Since the last time TBB Trier reached the playoffs in 2004, players have come and gone in the Mosel town like NFL teams changing head coaches as 25% of the NFL teams entered the 2013-2104 with different coaches. If one makes a list of players in the last years in Trier, one had NBA flair with guys like Marcus Taylor or Norman Richardson not to forget current NBA player Chris Copeland who played two seasons in Trier who had loads of talent, but in a way a player of many in the basketball sea that could reach the NBA and did. Who could forget Jamal Shuler who took part at the Beko BBL dunk contest, a George Evans who could tell more army stories then basketball anecdotes, point guard Derek Raivio who was a grown man, but looked like a 15 year old, a Tommy Adams that could shoot out the lights in practice, but not always when it counted or Dru Joyce who had enough Lebron James stories for cold winter bus rides. However one thing that will never change in Trier is the loyal faithful presence of Aggi Mock who looks like a cousin of ZZ Top with his long black graying beard. However since the arrival of Henrik Rodl in 2010, he has started a commendable trend of signing, giving minutes and developing young Germans and one could almost say here come the TBB Trier Germans. The Fraport Skyliners also have started this type of trend last season and for whatever reasons if linked with a lower budget than usual have had to go the German route. One could say that on November second the TBB Trier Germans hosted the Fraport Skyliners Germans. When looking at the team stats, TBB Trier has five Germans this season and they have played an average of 15,5 minutes per game combined, while Gordon Herbert has seven Germans on the roster and they together average 15,2 minutes per game slightly behind TBB Trier, but if you take away Tim Oldenburg and Stefan illzhoefer who average only 1,0 minute per game and play only if really needed and average together the minutes of Konstantin Klein, Danilo Barthel, Johannes Voigtmann, Kevin Bright and Max Merz, you get 20,5 minutes per game combined. On paper, the Fraport Skyliners won the which team plays the more Germans, but who would win on the court and that was the Fraport Skyliners out toughing TBB Trier on the court 85-75 and also with the Germans having five players on the court to two players for TBB. Fraport Skyliner Danilo Barthel who is the heart of the German development in Frankfurt was proud to play in a game like this where so many Germans were on the court. “It is really great how so many Germans are getting minutes on both teams that are doing ok in the standings. It is apparent to see that the players are developing and improving each day. Some of these guys wouldn´t be getting as many minutes for other teams and they know that. We take the chances that we get and we give the best each minute that we are on the court”, stressed Danilo Barthel. TBB Trier Canadian Jermaine Bucknor played for the Frankfurt Skyliners in the 2010-2011 season and was also impressed with the youth work of both teams. “What Frankfurt and Trier have done with youth is great. I wish that we had had that in Canada for players like Andrew Rautins, Jermaine Anderson or myself. I think that both coaches have done a great job. Roedl gives the young players so much confidence for them to improve on a daily basis. Herbert does the same thing in that he gives his players so much confidence and some of these Germans are really good”, stressed ex Wurzburg forward Jermaine Bucknor. TBB Trier high scoring American Trevon Hughes had a stern face after the loss, but also gave his five cents to the youth development. “The Germans on the court today really are good and have talent. I think that guys like Anthony Canty and Matias Monninghoff could of made the difference today. Our Germans are always improving each day. I see it with Andreas Seiferth. He is a beast and is always working hard. He doesn´t talk much, but just does what he is told”, expressed Trevon Hughes. “I think it is great what both clubs do and it is something that you don´t see often in Europe. It is a great opportunity for the young guys like a Max Merz who works so hard each day. He wants to get better each day and I like his aggressive defense. He has raw talent for a point guard”, added Andrew Rautins.
