The 16-0 Antwerpen Comeback Remains Unrewarded In 59-59 Draw With Fraport Skyliners

This summer the Fraport Skyliners kept more of a lower profile with American signings bringing back a pair of ex Skyliners with glue guy Jacob Burtschi and the million dollar smile and paint worker Lorenzo Gordon while keeping Americans Quantez Robertson and Dawan Robinson. Instead the 2004 Beko BBL champion have set their focus on continued progress and development for their German players. However the 2000 cup champion did have one ace left in their sleeve pocket. In the last years, it usually has been Bamberg manager Wolfgang Heyder that dialed the agent numbers of ex NBA players as he had brought in guys like PJ Tucker and Bostjan Nachbar to spark his roster in the last years. However less than two weeks before the start of the new season, Frankfurt reeled in the missing piece to their team with ex NBA player Andrew Rautins that played five NBA games for the New York Knicks a few years ago. Rautins joined the team at their training camp in Tenerifa. Rautins may seem like a one dimensional type of player in that he could probably nail some ballons at the annual Jamesville ballonfest with his precision shooting, but he can do so much more than that. Rautins is a well rounded player that can make the big plays, has excellent basketball IQ, along with tremendous court vision and his passing skills can sometimes go overlooked. The 26 year old 193cm shooting guard who played for Alicante two years ago and last season in the D-league made his home debut against Belgium team Antwerpen in the last pre season game of the season in the BCM helping the Fraport Skyliners register a 59-59 tie with Port Of Antwerp Giants. After the draw, the Syracuse alumnist was more than impressed with his new organization, but also still was getting used to the time zone. “This is a very special to have this type of practice facility and the crowd was great and I love the atmosphere. The club is very professional and handle everything like a NBA team. We are a very young team and still have much work to do. We have shown flashes of being a very solid team. The most important thing for the team is to cut down on mistakes and for me is too get rid of the jet lag”, smiled ex NBA player Andy Rautins. Rautins finished the game with nine points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals, but was lacking a bit with his biggest weapon his shooting finishing at 3 for 14 from the field. His new teammate Jacob Burtscho already has built a special bond with him, but isn´t quite sold on his music talent. “I am really happy that Andy is on the team. He is a great player that can shoot and pass and will really help us. We were laughing a lot the first days with movie quotes and that has translated on to the court. Andy really understands the game. I am not so sure he should entertain us at halftime with his guitar. He has says that he is good, but I don’t believe him”, smiled Jacob Burtschi. The most important thing is that his own team respects his game even if his opponent wasn´t flashed right away by his game. “I know his history in that he is a great shooter, but nothing more. I didn´t see anything spectacular from him”, commented Antwerpen 178cm point guard Frank Turner.

After a one week training camp, the Fraport Skyliners returned home to finish their pre season at home against top Belgium team Antwerpen that ended with a 59-59 draw. The first thing that drew the attention of every spectator was the new hair do of top Beko BBL defender Quantez Robertson who had his hair standing up as if it had been in the microwave too long. Robertson usually has his hair braided for games and explained the new transformation. “My inspiration was Marius Nolte. He asked me too play with my hair out and I did. But I will have my old hair back in braids in the opener”, warned Quantez Robertson. Teammate Jacob Burtschi didn´t hesitate long coming up with a perfect comparison for the hair of Tez. “He has that Macey Gray look going”, laughed Jacob Burtschi. “Tez looks  a bit like outcast in 2000”, added Andy Rautins. The nicest thing seen on the court besides the hair of Tez was the presence of Philadelphia native Dawan Robinson who looked fit and healthy wearing neon red shoes. The first few minutes of the first quarter were a bit of feeling each other out as shots weren´t falling and the scoring was down. Jacob Burtschi got Frankfurt on the board first with a three pointer which was equaled by a rocket from downtown from ex Cuxhaven forward Scott Thomas who was the second leading scorer in German Pro A last season. Antwerpen was able to take the 8-4 lead as Frank Turner scored inside and Serbian power forward Marko Spica who played at John Bowler school Central Michigan scored inside. The Fraport Skyliners were getting good looks, but just had misfortune with hitting shots in the first few minutes. New Skyliner Andy Rautins who comes from New York then tied the game at 8-8 with a three pointer in which his release and demeanor looked as graceful as Singing in the rain star Gene Kelly as if he was hailing in a cab on Madison avenue in New York City. Frankfurt slowly got their rhythm on offense as Konstantin Klein connected on a three pointer and Rautins closed out a 10-0 run and 14-8 advantage. Antwerpen stayed on the heels of Frankfurt as Belgium national player Roel Moors scored on his patent penetration that was as good as unstoppable on this night and American Clayton Vette scored inside to cut the Frankfurt lead to 14-12. However Frankfurt closed out the first quarter in style with a 6-0 run to lead 20-12. Klein started the run with a beautifully timed penetration where he waited for the perfect time to score, Tez hit free throws as did Klein.

At the start of the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners got a bit of a shock as Dawan Robinson suffered a blow to the back and had to leave the game. He first stayed next to the bench to get treatment, but then left for the dressing room. Despite their floor general being off the floor, the Fraport Skyliners were able to get a flow on offense. Rautins scored inside, Johannes Voigtman then was the perfect trailer scoring in the lane getting a perfect feed from Tez for the 24-14 lead. Antwerpen then went on a mini 4-0 run as 215 big man Yannick Driessen who played 41 games in the top league in Europe for  MMT Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-ACB) scored on a dunk and lay in to cut the Frankfurt lead to 24-18. Frankfurt continued to roll on offense going on a 6-0 run to lead 30-18 as new Skyliner Kevin Bright who played a season at Vanderbilt showed his shooting touch connecting from outside, and Tez read an Antwerpen pass perfect got the steal and fed Klein for two easy points. Spica then made two shots to get Antwerpen back to 32-24, but then it was Bright again nailing a three pointer as Frankfurt led 35-24. Tez then made a lay in and Moors who at times felt like he penetrated all night long scored with his left hand. Moors was a pest all night long and Antwerpen assistant coach Brian Lynch who has the distinction of being married to 4 time Grand Slam winner Kim Clijsters knows the worth of the national player. “He is our captain and most experienced player. He did a good job keeping us in the game with his leadership. Every team needs a guy like that to give that experience”, stressed Brian Lynch. “We didn´t have to change the game plan after Robinson left. Klein and Merz did a good job. We have  a young team, but we can´t hang our heads when a guy like him goes down. The next guy has to come in and step up”, warned Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting under  40% as was Antwerpen. The rebounding was even at 19 and Frankfurt had eight turnovers and Antwerpen had nine turnovers.

Dawan Robinson returned back in the third quarter, but watched the rest of the game from the bench. The Fraport Skyliners came into the third quarter seemingly half on the court and half in the dressing room. They allowed Antwerpen to cruise out on a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 37-32. Frankfurt was playing lethargic and that calmness of a Robinson on the court was missing. Moors made free throws and then made a steal which led to a bucket on transition by Frank Turner who led the Dutch league twice in assists. The game remained tight as Frankfurt could never fully break away as Antwerpen remained close. Voigtman scored a pair of buckets as Frankfurt led 41-34. Frankfurt was getting out more on the fast break as Oklahoma native Burtschi made a steal feeding Tez for the simple score as Frankfurt led 43-26. Moors who was dribbling Skyliners silly all night long with his quick ball handling found Maxime De Zeeuw for the dunk. Tez then riffled a pass down low to Voigtman for the easy dunk and Vette scored inside as Frankfurt still led 47-41. Frankfurt closed out the third quarter with efficient and smart basketball going on a 7-2 run to lead 54-43 after 30 minutes. After a few minutes where Rautins missed some shots and made turnovers, his light shone now as he showed how explosive he can be on defense making three consecutive steals which led to a Burtschi and Voigtman baskets and he also scored himself. On the first steal, he missed an easy lay up and second chance which was put home by Burtschi on the third try, but the American wasn´t happy about that sequence of play. “I am sure that type of play has happened before to me. I still don’t have the legs and hope for a better result the next time. You have to get something like that out of your system”, stressed Andy Rautins. That great defensive outburst by Frankfurt was overshadowed a bit by the amazing buzzer beater lay in by Moors which cut the Frankfurt lead to 54-43 after three quarters. Everybody is always talking about the offense of Rautins, but this season his defense will also talk volumes. “I really have worked on my defense the last years. I pride my game on defense and I think a big focal point of my game this season will be my defense and not only my shooting”, warned Andy Rautins.

The fourth quarter was all about the miraculous comeback by Antwerpen and can the Fraport Skyliners hold on to the lead. The Fraport Skyliners started out the fourth quarter with quick fast break basketball as Burtschi scored twice on the fly to lead 58-45, but that was about all the offense that they would muster as they wouldn´t score another field goal in the last six minutes of play. Former Belgium U-20 national player Dennis Donkor got the Antwerpen run going with a pull up jumper. Ex TBB Trier guard Barry Stewart then scored twice as Frankfurt led only 58-51. Frank Turner then used every inch of his 178cm to weasel himself into the zone and somehow  shoveled home a lay in high of the glass in best Tiny Archibald manner. Frankfurt kept missing shots and Antwerpen couldn´t capitalize either missing a few more shots, but they then got the athletic brilliance of Donkor as he went coast to coast for a lay in as Antwerpen trailed only 58-55 with less than two minutes to go. Turner then made a steal and Donkor was in front of the pack getting the pass and easy bucket in transition as Frankfurt led only 58-57. Rautins then missed a jumper and Antwerpen actually regained the lead again after having it early in the first quarter with a Driessen basket 59-58. “A big reason for our comeback was that we found our intensity. We showed that once we come together that we can play. We started to defend and communicate”, commented Frank Turner. With 30 seconds to go Johannes Voigtman drew a foul, but hit only one free throw to tie the game at 59-59. Antwerpen had one last attempt to try to win the game, but ex Giessen 46er Barry Stewart missed an open shot to end the game. Both teams agreed not to play an overtime period. “We got away from our defense principles. We were careless with the ball. We need to play more smart basketball”, warned new Skyliner Andy Rautins. Antwerpen assistant coach Brian Lynch was happy with how his team stayed in the game for the 40 minutes and in the 16-0 run. “We got more aggressive on defense. We were able to get consecutive stops and forced them to tough shots. We forced 22 turnovers and were able to stay in the game with our defense”, said Brian Lynch. “We fell apart at the end, were sloppy and had no communication on defense”, expressed Jacob Burtschi.

The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Voigtmann with 16 points. Konstantin Klein contributed 13 points. Antwerpen was led by Frank Turner with 11 points and four assists. The Fraport Skyliners shot a dismal 36% from the field and 25% from the three point line while Antwerpen shot 41% helped by a strong fourth quarter, but were desolate from outside at 7%. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 38-33. Frankfurt had a sloppy 22 turnovers while Antwerpen had 18 turnovers. Antwerpen did what they wanted inside scoring 40 points in the paint showing the little resistance inside by Frankfurt. With the start of the regular season a week away, ex Bremerhaven captian Jacob Burtschi had a short perspective about the last weeks. “Our development has been up and down. We have had steps forward and back. We are a young team, but we need to communicate better, the older guys with the youth”, warned Jacob Burtschi. Antwerpen assistant coach Brian Lynch was impressed by the face of the Fraport Skyliners. “I like this team. They are an aggressive and fast team that likes to play small. That is a fun type of basketball to watch. I like how they play their young players. That is great for German basketball”, stressed Brian Lynch.

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