Watching a Jimmy Mckinney cross over that leads to a step back jumper, Jared Jordan to Tony Gaffney ally-op smash dunk for the seemingly 100th time, Isaiah Swann showing that Maryland sneer getting angry and saving ratiopharm Ulm in crunch time once again or Artland Dragon point guard David Holston sneaking into the lane and scoring in the lane unscathed are all things that beko BBL fans strive to see happen each weekend in warm and cold times. However in the dead of winter especially when your living in Finland where its dark almost all day long and freezing, getting up to enjoy basketball can be tough especially going on road trips. However one place that the Fraport Skyliners have witnessed in rather warm times the last four years has been Trier. In three of the last four years, the team has experienced the warmth of the Mosel city in March, April and May. Two seasons ago, they started the Beko BBL season in Trier in October so the team hasn´t felt and blistery brittle air of winter therehe last years. Despite the warm air, the Fraport Skyliners haven´t always had luck losing three of four games the last years in warmer weather in Trier. However last year, the team enjoyed a big 69-61 road win in April as Skyliner Quantez Robertson seemed destined for revenge after another second place finish in the Beko BBL allstar day slam dunk contest in Trier and with the playoff hopes still very much on the horizon for the Frankfurt club, the American from Cincinnati with a supporting cast were able to win their second game in a row in Trier beating TBB Trier 72-52. Robertson seems to have found a small place in his heart for Trier even if he can´t really admit it. “A win is a win no matter in what gym I play. It is always fun to play in this gym and I was able to come up with some good play”, stressed Quantez Robertson. TBB Trier guard and good friend of NBA superstar Lebron James Dru Joyce seemed very somber after the loss and sensed an extra motivation by Robertson. “Robertson did a good job today. Maybe he has that extra motivation to do well here. Frankfurt stepped it up as a team turning on the faucet and we just couldn´t turn it off”, expressed ex ratiopharm Ulm guard Dru Joyce. It doesn´t matter if Mckinney has lost in one place a lot of times he has a home everywhere. “I have been in this league now six years and I feel comfortable in all gyms”, smilied Jimmy Mckinney.
The Fraport Skyliners have been going up in a positive trend winning their fifth game in a row as the post season becomes more and more a reality. After a so so start, the Fraport Skyliners found their rhythm to 100% in the second quarter and stepped up their defensive intensity controlling the game until the end and never leaving even a crack open in the door for TBB trier to crawl back in. The victory also was a sweet birthday win for Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak. “This was a very nice birthday win for me. We started very focused and were very concentrated. We had the eight point lead at halftime and picked up our defense in the third quarter keeping the lead and letting up only seven points”, stressed Kamil Novak. The Fraport Skyliners continue to belong to the top defensive teams in the Beko BBL as it was their seventh game this season holding the opponent under 60 points. “We needed some time to find our rhythm, but you have to give TBB Trier credit, they are a very good defensive team. We were definitely in the zone on defense. We kept pushing and we achieved step five and next weekend Tuebingen will be step 6”, smiled ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. For TBB Trier, they have had a spiral trend going down as they have lost five games in a row and are dangerously close to the last places with only one win more than a Ludwigsburg, Giessen and Phoenix Hagen. A lot has changed in the five months since the 64-54 TBB Trier win in Frankfurt. “Frankfurt plays with a lot more intensity on defense than in the first game this season. We have the season in our own hands now. All we need is one more win in the last two games”, stressed ex Alba Berlin center Andreas Seiferth. The long season for Dru Joyce is almost over and one could sense in his eyes that he might take a few days to digest this loss. “I thought that we played pretty good basketball for 20 minutes. One could see that Frankfurt slowly had their rhythm at the end of the second quarter. Davidson and Mckinney hit big shots in the second half and we had some defensive let downs in the second half. We really missed John Bynum at the defensive end. He allows us to be able to different things on offense”, added Dru Joyce.
