Jacob Burtschi Freezes The Fraport Skyliners 74-68

Not only the two slow starts by the Fraport Skyliners and Eisbaeren Bremerhaven this season was on the minds off fans, but also the meeting between ex players Jacob Burtschi and Zach Peacocok with their respective teams was a topic of discussion coming into the showdown between the Skyliners and Bremerhaven in the Eisbaeren cage. However one link that involves two basketball minds stayed in the backround and seems to slip the minds of many is the fact that Bremerhaven head coach Doug Spadley and Skyliner captain Marius Nolte had a positive working relationship in Paderborn between 2001-2009. Spradley coached the gregarious Nolte in 223 total games and 103 Beko BBL games. The  most fond memories of both will probably be the 50 game winning streak they had in the second Bundesliga and moving up to the first division in 2006 as well as forcing 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin to five games in the 2009 playoffs. Nolte left Paderborn in 2009 for Frankfurt and Spradley for Bremerhaven. Both have very important roles as Spradley is trying to lead his team back to the Beko BBL playoffs and Nolte as team captain of the Fraport Skyliners who doesn´t always play much, but is so important with his fulltime captain role on and off the court. Coming into the game, Nolte led the head to head duel against his ex coach 6-5 after losing the season series last season. After working together for so long, it is always nice when both can compete and see each other at games. “I am always happy to see Marius. We have a great friendship, but on the court he is a pain in the behind. He is so good at drawing fouls and that is why he has been in the league for so long. He may not be the best basketball player, but he is one of the hardest working in the league”, stressed Bremerhaven head coach Doug Spradley. After the game the head to head series was tied 6-6 after the  nail bitting 74-68 Bremerhaven win, but both had a smile on their face even if Spradley was rubbing it in a bit to Nolte. “I would have liked to have won today and I was very motivated. It is always nice to talk to him after being my coach for so long. I learned so much from him and we have a great friendship”, added Marius Nolte.

Both teams came into the game wanting to prove something as the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were still seeking their first home win of the season, but coming off a huge 114 point slaughter in Giessen while the Fraport Skyliners were looking to win their second road game of the season and snap their two game losing streak. After the horrible second half in Trier where the Fraport Skyliners totally fell apart, they came to Bremerhaven motivated and gave a great team effort, but usually it takes 40 minutes to win a game and not 35 minutes as the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven rallied in the last two minutes to escape the Frankfurt lead and win it with a 8-0 run. “This was a very bitter loss. We were up by so many points and then giving up the lead hurt. This was similar to the Trier game. We need to learn to keep the lead until the end. For the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven, they never gave up even with the good Skyliner start. They stayed calm and in the last minutes buckled down on defense and made the big plays to secure the win. “This was a real dog fight. Both teams really wanted to win this game. We prepared well all week, but in the end it just felt like we wanted it more”, stressed shooting guard Stefan Jackson. One could see it on the faces of the dejected Skyliners after the siren sounded that they had given up a golden opportunity to win on the road. “I think that with the 68-66 lead at the end, we could of closed it out, but we were unable to execute well”, stressed Quantez Robertson.

Long before the jump ball was tossed to jump start the game, one could see a long chat with ex teammates Devin Gibson and Jacob Burtschi at the center court, new Skyliner Ted Scott playing water boy again carrying some team equipment to the bench and a marching band that got fans into the spirit for some Sunday afternoon basketball. The Fraport Skyliners had Devin Gibson back after his injury and Germans Konstantin Klein and Danilo Barthel were well rested after not playing in the PRO B game Saturday night in Lich. The Fraport Skyliners jumped out on a good start leading 5-2 as Zach Peacock scored from the wing and German Danilo Barthel connected on a high rainbow. Canadian Scott Morrison had memories of his hot start last week in Giessen and was doing his thing again on the court scoring with a dunk and lay in giving Bremerhaven the 6-5 advantage. However the Fraport Skyliners ahd found their rhythm very early on offense as Johnathan Jones was doing a steady job at the helm as point guard leading the Fraport Skyliners on a 11-4 run to lead 16-10. Jones had his best phase of the game scoring on a pull up jumper and doing a heads up play fooling Bremerhaven on the press and stealing in inbound pass and making the lay up. American Ted Scott did what he did in his debut in Trier scoring in bunches as he hit a three pointer and then made an incredible penetration on Jackson making a hesitation step and then spinning by the American and hitting a runner. Peacock scored twice closing out the first quarter as the Fraport Skyliners led 20-15. The Fraport Skyliners found a solid rhythm on offense and defense and Ted Scott and Zach Peacock were hot. Frankfurt had problems giving up offensive rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 50% from outside while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were shooting 29% from the field and 0% form outside. Frankfurt had the rebound edge 13-8, but six turnovers while Bremerhaven had four turnovers.

The Fraport Skyliners kept their healthy lead in the second quarter extending it to 29-19 with a 9-4 run. Ted Scott scored seven unanswered points in this span with two catch and pop jumpers and a lay up in transition. Jones found Peacock open down low with a no look pass. Bremerhaven stayed in the game, but as German national player  Philipp Zwiener cut the lead to six, it was Skyliner American Dion Dowell who found some of that shooting spunk form the Artland game drilling home two consecutive three pointers and Frankfurt was up 36-27. However the Fraport Skyliners were unable to hold the big lead as the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven closed out the second quarter with an 8-2 run to cut the once comfortable lead to a slim 38-35 Frankfurt advantage. Bremerhaven did a good thing trying to take advantage of the mismatches but also in this run had some misfortune as they hit some difficult buckets in more one on one situations. Zwiener made a hard shovel lay in, Keith Waleskowski made a fade away from the wing, Stanley Burrell a tough fade away from the wing and Waleskowski scored again inside. “We never got down when they had lead. We always know that we can come back, because we have the needed fire power. We have a balanced team in scoring and defended well containing their guards and wing players”, stressed Stefan Jackson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 50% from the three point line while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were shooting 41% from the field and 17% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 20-18 rebound edge, but nine turnovers while Bremerhaven had six turnovers.

