Ever since the 6th place finish of the LTi Giessen 46ers in 2004-2005 and then the soon departure of coach Stefan Koch and future Euroleague player Chuck Eidsen, the fortunes of the club has turned as dark as ominous thunder clouds looking over an empty prairie field in Oklahoma in the dog das od summer. In the last seven seasons, Giessen has finished 17th twice and on average never finished better than 15th place. Sometime in the Ost Halle there is nothing more entertaining to see on the court than lovable mascot Fabius making his rounds with his bicycle. If you’re a Giessen fan, you will really have to dig through the memory bank to find any kind of amazing memories from the last seven years, but for some the memory of Heiko Schaffartzik playing a season there and going into the 2009 Euro championships on fire and averaging 54% from the parking lot, fan favorite Florian Hartenstein playing like a basketball god in the game of his life in an exhibition against FC Barcelona in 2008 making horse meat out of NBA players David Anderson and Fran Vazquez, seeing David Teague almost single- handedly dispose of Alba Berlin with 35 points and seeing the last hurra of ex German national player Misan Haldin last season. The team that had money problems again and filled for bankruptcy, but were saved, had been rescued a few times the last years with a wild card, but not this summer as the team will play in the PRO A and look for a new rebirth with positive white clouds clearing for future blue skies. Even though the LTi Giessen 46ers have lost and lost and lost in the last months, one can´t take them lightly. “They have a completely different roster now. I have much respect for this team. They played very hard and made it tough for us. They have made it tough for every team in the first half. We had to work very hard in the second half to get the win”, stressed BBC Bayreuth point guard Kevin Hamilton.
Last season the LTi Giessen 46ers needed to win in Hagen on the last game day, but lost and had a record of 9-25 and luckily were able to remain in the Beko BBL with a wild card. Giessen started the season slow with a three game losing streak, but then won a wild 110-109 scoring festival in the Osthalle against the Artland Dragons. They won back to back games in Trier and was the first team that season to beat the Brose Baskets Bamberg at home 68-65. Giessen has been some what unpredictable as they beat Phoenix Hagen at home, but also lost on back to back weekends on the road in Munich and Tuebingen by a combined score of 59 points, but then again should have beat Braunschweig at home losing 63-62 not being able to win game on a last possession. In the Beko BBL, any team can beat any team and Giessen has the potential to always be capable of making surprises. “Giessen is a great team that plays tough. They play very well at home and play scrappy. They can move the ball well and have good perimeter shooters with Stewart and Bernard. They also know how to defend and press very well”, stressed ex LTi Giessen 46er Michael Umeh last season. One thing that Giessen excels at is their guard play. “You need to take away their guard play. They seem to make about 60% of their points from their guards. You also always have to be aware of Elvir Ovcina. I have played against him a lot and he is such a great passer and has great court vision”, warned ex Wake Forest player Kyle Visser. Defense also seems to have gelled in the early going as they allowed 75 points or fewer in eight of the first 14 games. “Our strength is our defense. If we can keep teams at 75 points, then we always have a good chance to win”, added Achmadschau Zazai. Despite the well rounded guard play, point guard Zazai knows where the team could still improve. “We have to have better ball movement. We have the least assists in the league”, warned Zazai last January. However in the last four months, the team had a record of 4-15 as they couldn´t get around the corner to having more success. They suffered two five game losing streaks and lost their last three games. Their biggest win was a 78-65 win in Frankfurt which in a way always makes their season as they are their biggest rival.
