The BCM basketball court of the Fraport Skyliners at their training facility where the Beko BBL team practices and Pro B team juniors play their games is a small, tight gym like atmosphere that might have reminded a Dru Joyce of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg of the type of places he played in together with NBA superstar Lebron James at St Mary´s high school where they won three state titles, but in comparison to the Fraport arena is more like an exciting, high flying Deandre Jordan that can get any arena in the NBA pumped with his eye popping dunks while the Fraport Arena is more like a huge, strong and impressive like Kevin Love that can dominate anyone just like the Skyliners can on any given day in their own living room. Let us rewind back to more than a year ago on January sixth, where the German Pro B club Bayer Giants Leverkusen came into the BCM in Frankfurt with top Pro B player at that time Josh Parker, but were crushed badly 107-67 by the Fraport Skyliners juniors. It was one of the less satisfactory games from the Chicago native as he was way below his average and just couldn´t get anything going with his shooting and tried to find his teammates to help his team. “. Frankfurt did a great job defending me and doubling teaming me and not allowing me to get into a rhythm. My shots weren´t falling so I had to try to get my team going by setting them up. . Coaches have told me no matter what is happening to always keep playing hard. I try to play good defense and get my teammates involved when my scoring isn´t on. It is important to keep pushing my teammates, because if I get down then they get down. This was a good game for me to see that despite everything I stayed aggressive. I continue to go against different defenses which will make me better”, warned Josh Parker. Parker has had no problems getting adjusted to the Beko BBL this season as he scored in double figures 13 times including 19 points in a massive 30 point victory against Frankfurt last December in Weissenfels. However 13 months later, Parker didn´t return back to Frankfurt and he wasn´t in the BCM anymore, and not in the bigger Fraport arena either and was unable to show that motivation for revenge and seeking that first win in Frankfurt as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was of proving doubters wrong that he had what it took to win a major championship the Super Bowl and was only the second African American to do it. After the 66-64 MBC win in Frankfurt, MBC head coach Silvano Poropat gave his reasons why Parker stayed in Weissenfels. “Everything is ok with Josh Parker. We have one player more for the international spots and always one guy has to sit out. We have a lot of competition at the guard spot. All guys always deserve to play. However today it was a tactical decision why Parker didn´t play. Parker has done a very good job this season for us. He will be back and I won´t forget him, don´t worry”, stressed head coach Silvano Poropat. After the nail bitter win, manager Martin Geisler also was able to back up the words of his coach. “We are happy that we have the luxury of having an extra international player for the stretch run. Each player has to show results in practice and games. We felt that with this rotation, that we would have the biggest advantage against Frankfurt. Parker works very hard in practice and will be back soon”, added Martin Geissler. American Angelo Caloiaro had to be diplomatic concerning the Josh Parker situation. “Parker is a key part of the team. We have to concentrate on things on the court. In an ideal world, it would be great if all could play, but it sucks that it don´t work that way”, expressed San Jose native Angelo Caloiaro.
One guy who would have had an even more spectacular title had the Fraport Skyliners won would have been rookie Aziz Ndiaye who put on a dunking clinic in the first half as the Fraport Skyliners were getting easy buckets as they were destroying the 2004 Fiba Europe cup winner on the pick and role. The 25 year old 213cm center that played at Washington(NCAA) had a very very respectable game with 13 points and six rebounds in 15 minutes. He had four dunks and on the eve of the 2014 NBA Allstar game and dunk contest, it seemed like the big man was trying to present a very late entry from for the contest in New Orleans. The Senegal native was very humble after the bitter loss, putting his teammates in the spotlight for his stellar dunks that energized the Fraport arena. “Dunking is all about finishing and setting good screens. I was able to get open and my teammates put me in a good situation to finish. In the second half, they changed their defense and it was harder to do the pick and role”, described Aziz Ndiaye. Jacob Burtschi who is still injured and begins to practice with the team again next week, hopes to return to action March 23rd at home against ratiopharm Ulm was able to give a big grin about the dunking talent of his big teammate. “He gets to the rim fast and is a ferocious finisher. Aziz always makes sure that he gets his two points. That is just his style”, smilied Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. Two time Beko BBL Allstar slam dunk contest finalist Quantez Robertson knows something about flying and dunking knows that if he is in the middle and Ndiaye gets the ball, then he better fly out of the way quick. “He is the master of the power dunks and you better get out of the way or you might become a poster dunk”, smiled Ohio native Quantez Robertson. “Aziz played well. He always gives us rebounds and blocks. He got going dunking over people. He doesn´t get much time, but he does the most he can with minutes he gets”, added Ramon Galloway.
