and give him the jump shot until he starts to make some”, warned Omari Westley. Mcelroy who has never been known as a good shooter has really improved his shooting the last few years. Mcelroy may not score 20 points every night, but he belongs to the top players in the BEKO BBL, because he can really do it all on the court and is also one of the top defenders in the league. The American played at Cologne from 2004-2008 before moving to Alba Berlin in early 2008 as the team had financial difficulties. With Cologne, he was Beko BBL champion in 2006 and won the beko BBL cup in 2005 and 2007. With Alba Berlin, he won the German championship in 2008 and cup in 2009. He is a four time beko BBL Allstar and has played 96 international club games. Branko Jorovic is a 30 year old 205cm forward from Serbia that is playing his first season in Braunschweig. He is a good forward, who can play in the 3 and 4 positions. Has great rebounding and scoring skills, but his career has been plagued by injuries. He started his basketball career with Borac Cacak in 2000 and played there until 2003. He then played for Reflex Beograd from 2003-2006. In the last years, he also played for teams like KK Crvena Zvezda Beograd and KK Swisslion Takovo Lions Vrsac. Last season, he played for Enosi Kalathosfairisis Kavalas (Greece-A1) playing 27 games: 13.1ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 43.0%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 88.4%. 31 year old 201cm German Nils Mittman is playing his seventh season in Braunschweig after having played there from 1998-2001. He is the ultimate team player that will do anything to win. He played two years in Ulm, two years in Wurzburg and three seasons in Ludwigsburg. Last season the team captain played 39 games: 3.2ppg, 1.7rpg. He has reached the beko BBL cup final twice in 2008 with EnBW Ludwigsburg and last season with Braunschweig. 25 year old 191cm guard Robert Kulawick is playing his first season in Braunschweig after having played the last three years in Goettingen. He started his basketball career at TUS Lichterfelde in 2003 and also played for Alba Berlin from 2004-2006 playing 14 BBL games, three ULEB Cup games and winning the BBL cup in 2006. After playing with The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven in 2006-2007, he crossed the boarder into Holland and played for Den Helder Seals playing 34 games averaging 7.9ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 84.6%. Already in 2008-2009, one could see the confidence of John Patrick in the German letting him average 10 minutes per game, and in 2009-2010 season he increased his minutes to 17 minutes. Last season for BG Goettingen, he played EuroCup: 14 games: 7.5ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 37.0%; German League: 36 games: 5.4ppg, 1.9rpg, FGP: 30.0%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 78.6%. He has been a member of the German U-18 and U-20 teams the last years and if he keeps developing the way he does, then German National coach Dirk Bauermann will have to invite him to the German National team some day. 27 year old 221cm German giant Nick Schneiders that was born in Bielefeld and grew up in Rietberg is playing his second season in Braunschweig. He has experience having played in the States for S.Carol.Upstate (NCAA2) from 2005-2008 and then transferring to USC Upstate (NCAA) and playing there from 2008-2010. In his senior year, he played 29 games: 12.4ppg, 6.8rpg, 3.0bpg, FGP: 46.3%, FT: 57.6%. He is known as the tallest player in the Beko BBL and last season played 32 games: 2.1ppg, 2.3rpg. The team also has some young talented Germans with Lukas Gertz, Daniel Theis and Dennis Schroeder. Theis is a 19 year old 207cm center that has played for the German U-18 and U-20 national teams and last summer played at the European Championships U20 in Bilbao (Spain) -11: 9 games: 12.7ppg, Reb-4(8.7rpg), 1.3apg, 1.0spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 49.4%, FT: 64.0%. Schroeder is an 18 year old 186cm point guard that is very talented and recently played at the European Championships U18 in Wroclaw (Poland) -11: 8 games: 13.5ppg, 3.0rpg, Assists-3(4.9apg), 2.0spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 26.7%, FT: 63.6%.