A great thing about the city of Trier is that it is very close to the Benelux countries and often gives ex TBB Trier players the chance to make a road trip from France or Belgium back to their old stomping ground to inspect the current Mosel team. 2010 Beko BBL slam dunk contest winner Jamal Shuler who played for TBB Trier from 2008-2010 and now plays for Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-Pro A) was back in town to see his ex team and exchanged some brief words with Quantez Robertson who had finished second to him at the slam dunk contest in Bonn in 2010. “Tez is always super freaky on the court”, joked Jamal Shuler. Shuler also had a long chat with ex teammate Samy Picard. Ex team mate Chris Copeland who plays in Belgium and played for TBB Trier some years ago was scheduled to also visit, but had a unexpected practice after losing to 5-20 club Verviers-Pepinster on the weekend. The TBB Trier arena was full, but got loud quickly as the game was even in the first two minutes. German national player Tim Ohlbrecht started off with a witty defensive stop on Zirbes, then hit a hook shot over Zirbes and then got a steal. Zirbes even the score at 2-2 with a lay in after getting a quick pass from Joyce. Jacob Burtschi and Joyce traded buckets as the score was 4-4. Jimmy Mckinney then dropped two consecutive three pointers as the Frankfurt offense was sparked by strong defense. Jacob Burtschi brought his game to another level as the hustling Oklahoma forward spent about as much time on the floor in the first half diving for loose balls like Boris Becker did for tennis balls back in the day as there was a spurt where he had three steals in a row which felt more like 10 steals. “Burtschi was playing at another level. He gives everything to the team. It seems like he has been on the floor 10 times diving for loose balls”, joked Jamal Shuler. After the win, Burtschi stayed humble, but also showed his humorous side. “I am used to diving, but before this game there was a youth game and the court was still slippery”, smiled Jacob Burtschi. Mckinney was hit with three fouls and had to exit which TBB Trier used to their advantage. Basketball is a game of runs and after the rapid fire power of the Fraport Skyliners, TBB Trier was able to bounce back going on a 11-3 run to lead 15-13 after one quarter. James Washington hit a desperation shot form the corner, Joyce scored inside and ex Alba Berlin forward Phillip Zwiener hit two consecutive jumpers. “Both teams came out setting a nice tempo. The three fouls which Mckinney got hurt the Skyliners which got TBB Trier into the game. TBB Trier was penetrating much and I thought that they could of utilized the pick and role more”, added Jamal Shuler. “ We had problem with the early foul trouble, but we were able to compensate it, come back well and hold the lead later in the game”, expressed Skyliner center Tim Ohlbrecht. TBB Trier was shooting 46% from the field and 0% from outside while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 33% from the field and 60% from outside. TBB Trier had the 11-6 rebound edge, but five turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, there were a few runs and five lead changes before the Fraport Skyliners could settle into halftime with a comfortable lead. The Fraport Skyliners retrieved the lead 21-17 as Michael Thompson hit a big three pointer and scored inside, bothe times being fed basketball caviar in terms of perfect passes from Devin Gibson who was doing a solid job as playmaker. After Seifert free throws, it was Thompson that nailed another three pointer that was set up again by Gibson as Frankfurt led 24-19. “They played well together and were a good one two punch”, commented Jamal Shuler. However the Fraport Skyliners were incapable of withstanding a arsenal of three pointers from Luxemburg native Samy Picard and Serb Dragan Dojcin who gave TBB Trier the 25-24 advantage. However the Fraport Skyliners got the lead back and ended the second quarter with 14-7 run to lead comfortably 39-31. Skyliner captain Marius Nolte got an easy bucket inside which was followed by a furious Quantez Robertson spin move around baffled Phillip Zwiener and a steal by Robertson which led to a Burtschi fast break hoop. Ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson was inserted and prompt scored inside. Robertson continued to be every TBB Trier´s athletic nightmare as he scored inside and made a free throw for the Frankfurt 35-28 lead. Davidson scored on a mid distance jumper and seemed destined for a big second half. “The Skyliners were playing with a very high intensity at both ends of the court. Tez and Gibson were huge factors in the second quarter for Frankfurt being able to open up the game”, said Jamal Shuler. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 67% from the three point line while TBB Trier was shooting 39% from the field and 100% from the three point line. TBB Trier still ha dthe rebound advantage at 17-14, but nine turnovers while Frankfurt had six turnovers.
