In the last years, big Frankfurt basketball news stories on and off the court were things like what new rap video ex NBA player Jermario Davidson would upload next, predicting how many points Detroit native Dashaun Wood would be making in the next game, speculating how many times Danilo white men can jump Barthel might dunk in the next game or guess the roster for each new game as injuries for the Beko BBl team this season have been as common as the daily Justin Bieber escapades around the globe. However the biggest basketball news story in Frankfurt these days has nothing to do with the men of the Beko BBL team, but of the juniors of the Pro B team who were riding a seven game winning streak and will be in their second playoffs in a row. They ended 2013 ice cold with a five game losing streak and 4-9 record and now after seven victories stand at 11-9 and in fourth place. One of the amazing things about it is that they have become a real crunch time team despite not having their Beko BBL license players in the last three games. Frankfurt has won the last four games combined with not more than eight points. They played the last three games completely only with one import player Canadian Bryson Johnson and up and coming Pro B star Max Merz and a supporting cast of solid Pro B players Nikolai Vuckovic, Jan Novak, Johannes Richter and Tim Oldenberg. 19 year old 180cm Max Merz was the hero in the last two games winning the game with a last shot almost identically off the pick and role with an off balance shot. The Pro B team tried their luck again against last placed team BG Leitershofen and didn´t need another last second shot from Max Merz, but instead dismantled Leitershofen without any problems 83-61. Despite winning by 22 points, the score didn´t indicate the difficulty of bringing the win home. “Getting this win was a lot harder than what the score shows. Leitershoefen caught us sleeping in the first half on defense as they got some easy buckets inside. We stepped up our defense in the second half and hit more shots while they missed shots that they usually would of made”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Canadian Bryson Johnson. After starting the season on a six game losing streak and then getting big wins against Dresden and Weissenhorn, the club has had massive difficulty getting wins as they lost their tenth game out of their last 12 games. After the loss Leitershoefen guard Brandon Provost had to struggle to find words for the loss. “I thought that we did a good job until halftime staying with them. However in the third quarter, they started connecting on more shots while we couldn´t hit easy shots. In the fourth quarter, we tried something different by going to zone which was a risk because they are a good shooting team, but we felt that it was the right choice at the moment, but we didn´t do a good job getting to their shooters”, stressed Texas native Brandon Provost.
On a rare weekend off for the Fraport Skyliners Beko BBL team, many players were in attendance watching their farm team play like Konstantin Klein, Danilo Barthel, Johannes Voigtmann, Jacob Burtschi, Jarred Dubois and Aziz Ndiaye. The first quarter was very tight as no team was able to pull away. Kevin Wysocki got Leitershoefen on the board first with a turn around shot, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors went on a mini 4-0 run as Bryson Johnson scored as Max Merz. Nedim Hadzovic and Alex Bazzell scored on the fast break as Leitershoefen led 6-5. Frankfurt kept the pressure on and Johnson fed Johannes Richter a perfect lob pass for the easy bucket and Nikolaj Vuckovic dropped a three pointer as Frankfurt led 10-6. Leitershoefen went on a 9-2 run to take the 15-12 lead as Provost hit eight consecutive points including two three pointers. Skyliner Tim Oldenburg hit his bread and butter mid distance jumper as Leitershoefen led 19-17 after one quarter. “Both teams were feeling each other out in the first quarter. I thought that Frankfurt didn´t have as much intensity. We had many open shots and often shot a bit too early”, commented Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Klein. BG Leitershoefen was shooting 47% from the field and 40% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt had the 10-8 rebound edge, but four turnovers while Leitershoefen had three turnovers.