A big problem with the organization LTi Giessen 46ers is simply that they have big problems trying to build a good team identity. It is not secret that players come and go everywhere in the Beko BBL except for maybe Bamberg, but in Giessen a annual house cleaning is about as normal as Kevin Love getting a double double. The team said farewell to 11 players during the season and off season and added eight new players. Before any new players were added, they got a new coach with Mathias Fischer who comes from Germany and won titles in Austria with Gmunden and was coach of the year. He had already got his feet wet in the coaching ranks in the Beko BBL being an assistant with Rhein Energie Cologne. Fischer is a coach that likes to develop young players and has given young Germans the chance to get minutes like with Oskar Fassler. As is sometimes the case players come a lot quicker than they stay as was the case with Americans Jimmy Baxter and John Fields. Baxter who is a basketball world traveler and had played in more than 10 countries left early as he was unable to get integrated and John Fields left for the Czech Republic as the big man position was crowded, but currently he is producing 17,6ppg and 9,8rpg. The team also has to say good bye ot Austrian Benjamin Ortner that went to Italy early in the season to play for Montepaschi Siena . The team kept only two players with experienced Elvir Ovcina who still plays like a 28 year old and Achmadschau Zazai who is a quick flashy guard that has been a spark plug in recent weeks. The team added many knows players including a known face in Giessen with Ryan Brooks who had been a rookie in 2010-2011. Last season he was a dominant scorer in Finland. The team took a risk bringing in Dijuan Harris after he had played in lower leagues like Finland and second division Turkey, but he has matured well in the Beko BBL and been solid. The team also brought in some talented Germans with Oskar Fassler who played in Trier, Dominik Spohr who came from Hagen and Andreas Buchert who has Beko BBL experience and played in Ehingen last season in the PRO A. It is never easy filling vacant spots during the season with new players, but Giessen did a good job finding solid players. With three players going the team hauled in inside player Jasmin Perkovic that won the 2009 Beko BBL title with Oldenburg, Laquan Prowell that adds scoring and experience having played in France for the last three years and American Jeffery Bonds like Prowell is another versatile forward that had played in Spain since 2007. The biggest strength of the team is maintaining that fighting mentality that it is known to have. The team is carried by the hardcore fans. The team has talent and can beat any team on any given nigt as was the case with ratiopharm Ulm. They need to find some kind of team chemistry fast if they want to get free from the Beko BBL cellar. Their weakness is simply many no name players, plus the fact that three players left early and three new players came to the team not really helping build the team chemistry faster. So far this season the club has suffered a eight game losing streak. Besides beating Ulm at home, they also were able to beat Bonn at home. A big problem is playing consistent defense as they have allowed 80 plus points eight times. However in a seven game stretch, they allowed only 80 points once. If being near the end of the standings hasn´t been enough of a torture, the fans got a rude Christmas gift as shortly after the big win at home against Ulm, the club announced that it hasd filed for bankruptcy. The team will be able to finish out the season, but the future of this traditional team seems to be up in the air.
The team added many players that came and went as quickly as one can inspect downtown Giessen as scorer Jimmy Baxter left early not finding eye to eye with team, John Fields left for Czech republic, point guard Dijuan Harris unhappy with playing time left for Slovakia, Austrian Benjamin Ortner left for a better deal in the ACB, and the club couldn´t finance the short term contracts of Jasmin Perkovic and Jefferey Bonds. With bankruptcy looming, the club had to save some money by letting Americans Ryan Brooks and three point ace Laquan Prowell hitch a ride down the A5 to Frankfurt. What has remained is a team filled with many Germans and three international players. Recently the team got point guard Sharaud Curry that left MBC and unlikely USA/UK combination Randall Hanke that played in Sweden and with Curry at providence. The team also brought in this season German Oskar Fassler that developed under Henrik Rodl in Trier. Ex Phoenix Hagen forward Dominik Spohr and talented forward Andreas Buchert who has a sweet post game. Guys like Germans Jonas Weiser and Robin Amaize always need to be ready to come in.
In the last years, The Skyliners have dominated the Hessen derby posting a 11-3 record. Frankfurt has demonstrated a special confidence and calmness that makes the Osthalle in Giessen look more like their own personal lounge area than a hostile Giessen playground with naughty kids throwing sticks and stones. Who could forget the onslaught before Christmas 2005 as Frankfurt routed Giessen 96 to 63 with seven three pointers from Desmond Ferguson. “I had a good rhythm going on in that game and my teammates made a good job getting me the ball. I wasn´t able to find my rhythm much while I played in Frankfurt for various reasons, but that game was probably my highlight playing there”, added ex Skyliner Desmond Ferguson. Three years ago under the guidance of Charles Barton, Frankfurt won a nail bitter 73 to 67 as Frankfurt showed nerves of steal in the dwindling minutes of the fourth quarter. Two years ago, Frankfurt won a tight game, even though it seemed like they were never in any real danger of losing as Derrick Allen led the team with 19 points and an energized Alex King flew into the arena with a specially made superman cape and steered the team off the bench scoring in double figures. Who could forget the buzzer beater by Karlsruhe German Rouven Roessler in 2007? Well that game winning shot that beat Frankfurt was 34 months ago, and Roessler still has the shot dancing in his dreams. “I remember that buzzer beater as if it was yesterday. I got the video clip to the game three weeks ago”, said ex Giessen 46er Rouven Roessler. . In the 2008-2009 season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners won in Giessen 75-57 getting 19 points form Lorenzo Gordon. In Frankfurt, they pounded Giessen 93-72 as Pascal Roller and in 2009-2010, Frankfurt won at home 80-69 getting 22 points from Derrick Allen. The last game against Giessen was a nail bitter win by Frankfurt in Giessen which was won 69-68 as Pascal Roller won the game with 13 seconds to play with two free throws. In the first meeting last season Frankfurt won 82-64 as Giessen was outscored 48-21 in the second half. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 21 points and Roger Powell added 18 points. In the second meeting in Frankfurt, Giessen lost 81-62 as Dashaun Wood scored 26 points. The last time that Frankfurt lost was in December 2002 and they have won the last nine games in a row against Giessen on the road. Last season, the two teams split the season series as the Fraport Skyliners won in Giessen 64-56 as Jermareo Davidson had 16 points and Michael Thompson 13 points. In the return date, the LTi Giessen 46ers got revenge winning in Frankfurt 78-65. This Saturday will showcase a real cellar duel with the 18th LTi Giessen 46ers playing 16th ranked Fraport Skyliners. The LTi Giessen 46ers have been playing better as of late having won two of their last three games including a huge win at home against ratiopharm Ulm. The Fraport Skyliners are coming off a loss against FC Bayern Munich and this is another must win for them. The key to success remains their bread and butter. “This is a must win for us. We cut down the scoring average of Munich 36 points. If we can do the same to Giessen then we should have a good chance of winning”, smiled Fraport Skyliner guard Devin Gibson. In the first meeting this season, the Fraport Skyliners demolished Giessen 79-59 as they were never in fear of losing starting quickly keeping Giessen to nine points and leading 48-29. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Zach peacock with 23 points and nine rebounds. Americans Dawan Robinson and Ted Scott contributed 16 points a piece.
