What cities and ex teammates do you get if you take a California city that is adjacent to the west of Oakland and east of San Francisco, observes many wind and kite surfers, has the official offices of the Oakland Raiders and hosts the second oldest and longest Fourth of July parade and an Oklahoma city that has the annual festival of light, the muscle car ranch hosting an annual swap meet and concert that has featured well known rock groups like Jefferson Airplane and Bad Company and has an NFL player Stephen Jackson form the Denver Broncos as a notable person? Well you get Alameda, California native Alex Harris of the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and Chickasha, Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi of the Fraport Skyliners. Last season, the 27 year old 196cm forward Alex Harris and the 29 year old 199 cm Jacob Burtschi played together with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven and both had less than solid seasons and the California native was injured for a part of the season and never found a smooth rhythm while Burtschi was captain of the team and didn´t find that consistent touch in his game and had his hands full with a team that had internal problems. Both guys who shared a good camaraderie in Bremerhaven came back on the court again, but as opponents and while Burtschi and his Skyliner teammates had to find a way to deflect the annoying pink of the Paul Horn arena and Harris and his teammates had to find a way to get along without important scorer Johannes Lischka and find a way to keep an eye on sharp shooter Andrew Rautins with possibly unleashing the Tiger mascot for some havoc. However Jacob Burtschi won round one against his buddy Alex Harris as the Fraport Skyliners silenced the Tiger jungle with a big 76-67 victory in Tuebingen. Burtschi who found his touch from outside was happy to see his buddy again. “Alex is like a brother to me. He had a rough start to game, but finished strong with a dunk and three pointer. He has been up and down with Tuebingen, but once he gets everything figured out there, he will be a very tough player in the league”, stressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. After the game despite a tough loss, Harris had a golden smile when he could reflect on the game and character of his ex teammate Burtschi. “The thing I respected most about him was his work ethic in Bremerhaven. He took everything serious and even when he had to guard bigger players he never complained and fought like hell. He is undersized, but a great rebounder that works his butt off. He has an outstanding character and one of the closest friends that I have and he is one of those guys that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. I really wish that I could of beat him, but he deserved to win”, added ex Ludwigsburg American Alex Harris. Injured Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson knew what it felt like for teammate Burtschi seeing Harris play as the American is good friends with Mark Dorris who will enter the Fraport arena next weekend with Phoenix Hagen, but not play against Tez. “It is always good to see Dorris. We played against each other last summer. I will talk some trash and get under his skin from the bench”, smiled Robertson.
Before the season started 37 year old Serb Alexsandar Nadjfeji came to Tuebingen and the club saw him as being the right hand to head coach Igor Perovic on the sidelines, but then was able to jump into the roster as an extra import player when the team brought in German/Serb Bogdan Radosavljevic and he has been a very important player for the club and who knows where the team would be on the court and mentally if he wasn´t on the team. Despite his age, he is always one of those players that can step up big at any time. The Serb won championships and cups with Cologne and Berlin and brings the needed experience and winning mentality to a team in the cellar. In the second quarter, he came up big scoring four baskets in a row and getting Tuebingen the lead and scoring inside as he was tearing apart the Frankfurt defense. He finished the game as the game top scorer with 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. After the game, the kind Serb looked beaten, but was able to get a small smile when told that Skyliner guard Konstantin Klein boasted that he wish that he could be in the kind of shape that the Serb is in when he is 37. “It is nice when a young player says something like that”, said Nadjfeji. Ex NBA player Andrew Rautins who was top Skyliner scorer with 17 points was impressed by the play of the Serb. “One could see that he is a veteran of the game and he could really play. He was like a fish around the bucket, knew how to draw fouls and just stepped up”, expressed Andrew Rautins. One can sense that Nadjfeji has something to prove this season after his lost season in Munich last year. “I never look at personal stats, but want to help the team win. I am happy that I got open a lot and Bane got me the ball, but it wasn´t enough to get the win. It was tough being ready to play each game in Munich, but not being able to play. There was never a doubt that I wouldn´t play this season. The passion was still there. If you are in shape then you can always play, but if you aren´t in shape then your career is over”, warned Nadfjeji.