Two Weeks ago, the Ludwigsburg arena was transformed into a glitzy, boisterous, loud, spectacular and unforgettable basketball world as the 2012 Beko BBL Allstar game took place there. Fans saw as many well known basketball faces in the arena then as RTL camp members saw nasty scorpions in a short time. In a short span of a few hours basketball aficionados saw many cheerful colorful mascots dancing and performing mischevious acts, crowd favorite Darius Hall having his gregarious smile on redial mode, Heiko Schaffartzik and Tony Gaffney possibly planning a vacation to plot their next Dunk escapades, Donatas Zavackas learning to love his home court rims or German national player Per Guenther displaying a knack to be able to shoot over guys twice his size. With the Beko BBL Allstar game long over and just a sweet memory in the heads of many kids with the festivities dancing in their heads weeks later, EnBW Ludwigsburg and the Fraport Skyliners returned back to normal conditions as the glitz was gone, but not the uncomfortable noise or love for the game of basketball as EnBW Ludwigsburg snapped their four game losing streak and the Fraport Skyliners five game unbeaten streak on the road was broken as they lost 82-57. The Ludwigsburg arena may not have been as full as at the Allstar game, but the atmosphere was still breathtaking despite how the season has gone for the Schwaben team so far. “The players and fans never thought we would have a season like this after last season. It has been a tough season and with injuries to guys like John Bowler, Jerry Green and Alex Harris. However the fans have always stood behind our team and I can only compliment them for their support tonight”, stressed EnBW Ludwigsburg sport director Mario Probst. “It was a great atmosphere as the fans kept us going and you could really feel that the crowd was behind us. The team is very close”, commented ex Skyliner Anthony Fisher.
After the LTi Giessen 46ers halted the three game winning streak of the Fraport Skyliners a day before the 2012 Allstar game, the team led by Muli Katzurin were hoping to get back to their strong play on the road, but instead were met by a team that seemed to have learned from their 76-72 loss in Frankfurt three weeks earlier and were having target practice all night long. “They shot the lights out. They ran their sets well and we battled back cutting the lead down to nine points, but that 10 -0 run put it away for them. Not having Davidson hurt us, because he has great scoring ability and we missed his presence down low”, stated Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi. For En BW Ludwigsburg, they were desperate to win and showed a great team performance. “We really worked hard from the first Frankfurt loss until this win. It was a tough time for guys, because they only had three days off and worked through the Allstar break. We controlled the rebounds and I think that we gave up the least number of offensive rebounds this season with three. The absence of Davidson hurt them, but they have enough guys like a Burtschi or Mckinney who can get hot. We gave up six turnovers in the first quarter and only seven in the last 30 minutes. We shot great, but I am most happy about giving up only 57 points”, stressed Mario Probst.
25 year old Alex Harris may only be the third top scorer for EnBW Ludwigsburg, but he can light up the scoreboard any night and led his team with 28 points coming very closely to tying his best mark at 29 which he had against BBC Bayreuth. Harris who played at the beautiful University of California at Santa Barbara before getting his first taste of European basketball in Poland from 2008-2010 and then going to Ludwigsburg last season already showed his scoring qualities last season. Harris hurt Frankfurt from outside and also played havoc with the defense with athletic play. “Alex Harris is a stud. The kid really can play. I already saw that last season. He has the whole package and played a very good game”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. When the California native from Alameda was asked after the game what one would call his performance from where he comes from, he released a loud laugh before answering. “You would call it hyphy which means intense, but the whole team played like this”, smiled Alex Harris. Ex Skyliner Anthony Fisher who played for Murat Didin in the 2009-2010 for two months coming in when Aubrey Reese had injured himself had a special Atlanta name for his teammate. “It was sweet getting a victory against Frankfurt. I had a great time in Frankfurt and they treated me well. In Atlanta one would call the performance of Harris FYE meaning like fire”, laughed Anthony Fisher.
