For Monopoly aficionado´s like current Fraport Skyliner Jacob Burtschi going to jail in the game is nothing to brag about, but if one has that special get out of jail free card ready, then one can get back down to business buying Park street and building hotels and making life miserable for opponents landing on the most rich spot on the game board. If one was playing for the chance to get a get out of jail free card and one had to guess what has been Jacob Burtschi´s favorite basketball address in the last three years with Hagen, Spain, Bremerhaven or Frankfurt, one would have had the best opportunity to escape the bars of justice if one chose Frankfurt. Burtschi played a very strong rookie season in Hagen, but off the court experienced a long grey winter in a city that isn´t necessarily known for its exquisite beauty where even the music of Garth Brooks might have had to do overtime work in getting the usual jovial American in a good mood for the next practice. In Spain, he lived in scenic Zaragoza where lounging on the banks of the Ebro river and listening to the American Top 40 country count down with Kix Brooks could never get old, but he never got a real chance with the team to display his basketball know how. Two seasons ago in Frankfurt, Burtschi came for the departed Jon Leuer who fled to the NBA. Without the services of Burtschi, the Fraport Skyliners wouldn´t have been playing for the last spot in the playoffs on the last game day in Bonn. As Burtschi came, the team turned it around going 14-7. Last season in Bremerhaven, he was captain on a playoff type team on paper that showed signs of getting to the May games early, but instead totally fell apart in the second half with internal problems affecting the team play. It is no secret that Burtschi was most happy in Frankfurt and that wasn´t more obvious than when he arrived in Frankfurt last summer to get ready for the upcoming season and held the little stuffed animal mascot Dunking Kong so tight to his body as if it was his own baby and was sporting that enormous signature smile that now could melt the ice bed of Eisbaeren Bremerhaven mascot Dunky. Last season Burtschi had less reason to smile up north, but now the forward Mr Top Gun who played at the Air Force is back in Frankfurt having signed a two year deal and is ready for take off. He may never had chosen a favorite city, but can one get better than three greats for Frankfurt? “Great city, great organization, and great fans”, warned Jacob Burtschi.
Last season the Chickasha native moved his Mr hustle play combined with at times lethal offense and never quit defense to the north to the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven to try to help the club reach the playoffs again. After a slow start where the team lost their first three games, the American had this explanation for the less than welcome beginning to the season. “We played against three good teams, but that is no excuse. We were just flat and didn´t start the games well. Bamberg outplayed us, against Wurzburg we couldn´t hit a shot for our life and against Ulm, we hit shots, but didn´t get stops. What we fixed one game didn´t work in the next”, stressed Burtschi. The team then finally picked it up and played like a possible playoff team and it seemed like he could help assist the team get back to the playoffs again. However in the second half of the season, the team was unable to play anything like a playoff team losing more and more and losing to teams they should have beaten. It was also noticeable on the court that there was no or very little team chemistry and even a possible rift between certain players. This obviously didn´t make the captain duties any easier for Burtschi which effected his own individual play on the court. After losing their first three games, they then won six of their next seven games, but just couldn´t find a rhythm as they then preceded to lose their next three games. In the second half of the season they lost way more games than they should of and had people stunned that they would give performances like a 99-93 win against Tuebingen showing what their offense was capable of, but then one week later succumbing to the always brutal aggressive defense of Wurzburg mustering only 53 points. At times it seemed like the most fun that Burtschi had was teeing up golf balls at a local driving range in Bremerhaven with teammate Keith Waleskowski and enjoying the two huge wins against Munich and Bamberg in the second half of the season at home. Last season for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven he played 33 games averaging 9.8ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 45.9%, 3FGP: 40.3%, FT: 89.3%. What is curious is that these stats were actually a tad better than what he produced in Frankfurt in the 2011-2102 season. But to be a complete player that performs to his highest ability, a player needs to be consistent and that is something that he wasn´t in Bremerhaven. It is no secret that Burtschi is a scorer something he showed in Hagen, but in a span of four games with Bremerhaven he scored a total of 12 points including the big goose egg against ratiopharm Ulm. It is hard to dissect exactly what went wrong, but possibly he just had to do much to do and didn´t always get the necessary support from his teammates. He rebounded in double figures four times which speaks for his aggressive play on the boards, but not necessarily for the Bremerhaven big men. It was a tough season for the Oklahoma native, but his experience as captain surely helped and sometimes teams are put together wrong and never really gel. “I struggled towards the second half of the season shooting the ball and that’s a big part of my game. We had the talent, we just didn’t have a floor general to get other guys the ball. We had some talented guys, but they weren’t given the chance to do what they were brought in to do because the ball never got moving”, stressed Jacob Burtschi.
