With 2012 just born and The Fraport Skyliners riding on a hot and smooth three game winning streak on the road, the club was able to continue their untypical but charming potent play on the road winning their fourth game in a row away from their living room winning for the ninth time in a row against the LTi Giessen 46ers 64-56 and keeping the traditional basketball team winless since 109 months against Frankfurt dating back to December seventh where guys like Kai Nurnberger, Mario Kasun and Robert Maras were still roaming the floor for the Skyliners. Rivalries in pro sports is nothing uncommon as the NBA lives by having the Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers tug of war basketball struggle each season, MLB has the do or die game mentality between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees and the NHL has the Boston Brunis-Montreal Canadians season bashes. There is a special rivalry in the Beko BBL between Frankfurt and Giessen which not only has the players going at a special extra full tilt, but always challenges the fans at getting a good vocal chord workout as neither organization wants to lose. St Louis native and Skyliner Jimmy Mckinney who has grown into a real team leader has never lost in Giessen as he came into the match as focused as Janet Hubert who played Aunt Viv on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air of never doing a reunion show since she can´t stand Mr Man in black Will Smith, actress Kim Kardashian sitting on Santas lap at a Christmas party and looking sweet and not naughty or NBA player Kris Humphries giving a 21 point performance despite being booed each time he touched the ball and Mckinney was able to win his sixth game in a row in Giessen and despite the success was his normal and slick and suave self after the game. “I guess I am a type of good luck charm for the Skyliners. This is a great rivalry. It always gets so loud when Giessen goes on a run. The atmosphere reminded a lot of the Vashon-Belmont atmosphere. I remember in the playoffs, there was a projector outside with 300 people watching who couldn´t get in. We won with less than a minute to play”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. “There was much emotion in this game. We fought and did the best we could. The fans are always loud. It wasn´t any different when MBC played Chemnitz. The fans were screaming for minutes”, stressed Giessen guard Wayne Bernard. Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi played his first Hessen derby and was impressed. “It was so loud in here that it felt like the fans were on top of you. Their fans almost willed their team to the win. I remember the Hagen-Bonn rivalry, but the Giessen fans are more memorable. Giessen have diehard fans”, added Jacob Burtschi.
More often than not, it is big shots that win games, but at times it is also the miniature details that can propel a team to a victory in a close game. Rarely though is it one player that does so many things in a short amount of time that is doing his best at applying for the basketball superman job. Skyliners center and captain Marius Nolte this season isn´t usually the player that is on the court in crunch time, but in Giessen, he was the hero in crunch time that might of used some basketball force in helping his team get over the hump to get the win. For all Star wars freaks, a big part of the whole movie series is the use of force that help a Luke Skywalker be able to control what he does. It seemed like a bit of being able to control the force was bestowed upon Nolte who during his hero work in crunch time was able to persuade the referee to change a call to the advantage of his team. Whatever Nolte did in the last minutes, it worked and he was to humble to talk about it after the game, but his teammates knew exactly what he had done. “He got one big offensive rebound to keep a play alive, the next time down he got another offensive rebound which led to a basket from him after he got a quick pass from Jimmy Mckinney. The next time down, he blocked Barry Stewart and then got the ref to change a call for our benefit. He was the leader of the pack and why he is our captain”, stressed ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. Giessen might have expected a Mckinney, Davidson or Burtschi to make the clutch plays, but not an Nolte. “I have played against Nolte the last years and what I have noticed is that he always brings extra energy to team. He will make the extra hustle play, tip out a ball, make the right pass or get a block. He just makes the big plays”, commented Wayne Bernard.
With the fourth consecutive win on the road, The Fraport Sklyiners move up to position 12, while The LTi Giessen 46ers fall back to position 16 and are back in dangerous ground. Giessen lost their fourth game in a row and it was the second time in the last four games that they were close at the end, but couldn´t buckle down to get the win. Recently against The New Yorker Phnatoms Braunschweig, they were down by 10 points, made a big comeback, but lost by one point not being able to convert a Mathias Perl lay up on the last play. Against the Fraport Skyliners, they were trailing 57-56 and lost the game with a 7-0 run by the opponent. “Frankfurt played very clever and took advantage of the Giessen small mistakes and deserved to win. I think Giessen should never have taken out Achmadschah Zazai. He was doing a good job pressuring the Frankfurt guards and running the offense and should have stayed in”, added ex TV Langen player Markus Hallgrimson. Even after keeping Giessen to 56 points and winning on the road again, Skyliner Jacob Burtcshi was careful to keep any unneeded hype getting in the way after the win. “This was not our best 40 minutes of basketball, but we were great in spurts and did that better than Giessen did”, commented Jacob Burtschi.