It was announced before the game that Skyliner center Jermareo Davidson had suffered an injury in practice and could miss up to three weeks. He was relaxed and came into the arena wearing a Danilo Barthel practice jacket. Ludwigsburg guard German David Mccray and Skyliner assistant coach Klaus Perwass were having an intense conversation where it looked like the young German was describing the teams tough season. The game finally got started as 2,880 people were in attendance and saw EnBW Ludwigsburg get off to a good start leading 5-2 early as Donatas Zavackas tested the Frankfurt defense early with precision outside shooting and scoring inside. Frankfurt quickly tied the score at 5-5 with a Tim Ohlbrecht bucket and a Michael Thompson three pointer. EnBW Ludwigsburg always seemed to be a step ahead in offensive rhythm as they could break free from scratch and get a lead going again as young German Tim Koch who got the nod to start sunk a bomb form the corner and Alex Harris scored inside as Frankfurt trailed 10-5. Quantez Robertson showed his first sign of athletic aptitude getting an offensive rebound and getting the put back while Jacob Burtschi nailed a three pointer getting a perfect kick out pass from Ohlbrecht as Frankfurt trailed 12-10, but were on the tail of Ludwigsburg. The Fraport Skyliners then found some energy going on a 6-3 run to take their first lead of the game 16-15. Frankfurt was very aggressive on offense and alert as Ohlbrecht dunked getting ano look pass from Thompson and Burtschi got aput back coming in as a trailer on the fast break after Thompson had been rejected by Alex Harris. EnBW Ludwigsburg got the lead back as Fisher hit a three pointer for the 18-16 lead. German national player Johannes Herber then went up for the jumper and in the last second fired a bullet to Ohlbrecht who dunked again. Johannes Lischka then scored on a runner as Frankfurt trailed 22-20 after one quarter. EnBW Ludwigsburg was shooting 80% from the field and 80% from outside while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 40% from outside. Frankfurt trailed the rebounding 6-3, and had only two turnovers while Ludwigsburg had six turnovers.
In the second quarter, Anthony Fisher hit a three pointer to open up the scoring as EnBW Ludwigsburg increased their lead to 25-20. Alex Harris hit a tough shot in the lane, but Jimmy Mckinney nailed a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 27-25. After a Jerry Green runner, it was Mckinney again showing his hot hand with a catch and pop jumper as EnBW Ludwigsburg led only 29-28. At this point it seemed like the Fraport Skyliners could make a move, but instead they were shocked by a cruel 13-2 Ludwigsburg run to lead at half time 42-30. Skyliner head coach Muli Katzurin later would state that this was where his team lost the game. After a tough three pointer by Harris who didn´t let a Mckinney hand disrupt his touch, Ludwigsburg hurt Frankfurt inside scoring three times with Ermin Jazvin, Alex Harris and Donatas Zavackas on the fast break. “Our defense was better this quarter and we were making our shots. Good offense beats good defense”, stressed ex Phoenix Hagen guard Mark Dorris. “We had a big run in the second quarter. We had many games this season in close loses where we started good, but then lost momentum. The second quarter was different from the other games this season. It was good how we responded and how we handled the situation mentally and physically”, stated Alex Harris. EnBW Ludwigsburg was shooting 54% from the field and 60% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 37% from the field and 33% from the three point line. EnBW Ludwigsburg dominated the boards 22-9 and had seven turnovers while Frankfurt had only five turnovers.
