In the last years whenever the Frankfurt Skyliners visited the scenic city Ludwigsburg to tangle with their Beko BBL team, it was near the end of the season, flowers blooming, café´s starting to bustle, the soccer Bundesliga title race getting heated up, mini dresses popping up more and more on the street and Quantez Robertson still having enough energy unleashing his explosive flight to the basket with no signs of fatigue at the end of the season. However in the 2012-2013 season, the Fraport Skyliners had an early date with the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg with the dog days of summer having ended, the NFL just underway, the MLB ready for a perfect October finish, ex Beko BBL players Chris Copeland, Brian Roberts and Stephen Dennis preparing for NBA training camps and the Fraport Skyliners clashing on the most important German holiday the Unification day on October third. No game is a cat walk in the Beko BBL as the league continues to get more and more competitive in the last years, but having such an early date in Ludwigsburg was a bit unusual considering how the Beko BBL game plan had been set up the last years, but the excitement of the start of the season blocked any memory for Quantez Robertson about having played there at the end of the season the last years. “I doesn´t matter when we play them at the start or end of season. This was just another game and our first of the season. The only thing that I will remember from this game is that we just played bad”, stressed Quantez Robertson. The 28 point performance by ex NBA player Roger Powell seemed like a century away and long forgotten form the last game win of the season in the 2010-2011 season as the Fraport Skyliners had lost the last two games in a row.
The Fraport Skyliners wanted to get on the right track right in the first game as they were drawn with a tough schedule with seven of the first ten games on the road, but had little fortune in Ludwigsburg getting outplayed for 40 minutes by the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg losing 74-56. It was one of those games where nothing went right and everything went right for the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg. After a 14-0 run in the second quarter, the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were able to extend their lead to 20 plus points and never looked back stifling the Fraport Skyliners with an aggressive defense never letting them find their rhythm. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg played solid offense, but it was their defense which was lauded most by head coach Steven Key. “I am most proud about our focus and concentration on defense. We didn´t allow them any easy buckets at the start. We noticed early that they had no dominant player in the post and concentrated on giving them the pick and pop more. We did a great job on never letting them get in their comfort zone”, stressed Steven Key. After the game seeing the long faces of the Fraport Skyliners told the story of a game that went totally wrong for the 2004 Beko BBL champion. A loss like that is even harder to digest when you played ok defense, but couldn´t muster any kind of rhythm on offense. “Nothing worked for us on offense. We had no spacing and didn´t play inside enough. Playing against the switch it looked like it was the first time we had ever played against it. We didn´t use the mismatches well and weren´t able to defend the way we did against Wurzburg”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Konstantin Klein.
With the jump ball only moments away, one could sense the excitement of the new Beko BBL season growing and growing within the last hour before the start of the game. One could see Lurchi riding around the court on his scooter maybe dreaming of the 2012 Beko BBL allstar game where he had all his mascot buddies in his living room for basketball chowder, Zach Peacocok who had flown in from Miami a day earlier and still having jet lag was hitting jumper after jumper in warm ups as if he had been on the team for ages and an abundance of Lucca Staiger jerseys were seen being worn by middle aged women. The Fraport Sklyiners were without American Devin Gibson who had a knee problem and Ivan Elliot was back in the line up for the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg after missing most of the pre season with an injury. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg didn´t waste anytime showing the Fraport Skyliners quickly what they were capable of doing on offense as they raced out on a 9-2 lead. They drilled three three pointers in a row from ex Skyliner Max Weber, Joshua Jackson and ex Iowa State guard Lucca Staiger. Johnathon Jones was the only bright spot for the Fraport Sklyiners early on as he scored twice in the lane, but the fierce fire power of the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg kept firing away at Frankfurt as they kept hitting shots after shots as if they had been practicing on these rims 24 hours a day. Kammron Taylor who is playing in his ninth country nailed a three pointer and versatile Max Weber another jumper as Frankfurt trailed 13-5. The last thing that any one expects Quantez Robertson to do is score much, but in this game he had to take on the offensive load and produced. Robertson hit a three pointer cutting the Ludwigsburg lead to 13-8. However no matter what Frankfurt did to stay close to Ludwigsburg, the home team kept hitting on all cylinders as Taylor hit two more jumpers and John Turek made a jumper as Frankfurt trailed 20-11. The Fraport Sklyiner closed out the first quarter strong with a 5-2 run to trail 22-16 after one quarter. The two PRO B players Danilo Barthel and Konstantin Klein shined. Barthel gave the perfect example of a mal nourished work horse battling down low getting two offensive rebounds and hammering home the ball on the third try and Klein nailed a three pointer. “They hit so well in the first quarter that we quickly got depressed. Tez quickly got three fouls which hurt us on defense. We were able to come back at the end of the first quarter to stay in game”, stressed Skyliner captain Marius Nolte. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 82% from the field and 80% form outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 50% from outside. Ludwigsburg had the seven to four rebound lead, but six turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners stayed on the heel of the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg cutting the lead to 24-21 as Dion Dowell hit a three pointer and Jones showed his quickness scoring inside. However then came the turning point in the game as the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg rolled on to a 14-0 run to lead 38-21. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg played very strong in this phase scoring in so many different ways and getting to the foul line. Ex Wake Forest center David Weaver scored inside sneaking in back door retrieving a perfect lob pass from Ivan Elliot. Besnik Bekteshi gave valuable production form the bench scoring inside, Turek made a steal catching Frankfurt napping on transition defense as he fed Staiger for a fast break dunk, then Staiger scored on a fade away from the wing and Turek made a mid distance jumper. Jones and Turek traded buckets at the end of the second quarter. Jones made a dunk on the fast break and Elliot socred inside as Danilo Barthel got no help defense. At halftime the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg trailed 41-23. “The Skyliners fell apart in this quarter. They continued to have no rhythm on offense and practiced more one on one plays”, stressed basketball expert Stephen Klauss. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 57% from the field and 36$ from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 35% from the field and 31% from the three point line. Ludwigsburg had the big 19-11 rebound edge and eight turnovers while Frankfurt had nine turnovers.
