Sometimes early Christmas come early and timely like the NBA season starting up again, The Dallas Mavericks getting older and older with Vince Carter and Lamar Odom to the delight of Mavericks bashers, or Charlie Sheen´s cell number being unwantingly being disposed to the world for all his haters to finally spread some vicious words in his direction, but for The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig, the club didn´t get any negative pre Christmas delight, but a positive one as they signed ex Nevada Las Vegas(NCAA) star Michael Umeh to help at the guard position. Umeh is no stranger to the Beko BBL as he shot out the lights in various German arenas for two seasons with the LTi Giessen 46ers. The last time that Umeh did his damage in the Beko BBL, BG Goettingen was still far away from their Eurochallenge win, Braunschweig was still dreaming of landing in the post season since Demond Mallet last had led the team to the promised land in 2003 and guys like Kevin Hmailton and Brandon Thomas were still months away of coming to the Phantoms and Umeh was still playing in the same back court with German national player Heiko I can hit from anywhere on the planet Schaffartzik. Umeh made his debut in a Phantoms jersey, but was unable to help snap the 69 month winless streak in the Volkswagen halle against Frankfurt as the Fraport Skyliners controlled the game and won 77-70. “I am very happy to be back in the Beko BBL playing with Braunschweig. I still have to get settled, but they are a good team. Braunschweig is bigger than Giessen and I am found out quickly why guys like to play here. We played against a very good team today. Frankfurt had us down early an djust were more aggressive and had more intensity than we did”, stressed Nigerian national player Michael Umeh. The Fraport Skylinerswon their fourth game of the season and third on the road and showed their best game of the season topping their road win in Hagen. Skyliner captain Marius Nolte was very emotional after the Hagen win, but seemed more composed after the Braunschweig win. “I was more calm today. A huge burden was lifted off our shoulders in Hagen, but this is still a big win for us. This could be the start of a longer winning streak. We deserved to win today”, stressed ex Paderborn baskets center Marius Nolte.
The Fraport Skyliners went into the game weakened immensely at the big positions as 20 year German Danilo Barthel had to sit out with a finger injury and German national player Tim Ohlbrecht had suddenly had to be operated because of his appendix and didn´t make the trip to Braunschweig. Justin Gray was still missing. Despite all these pregame hardships, the Fraport Sklyiners gave a spirited team effort and had ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson and Beko BBL rookie Michael Thompson step up who had to play another 40 minutes and both guys scored a combined 48 points of the team 77 points. Davidson who has played below his expectations exploded with 26 points and 13 boards. He had scored 23 points in the first half taking apart Americans Kyle Visser and Rich Meltzer as if they were dog meat. Davidson was focused and hit shots in the low post and was just unstoppable and also stepped it up on defense with two blocks. “Davidson played very well. We made adjustments at halftime and had him in check in the second half, but in the first half, he hit some very tough shots, but that is what skilled guys will do”, expressed ex ACB player Michael Umeh. “He hit his first shots which helped his self confidence. He just did what he does best making shots”, added German national player”, Johannes Herber. Braunschweig guard Stephen Dennis didn´t have to guard Davidson, but he experienced a second nightmare again. “I played against him last year in the D-league and he killed us there also. He is very hard to guard, because if you defend him too close, he will get by you”, warned Stephen Dennis. “Davidson played with so much intensity. You could see that he was totally mad and wanted control. He was totally in the zone”, warned Marius Nolte. Michael Thompson had his best game as a Skyliner scoring 22 points and taking command in the fourth quarter scoring 11 consecutive points in a phase were Braunschweig was threatening, but his scoring output sealed the win for Frankfurt. “Thompson did a good job in the first half controlling the tempo and not getting fouls. He continued to a great job in the second half”, warned Johannes Herber. “He played very well hitting tough shots and getting to the basket very well. In the fourth quarter, he hit devastating baskets that hurt our momentum and getting back in the game”, stressed Michael Umeh. But one of his strongest points today had to do more with his thinking than his physical actions. “Juice made very strong decisions today”, warned Marius Nolte. The competition between point guards in general is always high and after the strong effort from Thompson, Braunschweig guard Stephen Dennis did lose many words for the Skyliner guard. “He is a good player”, added Stephen Dennis.