In the third quarter The Fraport Skyliners were gnawing at the EnBW Ludwigsburg lead cutting it down as best as they could. Chicago native Michael Thompson struck with a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 44-33. Alex Harris continued to do his thing scoring any which way while Skyliner Tim Ohlbrecht was banging inside and getting production as he scored off his own offensive rebound and then made a pretty one handed runner from the baseline as he snuck around Jazvin as Frankfurt trailed 46-37. Frankfurt continued to shrink the Ludwigsburg lead with a mini 4-0 run as Thompson hit a jumper and Burtschi penetrated inside scoring with his left hand as Frankfurt trailed 48-41. Here it seemed again that Frankfurt were threatening, but instead were met by a unnecessary 6-0 run by Ludwigsburg as Green scored as did Zavackas with a mid distance jumper and a bomb as Frankfurt trailed 55-41. The Fraport Sklyiners continued to play inconsistent having some good plays then producing unacceptable turnovers with balls not being controlled. Somebody needed to take control and in a quick instance it was Robertson who showed his incredible athletic ability scoring two consecutive one on one plays. On the first he scored over Lischka on the fast break and on the second play he scored over Green as Frankfurt trailed only 55-46. EnBW Ludwigsburg never lost their calm, but actually seemed to get stronger in situations where it seemed like Frankfurt were closing in as they closed out the third quarter with a back breaking 10-0 run to lead 65-46 after three quarters. On this run, Fisher and Jeff Greer hit three pointers, Harris caught Frankfurt napping on the fasz break and Greer hit two more free throws. “We had a chance to get back into the game, but had three costly turnovers which led to easy points”, stressed Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak. “Basketball is a game of runs. Who can hold out tougher will win. We were right there, but let it slip away”, stated Skyliner guard Devin Gibson. EnBW Ludwigsburg was shooting 55% from the field and 60% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 36% from the parking lot. Frankfurt continued to get outrebounded 26-17, but had only eight turnovers while Ludwigsburg had 10 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners started out the fourth quarter with a bang as young German Danilo Barthel stepped behind the three point line and dropped a bomb as the Fraport Sklyiners trailed only65-49 and there was a little light at the end of the tunnel, but that was quickly turned off by another nasty EnBW Ludwigsburg run of 9-0 which sealed the win as Frankfurt trailed 74-49. Fisher and Harris continued to put on a shooting clinic connecting with two three pointers while Jazvin scored inside. Gibson scored in the zone with a beautiful hesitation step and shot and Johannes Herber found his touch hitting a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 77-55 with two minutes to play. Near the end, Jacob Burtschi and Jerry Green were hit with technical fouls as both guys got close exchanging some verbal blab la. “That was just two physical guys exchanging words”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. Lischka did something for his points account scoring inside twice as David Mccray fired a bullet pass a few steps in front of center court finding the German all alone under the hoop. Mccray closed out the scoring with a free throw as EnBW Ludwigsburg were able to celebrate a well deserved 82-57 win. “This was the biggest win of the season for us. I think that if we would of lost this game, we might have broken down mentally just because we have been working so hard in practice. Frankfurt is a great team and I have a lot of respect for Mckinney and Tez. The ball just bounced our way tonight. This league is so crazy. The league is so tight and each team from top to bottom have great players. That is a compliment for the league”, warned Alex Harris. “This was just a tough loss for us. They came out and played very well”, added Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney.
EnBW Ludwigsburg was led by Alex Harris with 28 points. Donatas Zavackas produced 12 points while ex Skyliner Anthony Fisher added 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Tim Ohlbrecht with 12 points and Jacob Burtschi added 10 points. It was one of those days where the opponent was on fire as EnBW Ludwigsburg shot over 50% from the field and from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot under 40% from the field and from outside. Just like in the 76-72 win at home against EnBW Ludwigsburg, Frankfurt lost the rebounding duel again. The last time that the Fraport Skyliners gave up 82 or more points was in the Bamberg loss on November 5th, 2011 as the team didn´t play with passion on defense. “We have to improve on defense and learn to make our open shots”, stressed Devin Gibson. The next games don´t get any easier for the Fraport Skyliners, so the club will have to get their defense standard back up to par. “We had bad communication, bad footing, too many fouls and let up too many offensive fouls. We will see next weekend against Braunschweig if we learned from our mistakes. We had a great week of practice, but just didn´t execute”, warned Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners host the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig on February 11th at 18:30.