There are situations that are never easy, but at times when times arent easy one may rather be in an uneasy position like seeing Lebron James go 0/12 from downtown out of the view of a diehard fan, being caught in an annoying traffic jam on the highway on the way to an event or walking through a park and getting some nasty and unexpected droppings from above from a passing pigeon. However one of the most unwanted circumstances for a professional athlete is an unpleasant do or die situation. A do or die game is an experience for a player that involves a desperate effort to succeed or face dire consequences. The last time the Frankfurt Skyliners were involved in a do or die game Fraport Skyliner big man Johannes Voigtmann was learning his craft at German sport handball as he hadn´t even started to play basketball yet, guard Dwayne Wade was two months away from his first NBA title with the Miami Heat, Adele was still an unknown swan on the music scene getting ready to spread her wings and adore the public with breathtaking music and Germany was getting ready for their soccer world cup in their own country. Frankfurt had been in some do or die games like back in 2010 in game five of the finals losing in Bamberg or 2011 game five of the semi finals losing at home to Alba Berlin, but never as threatening like in 2006 where they had to beat the EWE Baskets Oldeneburg which they did 70-58. In that game, American Kavossy Franklin led the team with 22 points and captain Pascal Roller steered 18 points to the victory and staying in the league. The club has done great things since then reaching the playoffs four times, reaching the 2010 Beko BBL finals, having an MVP player with Dashaun Wood or future NBA player with Jon Leuer and developing the Germans this season, but all those things were only memories and their whole beko BBL existence could have beeen washed out after their 40 minute performance against the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg. The Fraport Skyliners knew what awaited them, a hard fought battle like 10 battle of Wurzburg´s in one against the Schwaben team, but they were able to keep their nerves and composure betaing them 77-72.The players playing in the game had been in dor or die games before so this was nothing new. “I had been in a few do or die games to get into the playoffs, but nothing like this game. I wasn´t nervous at all and loved the atmosphere. Celebrating after the win with the fans felt like we had won the championship”, stressed Fraport Skyliner forward Laquan Prowell. After the loss Neckar Riesen guard Wayne Bernard had along face after losing his third do or die game in his career. “I had lost these type of games with MBC and Giessen, but I didn´t think about the importance of the game as I go into each game the same way always trying to play with much energy”, added Wayne Bernard. Skyliner Devin Gibson was all smiles after the win as his record in do or die games improved as it took him about 10 seconds to remember his status in these type of games. “I am 7-3 in do or die games now. Whenever the fans are really loud, we step it up even more. We have the best fans in the league. I was as confident as could be going in. We weren´t going to take this loss”, expressed Devin Gibson.
Both teams came into the game knowing that the loser after 40 minutes would be demoted to the Pro A. The Fraport Skyliners controlled the game for 30 minutes, but the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter producing four three pointers in arrow, but in the end, they were missing extra minutes for them to seriously endanger the Fraport Skyliners. After the win, the players partied long with the fans and by the time they finally had time for the press, they had smiles shinning and probably had the most fun all season long asking questions. Even with the stress of having a do or die game, the reward of winning a game like feels extra special. “It feels so good winning this game. We prepared very hard for it and just reaching our goal is great. Key was having avery good start and finally playing defense the way we did before the last two games against Trier and Bonn”, added Laquan Prowell.After the loss, Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg head coach John Patrick looked like he had just experienced 10 Eurochallenge finals, but he admitted that the Fraport Skyliners were the better team on this night. ”The Fraport Skyliners were clearly the better team in the first three quarters. It took ahead butt in the third quarter for us to start to play with emotion and get back into the game. We can´t start so late, but had to have come out of the gates better. Frankfurt defended very aggressive and we had problems bringing the ball down the court. We had no answer for Zach peacock. I give a lot of credit to Frankfurt. They played with more heart than we did”, added 2010 Eurochallenge winner John Patrick. “We could match the intensity or physicality of Frankfurt. The Peacock ejection got us going, but we should have had that from the start”, warned Marquis Blakely.