The Mitteldeutscher BC came into the game with only a 2-3 record in 2014, but came off a huge 76-70 win at home against Phoenix Hagen and once again showed that they have the nerves in crunch time not only in their own living room, but also foreign living rooms. The self confidence of the team continues to rise more and more as they try to solidify themselves in the middle of the standings. The Mitteldeutscher BC trailed for most of the game, but adjusted their defense in the second half and came up big at the end as the Fraport Skyliners lost another close game again as they did last weekend in Oldenburg. “This is how our team is this season in that we never give up even when times seem tough. The guys seem to find a way to win. The self confidence also grows with each close win like last weekend against Phoenix Hagen. We came up with big plays at the end. I told them to do jump switch waiting a bit until they penetrate. We really did a good job of this on the last few plays. Key for the win was improving our pick and role defense in the second half. We closed up the zone. In the first half, it felt like Ndiaye had 20 dunks”, smilied ex Ludwigsburg head coach Silvano Poropat. “Key at the end was defense. The highlight of the game was the defense by Hatten and Meiers at the end. We continue to believe in ourselves. We work hard each week in practice and when it comes game time, we always believe that we can win no matter who it is. We have a two game winning streak and it feels good”, added Angelo Caloiaro. The Fraport Skyliners continue to be winless in 2014 coming into the game with a four game losing streak and still have a walking wounded list that is as long a Paris Hilton receipt at Chanel. The Fraport Skyliners continue to play well despite their limited roster, but are starting to get a nasty habit of losing close games. “This game was back and forth. A big mistake was that we let some guys hit shots early that usually wouldn´t make shots. We were unable to make the adjustment from the non shooters being shooters in this game. These guys fueled the other guys. We were in this game form the start to the end, but we also know that we can lose to anyone. We were unable to do the little things at the end like screens”, warned Missouri native Dane Watts.
4830 fans showed up for only the second home game of the season and their were some familiar faces in the crowd like Fraport Skyliners captain Marius Nolte friend Steven Esterkamp and former Skyliner Zach peacock who had five days off. This season he is playing for Boulogne (France-ProB) averaging 20,1ppg and 7,9rpg and has a good chance of helping moving his team to the France PRO A. Peacock was all smiles and happy to see a familiar surrounding again and would have jumped at the chance of helping Frankfurt “It is great to be back. I loved playing here. It is great to see how Danilo Barthel has developed. I would have loved to have gone on the floor, if they had had my #35”, smiled Miami native Zach Peacock. The Fraport Skyliners got on the board first as German Johannes Voigtmann connected on a mid distance jumper, but American Michael Cufee scored inside. Quantez Robertson may be the energizer, but if there is one guy who could compete for the nickname on offense than it is German Konstantin Klein. If the Frankfurt offense is stalling, then give him the ball. He is always aggressive and his self confidence is already half the rent for success for him. He hit a high rainbow and then scored inside with a left handed lay