The second quarter remained tight as both teams didn´t fancy giving any gifts to the other team until the last few minutes where the Fraport Skyliners Juniors broke away a bit. Frankfurt got heads up play from young German kids Jamin Knothe who was giving his best Jacob Burtschi impression of diving on the floor and making hustle plays and Mark Appiah racked in three offensive rebounds and made a big bucket at the end. However BG Leitershoefen got hot quick as 19 year old German Nicolas Breuer sunk a three pointer and Provost connected on two shots. Frankfurt got two three pointers from Vuckovic, but still trailed 27-24. However the Fraport Skyliners juniors closed out the second half of the second quarter with a spirited 14-2 run to go into the break with a satisfying 38-30 advantage. Tim Oldenburg hit back to back shots to knot the game at 29-29. Frankfurt kept up the offensive pressure being aggressive at every moment as Appiah made a massive two handed dunk after getting a Jacob Merz no look pass, Johnson showed his passing qualities setting up Jan Novak with a beautiful hard bounce pass for the easy bucket and the Canadian then knocked down a three pointer. Appiah scored again as Frankfurt led by eight points. “Frankfurt played with more intensity and Mark Appiah made big plays. The rebounding was very good and Vuckovic hit big shots”, added Konstantin Klein. “Appiah is a young kid, but he did a good job. He was a real presence”, warned Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 48% from the field and 42% from the three point line while BG Leitershoefen was shooting 41% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 21-13 rebound advantage and eight turnovers while BG Leitershoefen had seven turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors ran away with the game as they got their first lead over 10 points and never looked back. Frankfurt started on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 45-32 as ex Bamberg center Johannes Richter was a one man wrecking crew as he connected on three consecutive buckets. “Frankfurt was moving the ball very well and taking advantage of the miss matches. On defense they didn´t allow Leitershoefen second chances”, said Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. Leitershoefen didn´t allow the Fraport Skyliners to totally run away with the game as they fought hard going on a 7-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 45-39. Provost hit a jumper and snuck inside as did Kevin Wysocki scoring with his left hand. Jan Novak then made a running hook shot and Tim Oldenburg scored twice as Frankfurt led 52-43. Frankfurt closed out the third quarter with a 8-3 run to lead 60-46 after 30 minutes. Appiah made a big on this run and made another dunk while Max Merz got too the free throw line twice. Nicolas Breuer ended the third quarter with an off balance turn around shot way behind the three point line which was possibly the biggest shot of the night for BG Leitershoefen. “Frankfurt was doing a better job moving the ball and limiting BG Leitershoefen to one shot. Max Merz did a good job getting to the free throw line”, expressed ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. “We had more intensity on defense. Appiah gave us a big boost with rebounds and blocks. He gave us the energy which flowed into the team”, stated Bryson Johnson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 49% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while BG Leitershoefen was shooting 40% from the field and 42% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the overwhelming 33-17 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while BG Leitershoefen had eight turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors kept their lead as BG Leitershoefen got a bit tired. Frankfurt started off the quarter with a 5-0 run to lead 65-46 as Johnson nailed a three pointer and Appiah got the no look pass from Jacob Merz who made another hard dunk. Frankfurt hurt the Leitershoefen zone with good ball movement and steady shooting. Even a mini 4-0 run by BG Leitershoefen couldn´t intimidate Frankfurt. Provost and Wysocki got clear inside for easy hoops, but Frankfurt continued to get consistency on the offensive end. It is never easy to stay fully focused when a team is leading so comfortably, but Frankfurt did a pretty good job even if it seemed like they were playing not to lose more than wanting to win. After Wysocki and Richter traded baskets, it was Wysocki and Vuckovic that swapped three pointers, but nothing changed with the lead as Frankfurt still had the 75-55 advantage. The Fraport Skyliners closed out the game with a 4-0 run as Johnson scored on a jumper and Appiah finished the scoring with an ally-op dunk getting the perfect feed from Oldenburg. “Frankfurt played a lot better in the second half doing the little things well. All in all it was a great team win”, added Jacob Burtschi. “They seemed a bit tired, but also that technical foul frustrated them. We did a good job controlling what we could with our game and not worrying about their game. We did a good job controlling their role players, while controlling a Provost or Wysocki will never be easy”, said Nova Scotia native Bryson Johnson. “Rebounding was an issue tonight and most of season. Noting against Hadzovic and Wysocki who always do a good job, but the guards don´t help out enough. We gave them too many second chances. Often when a team is struggling the team tends to separate. We can´t do that. We have to stick together”, stressed Brandon Provost.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Tim Oldenburg with 18 points and seven rebounds. Johannes Richter and Nikolaji Vuckovic had 14 points a piece while Bryson Johnson had 13 points. BG Leitershoefen was led by Brandon Provost with 22 points while Kevin Wysocki had 13 points. Frankfurt shot 54% from the field and 37% from outside while BG Leitershoefen shot 38% from the field and 40% from outside. Frankfurt dominated the boards 45-22, but had 16 turnovers while BG Leitershoefen had 10 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continue to be the big basketball story in Frankfurt as they haven´t lost since December 21st in Langen. The team continues to play very hard and their middle name is team basketball. Skyliners head coach Eric Detlef sees the secret to the success being three factors. “One it is luck. We have won many close games and teams haven´t played as well as the first half. Two we have been able to play with more intensity in the second half of the season and three the team has simply improved. Having Johnson and Richter have made us more deeper. Vuckovic has been our most improved player”, stated Eric Detlef. Canadian Bryson Johnson agrees with the head coach and adds”, Coach has given us the needed self confidence. Getting wins at the end has become more easy since we have done it before. Everybody is getting more comfortable with each other and the communication is better”, stressed Bryson Johnson.