Going from the glitzy, high paced, New York all over again sprayed on the beach Los Angeles to the tranquil, country side and relaxed Bamberg in Germany could pose a serious culture shock for people, but if your German national player Elias Harris who is from Speyer Germany, making that jump isn´t all that difficult to digest. Not long ago, Harris was sharing the same locker room with future NBA legend Kobe Bryant, possibly trying his best to coax Chris Kaman to return back to the German national team, finding out secretes from Pau Gasol as to why the Spanish basketball federation are so successful at grooming young Spanish talent, or getting valuable passing skills and ball handling tips from future NBA legend Steve Nash. As it is so often the case in the fast flowing NBA, players are there one day and gone the next day which was the case of Elias Harris. He played two games playing against Golden State and New Orleans and playing only a total of 12 minutes. The Los Angeles Lakers wanted to go in another direction and waived the ex Gonzaga Forward. Instead of sitting around and waiting for an offer, he decided to sign with the Brose Baskets Bamberg and has continued his professional career in Germany. Harris is a guy that is a natural born power forward and he is a very strong kid with physical power who loves (of course) the Physical game. His ability shooting gives him another advantage on the court as he can play also at the small forward positions in case needed. He is great in the paint as his strong body and his very good positioning helps him to dashed down quite a big number of boards considering his post. Harris joins a very strong Bamberg roster and will help the team right away and in their quest to defend their title. In his first game with Bamberg, he helped the Brose Baskets Bamberg defeat Phoenix Hagen 104-93 in which Bamberg gave Phoenix Hagen a lesson in shoot out basketball as Harris had 25 points in his first professional game in Germany. Phoenix Hagen forward Larry Gordon got a first impression of the German. “He was alright, strong, really physical and skilled, but I think that his game is more suited for Europe”, stressed Larry Gordon. The Fraport Skyliners were able to get their first impression of Harris as he had his first meeting against the Fraport Skyliners and also remembered a scrawny black haired kid form New York who´s father Leo was the best player in Canada before the emergence of Steve Nash as Andrew Rautins poured in 24 points in a 87-65 loss his freshman year to Syracuse kicking out Gonzaga And Harris who also scored 24 points out of the 2010 NCAA tournament. Harris and Rautins didn´t meet for the first time as professionals as Rautins was idle on account of a lower body injury and the Brose Baskets Bamberg whipped the Fraport Skyliners 73-43 as their nasty stick was in the form of aggressive defense. Newcomer Harris played only his third Beko BBL game, but no matter who you talked to, everyone´s eyes glowed when mentioning the play of the Speyer native. “Harris brings a new dimension to our game. He brings physicality and good defense.He showed his high low game against Hagen and showed his perimeter skills against Wurzburg. His biggest strength is his versatility as he can guard the positions three to five. He was guarding Dino Gregory of Hagen. I feel that he can play in the NBA, but he will be more of a role player as NBA teams have 3-4 guys that just score. He will have more of an offensive role with us”” stressed Bamberg scout Brendan Rooney. Harris finished the game with 13 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in 24 minutes and showed that he can dominate the game with his overall game. Fraport Skyliner American Jarred Dubois remembered Harris form the NCAA. “Harris is always attacking and uses his athleticism well. He has a great face up game and shoots very well. I always thought his game was a bit underrated, but he just does it all”, added Jarred Dubois. “Harris is a good player and a reason why he was in the NBA. It is great for the BEKO BBL that he is playing here”, commented Fraport Skyliner forward Danilo Barthel. Ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen who played 287 NBA games is more than confident that Harris will be back in the NBA. ”He is good enough to play in the NBA. He just has to decide if he wants to be a star in Europe or be a role player in the NBA. But he is born and raised in Germany, maybe he will stay in Europe, but as of now I am very happy that he is on our team”, smiled Casey Jacobsen. Harris didn´t get any last encouraging words from NBA super star Kobe Bryant, but from Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. “They just gave me encouraging words and told me to stay focused and that there are many different roads to Rome”, added Elias Harris.