in as the Fraport Skyliner led 7-2. Djorde Pantelic then connected on free throws, but Voigtmann scored inside. The Mitteldeutscher BC was making a mini comeback as Caloiaro hit a three pointer and he then fed Pantelic a nifty back door pass for the quick bucket as MBC had their first lead 10-9. However that was as close as MBC would get as Frankfurt closed out the first half with a lightening 13-4 run to lead 23-14. In this run, Frankfurt scored three buckets in a row as Barthel scored inside gathering a shovel pass from Ramon Galloway, Voigtmann scored on the fast break and Galloway then made a fierce spin move around Pantelic who didn´t know what had just happened as Frankfurt led 15-11. MBC guard from Croatia Hrvoje Kovacevic scored on an off balance shot as MBC cut the Frankfurt lead to 15-13. Frankfurt then closed out the first quarter with an 8-1 run as they took apart the MBC pick and role defense. Ndiaye scored two dunks and a sweet hook shot over Martins Meiers. Klein also scored inside as Frankfuer could do what they wanted to inside. “Meiers missed some defensive assignments not doing what we wanted him to do. Ndiaye took advantage of it”, stressed MBC manager Martin Geissler. The Fraport Sklyiners were shooting 65% from the field and didn´t attempt athree pointer while the Mitteldeutscher BC was shooting 43% from the field and 17% from outside. Frankfurt had the 10-4 rebound edge and no turnovers while MBC had two turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners would keep the lead and lead by as much as 10 points, but the Mitteldeutscher BC continued to be scrappy and not letting Frankfurt run away with the game. New Skyliner Dane Watts started the scoring with a runner and Ndiaye kept up his dunking rampage, but they couldn´t make any ground as ex Phoenix Hagen guard Malte Schwarz who makes three pointers for a living connected on two as MBC trailed only 27-20. Frankfurt continued to make use of the pick and role and playing superb fast break basketball as Ndiaye finished it off with a thunderous dunk as Klein and Robertson looked like the Harlem Globetrotters with their quick touch passing. Galloway also scored inside on the penetration, but Frankfurt still couldn´t run away from the Wolves as little used utility guard Daniel Hain who got known by defending Skyliner legend Pascal Roller during the 2009 playoffs hit two unexpected three pointers as he was left as open as a camel in a barren desert and an antelope grazing on a field in Sudan as suddenly Frankfurt led by only 32-26. Serb big man Pantelic then put more salt into the fire with the third consecutive MBC three pointer as MBC trailed 32-29. Watts then hit a turn around jumper as Frankfurt led 34-29. American Michael Cufee who might be the most aggressive 195cm guard in the Beko BBl crashed the boards got the offensive rebound and somehow made the put back in severe clogged traffic down low. Voigtmann finished off the scoring with a lay in as the Fraport Skyliners led 36-31 at the break. “Our zone worked as Frankfurt couldn´t hit shots. Daniel Hain made some big shots. He was the surprise effect in the second quarter. I am happy for his good play and how he stole Klein the ball”, added Martin Geissler. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 53% from the field and 0% from the three point line while the Mitteldeutscher BC was shooting 46% from the field and 40% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 17-13 rebound edge and one turnover while MBC had six turnovers.