Currently the LTi Giessen 46ers are riding a 16 game losing streak and the last time they won was December 22nd as they surprised ratipharm Ulm. However with a lesser talented roster due too many players going due to the financial situation the team has had problems winning giving up 100 or more points seven times. Giessen is depending on many young Germans and Skyliner guard Ryan Brooks is looking forward to playing against his ex team and one player. “I am looking forward to playing against my old team. Anytime you come off a loss, you want to get the win in the next game. I am looking forward to playing against my boy Jonas Weiser. I was always encouraging him to be aggressive and make plays. He was shy at first, but now with more playing time experience is helping him. It will be interesting to go against him when the lights go out”, added Ryan Brooks. Zach peacock is also looking forward to playing against his ex team. “Anytime you play against your ex team it is important to do well. Personally I want to be aggressive and as a team it is a must win”, warned Zach Peacock. Quantez Robertson knows that the team has to forget the loss against Oldenburg and get back into the win column. “We have to be aggressive on defense. They have nothing to loose as they are in last place. We have to be mentally prepared, give everything on offense and defense and limit them too one shot”, added Quantez Robertson.
The Giessen 46ers are led by power forward/center Elvir Ovcina who came late to the Giessen 46ers in the 2009-2010 season is playing his fourth season in Giessen. He is a movable center, who passes and scores well. He played at Syracuse (NCAA) from 1995-1999 and played a year together with ex NBA player John Wallace reaching the NCAA final in 1996 losing to Kentucky. He played for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg from 2001-2004 and won the BEKO BBL cup with Rhein Energy Cologne in 2005. He had his most success as a player with one team with Ostende winning the league title in 2006 and 2007 and cup in 2008. In 2009-2010 for Giessen, he played 14 games averaging 14.1ppg, 8.1rpg, 2.8apg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 69.4%. In 2010-2011, he played 34 games: 11.4ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 17.6%, FT: 76.4%. Last season for Giessen he played 33 games: 11.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 80.0%.
Oskar Fassler is a 24 year old 198cm guard is playing his first season with Giessen and also comes from the Alba Berlin fraction. He played for TUS Lichterfelde Berlin (Regionalliga) from 2004-2006. He joined Alba Berlin in 2006 and played there until 2009. He also was a young player that didn’t get a real chance as he was sitting on the bench. He only played 22 BEKO BBL games. In 2009-2010, he started with Alba Berlin and then moved to Science City Jena (ProA, starting five): 12 games: 9.3ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 77.8%, also played at Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (1.Bundesliga): 4 games: 4.3ppg, 2.0rpg. In 2010-2011 for TBB Trier he played 25 games: 5.8ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 33.3%, 3PT: 41.9%, FT: 59.1%He was a part of the German U-18 and U-20 teams and played at the European Championships U20 Division B in Targu Mures (Romania) -08:(Champion): 7 games: 3.1ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.4apg. Lasts eason for TBB Trier he played 31 games: 2.6ppg, 1.8rpg. The team also added Dominik Spohr who is a 23 year old 198cm forward from Hagen. He started his basketball career in 2004 for BBV Hagen (Regionalliga) where he played until 2007. He then played for Phoenix Hagen from 2007-2012. Last season for Phoenix Hagen he played 30 games: 1.9ppg, 1.4rpg; played also for BG Hagen (Regionalliga): 6 games: 13.3ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.2apg. He played a total of 64 Beko BBL games for Phoenix Hagen. The team also added 25 year old 208cm forward Andy Buchert who comes from Trier. He got experience playing in the States first for : Tallahasse CC from 2005-2007. He then played fro Winthrop from 2007-2010. In 2010-2011 he turned professional and played for Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (1.Bundesliga): 1 game: 0pts, 1reb, 1ast, 1block, in Dec.’10 moved to Phoenix Hagen (1.Bundesliga): 9 games: 3.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.6bpg; left in Feb. ’11. Last season he played for Erdgas Ehingen/Urspringschule (ProA): 27 games: 11.3ppg, 7.0rpg, FGP: 53.1%, FT: 55.2%.