With Christmas only three days away in Germany, players on both squads of Frankfurt and Ulm might have had some X-mas thoughts on their minds like Per Guenther wondering what FC Bayern Munich big man John Bryant will send his favorite little buddy, Aziz Ndiaye wondering if he will see snow again after seeing it for the first time when he was a Washington Huskie, if Adam Hess can sing the famous Christmas song Oh Tannenbaum in German or Jacob Burtschi possibly wondering if his new growing beard will look appealing during the holiday season if he isn´t moonlighting as a Santa Claus. These are all thoughts that could be dancing in the minds of the players, but before any Christmas thoughts get served up in the minds of Andrew Rautins and Matt Howard, they will still have some basketball memories brewing in their brains. It is always exciting when two players who dueled in the NCAA meet again for the first time as professionals especially after a big NCAA tournament game sent one guy home and the other was still alive. The last time Rautins and Howard met face to face was on March 25th, 2010 as number 5 Butler with Howard upset number one Syracuse 64-59. Rautins was a senior and played his last college game and had teammates like current NBA player Wesley Johnson and former Boston Celtic Kris Joseph who now plays with ex Skyliner Illian Evtimov with Chalon in France. Howard had current Atlanta Hawk Shelven Mack and current Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward on his team. Rautins won the stat duel scoring 15 points and dropping four three pointers while Howard finished with nine points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block and most importantly the win. 33 months after this big tournament game, both players met again in a routine beko BBL game with the only similarity to that NCAA tournament game was the loud and feisty atmosphere that was present in the Ulm arena. Both guys play different positions and even if it was more than three and half years ago since that NCAA loss, Andrew Rautins got sweet revenge on Matt Howard even if it took him 55 minutes to do it as the Fraport Skyliners won a thriller in Ulm 108-102. “I always feel some kind of disappointment when I see Butler players and remember that loss, but Matt Howard is a great player and hard worker, but this game was about today and not about what happened in college. We gave a great team effort and I am proud of my teammates”, stressed Fraport Skyliner American Andrew Rautins. No matter if Jacob Burtschi plays 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes or 46 minutes in this thriller win, he always has the same appealing and heartwarming smile after the game and he was also thrilled that his friend got revenge on Matt Howard. “We players all love what we did in college and Rautins had a great career in the NCAA and he was fired up to play Howard. He left that NCAA loss behind him and came up big here helping get this huge win”, stressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. “I felt really good for Andy. Howard has a big heart and I am sure it was probably a lot of fun for him to get revenge like this”, stated Los Angeles native Jared Dubois.
The story of the game was the three overtimes that were played and if one looks back in the history of the Beko BBL, you don´t find many type of games that ended like this day. What was even more peculiar was that the date December 21st wasn´t only new history made in Ulm, but on this date 122 years ago, the game of basketball was invented by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. Alba Berlin once played six overtimes in an Eurocup game, but if you asked any players after the game, not one single player except for Andrew Rautins could remember playing in a game like this. “I once played in a six overtime game my junior year against UCONN. This was an incredible game that took the whole team to do to get the win tonight”, added Andrew Rautins. “I watched that six overtime game by Andrew Rautins and just got tired watching it”, smiled ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. “I remember playing a double overtime game in college, but never three overtimes. I don´t even feel that tired after the game, but I will feel tired tomorrow. I feel that we could of gone as long as we wanted to”, added ex Utah(NCAA) guard Jared Dubois. German Skyliner Konstantin was very relaxed after the game and still seemed to be a little in awe at what he had just experienced on the court and in a way it didn´t seem like he had just been part of a 55 minute game. “I had never been in a three overtime game before today. It was a good win and I feel a little tired, but a win is a win even if we played 40 minutes or 55 minutes”, expressed Konstantin Klein. “I haven´t played in many games like that before. It was pretty fun and very exciting playing in three over times”, stated Detroit native Will Clyburn.
