Back in college at Creighton, Dane Watts was as used to playing for conference titles and winning with guys like NBA forward Anthony Tolliver and Nate Funk as Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Ryan Brooks was to winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2009-2010, but as the Missouri native turned professional in 2008, it took him a few years to finally have a chance of winning a title again in Germany. In his first three seasons in Germany, Watts played for middle class teams like Ludwigsburg and two years in Tuebingen. In 2011, he was signed by ratiopharm Ulm where he joined a top notch team in the making that was a Beko BBL finalist in 2012 and German Supercup finalist in 2013. These were two productive season for the American until his misfortune in January 2013 as he was injured and had to sit out a year. This season he is back with the Fraport Skyliners, but on a team that will need much luck to reach the playoffs with best a very long winning streak to end the season which is about as likely as his ex team Tuebingen staying in the Beko BBL. For a professional player it is always a treat to meet again with an ex team and with Ulm playing in Frankfurt, Watts was reunited with German national player Per Guenther and Jon Leuer friend from Wisconsin(NCAA) Keaton Nankivil who were his teammates for two seasons. Watts had a tremendous debut as a Skyliner in Oldenburg netting 22 points and eight rebounds in a bitter loss and scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter in a bitter 77-76 loss in Ludwigsburg.Watts and the Fraport Skyliners met ratiopharm Ulm on a Sunday afternoon matinee and two weeks in a row Watts was unable to play and battle ex teammates like John Byrant and Per Guenther on account of his broken nose. Watts was able to enjoy two big wins the last two weekends against FC Bayern Munich and the latest 71-67 spanking against ratiopharm Ulm. “It was tough not being able to play against John Bryant last week and Per Guenther this week. I really wanted to play, but am alos happy we won. It was good for our confidence. I am really starting to get know the fan section to the left. I still have a ringing in my ear”, smiled Missouri native Dane Watts.”It is always nice to Dane Watts, but I am happy that I didn´t have to play against him, because he had told me that he wanted to set some mean blocks”, smiled German national player Per Guenther. Ulm American Keaton Nankivil exited the locker room with another loss as he is 0-3 in Frankfurt and also was unable to battle his ex teammate. “It was sad not to play him, but then again nice that he couldn´t hurt us. I am really happy that he is in a good situation in Frankfurt”, added ex Wisconsin forward Keaton Nankivil.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game in 12th place with a record of 10-12 coming off a huge upset at home last weekend against FC Bayern Munich and weren´t quite as lethal as last weekend, but they stuck together as a team and as so often this season made big plays and shots in crunch time that helped them get the win. “We played together as a team. Ratiopharm Ulm came out and threw punches, but we were able to withstand those punches and showed that we could continue to stay together in tough times and be able to improve”, stated Fraport Skyliner guard Ramon Galloway. The Fraport Skyliners strung another very impressive defensive performance as they held ratiopharm Ulm like FC Bayern Munich last weekend under 70 points as nothing was made easy for them in the scoring department. “I feel that our bigs played a great game. They were very strong down low and played very aggressive and forced Ulm too many tough finishes”, added ex Tuebingen forward Dane Watts. Ratiopharm Ulm entered the game with a five game winning streak and were settled in seventh place with a record of 16-9, but quickly found out that there usual highs coring offense wasn´t going to be rolling smoothly like a powerful German train like the ICE, but have more sudden tilts like in an Amtrak train as it was the second fewest points that they have scored this season in the Beko BBL after the dreadful 62 points against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg earlier in the season. “Frankfurt is a lot better than what their record shows. I am very impressed by this team and how the young players contribute. They came out hard in the first quarter, but we came back in the second quarter and in the second half at the end they made big plays and shots and had the momentum thanks to some big plays on defense which resulted in easy baskets. They made the important plays when they needed to. Their defense was on as they have many athletic players that took things away from us. They didn´t let us control the tempo and as always had a great game plan”, added Keaton Nankivil.