New Fraport Skyliner Devin Gibson was in the lineup, but never got off the bench as Skyliner head coach Muli Katzurin didn´t use his services. It seemed like there was another new player for the Skyliners as one could read on the scoreboard a Bartoschi, but even after a second of not paying attention, it was obvious that that was a misspelling of the name Burtschi. In the first few minutes, there were four lead changes as both teams were still getting used to the loud atmosphere and each other. After Michael Thompson got the Skyliners going with his patent juice floater, Giessen hurried back on a 4-0 run to lead 4-2 with a Elvir Ovcina hook shot and Wayne Bernard free throws. Burtschi who was held scoreless against the Artland Dragons quickly found his touch nailing a three pointer as Frankfurt led 5-4. Ex Skyliner Koko Archibong gave Giessen the lead back 6-5 with a lay up.Ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson then slowly got going hitting two free throws and making a thunderous dunk after getting a Mckinney feed as Frankfurt led 9-6. Frankfurt quickly had their offense flowing and were in control of the game. The only thing that was keeping Frankfurt from taking a big lead was Giessen work horse Elvir Ovcina that was getting the ball and making his shots. Mckinney dropped two three point bombs, but Ovcina hit two jumpers over Davidson as Giessen trailed only 15-12. However the Frankfurt offense continued to be in rhythm as they closed out the first quarter with a 6-2 run to lead 21-14. Thompson made a heads up play finding Burtschi all alone inside for a bucket and Davidson made a layup and dunk. Ovcina closed the first quarter with his own dunk. played very good defense which resulted in some fast break points. We couldn´t handle Ovcina and had problems rebounding”, stressed Skyliner forward Danilo Barthel. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 43% from outside while the Lti Giessen 46ers were shooting 67% from the field and 0% from outside. Giessen had the 7-3 rebound edge, but seven turnovers while Frankfurt had three only.
The second quarter was dominated by two 9-0 runs which began with Giessen. The LTi Giessen 46ers returned back to the court stepping up their offense with heated ball movement as Zazai made a nice kick out pass to ex Artland Dragon Chad Prewitt that drowned a three pointer. German Robert Ohle scored inside and Ovcina hit a fade away jumper over Nolte to tie the game at 21-21.Mckinney and Davidson turnovers helped Giessen get back into the game. Zazai then made a free throw and Prewitt made a turn around off balance jumper as Giessen led 24-21. The Fraport Skyliners quickly needed a spark plug and found it with two consecutive bombs from downtown from German national player Johannes Herber leading the Skyliners on a 9-0 run. Thompson added another three pointer as the LTi Giessen 46ers trailed 30-24. In the last few minutes, Koko Archibong got to the free throw line twice, but missed two free throws and ex TBB Trier guard Barry Stewart hit a three pointer. Herber hit a fade away jumper as the second quarter ended and the Fraport Skyliners had the 34-29 lead. “The quarter was dominated by runs, but we still played good defense. Herber made some big shots and it was important that we could keep the lead here”, expressed Danilo Barthel. The Fraport Sklyiners were shooting 54% from the field and 55% from the three point line while the LTi Giessen 46ers were shooting 55% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Giessen still had the 12-10 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had nine turnovers.