The Fraport Skyliner entered the game with a positive 7-6 record and sitting in eighth place and were coming of a big win against the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig, but also had had a comfortable ten day break. The Fraport Skyliners showed a very spirited game for 40 minutes at times controlling the game and in overtime showed that amazing will to stay even with ratiopharm Ulm and then made the big shots when they counted in the third overtime sealing the second win in a row for the 2004 Beko BBL champion. “This was a big win for us. I have a lot of respect for Ulm and they never gave up. No team deserved to lose this game. It was a long night, but our rotation held strong and we just fought a little more, had more gas, Rautins hit big shots and we made important free throws”, stressed 2014 Beko BBL all star Danilo Barthel. ratiopharm Ulm were coming off a huge win against six time Beko BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg and were sitting in third place of the Beko BBL standings. ratiopharm Ulm is always very difficult to play at home and when that crowd gets going, there are some teams that just melt into the floor like eggs would on 110 degree asphalt in the Arizona desert. After the loss, some Ulm players escaped into the night and the players that did speak had gloomy looking expressions which was understandable after taking in a loss like that. “It was really to bad that any team had to lose this game. We didn´t execute as well at the end. We knew that Rautins is a great player and we tried to slow him down, but great players hit big shots and that is what he did. Both teams gave it all and no one stopped until the buzzer sounded”, expressed ex George Mason guard Cameron Long.
The Fraport Skyliners had a quick start in Ulm taking the early 6-2 lead as Johannes Voigtmann made a put back and he also made free throws as well as Danilo Barthel. German national player Per Guenter tested his 54% three point shooting with a bomb from down town to cut the Frankfurt lead to 6-5. Frankfurt continued to get to the free throw line and they kept hitting and hitting and not missing until the first over time. Barthel hit free throws and Jacob Burtschi tested his 49% three point shooting connecting from the parking lot as the Fraport Skyliners led 11-7. Rautins then made free throws as Frankfurt led 13-7. Ulm then punished Frankfurt getting a second chance as American Cameron Long hit from down town as ratiopharm Ulm trailed 13-10. Barthel then made the tenth consecutive free throw by Frankfurt and Aziz Ndiaye made a lay in as the Fraport Skyliners led 17-12 after one quarter. “I thought that we had very good ball movement against a very aggressive Ulm defense and our on ball defense was very good. Rautins wasn´ scoring, but other guys stepped up. We also forced Ulm to take tough shots”, explained injured Fraport Skyliner Stefan Illzhoefer. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 30% from the field and 25% from outside while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 29% from the field and 25% from outside. Frankfurt had the nine to eight rebound advantage and both teams had five turnovers each.
The Fraport Skyliners came out storming in the second quarter going on a 9-4 run to lead 26-16. After Jon Leuer friend Keaton Nankivil nailed an open three pointer, the Fraport Skyliners went to work as Danilo Barthel hit consecutive buckets as he made two lay ins with the latter waiting for German Daniel Thies to jump sky high and then making the basket. Jared Dubois also scored as did Ndiaye who was rejected by the rim and then put the ball home on the second try. The Frankfurt offense was flowing now as shot selection and time management was being done very well by the 2000 cup winner. The Frankfurt zone defense was also stifling the Ulm offense to taking precarious shots. Ratiopharm Ulm then found some day light going on a 6-0 run to cut the Frankfurt advantage to 26-22.Ex Kentucky wild cat Edgar Sosa was very lethal in this phase getting to the line twice and scoring. Will Clyburn also made free throws. Fraport Sklyiner Ramon Galloway then connected on a three pointer and Edgar Sosa stole a ball out of the hands of Voigtmann and went coast to coast for the easy bucket as Frankfurt led 29-24. Frankfurt couldn´t break away in the second quarter as Adam Hess got rolling making a tip in and nailing a three pointer as ratiopharm Ulm cut the Frankfurt lead to 32-29. Both teams then connected on mini 4-0 runs as Rautins hit a jumper and Voigtmann made a put back while ratiopharm Ulm countered with a Hess jumper and Guenther floater. At halftime, the Fraport Skyliners still led 38-33. “The quarter went back and fourth as Galloway and Klein hit big shots as did Adam Hess. I thought that we had some bad turnovers and let them get too many easy baskets”, added Fraport Skyliners Stefan Illzhoefer. “We played good team defense keeping Guenther out of the game. We limited his pick and role”, stressed Konstantin Klein. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 25% from the three point line while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 31% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 18-12 rebound edge, but 10 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had nine turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners broke away a bit in the first minutes of the third quarter, but ratiopharm Ulm stormed back to make the game very tight again. Voigtmann started the third quarter with a lay in, but Adam Hess responded with a three pointer which was followed by another lay in by Barthel who started to make a habit of getting Ulm big men into the air as Frankfurt led 42-36. Klein then split the defense well snuck into the lane and finished with a strong penetration and lay up as Frankfurt led 44-36. Ratiopharm Ulm then clawed themselves back into the game going on a 9-3 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 47-45. Ratiopharm Ulm got some easy buckets with a Howard tip in dunk, Hess lay in getting the extra pass from 2008 NBA draft pick of the Seattle Supersonics Trent Plaisted and Cameron Long scored inside in traffic. Voigtmann then found Klein back door for a lay in as Frankfurt still led 49-45. Per Guenther who had started the third quarter ice cold missing four shots in a row now gave Ulm the lead back to 50-49 with a strong penetration inside and three point shot. “Per is a great player. We needed him to lead the team and after he missed some early shots, I told him that we need him to get going and he gave us a big lift at that time”, added Cameron Long. Frankfurt then got some big plays as Galloway blocked Guenther and Ndiaye blocked Theis. Frankfurt ended the third quarter with the 55-52 lead thanks to a buzzer beater floater by Jared Dubois. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 24% from the parking lot while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 35% from the field and 24% from the parking lot. Frankfurt ha dthe 28-23 rebound advantage, but 14 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had nine turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners made their run early to take an eight point lead, but ratiopharm Ulm dug themselves out of the hole and even took the lead again before Frankfurt forced an overtime. After Rautins and Sosa exchanged three pointers, it was Dubois again that hit a buzzer beater at the shot clock as Frankfurt led 61-55. After Burtschi hit the 17 consecutive Frankfurt free throw and Long hit two, it was time for Dubois to make another big play penetrating faking a pass to Ndiaye and finishing himself as Frankfurt led 65-57. “Just because Dubois came off the bench, doesn´t mean that he can´t do damage. He hit big shots in the fourth quarter and really helped Frankfurt”, commented Florida native Cameron Long. ratiopharm Ulm continued to come back as Theis made a tip in dunk and Ndiaye made a blistering dunk. Sosa and Theis then connected again as Frankfurt led only 67-64. Dubois then made a step back jumper in the zone a la Chris Paul style, but Ulm stayed on the heels of Frankfurt as Thies and Sosa made more big shots and Clyburn made one free throw to dead lock the game at 69-69. Rautins then made a huge three pointer getting a quick kick out pass from Dubois for the Frankfurt 72-69 advantage, but a Theis lay in and Clyburn free throw gave ratiopharm Ulm the 73-72 lead. Dubois then hit from downtown for the 75-73 lead, but Theis made four consecutive free throws as ratiopharm Ulm led 77-75. Frankfurt had one last play as Danilo Barthel hit a baby hook shot to tie the score at 77-77 and force the first overtime. “They made their run and we made our run to get back in the game. Barthel made the big shot at the end that forced overtime”, stated Wil Clyburn. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 31% from outside while ratiopharm ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 27% from outside. Frankfurt still had the rebound lead 35-33, but 16 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm had 11 turnovers.