The most important thing for 40 minutes for any team is too get the win, but in order for that to happen other little things need to be done on the court, like big defensive plays, crunch time big shots or exciting player battles on the court. In the NBA, these showtime duels happen as frequently as a player saying the standard reply after a win, we hit shots and played good defense, but in the Beko BBL these duels don´t happen as often, but when they do, it is a real treat to watch for the fans. Fraport Skyliner Andrew Rautins had his best shooting game in Bremerhaven connecting for 32 points and found his groove early on in Trier finding his range from outside as well as unleashing some nifty floaters from his sleeve. Trevon Hughes of TBB Trier who is a scoring point guard also found his rhythm early on and was their go to guy. Rautins who has had many duels with other players in the NCAA and pro´s and likes the challenge, but knows that the team aspect comes before any shooting clinic against an American on the court. “I don´t think that much about these player duels on the court and don´t try to match buckets with him, but just wait for my chance and take it. Tervon Hughes had a great game that knows how to create for his teammates and shoot the ball. He really knew how to draw fouls and score”, stressed Andrew Rautins. Rautins finished with 30 points, his second 30 point game in the Beko BBL while Hughes finished with 29 points and could of won the duel and game if he had dropped a few more shots in crunch time, but it was just one of those games where missing shots belong to the game. “Having this duel with Rautins was fun. I really like to compete and he didn´t back down. Rautins made me play better. Basketball is a mans game and that is the time where you see what is inside you as a player. Its not about one on one, but it is a team game. He did a better job getting his team the win”, said American Trevon Hughes. For Canadian Bucknor seeing the two guys battle might have been fun for the fans, but he didn´t have the option to pull out a lazy boy chair and munch on some popcorn and cheer for his guy. “It isn´t as fun to watch on the court. I know Andy Rautins since seven years and played on the Canadian national team and am happy for him. I am happy that Trevon Hughes found his comfort zone early and he is one of the most talented players in the Beko BBL. He will be ready for a rematch in Frankfurt”, smiled Jermaine Bucknor.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game resting in 14th place with a record of 2-4 and had just had a very turbulent week that saw experienced point guard Dawan Robinson have to pack his bags and two possible new players Americans Kevin Foster and Jeriem Anderson not pass the obligatory medical checks. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game like a beaten dog or injured coyote that had been hit by a car and reacted like the dog or coyote in that they were most dangerous in that situation when one seems to be on the verge of being down and out. The Fraport Skyliners presented themselves in a very professional way getting off to a great start and just concentrated on what they had and not on what they didn´t have mentally and played three strong quarters with the exception of the third quarters where they allowed TBB Trier back into the game being outscored 28-14. Frankfurt gave a magnificent team performance and had big games from Rautins and Burtschi and had sufficient support from the young German guns. “We did a great job concentrating on the players that we had. We had a good week to practice with the players that we had. Konstantin Klein and Max Merz did a good job at the point guard position controlling the game. The most important thing we achieved was that we won the rebounding. We gave up some offensive rebounds, but as a whole played good team defense. We moved the ball well and had many extra passes”, stressed Heidelberg native Danilo Barthel. TBB Trier was coming off a big 85-79 win in Ulm and were looking for their third win in a row, but had to match a hungry and focused Frankfurt team and were unable to come out with the same energy. “Frankfurt came out with a lot of energy and we were unable to match that. You need to do that and if you don´t you have to play catch up the whole game and we used a lot of energy. We had to change the pace in our comeback. They made their run at the end and we didn´t have the time to answer”, stressed Trevon Hughes. 2004 NCAA winner with Uconn Denham Brown who had teammates like NBA players Josh Boone, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor or Charlie Villaneuva and who also played in the NBA with the Supersonics and is friends with the Trier Canadians Anderson and Bucknor being teammates on the Canadian national team was on hand for the game as he is looking for a team and was impressed by the Fraport Skyliners. “Frankfurt played very smart and had good ball movement and played to their strength around Andrew Rautins. They went to zone and slowed down Trier and rebounded very well. They let Hughes do what he wanted and locked down on everyone else”, stressed Denham Brown.