Before the game commenced one could hear the dad of Marius Nolte getting the Volkswagen in a Christmas spirit playing Oh Christmas tree on his trumpet and one could see a relaxed llok on the faces of the Fraport Skyliners despite the news that Ohlbrecht had had his appendix out and wasn´t there. The Fraport Skyliners stayed calm and jumped out on a quick 10-2 lead as Frankfurt quickly got Jermareo Davidson involved as he hit two shots, Thompson scored inside getting a quick pass from Davidson and Quantez Robertson scored on a lay in getting an extra pass from Jacob Burtschi. In the last weeks, The Fraport Skyliners have had some difficulty giving up runs and did so again allowing Braunschweig to go on a 7-0 run to sneak back in the game trailing only 10-9. American Lamarr Greer who is playing his second season in Braunschwieg and in his 8th country hit two shots and American Rich Melzer snuck inside scoring on a reverse lay up. However Frankfurt disallowed Braunschweig to take the lead closing out the first quarter with a timely 6-2 run to lead 16-11 after one quarter. Davidson burned Melzer on the left wing with a fade away jumper, Thompson hit two free throws and Jimmy Mckinney hit a pull up jumper. Frankfurt had given Braunschweig an early signal that they weren´t sitting under their Christmas tree in their living room giving up presents, but moreover stealing their presents as they had played a very aggressive defense. “We were unable to make any shots and Davidson hurt us”, commented New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig manager Oliver Braun. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 0% from outside while The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 29% from the field and 13% from outside. Braunschweig had the narrow 10-9 rebound edge and both teams had two turnovers a piece.
The offense of The Fraport Sklyiners continued to roll in the second quarter as they went on a 4-2 run to lead 20-13. 221cm giant Nick Schneiders got inside dunking as no man was there to help and the Thompson made a steal and went coast to coast and Davidson then scored from the baseline with a pretty lay in over Schneiders. Braunschwieg stayed on course getting a bucket and free throws from 30 year old Serb Branko Jorovic, but the new dynamic duo of Davidson and Thompson continued to score on offense and Davidson made Melzer dizzy with a few fakes and then burned him with another fade away jumper from the wing and Thompson nailed a catch and pop shot as Frankfurt led 25-18. Braunschweig cut the Frankfurt lead to 25-22 with Melzer free throws and young German 18 year old talent Dennis Schroeder had some fortune getting a loose ball off the referee as a ball popped out of the hands of Thompson and deflected off the referee as into the hands of the German who went coast to coast for an easy lay up. However The Fraport Skyliners then exploded on a 15-1 run silencing the Braunschweig crowd leading 40-23. It was the Davidson show as he scored 11 of the 15 points in the run. Davidson continued to make life difficult for Melzer scoring two more fade away jumpers over the American and scoring on transition and over Jorovic inside. Herber added unwanted salt to the nasty Barunschweig wound with a big three pointer. Key in the run was continuing to attack the low post to Davidson and fierce aggressive defense as Braunschweig had many difficult shots and turnovers which led to Frankfurt points. Braunschweig was able to save themselves a bit going into halftime with a 6-2 run as Frankfurt still led 42-29. Melzer scored inside and Greer made a pull up jumper, while Davidson made his last bucket of the half connecting on another fade away jumper. “I don´t think that our defense was that bad. Davidson hit tough shots and we shot only 8% from outside which hurt”, stressed Oliver Braun. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 25% from the three point line, while The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 35% from the field and 8% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 18-15 rebound edge and both teams had only four turnovers.