In the first overtime, it looked like the Fraport Skyliners would edge out the win, but ratiopharm Ulm forced the second overtime. Both teams continued to trade buckets in the early going as Burtschi hit free throws and Clyburn made a dunk. Klein and Long then made free throws as the game was dead locked at 81-81. Frankfurt then got a mini 4-0 run as Ndiaye scored inside and Klein made a huge jumper for the 85-81 lead. Sosa then made free throws and Frankfurt couldn´t take care of the ball as Dubois turned over the ball. Klein and Sosa then missed shots, but Long saved his best for last and most important play after a quiet night scoring inside with fancy moves and bringing the game to a second overtime 85-85. In the second overtime, it was ratiopharm Ulm that would break away partcially, but Frankfurt had to force the third overtime. Rautins started the second overtime with free throws which was matched by a Hess lay in. Plaisted then made free throws and Dubois made a lay in as the score was tied at 89-89. Ratiopharm Ulm then made their move as Hess took a page out of Rautins slick release novel hitting on a catch and pop shot and Frankfurt then got a turnover and Ndiaye got his fifth foul. Long hit one of two free throws as Frankfurt trailed 93-89. Great players hit big shots so the stage was set for Rautins who nailed a big three pointer as Frankfurt only trailed 93-92. Galloway then missed the first Frankfurt free throw of the night, but made the second free throw sending the game into a third overtime as the score was tied 93-93. Hess had one more chance to win the game, but his shot stayed glued between rim and back board. In the third overtime period, the Fraport Skyliners took care of business, but not before the strong bench continued to make big plays as Dubois scored inside and Galloway made a crashing dunk over Plaisted to tie the score at 97-97. Rautins then made two free throws for the 99-97 advantage, but Guenther hit a clutch three pointer as ratiopharm Ulm would have their last lead of the evening 100-99. Frankfurt then closed out the game with a 9-2 run. Voigtman made a mid distance jumper and Rautins a three pointer. After a Long miss, Galloway sealed the win with free throws as Frankfurt led 106-100. “Even after Rautins hit the three, I wasn´t confident that we had the win. After they missed and Galloway hit the free throws and we were up by six, I was pretty confident that we would win the game”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. Plaisted hit a jumper and Rautins closed out the game with free throws. “Rautins hit a big shot and we never gave up as a team helped us win the game”, added Konstantin Klein. “Frankfurt made the big plays and the basketball just went their way in the last few possessions”, added Will Cyburn.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Andrew Rautins with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Jared Dubois added 19 points and Danilo Barthel 18 points. Konstantin Klein chipped in with 11 points and Johannes Voigtmann and Jacob Burtschi with 10 points a piece. ratiopharm Ulm was led by Edgar Sosa with 21 points. Adam Hess contributed 16 points and Daniel Theis 15 points. Per Guenther had 13 points and Cameron Long 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 47% from the field and 33% from the three point line while ratiopharm Ulm struggled shooting 36% from the field and 26% from the three point line. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 48-42, but had 25 turnovers while ratiopharm Ulm coughed up the ball 17 times. With the two short term contracts of Americans Jared Dubois and Ramon Galloway running out at the end of December 2013, it will be interesting to see who Gordon Herbert lets go or if he can keep both. The way Dubois is playing now, it would only be logical that he will remain after another big game. “Dubois held us in the game in many phases with his big shots”, stressed Danilo Barthel. “He hit some big shots and this was his best game so far”, added Andrew Rautins. “When I found my spots, I just wanted to be aggressive while at the same time running the team. I felt that I was patient, not wanting to take over the game, but just making the right choices”, said Jared Dubois. It might not have been the prettiest game, but one of the more exciting in the last years for Frankfurt. This is the kind of game that can really help a team rise in their confidence and in their development. Frankfurt can go into the next game at home against SC Rasta Vechta with positive thoughts. “The biggest strength tonight was that we never quit and stayed with them until the end. Giving up 102 points isn´t great, but it was three overtime game. We had some problems in some rotations, but hey we got it done when it mattered”, warned Jacob Burtschi.