The Third quarter remained a dog fight and very close as the Fraport Skyliners gave up the lead only once and they never led by more than four points. The Fraport Skyliners continued to have massive problems on the boards in this quarter giving up five offensive rebounds. Peacock continued to be a menace on offense executing at  a high rate making a running hook shot and a fade away shot from the wing as Frankfurt led 42-40. Ex Skyliner Jacob Burtschi then came cruising down the court on the fast break and everyone knew in the arena that he wanted to be on the nightly highlight reel with a dunk as he plowed into the lane and ex teammate Danilo Barthel was about to stand in the way let him pass, but the Oklahoma native hit a clunker popping out the dunk. Burtschi quickly apologized to his teammates about giving up two sure points and made up for it on the next offensive set nailing a three pointer and giving Bremerhaven their second lead of the game after the early 6-5 lead in the first quarter. Frankfurt then went on a mini 5-0 run as Quantez Robertson dropped a pull up jumper and Devin Gibson a three pointer for the 47-43 advantage. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven retaliated with a 4-0 run as Zwiener and Jackson hit knotting the score at 47-47. Robertson continued to display the hot hand hitting a three pointer and Dion Dowells cored inside for the 52-51 Frankfurt lead after three quarter. “We hit some big shots to stay with them and did a good job on the offensive boards”, expressed Stefan Jackson. “We showed  a lot of energy on defense and rotated better and got off on our offensive transition”, added Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 39% from the parking lot while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were shooting 38% from the field and 29% from the parking lot. Bremerhaven had regained the 32-27 rebound edge back and had nine turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.

The fourth quarter was the harsh story of three runs that the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven won 2-1. After three solid quarter where the Fraport Skyliners contained the lead, they showed some minor whiplash from their second half in Trier as they allowed the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven to regain the lead and control of the game with a 11-0 run to lead 62-52. The Fraport Skyliners were coughing up the ball in the worst way as well as getting offensive fouls while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were executing their offense on a constant rate. Burrell started the run with another one of his patent one on one plays making an off balance shot as the shot clocker buzzer sounded. Very quiet Justin Stommes erupted with a three point bomb, Burtschi scored on the penetration and Waleskowski got a no look pass from Alex Harris with the easy bucket inside. Just when you might have figured that the Fraport Skyliners may have a second TBB Trier, they buckled down and shocked the arena with an amazing 14-2 run to fetch back their lead 66-64. The Fraport Skyliners got a lot of production from many different players. Gibson started the run with an amazing unbelievable spin move in the lane falling to his left and somehow making the shot high off the glass. Robertson continued to hit timely shots making a three pointer and a Peacock jumper. Frankfurt also got free throws from Gibson, Nolte and Scott.  Stanley Burrell then read the defense well snuck inside for the easy lay up as their was no help defense as the game was deadlocked 66-66. With  a minute remaining it was Ted Scott hitting a huge jumper giving the Fraport Skyliners their last lead of the game 68-66. Bremerhaven then would respond by going on a 8-0 run as ex Skyliner Jacob Burtschi made six free throws freezing his ex team 74-68. After Burtschi tied the score 68-68, Frankfurt had the chance to take the lead, but peacocok got a turnover traveling call. “My traveling call was a game changer”, stressed Zach Peacock. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven then at the wink of an eye took apart the Frankfurt defense with one swipe as Burrell found a cutting Morrison in the lane who slammed the ball home for the 70-68 lead. With less than a minute to go, Devin Gibson went for a tough penetration finishing with his left hand, but missed. Burtschi prompt got fouled and with a stern cold look sunk both free throws as if he was making that killer move on Park street on the Monopoly board. Frankfurt then had one more possession where they tried to cut the lead down, but Peacock missed a three pointer. “That last play was for me or Dowell. The defense bit on two players leaving me open. I had the shot, but missed”, added Zach Peacocok. It was Mr glue guy Jacob Burtschi that secured the rebound and got to the line again for points five and six in the run. “Burtschi made the shots, took charging calls and was just all around the ball tonight”, added Quantez Robertson.  “I have played against Burtschi the last three years and he played well. He always makes the plays. I have a lot of respect for him”, commented Zach Peacock. It was an exciting fourth quarter with the better end for Bremerhaven. “We played good defense down the stretch. Scott made some big shots, but I was in his face  a lot and I knew that he wouldn´t be able to sustain that all game long. Burtschi was our glue guy that always makes the tough plays and did the little things needed to help us get win”, stressed Stefan Jackson. “We didn´t play good one on one defense and rebound well at the end”, added Quantez Robertson.

The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were led by Jacob Burtschi with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Stanley Burrel produced 14 points and seven assists. Philipp Zwiener and Scott Morrison chipped in with 11 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ted Scott with 17 points and Zach Peacock contributed 14 points. With a 1-4 record and at the bottom of the standings, the Fraport Skyliners still have very much to improve. They were outrebounded 41-34, but a vast improvement to Trier. “We improved our rebounding. One could see that we had a fighting mentality when going for the rebounds”, stressed Konstantin Klein. Frankfurt had problems inside giving up 30 points in the paint and stil turned over the ball too much with 18. However they have one trait form last season that they will continue to need while improving their other parts of their game. “Our best strength today is that we never gave up”, warned Quantez Robertson. The next opponent for the Fraport Skyliners are the Telekom Baskets Bonn on October 27.

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