In the third quarter, both teams took a step back from offense as defense played the major role in the ten minute quarter as Frankfurt could extend their lead while not scoring so much, but giving up only seven points. TBB Trier guard James Washington who hails from ST Louis and is friends with Mckinney started off the third quarter with a sweet catch and pop as TBB Trier trailed only 39-34. “Maybe Washington was able to learn something form Mckinney during the last summer with his shooting”, smiled Jamal Shuler. Mckinney reacted with his own version of a catch an dpop jumper as Frankfurt led 42-36. Washington kept up his stellar rookie play hitting a runner on the fast break as TBB Trier trailed only 42-36. However the TBB Trier scoring frenzy was abruptly halted as the Fraport Skyliners continued to halt giving the opponent any real space to penetrate and allowing only tough shots going on a strong 9-2 run to close out the third quarter 51-38. Ohlbrecht was playing heads up defense against Maik Zirbes hardly giving him any touches in the low post. Burtschi started the run getting an offensive rebound and getting a put back, Mckinney dropped a step back jumper and finished the third quarter with a crazy buzzer beater from the corner that even got a chuckle from Jermareo Davidson. Frankfurt really picked up their energy after a slow start. They showed that they had many weapons that could step up at anytime. Ohlbrecht was the stopper on defense getting rebounds, blocking shots and really smothering Zirbes. He seemed lost in the zone”, commented Jamal Shuler. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while TBB Trier was shooting 33% from the field and 60% from the parking lot. TBB Trier still had the slight 25-23 rebound edge, but 13 turnovers while Frankfurt only had 10 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, The Fraport Skyliners were able to extend their lead and were able to put their offense up a gear while keeping their consistent defense giving TBB Trier problems to get easy baskets. Davidson returned back into the game and smoked young German Andreas Seiferth with his patent fade away jumper, while Seiferth returned back up the floor scoring a nifty lay in over Davidson. Davidson seemed to have his target picked out and burned Seiferth again with a fade away jumper as TBB Trier trailed 56-40. TBB Trier had had quite some misfortune missing easy lay ups, but then had some fortune as Joyce was able to convert with hard penetration, but Robertson showed he could do the same as he scored hard to the hole with his left hand. Gibson was back with his successful penetration and dish pass finding Burtschi for the easy lay up. TBB Trier was getting tired and was having continued problems with the Frankfurt annoying defense. “TBB Trier was telegraphing their passes making it easy for Frankfurt to come up with steals”, added Jamal Shuler. The aggressive defense was still leading to fast break buckets as Mckinney converted as Frankfurt led 62-42. Gibson then lost sight of Joyce for a second and was burned with an open three pointer. Davidson was still in the game and three was a charm for him as he burned Seiferth for the third time as Frankfurt led 64-45. “Davidson is hard to guard, but he got good help from Mckinney and Tez. I should of forced him to penetrate more, but he opted to shoot more”, stressed Andreas Seiferth. After Washington free throws, it was time for another Davidson fade away jumper this time over Zirbes as Frankfurt led 66-47. “Davidson is aggressive on offense and defense and can finish with authority and can shoot. He has the NBA game and I expect him to be back in the NBA. Muli Katzurin had a prefect game plan, getting a nice lead and then letting Davidson clean up from the bench in the fourth quarter”, warned Jamal Shuler. “ Jermareo Davidosn took care of business in the fourth quarter”, warned Jacob Burtschi. After Linhart scored, it was Mckinney again with a catch and pop jumper as Frankfurt led 68-49. “Mckinney is so consistent and probbaly one of best pure shooters in the league. That is what you want to see from the leader taking the important shots”, added Jamal Shuler. With the clock winding down, Zirbes and Davidson traded buckets at the end as the Fraport Skyliners were able to win their third game in a row on the road. “This was a great team effort by Frankfurt. Mckinney had the hot end and Ohlbrecht and Davidson had great games at both ends of the court. Gibosn and Burtschi set the tempo at the start getting team going”, said Jamal Shuler. “We had some let downs on offense in the third quarter. I thought that we did a pretty good job penetrating in the game, but we were unable to make our shots on a consistent basis and were unable to stop their runs”, stressed Dru Joyce.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jermareo Davidson with 19 points. Jimmy Mckinney produced 18 points while Jacob Burtschi contributed 14 points and eight rebounds. TBB Trier was led by Dru Joyce with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. The Fraport Skyliners had a very productive shooting day at 48% from the field and 44% from downtown while TBB Trier struggled at 32% from the field and 36% from downtown. After trailing the first three quarters on the boards, the Fraport Skyliners were able to win the rebound battle in the fourth quarter 33-29. They also did a solid job winning the second chance points and fast break buckets. The Frankfurt defense continues to be the back bone of the team and it seems it is sending chills down the spines of opponents. “Jamal Shuler is very athletic, but the way we are playing defense now, I don´t think that he could have been much help for TBB Trier. Our defense is scary and teams seem to be afraid to play us”, added Jimmy Mckinney. Even though defense was a big factor in the win, dealing with hardship was also overcome. “Our biggest strength today was our dealing with adversity. We had some tough situations that didn´t go our way, but we didn´t get down, but bounced back getting big shots from Jimmy Mckinney”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. With so many match points the last weeks, this win might have been the ultimate match ball. “This win was a very important step for us. We have to stay concentrated and take the next step and win the next home game. I hope it isn´t our last home game”, warned Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak.