The last time the Fraport Skyliners played an official game, FC Bayern Munich still wasn´t crowned Champions League winner they weren´t fretful at all of the chances of Borussia Dortmund to upset them, tennis ace Andy Murray was probably still having numerous Wimbeldon dreams of winning and Lebron James was pulling an Eddie Murphy from Beverly Hills Cop babling “lalalala I cant hear you” to any doubters about him ever being able to repeat as NBA champion which he did. All these events occurred after April 27th the last official game of the Fraport Skyliners in the 2012-2013 season as they had to win on the last game day to stay in the league and did putting the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg in their place with a huge home victory. Fans now had to wait more than five months to get the ball bouncing again and the Fraport Skyliners didn´t have an easy place to start the new 2013-2014 season as they had to play at medi bayreuth one of the nastiest and loudest arenas in the Beko BBL. Since Bayreuth has returned to the Beko BBL, Frankfurt has a 1-2 record in the Oberfrankenhalle and even lost three years ago with a monster game by 2011 MVP Dashaum Wood who proclaimed the arena one of the loudest that he has played in Europe. The Fraport Skyliners opened the new season in Bayreuth losing a tough defensive battle that was dominated by bricks in the first half from both teams as neither could hit the ocean and as always a very loud crowd that made life difficult for the Fraport Skyliners. “It was an ugly first half for both teams. There are days where shots fall and days where they don´t. Nobody could any shots into the ocean and both teams were standing on the beach”, smiled ex Bamberg forward Beckham Wyrick. One of the match winners of the game was Brian Qvale who was gleaming after the game when asked about the home crowd. “I like the home crowd fans. It was a great atmosphere and they helped us the whole game. I am looking forward to playing all home games this season”, added Brian Qvale. “Even though it was an ugly game, our fans were always behind us. WE defended very hard and we don´t care if the game is pretty or ugly, but that in the end we get a win”, stressed medi Bayreuth guard Simon Schmitz.
It was a game for Beko BBL debuts for guys like Kevin Bright, Brian Qvale and Aziz N’Diaye. It was third year man Qvale against rookie N’Diaye who played at Washington and had been two weeks in Spain with Ourense before heading to Germany. Qvale had a huge debut game netting 19 points, grabbing seven boards and deflecting away four Skyliner shots. After playing in Turkey and Spain, expectations were difficult to fulfill on account of past ex NBA players, but it didn´t take anyone long to forget guys like Jared Reiner and Brandon Hunter. “I just wanted to go out and do the best that I could. After a slow start in the first half, our shots started to fall. On defense I had to switch much on account of their screen and role and just tried to contest as many shots as possible”, stressed Brian Qvale. He hit some big under pressure shots in the second half as Frankfurt was lurking in the shadows and made big defensive plays and already has the thumbs up from teammates and opponents. “He is a different type of center from Reiner and Hunter. He has soft hands and shots at a high percentage. He is very smart and finds the right position and gets the ball and shoots right away without needing to dribble the ball”, stressed teammate Simon Schmitz. Fraport Skyliner center Johannes Voigtmann had a solid game with 10 points and seven rebounds, but didn´t always have an easy time with the big man from Montana. “Qvale is very skillful and I didn´t always look so good defending him. He defended very well on the pick and role and played well under pressure. It was a learning experience for me”, stressed Johannes Voigtmann.
25 year old Aziz N’Diaye from Senegal that has no resemblance to ex Skyliner Malick Badiane in that he has some muscle on his body didn´t have the best of debuts playing 9.54 minutes missing two shots, grabbing a rebound, turnover and block shot. He had to defend Qvale and Ronald Burrell. It is no secret that the role of the big man is not too necessarily score in bunches, but to dominate the paint with rebounds and keeping the opponent out and getting some blocks. He did have a sweet block on Burrell, but often was slower than Burrell or Qvale and then when he did get a shot tried to hard and took a totally wild shot. He made rookie mistakes like making an extra pass as the 24 second clock expired. Despite all this, the center has a lot of potential and one just needs to give him some time to develop. “He is a big presence and still very raw. He will improve down the road and will be a big force for us”, warned Jacob Burtschi. “He is very tall with size and has potential. We may not have seen him tonight, but I saw video of him making nice hook shots”, added Brian Qvale. His teammate Johannes Voigtmann works closely with him every day and also stresses time is needed for him to break through. “He has only been here a week and still needs time to learn everything. It takes time to get used to the European style of play. He is a good guy and helps us off the court with his talking”, added Johannes Voigtmann.
3,391 fans were in the arena to watch the home opener of medi Bayreuth as the Fraport Skyliners started with Dawan Robinson, Andy Rautins, Quantez Robertson, Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann while medi Bayreuth countered with Kevin Hamilton, Nicolai Simon, Kyle Weems, Ronald Burrell and Brian Qvale. Both teams started off very slowly making a collection of bricks as hitting shots was as difficult as trying to figure out the new name of the medi bayreuth mascot. American Brian Qvale was already a menace in the first few minutes scoring the first two points of the quarter on a second effort after Barthel blocked him then made a mega block on Barthel and tipped a loose ball to Burrell. The Fraport Skyliners overcame this early minutes intensity of medi bayreuth and actually went on a quiet 6-0 run to lead 6-2. Dawan Robinson looked his old self scooting inside for a easy lay in and then ex NBA player Andy Rautins banged home a three pointer and Johannes Voigtmann connected on a free throw. Media Bayreuth must of thought what Frankfurt can do so can we answering with their own 6-0 run to take the 8-6 lead. Nico Simon dropped a three pointer from the top of the key and Qvale was served up a pretty pass from Hamilton for the easy lay in. Voigtmann then tied up the game with a lay in getting a quick pass from Robinson to knot the game up at 8-8. Frankfurt then had one second on the shot clock and Voigtmann hit a beautiful catch and pop jumper over Qvale for the 10-8 advantage. Qvale tied the score at 10-10 and Burrell gave Bayreuth the 12-10 lead. Quantez Robertson closed out the scoring with a drive from the baseline as the game was dead locked at 12-12 after one quarter. Both teams were still finding their groove, but one player who had his rhythm was Kevin Hamilton who was rebounding like a center grabbing an amazing offensive rebound in traffic, dishing out assists and just being the ultimate floor general. “When Kevin Hamilton is active, he gives us an immense boost. I am sure that we will see much from him this season”, warned Beckham Wyrick.
Kyle Weems remained cold, but medi bayreuth had other weapons as they started off the second quarter with an overwhelming 5-0 run to lead 17-12. New York native Bryan Bailey took off on the dribble drive and fed Burrell for an easy put back. Bailey then scored inside. Frankfurt had less intensity, were too passive on defense and rookie mistakes of Bright and N’Diaye were present. However the Mannheim native Bright quickly erased mistakes with a high rainbow three pointer over Wyrick and Robinson snuck away on the fast break tying the score at 17-17. Hamilton kept playing like a second center grabbing an offensive rebound and making a put back, but Voigtmann tied the score at 19-19 with a lay in after Konstantin Klein found the big man with day light. medi bayreuth then went on a mini 4-0 run as Qvale beat Voigtmann inside and Burrell connected on a mid distance jumper as Bayreuth led 23-19. Quantez Robertson wasn´t always present, but when he was, he was deadly as he scored two consecutive buckets scoring inside and stealing the ball from the hands of Hamilton for a fast break basket. Klein then gave Frankfurt the 25-24 lead with a lay in in traffic. Hamilton hit free throws, but Robinson scored the last basket of the second quarter as the Fraport Skyliners led 27-26. “Our shots weren´t falling in the first half, but Frankfurt defended well. When that happens then it makes it more difficult for shots to fall”, stressed Simon Schmitz. An interesting stat in the first half was that Jacob Burtschi took no shot which is unusual, but if you know the Air Force alumnist then he isn´t one too force shots. “I wont force up shots or beg for them. I wasn´t upset, because we got clean shots”, stressed Jacob Burtschi.
The third quarter has seemed to be like a sore spot for the Fraport Skyliners for years. Despite listening to the coaching staff at halftime and knowing what mistakes to correct, the club comes out flat and that was the case again in Bayreuth. But the team was lucky that despite getting three straight turnovers and not scoring in their first five possessions, medi bayreuth couldn´t use it much to their advantage as they led only 30-27 as Qvale hit free throws and scored inside once again getting the pass from Hamilton who finished with seven assists. With medi bayreuth leading 33-31, and halfway through the third quarter, it was each teams best shooter Andi Rautins and Kyle Weems who hit back to back three pointers to break the ice and from that point on, both teams left their brick battle funk and started to shoot better. It had taken Weems 27 minutes to hit his first field goal. medi bayreuth went on a 5-0 run as Beckham Wyrick nailed a pull up jumper and Simon a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 41-36. Despite the added shooting pressure by medi Bayreuth, it was youngster Kevin Bright that hit two jumpers to keep Frankfurt in the game trailing 44-41. Burrell and Rautins traded buckets as Frankfurt trailed 46-44. Burrell then scored and with a few seconds to play in the third quarter Voigtmann hit a clutch reverse lay up as Frankfurt cut the medi Bayreuth lead to 48-46.
It looked like the game would be tight in the fourth quarter and go down the wire, but instead the Fraport Skyliners came out totally flat in the fourth quarter and were steamrolled by medi bayreuth that went on a 12-0 run to lead 60-46 and decide the game as their offensive rhythm finally took charge. Ronald Burrell started the scoring binge with a left handed lay in and then let go a scream as if he had just been released from having to watch a Days of our lives marathon. Burrell then made a free throw and Bailey scored inside as medi bayreuth led 53-46. Then Jacob Burtschi made a big hustle play tipping in a ball, but instead was called with an offensive foul that looked very questionable. The Oklahoma native was less than pleased with the call and argued with the referee. This call may have been a game changer as a bucket from Burtschi would have stopped the run, but instead it continued as Schmitz nailed a three pointer letting out a yell of happiness and Qvale scored over N’Diaye. Burrell then hit a jumper as Frankfurt trailed 60-46. Bayreuth did this big run without playmaker Kevin Hamilton who was on the bench enjoying the show. “Simon Schmitz hit some big shots and ran the team well in my absence. We have talent at every position and have no superstar. We depend and trust each other”, commented Kevin Hamilton. It took Frankfurt almost six minutes to score their first points as Barthel scored inside getting the and one cutting the Bayreuth lead to 60-49. Frankfurt got a better rhythm on offense, but time was running out. Frankfurt then made their best offensive play of the night as Rautins found Voigtmann in the post with a quick pass, and the big man found Barthel back door with a thunderous dunk as Frankfurt trailed 62-53. Frankfurt then caught Bayreuth sleeping as Robinson scored on the fast break as Bayreuth led only 62-55. Despite a time out, medi bayreuth worked well under pressure especially big man Qvale who scored consecutive baskets scoring on a catch and hook shot and lay in as Frankfurt trailed 66-55. Frankfurt was able to cut the Bayreuth lead to 68-60 with a minute to play with clutch crunch time baskets from Robinson and Barthel. Hamiltin and Bailey made free throws and a Robertson shot over Weems and Robinson buzzer beater couldn´t change anything as the Fraport Skyliners lost their first game of the season. “This was a defensive game. We just don´t have so many offensive studs. We had bad rotations in the second half and they hit shots. We missed shots and had turnovers, but were still in the game. Burrell hit shots and Qvale made big plays. They were just better than us tonight”, added Jacob Burtschi. “We shot only 9% in the first half, but coach told us at half time, to keep defending and our shots will come. Our philosophy is too defend well and get easy baskets. We also hit some threes which changed the game”, added Simon Schmitz. medi bayreuth was led by Brian Qvale with 19 points and seven rebounds. Ronald Burrell added 17 points. Bryan Bailey chipped in with 11 points and Kevin Hamilton with 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Dawan Robinson with 19 points. Andy Rautins added 11 points and Johannes Voigtmann had 10 points. In the end, both teams had somehwat relieved themselves from the brick battle, in that they both shot over 40%, but stayed bitter cold from outside as medi Bayreuth sho 23% and Frankfurt 29%. REbounding was quite even as Bayreuth grabbed 33 and Frankfurt 32. Bayreuth had six more possessions with nine turnovers while Frankfurt had 15.The next game for the Fraport Skyliners is October 6th against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.