The game marked a special meeting between Canadians as TBB Trier had their Canadians Jermaine Bucknor, Warren Ward and Jermaine Anderson while the Fraport Skyliners had Andy Rautins and head coach Gordon Herbert. Two of these Canadians also had back to back birthdays as Bucknor turned 30 on Friday and birthday boy Rautins turned 27. 4,182 fans were in the arena to witness the game and saw an even game for the first two minutes until Frankfurt could break away. Stefan Schmidt got TBB Trier on the board first, but Rautins tied the game with a floater. After a Schmidt free throw, the Fraport Sklyiners cruised out on a 16-7 run to lead 18-8. It was the Skyliner Germans that were vital in this run. Rautins started the run with a lay in, which was followed by Barthel and Klein lay ups as Frankfurt was taking apart the TBB Trier defense with quick passes and cutting to the basket to lead 8-3. American Hughes then showed his calm, cool killer instinct as he dropped a three pointer as if he was all alone on the playground in Queens, New York. Frankfurt then continued to play spirited basketball mixing it up a bit also as Rautins dropped a three pointer and then did like an NFL quarterback heaving a long bomb touchdown pass to Barthel who had snuck behind the defense for an easy lay up. Klein then hit a three pointer and Barthel scored inside again. Hughes who played at Wisconsin(NCAA) with ex Skyliner Jon Leuer had scored 11 consecutive points in Ulm and showed his ability to score in bunches as he answered seven points in a row to cut the Frankfurt lead to 18-15. Rautins then connected on a three pointer after having missed two shots in a row giving the classic quotation” If you don’t make shots, keep shooting” true meaning and Barthel scored inside. In the last two minutes, Frankfurt received two three pointers form Rautins and Jacob Burtschi while Bucknor also scored from downtown, but the Fraport Skyliners led 29-20. “We had to come out right away and make a statement and not fall behind. Our start was key for how the game would go for us”, stated Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport were shooting 58% from the field and 63% from outside while TBB Trier was shooting 45% from the field and 50% from outside. Frankfurt had the 11-6 rebound edge and four turnovers while TBB Trier had five turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners continued to dominate leading by as much as 14 points and just executing on offense with consistency. Ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi hit consecutive jumpers giving the Fraport Skyliners the 34-20 advantage. However TBB Trier didn´t let this ruffle their feathers as they countered with a 7-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 34-27. Basketball is a game of runs and TBB Trier mixed up their offense as Bucknor put on a dribble show at the top of the key getting N#Diaye dizzy as he was up top to challenge him and hit a jumper while Hughes snuck inside again scoring and Vitalis Chikoko did what he does best attacking the offensive boards getting a tip in. Frankfurt then executed a beautiful play bringing back memories to the 2010-2011 season where Le Mans player Dashaun Wood would make the perfect back door pass to Quantez Robertson who would come on flight from the wing and finish with a dunk as Barthel found Burtschi cutting inside from the wing for the easy lay in. The beautiful combinations of Frankfurt continued as Klein sped in from the base line and in double team somehow got the pass to Barthel for the easy put back as Frankfurt led 38-29. After a Kevin Bright lay in, Canadian Warren Ward and Rautins exchanged buckets as Frankfurt still led 44-32. In the last two minutes Chikoko continued to hurt Frankfurt with his athletic play inside scoring twice, but that was matched by a Bright bomb from the parking lot and a Johannes Voigtmann dunk that scored at the buzzer after getting a difficult pass out of the double team from Barthel. The Fraport Skyliners led 49-36 at halftime. “We were very aggressive on offense and hit our shots”, expressed Andrew Rautins. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 58% from the field and 58% from the three point line while TBB Trier was shooting 44% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 18-14 rebound edge and only six turnovers while TBB Trier had eight turnovers.
