The Fraport Skyliners have played amazing basketball the last six weeks getting big wins at home against Alba Berlin and Bamberg freeing themselves from the lower standings and from risk of going down, but one thing that remains this season is their inability to win in crunch time against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg as they were swept in the season series losing in Frankfurt 65-63. Back in December it was a botched inbounds pass between Quantez Robertson and Devin Gibson that led to a Chris Kramer layup and win and yesterday the Fraport Skyliners were seeking revenge, but lost at the end as Robertson missed two free throws to push the ball into overtime. Basketball lady luck seemed to secretly be wearing the yellow and white of Oldenburg and not the blue and white of Frankfurt this season. “Both games were battles. In Oldenburg, I got that steal and we got the win. Today we were up in the fourth and they made a run. It came down to one possession. I am very happy we got the win. On the road the air is so small, they played very hard and made us work for everything, but we had a little more luck at the end. “We had basketball lady luck on our side. Experience helped us win this game on the road. I am surprised Tez missed those two free throws”, stated ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Ronald Burrell. Skyliner guard Ryan Brooks missed the first game in Oldenburg, because he was still a member of the Giessen 46ers, but he knew how painful it was losing these two games like that. “These two games could change a season. If we would have had these two wins, we would be sitting somewhere else now”, expressed Ryan Brooks.
It was almost seven years ago on a beautiful balmy spring day where the then Deutsche Bank Skyliners who were ending their seventh season in the Beko BBL with a do or die game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Back then, Frankfurt had to win or pack their bags for the second Bundesliga. The team stuck together and fought it out as a team dismantling Oldenburg 70-58 and staying in the Beko BBL. On that day the club was led by American Kavossy Franklin with 22 points, captain Pascal Roller added 18 points including his famous jumper on the fatst break and Serb Mate Milsa clobbered Oldenburg down low with 13 boards. Even though the game yesterday wasn´t as big or as important as seven years ago, the Fraport Skyliners were searching for the win to help get closer to securing that ticket for the next season in the Beko BBL. Frankfurt entered the game having won six of their lasts even while Oldenburg had won seven of their last eight games in the German league and had already made sweet reservations to the 2013 Eurochallenge Top 4 in Turkey. The Fraport Skyliners played like a top Beko BBL team in the first quarter, but let Oldenburg back into the game and could never really play their game again on offense the way they did in the first quarter. Fraport Skyliner junior Taylor Brown who is practicing with the team had a perfect front row seat next to the bench and was disappointed about the loss. “This was a very tough loss. We started off at full throttle and got great stops. We let up a bit in the last five minutes of the second quarter. What was great was that we never gave up in a tight game. Key for the loss were untimely time outs and we let too many of their players get into rhythm. Burrell really hurt us with hitting tough shots”, expressed Taylor Brown. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg kept their nerves and composure in crunch time and were able to grind out a big road win as they are still in view of possibly catching the Brose baskets Bamberg for first place. “We started off very slow giving up easy buckets. We fought back and made them work hard for every shot and came out with the win”, added Detroit native Rickey Paulding. “After the first quarter, we had mental let downs on our execution and had problems with their zone”, said Ryan Brooks.
Over the years when Frankfurt played Oldenburg, there were always certain duels that one could be excited about to watch like Skyliner legend Pascal Roller going head to head with former Arizona(NCAA) standout Jason Gardner and then having to deal with defensive ace Daniel Hain as an unwanted desert treat or seeing who Derrick Allen would ballerina side step around during the game as he had some huge games against the 2009 Beko BBL champion. However one duel that was always enjoyable to inspect was the battle between friends Rickey Paulding and Jimmy Mckinney. They would arrive in the Fraport arena say a quick hi on the court in warm ups and then battle on the court as if it was an NCAA tournament game and then at the conclusion win or lose come together and break out those Kodak moment smiles and break down the game shortly and then talk about life. Despite the injury problems that St Louis native Mckinney often had during his tenure in Frankfurt from 2006-2012, he played every game at home against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg when Detroit native Paulding played. Mckinney started out their head to head battles with three wins in a row including a Paulding 30 point explosion which could get Oldenburg on the winning track. The first loss Mckinney suffered against his friend in Frankfurt was game four in 2009. Mckinney didn´t have too much luck recently either as Oldenburg won the two of the last three games. In an interesting statistical fact is that Paulding left the court in the first six games as point winner over his friend, but only in the last game last season as Oldenburg walloped Frankfurt in the opener 72-53 could Mckinney leave the floor the winner in points 10-9. However Mckinney won the overall duel in games won 4-3. This season, they met for the first time with Mckinney playing for Wurzburg and Oldenburg won, but Mckinney won the point fight 13-8. Now it was time for Paulding to return back to Frankfurt and instead of seeing Mckinney parked in the corner ready to fire on all cylinders, Paulding had to endear the sight of top defender Quantez Robertson something he has been used to the last years. Paulding had his buddy Mckinney courtside rooting him on and it was difficult to see where the heart was more for the St Louis native for Paulding or Frankfurt, but he was wearing a red Baseball cap and was able to hide his facial remarks easier, but he was happy to see his friend play. “It was always nice to paly against him with Frankfurt, but now it is fun playing against him with Wurzburg. I don´t remember his 30 point game, but I loved playing with him at Missouri. We are like brothers”, added s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg guard Jimmy Mckinney. Paulding hit some big shots and had a big smile when asked about his battles against Mckinney in Frankfurt. “It was always fun playing against Jimmy here. I remember that 30 point game, but also the games in the 2009 playoffs. There were so many games that I played against him that it is hard to remember. Frankfurt could of used him today”, smiled Jimmy Mckinney. Paulding teammate Ronald Burrell also missed the Paulding/Mckinney battle. “They always played hard against each other always talking on the court. It was strange not seeing Jimmy on the court. I wish him the best in that eh returns soon from his injury”, stated Ronald Burrell.