The third quarter was very tight as the Mitteldeutscher BC upped their game stepping up their defense and just fighting, fighting and fighting. American Marcus Hatten who is playing in his eighth country in Europe started off the third quarter with a lay in cutting the Frankfurt lead to 36-33. Voigtmann then got a slam dunk as Robertson continued not to get shots, but found his teammates. Caloiaro then dropped another three pointer a shis shooting looks as easy as an Italian pizza maker swirling a pizza as MBC trailed only 38-36. Frankfurt then went on a mini 4-0 run to increase their lead to 42-36 as Voigtmann dropped another mid distance jumper which is his bread and butter the same way the three was for Pascal Roller and Bartlel finished a fast break with a dunk. Hatten then made two free throws as Frankfurt led 42-38. The game was very exciting and one could observe the many injured Skyliners with Andrew Rautins, Jacob Burtschi, Jarred Dubois, Marius Nolte and Stefan Ilzhoefer as their seats looked like a special movie theater as they were watching the game as closely as a doctor is examining his patient. “The only thing missing was popcorn”, smilied Jacob Burtschi. Texas native Ramon Galloway then hit the first Frankfurt three pointer of the game extending the Frankfurt lead to 45-38. MBC kept fighting as Hatten scored on the fast break and Pantelic buried an open three pointer as Frankfurt led 47-43. Watts then made a huge hustle play tipping in a rebound as Frankfurt led 49-43. However Caloiaro broke the Frankfurt back at the end of the third quarter with consecutive three pointers. Klein made free throws as Frankfurt led 51-49 after 30 minutes. “We took away the pick and role from Frankfurt. We were stepping up too much and there was no help side earlier. The zone helped as we didn´t give up easy baskets anymore”, expressed Angelo Caloiaro. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 17% from the parking lot while the Mitteldeutscher BC was hooting 43% from the field and 43% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 26-20 rebound advantage and five turnovers while MBC had 10 turnovers.
The fourth quarter continued to be very exciting as neither team could go on a run and seal the victory early, but instead it would be a fight to the finish. Caloiaro started the fourth quarter with a free throw and Michael Cufee who also is a basketball globetrotter playing in his eighth country in Germany as he sealed a three pointer and 53-51 MBC lead. Ndiaye made up for two missed free throws and an air ball with a lay in in traffic as the scored was tied at 53-53. Robertson then set up German Max Merz on the fast break for his first bucket and Cufee hit free throws as the score was still deadlocked. Klein then hit a big three pointer for the 58-55 lead, but MBC jumped back with Cufee free throws and a massive bomb from Kovacevic that was covered well in the corner, but somehow hit over Klein for the 60-58 lead. Frankfurt took the lead with a Voigtmann baby hook shot and Robertson late in the fourth quarter made his first hoop of the night on only his second shot as Frankfurt led 63-61. “I didn´t shoot so much. I passed up many shots mainly because I saw guys that were in better position. I created for guys and got easy buckets on the fast break”, commented Quantez Robertson. MBC then went on a mini 4-0 run to lead 65-63 capitalizing on Galloway and Voigtmann misses as Kovacevic hit a15 footer and Hatten made a lay in. Voigtmann then mad eonly one free throw cutting the MBC lead to 65-64. Caloiaro then missed a jumper and Frankfurt had 18 seconds to go for the win. It was obvious that Frankfurt would go inside to draw the foul, but instead of drawing the foul, Klein and Galloway were denied and MBC came out with the victory. The reason for the last two defensive stops was the MBC M&M combination of Marcus Hatten And Martins Meiers. They may not have M&M chocolate to hand out after a big play, but instead have the capability to stifle an opponent´s offensive play under pressure which Frankfurt unwantedly had to experience. “Our defensive stops at the end were key for the win. Hatten made a big steal and Meiers with two huge blocks. We played straight up at the end and didn´t want to commit. We got no stupid fouls and played solid defense. I was proud of Martins Meiers at the end. I wouldn´t say that he messed up in the first half on defense, but we all did as a team. He always works hard and when that happens good things happen as he came up big for us on the defensive end”, added Angelo Caloiaro. “Coach had told us all to go to the rim. I had the open shot, but I kept hearing go to the rim in my head and that is what I did. This was a learning experience and I just have to continue to find ways of helping the team win”, stressed Ramon Galloway. The Mitteldeutscher BC was led by Angelo Caloiaro with 13 points. Michael Cufee chipped in with 12 points and Djorde Pantelic had 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Voigtmann with 15 points. Aziz Ndiaye had 13 points and Konstantin Klein had 12 points. Frankfurt finished with 47% from the field and a miserable 17% from outside while the Mitteldeutscher BC shot 42% from the field and 41% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebounding battle 37-30. The best Frankfurt stat on the night were their eight turnovers and overwhelmingly 42-18 points in the paint advantage.