Last season, the Fraport Skyliners had played a strong first half in Trier and totally fell apart in the third quarter losing the game and a week ago fell apart in the third quarter at home against Ludwigsburg and for some reason the third quarter remains to be a real sore spot for the Fraport Skyliners. Once TBB Trier starts to hit shots, the arena gets louder and it gets very difficult for the opponent. TBB Trier started the third quarter with a bang with a 5-0 run as Chikoko scored over Voigtmann and Lithuvanian Laurynas Samenas scored from the Porta Nigra with a Burtschi hand that had nothing but net and “are you kidding me” written all over the face of Burtschi as Frankfurt led only 49-41. Rautins and Bucknor then exchanged three pointers as Frankfurt led 52-44. Chikoko remained to be a thorn in the defensive side for Frankfurt as he connected over Voigtmann again as TBB Trier trailed 52-46. Frankfurt then went on a mini 4-0 run as Voigtmann saw a hidden Rautins under the basket and fed him for the easy lay in and Voigtmann then scored inside as Frankfurt had the 56-46 lead. Then it was once again for Hughes to shine as he was involved on the next three TBB Trier possessions as he first nailed a three pointer and then made a Derrick Rose like lay in protecting the ball and using a type of hook shot motion while driving to the basket and finishing and he then penetrated and drew two defenders on him and made the no look pass to Chikoko for an easy put back as Frankfurt led 58-53. Then it was time again for the Rautins-Hughes duel as they traded three pointers with Frankfurt still leading 61-56. Rautins too often is seen as just being able to shoot out the lights, but he can pass just as well as he found Voigtmann free cutting to the hoop and fed him for the monster two handed dunk as Frankfurt led 63-56. However a few bad decisions and turnovers for Frankfurt led to a 8-0 TBB Trier run to close out the third quarter and give them the 64-63 lead. Bucknor started the run with a jumper and Jermaine Anderson and Ward finished with three pointers. “We stuck to our game plan and moved the ball well and hit shots. We made them feel uncomfortable on offense with our defense”, added Jermaine Bucknor. “Trier hit some very tough in your face shots which got them back into the game”, added Jacob Burtschi. TBB Trier was shooting 51% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 56% from the field and 56% from the parking lot. Both teams had 23 rebounds and Frankfurt 11 turnovers and TBB Trier nine turnovers.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was very exciting as the game went back and fourth with three lead changes. Jacob Burtschi gave his team the lead back with a three pointer, but Hughes retaliated with a shot from downtown hitting over Klein as TBB Trier led 67-66. Klein got revenge for his mistake on defense by nailing from beyond the three point line giving Frankfurt the lead back at 69-67 and Frankfurt would never look back again. Rautins then hit some free throws and Hughes scored again from outside, but Frankfurt still led 73-70. Semanas then connected from outside as TBB Trier trailed only 74-73, but every time TBB Trier was threatening to regain the lead, Frankfurt had an answer as Bright scored on the perfect executed fast break getting a pass from Burtschi. Hughes then did his last good deed of the day lofting up the perfect ally-op pass to Chikoko who just tap dunked it home inside of making the big dunk for the highlight reel with the risk that it might have popped out. Klein then scored a big layup to give Frankfurt the 78-75 win and clinch the win as Hughes missed on the next three TBB Trier possessions and Frankfurt closed the door with free throws from Rautins Burtschi and Barthel closing out the game with a 9-0 run. “The key at the end was that we rebounded the ball something that we couldn´t do against Ludwigsburg”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. “That is just how the cookie crumbles at the end. I usually make those shots, but they just didn´t want to fall in”, stressed Trevon Hughes. “You can´t blame a guy like Trevon Hughes at the end for missing some shots. He hit big shots all game long to keep us in the game. That is how basketball is sometimes. We had breakdowns and lost as a team”, stressed Jermaine Bucknor.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Andrew Rautins with 30 points. Danilo Barthel had 15 points, 10 rebound and five assists. Jacob Burtschi contributed with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Konstantin Klein chipped in with 10 points and four assists. TBB Trier was led by Trevon Hughes with 29 points and five assists. Vitalis Chikoko added 14 points and seven rebounds. Warren ward scored 11 points and Jermaine Bucknor contributed 10 points and nine rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners had great shooting day at 52% from the field and 50% from downtown while TBB Trier shot a respectable 45% from the field and 46% from downtown. Frankfurt who came into the game averaging only 29 rebounds and TBB trier 38 did a great job on the boards winning the rebound battle35-30, but had 14 rebounds and TBB Trier 13 rebounds. Another big stat was the Frankfurt domination of 36-24 points in the paint. Much respect goes to the Fraport Skyliners sticking through rough teams and stepping up as a unified unit. “Even if we were down a few guys, we played as a team and stuck together. I am very proud of the guys”, stressed birthday boy Andrew Rautins. Skyliner Jacob Burtschi as always found extra special words for the team fight through adversary and kept the Rautins birthday present simple. “Our biggest strength tonight was that we played as a team and stayed away from individual play. Tough times never last, but tough players do. Andy will get a beer and candy bar for his birthday from me”, joked Jacob Burtschi.