Basketball remains a game of runs and it was no secret that The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig would make their run sooner or later and quickly got hot fast going on a 9-2 run to trail only44-38. Even though Frankfurt got a beautiful Davidson block of a Visser dunk and Robertson jumper, Braunschweig rallied for nine consecutive points. American Stephen Dennis who had stayed relatively quiet in the first half scored four unanswered points with free throws and a lay up. Melzer who had been in the Washington wizards preseason camp in 2004 showed his touch from outside and Immanuel Mcelroy went coast to coast after getting a steal. Braunschweig had upped their defense forcing Frankfurt to more turnovers, were hitting their shots better and were denying Davidson the ball in the low post. Frankfurt got some needed production from Robertson who scored inside after getting a no look feed from Davidson, Herber nailed a jumper and Jacob Burtschi a mid distance shot as Frankfurt kept the lead at 50-41. Two Jorovic three pointers in the last two minutes hurt the Fraport Skyliners, but they still had the upper hand as they led 52-47 after three quarters. “We increased our intensity and went on a run. Jorovic hit two big three pointers late keeping us close”, commented Stephen Dennis. “Runs belong to the game of basketball and they got theirs in the third quarter. We reacted well hitting shots and keeping the lead”, stressed Marius Nolte. The Fraport Sklyiners were shooting 49% from the field and only 17% from the parking lot while The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 36% from the field and 21% from the parking lot. Braunschweig retook the rebound lead 26-24. Frankfurt had eight turnovers and Braunschweig only seven turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig gave the Fraport Skyliners a turbulent scare going on a mini 5-0 run tying the score at 52-52. Umeh started the potent attack with a three point bomb and Melzer found some daylight inside making a finger tip lay in past Davidson. Some weeks ago, Frankfurt might have collapsed, but not anymore as Frankfurt shined on defense which in turn sparked their offense going on a 6-0 run. Quantez Super Tez Robertson made two consecutive steals which led to a Burtschi bucket and Mckinney coast to coast sprint as he made anice fake pass in mid air to Burtschi, but finished himself. Marius Nolte then scored inside as Frankfurt led 59-52. Jorovic then scored inside and Visser made one of two free throws as Frankfurt still led 59-55 with Braunschweig on their heels. In a phase like this, you could most likely count on a Dashaun Wood or Bobby Brown who played two seasons in the NBA to take control, but a Beko BBL rookie Michael Thompson showed no shyness scoring 11 unanswered points as Frankfurt went on a 9-2 run to lead 68-57 with three minutes remaining and the game as good as sealed for the 2004 Beko BBL champion. Thompson nailed a three pointer, got inside for two buckets and got to the free throw line. The mimic on the faces of the Phantoms displayed little hope of turning the game around. “Braunschweig might of controlled Davidson better in the second half, but everyone helped and we were able to withstand the pressure”, said Marius Nolte. Braunschweig did get some more baskets from Greer, but Frankfurt continued to get to the Free Throw line and despite going 3/6 at the end, Frankfurt came out with a big 77-70 win. Mckinney and Mcelroy who have dueled for six years in the Beko BBL hugged each other at the end of the game. “We made a big step today. WE had shorter phases where we didn’t play so well. Even when they came back, we showed mental strength to win the game. This win was very important for us”, stressed Johannes Herber.”Every team can beat each other. Frankfurt might have been a 16th placed team, but we didn´t have the right intensity today”, expressed Stephen Dennis.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jermareo Davidson with 26 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal. Michael Thompson had 22 points, four rebounds and three assists. Quantez Robertson chipped in with eight points and Jacob Burtschi with seven points. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were led by Lamarr Greer with 16 points. Branko Jorovic added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Rich Melzer produced 11 points and five rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners continue to do an excellent job taking care of the ball as they had only 10 turnovers. They did lose the rebounding battle 35-32, but were undermanned inside and still did a pretty decent job on the boards. Frankfurt had a strong defensive effort as they fooled Braunschweig at times. “Frankfurt played a matchup zone that looked man to man, but really was a zone. We did a good job in the second half denying Davidson the ball, but that gave their guards the chance to get more shots”, added Stephen Dennis. With the defense getting better and better in the last weeks, now the team still needs to find that equality on offense. “We played very good defense for long phases. As soon as our offense gets even better, we will win more of these type of games”, warned Marius Nolte. The Fraport Skyliners play their last Eurocup game December 20th in Gran Canaria.