It doesn´t really matter where basketball is played, one should never be surprised to see the dad of Konrad Wysocki. A night before in the Osthalle in Giessen watching the game against BBC Bayreuth and a day later in Frankfurt watching his son Konrad as well as 4,590 other patrons were excited to see if the Fraport Skyliners could win their seventh game in their last eight games. But it wasn´t going to be easy as point guard Dawan Robinson was in the hospital on account of lung embolism after suffering breathing problems last week, Danilo Barthel missed hiss econd game in a row due to back woes and Devin Gibson played a bit before stopping due also to back problems. However the Fraport Skyliners didn´t disappoint any fans as they totally shocked the EWE Baskets Oldenburg getting off on a 13-3 lead. The Fraport Skyliners started to get to work on Adam Chubb early as Laquan Prowell, Ryan Brooks and Zach peacock all scored inside. The crowd was silenced a bit as Rickey Paulding connected from downtown over Devin Gibson. Frankfurt kept up the offensive pressure as Peacock made a massive dunk over Adam Chubb with fierce Miami authority and Quantez Robertson dropped a big three pointer as the Cincinnati native continues to be an important option from outside. Ryan Brooks then hit a catch and pop shot as the basket continued to look more and more like the ocean and Zach Peacock stepped in a passing lane like a guard getting the steal and lay up as Frankfurt led 17-6. Ex Alba Berlin guard Julius Jenkins took matters a bit into his hands scoring twice in the last minute with a floater and then scoring with a hard penetration past Laquan Prowell. The Fraport Skyliners led 19-10 after one quarter. “Frankfurt was defending very well and they were forcing turnovers that led to easy baskets. Brooks, Tez and Peacock were playing very well and Oldenburg missed some easy open looks”, added Jimmy MCkinney.
The Fraport Skyliners got off to a hot start in the second quarter going on a 8-2 run to extend their lead to 27-12. Brooks made a fade away jumper, but Robin Smeulders who had entered the game for Adam Chubb who was in foul trouble and scored past Marius Nolte. Robertson then hit his second three pointer of the day under the watchful eye of ex Skyliner legend Pascal Roller who was a three point shooting god back in the day. Brooks made free throws and the question was when was Oldenburg going to escape out of their funk? There was a minute where Frankfurt was coughing up the ball, but Oldenburg couldn´t compensate on offense. Finally it was Ronald Burrell who got started as he made a dunk, hit a jumper and nailed a three pointer. Indiana native Chris Kramer scored inside as shortly before halftime, Frankfurt led only 27-26. Burrell scored nine points in the run and was happy about his performance as he led all scorers with 20 points. “I felt good shooting. I am happy that coach gave me confidence in shooting. I felt good taking the big shots”, commented Ronald Burrell. “Burrell was our biggest strength today. We didn´t have much of an inside game and he really made big shots”, added Chris Kramer. Frankfurt led 27-26 at halftime. “Frankfurt had problems with the Oldenburg zone. Frankfurt missed many shots and Burrell finally got going which the team fed off him to get going”, added Jimmy Mckinney. Frankfurt was shooting 40% from the field and 33% from outside while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 36% from the field and 31% from outside. Frankfurt had the 17-14 rebound advantage and both teams had nine turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter the fans saw a real classic old style basketball battle with five lead changes, but halfway through the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were able to break away a bit and hold a nine point lead going into the fourth quarter. In the first minute, both teams held an unofficial three point shooting clinic as Paulding, Prowell, Joyce and Brooks all connected from the parking lot as the game was deadlocked at 32-32. Peacock then scored inside and got a free throw as Frankfurt led 35-32. Lebron James friend Dru Joyce then hit his second three pointer of the third quarter as the game was tied 35-35. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg then ended the third quarter with an aggressive 14-5 run to lead 49-40. Chubb nailed free throws and Paulding made a runner as Frankfurt trailed 40-35. Paulding then scored on transition as Oldenburg was playing very smart on offense and defense with Mckinney friend Paulding leading the charge. Oldenburg were more in control and calm on offense while Frankfurt had problems finding a groove on offense. Smeulders got an offensive rebound and put back and Burrell free throws as Oldenburg led 46-38. Konstantin Klein who got double duty at the point guard position in the second half due to injured Dawan Robinson and Devin Gibson made a pretty runner cutting the Oldenburg lead to 46-40. However Ronald Burrell put a nasty dagger into the Skyliner hearts as he hit a nasty line drive three pointer in the face of Peacock. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg led 49-40 after three quarters. “That 10-0 run in the third quarter was huge. I think that if we would have had that level earlier that we would have won by much more”, commented Ronald Burrell. “They hit some long shots. They had the momentum and we had to keep fighting uphill and scrapping back”, said Ryan Brooks. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 44% from the two point range and 44% from the three point line while Frankfurt was shooting 39% from the two point area and 38% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 24-22 rebound advantage, but 12 turnovers while Oldenburg had 13 turnovers.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg kept control of the game in the fourth quarter despite the Fraport Skyliners fighting, but they just couldn´t get over the hump. The Fraport Skyliners jumped out on Oldenburg quickly with a 5-0 run to cut the Oldenburg lead to 49-44. Klein hit free throws and Peacock hit his bread and butter mid distance jumper. However Julius Jenkins played like an MVP hitting a huge three pointer for the 52-44 lead. He scored inside and hit free throws and despite a Tez lay in and second Peacock dunk over Chubb wasn´t impressed as the Florida native buried another three pointer as Oldenburg led 58-49. However Frankfurt had one last gasp going on a 8-0 run to cut the Oldenburg lead to 58-57 and all of a sudden the hopes of a win were there for the fans. Prowell scored inside, Brooks nailed a bomb from outside and captain Nolte got an offensive rebound and somehow threw the ball into the basket not getting any beauty marks on the unorthodox shot, Chubb got his fifth foul, but Smeulders responded from the bench getting an offensive board and put back for the 60-57 Oldenburg advantage. With a minute to play, the game was far from over as both teams were fighting to the end as Tez nailed his third three pointer of the game as the game was tied 60-60. Oldenburg didn´t lose their nerves as good American experience with Paulding feeding Burrell connecting on a back door. Then with 44 seconds to play, Frankfurt designed a prefects et play as Prowell hit from the corner as Frankfurt trailed 64-63. After a Kramer miss, Robertson was off to the races and was fouled with 2,7 seconds to play. An hour after the game Frankfurt legend Pascal Roller was playing with kids on the court and hit free throw after free throw. How valuable he would have been in that moment and the nightmare for Quantez Robertson started as he missed both free throws. Paulding then was fouled and made one free throw ending the game. As the siren sounded Robertson went to the locker room totally disgusted at himself. After such an incredible season, nobody dared to give Super Tez any blame. “Missing those free throws was tough. I know how Tez feels. I know how tough it is for him, but we didn´t lose the game because of him. We made enough mistakes in the game for this loss”, stated Laquan Prowell. “It came down to free throws. That is part of the game. I give Frankfurt credit for coming back”, added Ronald Burrell. Long after the last spectator had departed the Fraport arena, Robertson was on the court in better spirits again talking with Mckinney and was able to talk about his missed free throws. “I am trying to smile and lighten up a bit. It is hard right now since I was able to tie the game. I didn´t feel any pressure. It was my moment to make the shots, but I just wasn´t able to come through”, said Quantez Robertson.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were led by Ronald Burrell with 20 points. Jukius Jenkins added 13 points and Rickey Paulding had 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Zach Peacock with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Brooks added 14 points and Quantez Robertson 13 points. Laquan Prowell added 12 points. There really wasn´t much difference in the team stats as both teams were close in their shooting percentage from the field. Oldenburg shot better from outside as Frankfurt shot only 35%. Frankfurt led the rebound duel 34-31 and Oldenburg had 18 turnovers while Frankfurt had 15 turnovers. Despite the loss, Quantez Robertson is proud of the way the Fraport Skyliners played. “I am always proud of the team when we play hard on offense and defense”, stated Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners don´t have much time to rest as they get back to work in 72 hours against the LTi Giessen 46ers in Frankfurt.