The third quarter was dominated with four runs with two from each team. The LTi Giessen 46ers jumped on theFraport Skyliners first cruising out on a 5-0 run to knot the score at 34-34 as 2005 Beko BBL champion Koko Archibong hit from downtown and Ovcina hit a mid distance jumper. A big strength for the Fraport Skyliners on this evening was their ability to always have an answer when the opponent was threatening. Frankfurt rebounded by going on a 6-0 run to lead 40-34 as Thompson nailed a three pointer and is playing more and more not like a rookie, Davidson snuck inside for a dunk and Nolte made one free throw. Archibong and Mckinney then exchanged baskets as Giessen still trailed 43-36. The momentum kept exchanging hands as quickly as ex US president can smiles at ladies as Giessen went on a 5-0 run and continued just to battle as Ovcina made a seemingly impossible lay up as Nolte, Herber and Burtschi were underneath with their hands up and Bernard buried a three pointer with Mckinney in his face as Frankfurt led only 43-41. However the last thing Frankfurt risked to do was fret as they quickly slammed the third quarter door on Giessen with a 10-2 run to lead comfortably 53-43 after three quarters. Burtschi started the run with a jumper, Thompson got to the free throw line, Robertson nailed a much needed three pointer, Thompson a pull up jumper and Davidson scored inside. Stewart ended the third quarter with two free throws. “The third quarter had small runs as no team could set themselves apart. We kept up the defense, built the lead back going into the fourth quarter”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. “Runs are a part of basketball. We were unconcentrated and couldn´t stop the Frankfurt runs”, said Achmadschah Zazai. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 53% from the parking lot while the LTi Giessen 46ers were shooting 52% from the field and 50% from the parking lot. Giessen still had the 18-15 rebound edge, but 15 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.
With ten minutes to play, the LTi Giesssen 46ers didn´t wait until the last few minutes, but quickly used an extra burst of energy annoying the Fraport Skyliners with a pesky 9-2 run to cut their lead down to 55-52 and all of a sudden the Giessen Osthalle was rocking as if the Rolling Stones and Miley Cyrus had just entered the building together. Bernard started the comeback with aone handed jumper, Stewart got open hitting a bomb from outside, Ovcina who didn´t give up to battle was earning his money with continued hard work scoring inside twice including another trick against three Skyliners down low. Mckinney then hit a big pull up jumper as Frankfurt led 57-52. Young German Robert Ohle then showed his strength coming off the bench taking Giessen on an important mini 4-0 run with a mid distance shot and free throws as Giessen trailed only 57-56. Then came the turning point of the game as Giessen head coach replaced Zazai with Pilcevic and Nolte began to play like a Paderborn superman and play with the force. Nolte retrieved a big offensive rebound kicked the ball back out and Mckinney went inside stepped back and looked like he would shoot, but threw a bullet pass to Nolte who scored. “I was at the top of the key and saw that there was still some time on the clock went inside and then went back to shoot, but saw Nolte inside so I passed him the ball”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. Frankfurt stopped Giessen on four offensive plays and Nolte helped with a block and getting the referee to change the call giving Frankfurt the ball. Thompson and Davidson closed out the game with free throws. “Our energy helped us at the end to keep the tight lead and win”, stressed Marius Nolte.”Frankfurt defended well at the end. We didn´t know who we should give the ball to. Usually it is Maurice Jeffers, but he couldn´t play”, stressed Achmadschah Zazai. “Frankfurt hit big shots and they rotated well. Their big men found their guards who made the shots”, added Wayne Bernard.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jermareo Davidson with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. Michael Thompson added 13 points. Jimmy Mckinney chipped in with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. The LTi Giessen 46ers were led by Elvir Ovcina with 20 points and 13 boards. After a disastrous shooting performance against the Artland Dragons 72 hours earlier, The Fraport Skyliners found the soft Osthalle rims to their liking as they shot 49% from the field and 50% from outside. Frankfurt lost the rebounding battle, but the key to their momentary success continues to be their defense. Since the blowout loss in Bamberg November 5th, the team has given up an average of only 63 points per game in the last nine games. “Their defense is so good. We took too long trying to find the mismatches and when we did the shot clock was already near the end”, stressed Achmadschah Zazai. “The Frankfurt defense changes so much. They play man well and switch so well and Herber brings so much energy to their defense”, added Wayne Bernard. “I think it helps our defense that we are smaller. Opponents can´t find many mismatches against us”, warned Jacob Burtschi. Jimmy Mckinney who is a pure scorer scores at ease and isn´t worrying about their offense yet. “I think that we will be ok if we get Davidson the ball, I make my shots and everybody else chips in. Defense wins championships”, warned Jimmy Mckinney. The Fraport Skyliners host EnBW Ludwigsburg January 8th at 17:00.