In the Beko BBL, there are really only a handful of players that can dominate a game as much as Zach Peacock. Peacock has been the most consistent player on the team and when he gets going and has big scoring games, then he usually is able to carry his teammates and club to victory. That was the case in the do or die game as the Miami native had 10 points in the first quarter and 18 points at halftime. Just give Peacock the ball and all will be ok and as soon as he started hitting his first shots, he continued to get the ball as he was unstoppable. “Zack was amazing. He was on pace for 40 points. His mid distance jumper is so amazing to watch. He was in the zone tonight”, said Devin Gibson. Peacock probably would have had 30 plus points in the game if he hadn´t been disqualified in the third quarter. “I was very focused and knew how important this game was. I work so hard on my shot that I have a lot of confidence in my shot that I just expect it to go in”, smiled Zach Peacock. It didn´t really matter if it was John Turek or Eric Coleman, nobody could contain Peacock. Even if Ludwigsburg would have flown in Bruce Bowen, he probably couldn´t have stopped the mad baller Peacock either who got the nickname in Giessen because he was always so focused in practice. “Peacock was so dominant. His catch and shoot and one dribble hurt us no matter if we had one or two players on him. Coleman can play defense, but Peacock knew he was hot and just felt he always had mismatches”, stressed John Patrick. “When you feel hot like Peacock did, that is what happens, you keep hitting shots. He had so much confidence in his shot”, added Wayne Bernard.
Before the do or die game started there were a few interesting things that one could observe in the Fraport arena like a huge sign up in the upper deck saying Berlin-Ulm-Bamberg: Now beat Ludwigsburg. Shortly before the game started there was one last stern focused hand shake between Ludwigsburg head coach John Patrick and CEO Alexander Reil. The Fraport Skyliner that got the biggest round of applause in the introductions was Dawan Robinson whose future was more than uncertain a week ago after he had lung problems and had to stay in the hospital. Notable people in attendance were Duesseldorf Basket Chris Gadley, LTi Giessen 46er Achmadschah Zazi and head coach Mathias Fischer. When the game finally did commence, the Fraport Skyliners started the way head coach Muli Katzurin had hoped with aggressive defense that would sooner or later spark the offense. Marquis Blakely scored the first points of the ball game following up his own miss. The Fraport Skyliners then really got rolling going on a 8-0 run sparked by three steals by Zack Peacock and three field goals. Prowell made a lay in being fed nicely by Gibson. The Ludwigsburg offense was very static as they couldn´t get any good shots and sharp shooter Lucca Staiger was totally being contained by Quantez Robertson and Zack Peacock was conducting his own shooting clinic. Ludwigsburg got some offense going on a 5-2 run as ex NBA player Derrick Zimmermann hit a runner and Iowa native John Turek a three pointer. The only offense that Frankfurt had was Peacock so if something is working why change it?. Frankfurt ended the first quarter with a stifling 6-0 run to lead 16-7. Peacock hit two jumpers over Eric Coleman and Super Tez and Klein hit buckets. “What really surprised me that neither team had an inside presence. Frankfurt was playing very well together and one could see that they knew the consequences of the game. The Peacock mi distance was deadly”, stressed Duesseldorf Basket Chris Gadley. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 44% from the field and 0% from outside while the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 27% from the field and 0% from outside. Both teams had nine rebounds, but Ludwigsburg six turnovers and Frankfurt only one turnover.
The first few minutes of the second quarter were very sloppy by both teams. Ludwigsburg stayed in the game mainly because the Frankfurt offense was sputtering. Konstantin Klein reacted well after an air ball not losing his confidence and scoring inside on a hard penetration. Turek and Blakely then hit free throws as Ludwigsburg continued to stick around as they trailed only 18-10. Ludwigsburg were making stupid turnovers and at times seemed like they had only been together a few days. Frankfurt was making bad decisions on offense and taking bad shots. Frankfurt finally found their rhythm on offense going on a 9-0 run to lead 27-10.Peacock scored twice, Klein nailed a three pointer and Danilo Barthel hit an off balance jumper. The way Ludwigsburg was playing offense in the second quarter, it seemed like they might never score again, but basketball remains a game of runs and even when times are hard, good times can come a lot quicker and unexpected as they rushed out on a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 27-15 as Lucca Staiger who once hit 106 points in a youth game connected on a three pointer and Joshua Jackson hit a jumper. Peacock then hit another shot over Coleman who was still looking for his jock strap somewhere on the baseline, but corrected his mistake on the next possession scoring inside. Turek then hit an open three pointer and then it was Peacock again this time connecting over Turek as the Fraport Skyliners led 31-20 at halftime. “I think that at times the Ludwigsburg offense couldn´t even be of Pro A level. They seemed to have no concept on offense or defense. Each guy was playing for themselves it seemed. Nobody was able to contain Peacock. Ludwigsburg should of kept a more mobile guy on him. Frankfurt continued to hit shots and defend very aggressively”, stressed American Chris Gadley. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 9% from the three point line while the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 37% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Ludwigsburg had the 18-14 rebound edge, but 13 turnovers while Frankfurt only had three turnovers.
After a weak first half where the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg mustered only 20 points one would have been confident that they would make some kind of adjustments and come back, but instead it was the Fraport Skyliners that continued to play strong offense going on a 9-2run to totally break open the game 42-22. Devin Gibson who isn´t known for burying shots from downtown nailed two consecutive three pointers and Robertson made a big steal and went coast to coast with the elegant push through dunk. Ludwigsburg had to come soon or be in fear of being blown out. The Schwaben teams had glimpses of a spark on offense as they went on a 6-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 44-28. Turek hit a jumper and free throws and Marquis Blakely made a put back after getting his own rebound. American Ryan Brooks then hit a jumper as Frankfurt led 47-28. Sometimes in games, one little sequence or play can help spark a team which happened to Ludwigsburg. Ex Skyliner Max Weber went inside an got an offensive foul mowing down Zack Peacock that retaliated with a head butt. On account of this, Peacock was disqualified and had to go to the locker room. “I thought that the offensive foul and disqualification were correct. This call gave us adrenaline and I am happy that we never gave up”, stressed John Patrick. “I wouldn´t say that it was a head butt, but moreover I tried to push him back with my head”, smiled Zach Peacock. “That was a head butt by Peacock. That doesn´t belong in the sport. He should of kept his cool”, expressed Marquis Blakely. Ludwigsburg ended the third quarter with 7-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 49-35. It was all Lucca Staiger that nailed four free throws and a three pointer. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 60& form the two point range and 20% from the parking lot while the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 36% from the two point range and 23% from the parking lot. Ludwigsburg had the 26-23 rebound advantage, but 18 turnovers while Frankfurt only had seven turnovers.
With only 10 minutes to play, the basketball life of the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg was slowly heading in the direction of the Pro A, but they still had energy left as they started off the fourth quarter with a 6-2run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 51-41. Turek hit free throws and Bernard and Blakely scored in the lane. With no Peacock available, Frankfurt had to find a way to close out the game with what they had and they had a Prowell who hit a huge three pointer to give Frankfurt the 54-42 lead. As the fourth quarter continued to dwindle down, one was slowly seeing that despite the more consistent play of Ludwigsburg, Frankfurt had just the right big lead and was hitting enough to keep the Schwaben team at bay and not getting dangerous and under 10 points. After a Blakely dunk, Frankfurt got free throws from Gibson, Klein and Voigtmann as they led 62-46. Ludwigsburg kept their best for last with their outside shooting as Blakely nailed a three pointer and Staiger two bombs form the parking lot cutting the Frankfurt lead to 68-56. Now it was time for ex MBC guard Wayne Bernard to start getting hot hitting three three pointers. His second three pointer cut the Frankfurt lead to 73-66 with two minutes to play. “I was just trying to get up my shot as quick as possible”, stressed Wayne Bernard. Frankfurt continued getting to the free throw line, but had much misfortune missing too many. Ryan Brooks missed four in a row. After Coleman scored inside, it was Prowell making one free throw as Frankfurt led 75-68. Bernard then hit his third three pointer of the last few minutes cutting the Frankfurt lead to 75-71. Prowell then made one of two free throws but Frankfurt led 76-71. With 5,5 seconds to play in the contest, the Fraport arena increased its noise level as Muli Katzurin inserted Dawan Robinson. Blakely made one more free throw cutting the Frankfurt lead to 77-72. Staiger ended the game with a missed three pointer as the Saturday night of every Skyliner fan was extended as it was party time. “They played with more energy in the fourth quarter, but we were able to hold them off. They rattled us a bit at the end, but we controlled the game for 80% of the time and we just wanted it more”, added Devin Gibson. “WE just tried to push the ball up quickly and get the first open shot. We came up short at the end. Who knows what would have happened if there had been three more minutes in the game”, warned Marquis Blakely.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Zach Peacock with 20 points. Devin Gibson produced 12 points. Laquan Prowell and Konstantin Klein contributed 11 points a piece. Quantez Robertson added 10 points. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were led by Marquis Blakely with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Lucca Staiger scored 16 points as well. John Turek added 15 points while Wayne Bernard chipped in with 11 points. If the Fraport Skyliners had lost then Zach peacock would have been the tragic loser on account of his ejection, but with the big do or die win, his ejection will be long forgotten when people look back at this historic game. Peacock was the last player to return form the floor into the locker room one hour after the game had ended after fulfilling every last autograph request and was thrilled how his teammates finished the game without him. “It really feels good to end the season winning this important game. We did a great job starting off aggressive on defense which led to our offense getting started. I am really proud of the team in that even after my ejection, they continued to fight hard and just took care of business”, stressed Zach peacock. The Fraport Skyliners eneded the season in 14th place while the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg ended the season in 17th place.