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the game with a one game winning streak and 2-2 record on the road and were very content on keeping their good play on the road intact. The Fraport Skyliners came out very focused and started strong and like against the Artland Dragons had some down periods, but never gave up kept fighting and in the second half increased their stellar play even more and hit big shots and make big defensive plays in crunch time to seal a big road win in Tuebingen. “We played each possession hard for 40 minutes. We came out with a lot of energy firing on all cylinders, but we then started to miss shots and Tuebingen got into the game. The important thing was that we stayed together as a team and never got down. We were able to stop their run and get stops in the fourth quarter. Andrew Rautins and Johannes Voigtmann kept us together”, explained ex La Salle guard Ramon Galloway. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen came into the game in 15th place and in dire need for a big victory as they had lost four of their last five games including their last two by 75 points combined. The loss of top Tiger rebounder Johannes Lischka hurt the club as well mentally and on offense and defense. Tuebingen fought hard, but just didn´t have an answer for the strong Frankfurt offense that kept Tuebingen reeling on defense all night long as the extra pass and ball movement hurt them badly. “The strong Frankfurt perimeter shooting hurt us with rebounding. By having to watch their shooting more, we were unable to get in a good position to rebound. The Frankfurt rotated very well and we often had to force tough shots”, added Tiger American Alex Harris. Often than not it is the Walter Tigers Tuebingen who after getting a lead and momentum are very difficult to beat as rallying back is very hard as one feels drowned by the atmosphere in the Paul Horn arena, but against Frankfurt it was different. “It is always tough to play Frankfurt and if you let them get a lead and feel comfortable, it is difficult to come back. They were very smart and controlled game in the fourth quarter”, said ex Bonn forward Nadjfeji.
The Walter Tigers Tuebingen got on the board first as 213 cm German/Serb Bogdan Radosavljevic scored with a mid distance jumper, but the Fraport Skyliners then really proved that they were ready for take off exploding on a 10-0 run to lead 10-2. Rautins was hot fast as he nailed two three pointers and a mid distance jumper. Danilo Barthel also slipped inside retrieving a no look pass from Konstantin Klein. The Fraport Skyliners started off very concentrated got their offense flowing quickly and made big hustle plays early and played superior help defense setting a sign early that Frankfurt had taken the couch seat in their living room. Branislav Ratkovica then connected on a pretty floater and Klein tested his 41% three point shooting nailing the shot as Frankfurt led 13-4. Josh Young and Nadjfeji then took Tuebingen on a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 13-9. However Frankfurt then got free trhows from Jacob Burtschi and a big three pointer from rookie Jarred Dubois to lead 18-9. Tuebingen had one last chance and Mr big shot Nadjfeji nailed a three pointer at the buzzer as Tuebingen trailed 18-12 after one quarter. “We executed on offense well and hit shots. We talked on defense and our help defense was good. Rautins hit open shots, but also found open guys”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
In the second quarter the Walter Tigers Tuebingen started to fight back as Nadjfeji was a beast inside scoring four consecutive buckets. Frankfurt continued to get big minutes from American Ramon Galloway who scored on a lay in and jumper over Jonathan Wallace. Tuebingen then really got going and got the crowd involved. Wallace gave Tuebingen the lead back 23-22 and ex Phantom Nils Mittman hit a big three to give Tuebingen the 29-24 advantage. Klein then kept Frankfurt close with another three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 29-27. Radosavljevic then went baseline and made a fancy spin move around Voigtmann and Rautins dropped a three pointer as Tuebingen had the narrow 31-30 lead. Despite the rowdy and loud atmosphere, it never brought the Fraport Skyliners out of synth as they stayed on the heels of Tuebingen. Ex Notre Dame forward Tyrone Nash who had been quiet thus far nailed a three pointer as Tuebingen led 35-30. Voigtmann then made a mid distance jumper And Galloway ended the second quarter with a jumper as the Fraport Skyliners trailed only 36-35. “Nadfjeji really hurt us with some open shots and lay ups which got his team going. We were careless with ball and had problems boxing out and rebounding”, added Quantez Robertson. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 57% from the field and 56% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 41% from outside. Tuebingen had the 17-15 rebound edge and nine turnovers while Frankfurt had five turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Walter Tigers Tuebingen would extend their lead a bit, but the Fraport Skyliners would rally and take the lead later in that quarter. Nadfjeji started off the third quarter with one free throw, but Rautins retaliated with a bomb from outside as Frankfurt was behind 38-37. Tuebingen then jetted out on a 7-0 run to take the 45-38 lead. Offensive rebounds and some heads up plays helped get Tuebingen this lead. Radosavljevic scored inside after scooping up an offensive rebound and ex Georgetown guard Wallace hit a jumper. Wallace then made a big play getting a long rebound off a Rautins miss and making a fast outlet pass to a sprinting Harris who caught Frankfurt napping on transition defense. Nadfjeji then hit over Barthel. However runs and mistakes sometime fuel teams to just forget fast and come back and heighten their play even more as Frankfurt got hot from outside got helping ignite a 17-3 run to give the Fraport Skyliners the 55-48 advantage. Barthel, Burtschi and Dubois hit consecutive three pointers to silence the crowd. Galloway then took a chapter out of teammate Danilo Barthel as he saw some daylight around the free throw line saw an opening and flew to the hoop for the mega dunk. Galloway finished with 11 points and was happy with his performance. “I got a lot of confidence and I finally played the way that I know I can”, stressed Ramon Galloway. Nash then hit a three pointer to cut the Frankfurt lead to 55-50, but Burtschi hit his second three pointer of the quarter as Frankfurt led 58-53 after three quarters. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 46% from the three point line while the Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 55% from the field and 45% from the three point line. Tuebingen had the 24-22 rebound lead, but 12 turnovers while Frankfurt had eight turnovers.
In the fourth quarter it was added support from the Frankfurt bench and big defensive plays down the stretch that helped secure the win for the Fraport Skyliners. Barthel started the scoring as Rautins found him cutting to the hoop as Frankfurt led 60-53. Wallace then converted on a three pointer as Frankfurt led 60-56. Gordon Herbert then brought Kevin Bright who loves that high rainbow nailed two consecutive three pointers as Frankfurt was able to up their lead a bit to 66-58. Then it was time for the two young centers Voigtmann and Radosavljevic to battle as each traded two baskets a piece, but Tuebingen was unable to make any ground as Frankfurt still led 72-62 with under two minutes to play. In this phase Frankfurt made three big defensive plays as Kevin Bright stole a bounce pass intended for the big man Radosavljevic, Voigtmann forced a turnover and Galloway made a big steal. “We got some steals and tips and those are the big plays that you need on the road”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. Tuebingen got two big plays from Alex Harris with a mega dunk on the break away and a three pointer to cut the Frankfurt lead to 74-67, but it was all to late and Rautins scored on a jumper to end the game. “We had let up at the end against Artland, but coach kept telling us not to worry and just keep playing defense and we did. We made some turnovers, but also played good defense to get the win”, added Ramon Galloway. One could see the joy in the faces of the Skyliners after the win and Jacob Burtschi jumped up into the seats to hug injured teammate captain Marius Nolte. “A win helps take the pain away. I think that was the highest that I ever jumped”, laughed Jacob Burtschi. Injured Quantez Robertson was sitting next to Nolte and witnessed the whole celebration. “It looked like Marius was holding a bay the way he held his hands out”, smiled Robertson.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Andrew Rautins with 17 points. Danilo Barthel added 13 points and Ramon Galloway 11 points. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were led by Alexsandar Nadfjeji with 18 points. Bogdan Radosavljevic contributed 12 points and Tyrone Nash 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 41% from the field and 48% from the parking lot while the Walter Tigers Tuebingen shot 48% from the field and 41% from the parking lot. Tuebingen had the slight 32-30 rebound edge and 18 turnovers while Frankfurt had 14 turnovers. Frankfurt did many very good things today like getting a lot of support from the bench, but also other things. “We played solid defense, passed the ball well and great ball movement and made big shots”, expressed Andrew Rautins. Jacob Burtschi was also looking very carefully and slowly to the future and saw a parallel to the way Frankfurt played two seasons ago when he was on board. “We had a slow start to the season and our new players Jarred Dubois and Ramon Galloway are getting used to everything. I think that we will be a team that will be tough to deal with”, warned Jacob Burtschi.