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the game in seventh place having a record of 9-6 and still had quiet aspirations of possibly reaching the cup knock out games, but in order to that they had to at least beat Bamberg or Alba Berlin and get help from other Beko BBL teams. They entered the Stechert arena in Bamberg as the walking wounded as they were crippled with injuries about as bad as it has ever been in their 15 year history. The walking wounded list for the Fraport Skyliners kept growing the last week like a bar room tab that Norm Peterson kept alive at the Cheers bar in Boston. Long time injured Skyliners Marius Nolte and Quantez Robertson were joined by Americans Andrew Rautins and Ramon Galloway who had lower body injuries and Oklahoma native. Galloway then did suit up and play. Jacob Burtschi was also missing in action as he has back problems and will be out at least three weeks. The Fraport Skyliners played a solid first half being down only by eight points, but completely feel apart in the second half being outscored 40-18 as the Brose Baskets Bamberg turned up their defense, started hitting more shots and played their usual strong second half. “We had a bad start in the first quarter, but were able to cut it back to 6-7 points at first half. We fell apart in the second half and just didn´t play together as a team. We had too many turnovers which led to many fast break points for Bamberg”, expressed Heidelberg native Danilo Barthel. The Brose Baskets Bamberg came into the game in second place behind the mighty FC Bayern Munich with a record of 12-3 and since they were eliminated in Euroleague play can fully concentrate on Cup and league championship. They were coming off a big 61-49 win against Bavaria rival Wurzburg and continued their dominating defense against the Fraport Skyliners. One sign of a champion is when that player still isn´t happy with a team performance despite creaming a team by 30 points. There is a reason why ex Stanford guard Casey Jacobsen has won 8 German titles for the Brose Baskets Bamberg. “We have only had one game the last weeks, so we have had much time to prepare for each opponent and work on our weaknesses. We are still a work in progress and Harris and Fischer are new to the team and there is still a lot of work to do. We have more time now to work on our weaknesses and I think the win today against Frankfurt was a good step in the right direction”, stated ex Memphis Grizzlies Casey Jacobsen. Despite easily beating the Fraport Skyliners, it wasn´t a cake walk for us. “This wasn´t as stroll in the park on a Sunday. We didn´t underestimate Frankfurt and respected them from the start. Frankfurt fought very hard, but our defense came through in the second half and we hit more shots”, warned ex Gonzaga player Elias Harris.
The Fraport Skyliners started the game with four Germans and American Jarred Dubois and couldn´t have been at a bigger disadvantage in experience towards the Brose Baskets Bamberg as at times Bamberg had more than 100 games Euroleague experience while the Fraport Skyliners had zero Euroleague games on the floor , but they had to come to terms with what they had on the floor. In the first few minutes, the score was 0-0 as one could have thought there was a soccer arena game going on with only the nets missing. Maik Zirbes got Bamberg on the board first with a jumper and Danilo Barthel tied the game with a lay in after getting fed perfectly from Johannes Voigtmann. However it doesn´t usually take the Brose Baskets Bamberg long to get rolling at home as they went on a 10-0 run to lead 12-2. On this run, American Zach Wright used his aggressive penetration creating open looks for the Bamberg shooters. Jacobsen nailed a three pointer, Rhode Island native Rakim Sanders scored inside and Anton Gavel punished Frankfurt with his line drive three pointer after getting a second chance after Bamberg scooped up an offensive rebound. Bamberg kept up the offensive pressure as Wright scored twice inside. Frankfurt got some buckets from Voigtmann and Barthel to cut the Bamberg lead to 16-6. Harris contributed a three pointer and Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Klein finished the first quarter dropping a three pointer as the Brose Baskets Bamberg led 21-11. “Bamberg was playing with more energy and hit many three pointers. Frankfurt fought very hard and did a good job on help defense. Maik Zirbes did a good job on the boards”, stressed Baunach American Antonio Stabler. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 47% from the field and 43% while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 36% from the field and 100% from outside. Bamberg led the rebound duel 9-7, while Frankfurt had eight turnovers and Bamberg five turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners continued to fight and claw themselves closer to Bamberg and a pair of Aziz Ndiaye dunks at the end of the second quarter brought the team a lot of energy and were only eight points back at the intermission. Ex Los Angeles Laker Elias Harris started off the second quarter with a soft post up jumper over Danilo Barthel. Ramon Galloway then got a crisp bounce pass from Klein and scored on a lay in on the baseline. Ex Real Madrid center D or Fischer then made a pick and pop as Bamberg led 25-14. Aziz Ndiaye who missed a dunk at the start of the second quarter made amends by muscling in an offensive rebound as the Fraport Skyliners showed nonstop grit as they finally got the ball in the hole possibly the best work on the offensive boards of the season on that play. Team work, effort and heart was bringing the Fraport Skyliners back into the game. Ramon Galloway then closed off an 8-4 Frankfurt run as they trailed only 25-19 as Bamberg head coach Chris Fleming called a time out. The New Jersey native found the right words as the six time Beko BBL champion went on a 8-2 run to lead 33-21. Ex Giessen guard Anton Gavel stormed out of the timeout and dropped a three point bomb. Voigtmann responded with his bread and butter the mid distance jumper. Ex TBB Trier center Maik Zirbes then made a quick dunk. Ndiaye then missed two free thows while ex Boston College guard Rakim Sanders had a little too much NBA showtime in his blood as he flew over three Skyliners from the baseline, but missed a thunderous dunk. Jacobsen then hit another three as Bamberg led 33-21. The Fraport Skyliners finished the second quarter with a 4-0 Ndiaye run with one dunk prettier than the other. “My two dunks were just two plays. I am happy that I could finish the dunks and that time it was good, because it changed the momentum at that time”, stressed Aziz Ndiaye. The Brose Baskets Bamberg led 33-25 at halftime. A big factor in the first half was the wheeling and dealing of Austin, Texas native Zach Wright who was penetrating all day long and always being aggressive something that Frankfurt couldn´t come to terms with. “I had had knee problems stating back to last summer and with the Bosnian national team. I have been feeling better as of late and been able to play the way I know how. Coach told me to always be aggressive and not be in between. Attacking is my game”, stressed Zach Wright. “Frankfurt did a good job coming back. Frankfurt played at their tempo and Bamberg kept hitting shots. I liked how Bamberg was playing with confidence and much heart”, stressed American Antonio Stabler. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 46% from the field and 38% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Bamberg had the 16-15 rebound edge and 10 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.
In the third quarter came the turning point of the basketball game as the Brose Baskets were able to jump on the Fraport Skyliners quickly and they would never let the opponent come back again and get under 10 points. The Brose Baskets Bamberg had no mercy for the 2004 Beko BBL champion slapping a 17-2 run. Casey Jacobsen started the run with a catch and pop jumper which was matched by a Voigtmann mid distance jumper as Frankfurt has massive luck getting a loose ball back and making the shot. That was about as much luck as Frankfurt would have as Bamberg would score 15 unanswered points to lead 50-28. As if it was the easiest thing in the world, Bamberg turned their offense up a few gears as Gavel nailed a three pointer, Wright connected on a floater and then Bamberg got two straight steals from Wright and Harris that led to coast to coast dunks. Gavel then hit another three pointer and Fischer snuck inside dunking as Harris slid the quick pass through. In this run, Frankfurt was suffering turnover after turnover and Bamberg was punishing them like a cat does a mouse when it has gotten to close. Frankfurt then experienced a bright spot as they closed out the third quarter with a 11-7 run as Bamberg led 57-39 after three quarters. In this run, Klein got hot nailing three three pointers in a row. Bamberg got easy buckets inside from Fischer and Sanders. Sanders closed out the third quarter with a three pointer. “Bamberg hit open shots and we slept on defense especially on switches”; stressed Heidelberg native Danilo Barthel. “I am new here and didn´t know that Bamberg usually have strong second halves. We had too many turnovers in the first half and eliminated them in the third quarter. Our ball movement was very good and we hit our free throws”, stressed Elias Harris. “We didn´t hit any shots and made many turnovers and didn´t rebound well which resulted in many easy Bamberg baskets”, stressed Jarred Dubois. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 52% from the field and 43% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 44% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 22-20 rebound edge, but 19 turnovers while Bamberg had 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Brose Baskets Bamberg never let their guard down and just completely buried the Fraport Skyliners not even needing any of that excess New York snow as they won the quarter 15-4 as the class difference between both teams rose from kinder garden-college from the start to Kindergarden-Master degree. It really didn´t matter what Frankfurt did on the offense end, the outcome usually was a turnover or led to a very forced shot. Perhaps the best play of the quarter was a Barthel block of Sanders to start of the fourth quarter. After a Fischer lay in, it was Harris that took a page out of the Aziz Ndiaye´s book by dunking twice in a row as Bamberg led 64-41. Frankfurt got one field goal in the fourth quarter which was a Voigtmann tip in. Bamberg got added production from Zirbes with a lay in and a Jacobsen three pointer and Harris runner. After Harris blocked little used Skyliner Pro B license player Johannes Richter, Karsten Tadda and Galloway ended the game exchanging free throws. “Bamberg is very deep and a team that plays tough defense and runs their plays well. One could see that they are a veteran team and it was tough playing against guys that came in and out and had the same quality”, warned Jarred Dubois. “Frankfurt had a lot of injuries, but we played well and did a good job pushing the ball, executing and playing together and getting easy shots”, said Zach Wright.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Elias Harris with 13 points. Casey Jacobsen and Anton Gavel each chipped in with 12 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Konstantin Klein who scored 14 points. Johannes Voigtmann had nine points and eight rebounds. Bamberg shot 49% from the field and 36% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners shot a dismal 31% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Both teams registered 31 rebounds, but Frankfurt had an unacceptable 26 turnovers while Bamberg had 15 turnovers. If a team like Tuebingen or Bayreuth gave up 43 points, they would disclaim a national holiday in each city, but even after allowing only 43 points the sign of a real champion is that one is never satisfied and wants to always improve as Jacobsen explained once again. “We have had good moments on defense, but we still haven´t found our potential yet. Frankfurt was without some players and probably wouldn´t have allowed only 43 points if they had played. Our defensive strategies can be complicated so it will take some time for Harris and Fischer to learn. We continue to need time to grow”, added Casey Jacobsen. Fraport Skyliner Johannes Voigtmann was able to pin point the Bamberg finer defensive points. “Bamberg did a great job not letting us get in our offense and got into the passing lanes. I think that we got tired in the second half. One always has to be fully concentrated, because they are so good at one on one and pick and role defense. They found many mis matches and were able to get easy points”, added Johannes Voigtmann. Frankfurt might have only scored 43 points, but the saying that TBB Trier is the only basketball institution for developing young Germans is wrong as People are becoming more aware of what is happening in Frankfurt. “We prepared very well for Andrew Rautins and saw much film and what we saw with the Germans was good. The Germans compliment his game and they are good role players. These players are getting the chance to play and show what they can do and are developing. Young players from wherever need time and patience and opportunities to make mistakes. A player only gets better succeeding and failing on the court. Young Germans need to Play here, in Frankfurt or Berlin and just have the chance to compete against the best”, stressed Casey Jacobsen. “It was hard following what the Germans have been up to when I was at Gonzaga, but from what I saw is that Danilo Barthel has made a big jump from what I remember in his Heidelberg days and Konstantin Klein also has developed well”, warned Elias Harris.