Now Burtschi is in his second tour of duty with the Fraport Skyliners. Burtschi signing a two year deal early in May made official on his birthday and that was a positive signal by the club how important the forward was for them securing his services early in the off season. However much has changed since the last time Burtschi stepped on the court in Bonn as a Skyliner as the only players remaining are Quantez Robertson, Marius Nolte and Danilo Barthel. Two seasons ago, he was one of many Americans that could play as he was lacing up his sneakers with ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson, current NBA player Tim Ohlbrecht, scoring ace and shooting menace Jimmy Mckinney and talented American guards Michael Thompson and Devin Gibson. This time around there are less Americans and whenever Burtschi steps on the court, he see less familiar faces and much young German blood with guys like Konstantin Klein, Johannes Voigtmann, Kevin Bright or Stefan Illzhoefer. The average age of the German young guns of nine players that are in the extended roster is 20 and the more mature gun Burtschi is 29. He may be the second oldest on the team behind Marius Nolte and need to take even more responsibility with the departure of Dawan Robinson, and with his vast exposure of being in the Air Force and being captain with Bremerhaven will be an important added spice of knowledge for the Germans who are still developing. “I know the young guys are hungry and want to play. I like that. I feel like my experience will help some but I just have to lead by example along with some of the other older guys”, added Jacob Burtschi. It could very well be that a number of the young German players will get ample playing time in the Beko BBL and the gregarious personality of Burstchi, but at the same time his straight forward winning mentality will help the youth in their further development on and off the court. Burtschi is playing his usual hustling game in that he is an ambitious worker on the court that isn´t too dignified to dive on the court for a loose ball various times during a game as he showcased in Trier two seasons ago, or recently in the win against Wurzburg where he saved a loose ball and throwing the ball off a Wurzburg player giving Frankfurt possession, but also needs to be a scoring option on this team to be successful. After eight games, the American is averaging 9,3ppg, 5,4rpg, 1,1apg, and 1,3spg and is shooting 51% from outside. He only had seven shots in the first game, while two against Wurzburg which is way too little for the talented offensive player that he is. He had his breakout game against his ex team in Bremerhaven netting 16 points on 5/6 shooting from downtown. Maybe the intense scoring ability of ex NBA player Andrew Rautins who had scored 60 points against Bremerhaven and Wurzburg in consecutive games will infect his game, but the Oklahoma native isn’t worried about getting an ample amount of shots. “I won´t force shots or beg for them”, stressed Burtschi. Head coach Gordon Herbert has already stressed that Frankfurt will play an organized offensive basketball with a top notch defense that will always be on the outlook to get easy points as a result. This fits perfectly into the game of Burtschi who can be a menace on defense and silence the opponent with his three pointer and relentless work on the boards. With the injury to captain Marius Nolte, Burtschi has to take more responsibility on the court as his captain experience in Bremerhaven and leadership qualities now are more than in demand. Burtschi is in the perfect basketball age and is still looking to enjoy German café´s in May and reach that first Beko BBL playoff appearance. With Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert is back again in that situation where he was in 2001-2002 where he took over a very young team and three years later they were Beko BBL champions. The club has had a slow start, but that is understandable as the injury bug, departure of Dawan Robinson and new players to be integrated has scathed the team a bit in the early going. It will be interesting to see what Herbert makes out of this team, but one thing is certain that no matter where the club ends this season, Burtschi will be ready for take off in each game. Last season Burtschi missed a dunk against his old team as he had Danilo Barthel in the corner of his eyes coming at him from behind ready to block him. Burtschi has missed dunks before in practice and even was blocked by Barthel in practice in the 2011-2012 season. Barthel last season showed that white men can jump as he produced some crashing dunks in games that often made the highlight films. Burtschi will have enough time this season to get some pointers from Barthel in the dunking category, but even if a Larry Bird couldn´t jump, it was good enough for three NBA titles and being known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Burtschi won´t need to dunk, because he will be able to get the Fraport Skyliners in flight with his overall game and even better be the feeder with his crisp passing for future ally-op dunks from Danilo Barthel and Quantez Robertson.