The third quarter didn´t get any better for the Fraport Skyliners. The problems didn´t have to do with concentration, but it seemed more like they wanted to do too much which kept leading to easy mistakes and turnovers. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg continued to be very consistent on offense strutting out on a 12-2 run to lead 53-25. Ludwigsburg was getting good ball movement which resulted in good shots. Joshua Jackson and Wayne Bernard hit three pointers, Turek nailed a fade away jumper and Taylor kept scoring this time on the fast break. Ludwigsburg kept up the lead while Robertson tried any which way to get the Skyliners back in the game scoring inside twice with his athletic flights. The Fraport Skyliners continued to be as stiff as cement while the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg continued to spread the floor and get shots all over. Down the stretch, the Fraport Skyliners got some production form new Skyliner Zach Peacock hitting two jumpers. “Peacock is long, strong and athletic. I think that he can be a weapon for Frankfurt if he plays hard”, warned ex MBC guard Wayne Bernard. After 30 minutes, the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg still led extremely comfortably 60-35. “Frankfurt wasn´t together and continued to shoot bad. Ludwigsburg continued to defend very aggressively making much pressure giving Frankfurt problems being patient”, explained Steven Klauss. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were still shooting at a very high percentage with 55% from the field and 47% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 32% from the field and 24% from the parking lot. Ludwigsburg continued to rule the boards 29-18, but had 14 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.
The game was as good as decided in the fourth quarter, but the lead was simply too high for the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg for the Fraport Skyliners too be able to turn the agme around despite it being their strongest quarter scoring 21 points. Ludwigsburg was able to keep the lead at 28 points 68-40 with some Turek buckets, but with the game decided, the Fraport Skyliners closed out the game strong with a 16-6 run. Robertson continued to be the scoring weapon that Frankfurt needed on a day where no other offensive production loomed. Robertson had a dunk, three pointer and some free throws. Dowell also helped his stat sheet with a lay up and jumper. After 40 minutes the Fraport Skyliners quickly came to the realization that this was a game that quickly needed to be forgotten. “Ludwigsburg deserved to win. They fought and defended well for 40 minutes. They were able to play their game and shot well. Frankfurt had no stability on offense and will have to shoot better and have less turnovers in Artland”, added Steven Klauss. “We were ready on defense and were able to make adjustments on defense and exploited the mismatches very well”, added Wayne Bernard.
The Necckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were led by Kammron Taylor with 20 points. John Turek and Lucca Staiger combined for 11 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and five steals. Despite his five steals, he wasn´t too impressed by his defense. “I have been top scorer before. I made some shots and got to the free throw line. My defense was ok, but it could have been better. I was able to read the passing lanes well on those five steals”, stressed Quantez Robertson. Johnathon Jones chipped in with 11 points. Konstantin Klein made his Beko BBL debut finishing with four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes. “I was still a bit tired from the 36 minute PRO B game that I played yesterday. It was nice to play 17 minutes, but I made many mistakes. This won´t be a nice memory after a bad game”, added Konstantin Klein. Despite this opening game poor performance by the Fraport Skyliners, there is no need to panic. “Frankfurt doesn´t seem to be complete yet. They still have to put the pieces together. It was the first game and the season is long”, commented Wayne Bernard. One thing that you have to like about Quantez Robertson is his straight forward logic which is about as normal as one of his pounding dunks when talking to the gregarious American about the teams chances in Artland. “If we play aggressive on offense and defense and execute on offense, then we should be able to win”, warned Quantez Robertson. The Artland Dragons host the Fraport Skyliners October sixth at 20:00.