The Fraport arena was sold out again as Frankfurt was without the services of Dane Watts and ratiopharm Ulm was without Dominican Republican guard three point specialist Edgar Sosa. The Fraport Skyliners started off exactly there where they left off last weekend after their impressive win against FC Bayern Munich taking a rapid 8-2 lead as Johannes Voigtmann made free throws and Ramon Galloway nailed a three pointer. Quantez Robertson then connected for a three pointer as Voigtman found him out of the high post in the corner. Ratiopharm Ulm didn´t get a flow on offense and the only way they could get points was from the free throw line as field goals in the first quarter was as rare as ever seeing a Jacob Burtschi dunk. After Guenther and Voigtmann traded free throws and Frankfurt led 10-4, it was ex Artland Dragon Adam Hess who made a tip in dunk. Gordon Herbert inserted young German Max Merz earlier than usual to give Klein a rest and he responded with a three pointer as Frankfurt still had the lead 13-6. American Cameron Long then snuck inside for an easy lay up and Galloway and NCAA finalist with Butler Matt Howard exchanged free throws as Frankfurt clung on to the 15-10 advantage. Frankfurt closed out the first quarter in style as Danilo Barthel made a tip in and Ramon Galloway snatched a quick pass from Robertson and going coast to coast as the Fraport Skyliners led 19-12 after one quarter. “Frankfurt did a good job on Per Guenther, but his role is more for organization than scoring. Frankfurt had a great start and forced Ulm to many bad shots and turnovers”, stressed Bamberg guard Karsten Tadda. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 60% from outside while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 20% from the field and 0% from outside. Ratiopharm Ulm had the 9-7 rebound edge, but five turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners kept the comfortable lead, but despite having no Per Guenther for much of the second quarter, ratiopharm Ulm clawed themselves back into the game. The Fraport Skyliners started their offensive attack with quick baskets inside as Tez Robertson scored as did Konstantin Klein who could go to a doctors office wait a few hours and then be diagnosed with the aggressiveness disease pertaining to his game in that he never lets his defender get a grasp of air as he is always attacking making a lay in in traffic. ratiopharm continued to have problems making field goals until the ratiopharm ulm version of Super Tez Wil Clyburn made the first Ulm field goal in the second quarter to cut the Frankfurt lead to 25-18. Frankfurt then got a bit too relaxed on offense not executing the way they should and also were getting too many turnovers which allowed ratiopharm Ulm a way back through the back door and into the game. German national player Daniel Theis made a huge dunk after Cameron Long whipped him a line drive pass form the baseline that zipped by Voigtmann´s head. Ratiopharm Ulm continued to make their comeback as Long nailed a three pointer to cut the Frankfurt lead to 26-24. Quantez Robertson then made a beautiful spin move in the lane similar to him in the pregame video and the only thing missing was the dunk. However ratiopharm Ulm continued to pressure Frankfurt as 2008 NBA Draft Pick Trent Plaisted made a tip in, Clyburn free throws and then the American gave ratiopharm Ulm its first lead 30-28 with a bomb from the parking lot 30-28. Both teams would exchange leads a few more times as Robertson made a three pointer and Aziz N Diaye made a lay in for the Frankfurt 33-32 lead. Long lifted ratiopharm Ulm into halftime with the 34-33 advantage. “Ulm defended a lot better in the second half. Frankfurt wasn´t getting as easy shots anymore. Ulm was making more shots which helped their self confidence”, added German national player Karsten Tadda. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 30% from the field and 25% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Ratiopharm Ulm had the 20-14 rebound lead and Frankfurt had six turnovers and ratiopharm Ulm eight turnovers.
The third quarter stayed extremely tight as no team could run away with game, but ratiopharm Ulm finally got much needed input from Per Guenther who became their scorer giving the team the needed punch on the offensive end. FRaport Skyliner Konstantin Klein got rolling hitting a three pointer and making a reverse lay up as Frankfurt led 38-36. Galloway then made a three pointer as Frankfurt was on a 8-2 run and led 41-36. Guenther was playing way below his form and had only made two points and had two turnovers in the first half and the second half didn´t start any better as Klein beat him inside for an easy bucket and he then made a horrible inbounds pass that Galloway swiped and went in for the massive over the head reverse dunk which got the Fraport arena on fire and 43-36 Frankfurt lead. However the face of Guenter couldn´t get any more red as it was a combination of heat and anger and it was obvious that sooner or later the German point guard would explode and he did scoring 10 of the 15 ratiopharm Ulm points scored after the 10-2 Frankfurt run. He made two clutch three pointers and his bread and butter the floater which he does to almost perfection. “Klein did a good job pressuring me in the first half and Frankfurt had good help defense. I had some open shots, but they didn´t fall. Sometimes it is important to make that first shot to get in rhythm. Sitting in the second quarter did good as I could study the Frankfurt defense. In the third quarter, I knew that we needed offense and finally I hit my shots”, stressed Per Guenther. “Guenther can turn on his motor when he needs to. Klein did a good job pressuring him and Guenther is the key to their transition and we did a good job slowing him down and keeping it in the half court”, added Dane Watts. Galloway and Barthel made some shots in the last minutes, but ratiopharm Ulm kept their nose in front 53-52 after three quarters. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 36% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 44% from the parking lot. Ratiopharm Ulm had the 28-22 rebound edge and both teams had nine turnovers a piece.
In the fourth quarter, the game remained tight, but it was the energy of Ramon Galloway who made amends for a poor first half with energy and big shots from Jacob Burtschi that sealed the win for the Fraport Skyliners. Guenther started the fourth quarter on the bench and ratiopharm Ulm kept their nose in front as Matt Howard grabbed one of the 15 ratiopharm Ulm offensive rebound making the put back and Frankfurt trailed 55-52. Frankfurt then went on a 6-0 run to lead 58-55 as Ndiaye made a lay in and Ramon Galloway made a shot high off the glass and then scored on transition after getting the perfect feed from Robertson. Galloway had a poor first half having many bad decisions and turnovers, but getting seven points, but had an almost flawless second half scoring 11 points and being one of the sparks in the win. Galloway was more than unhappy with his play in the first 20 minutes“I was looking for the bigs in the first half. My teammates told me that I should attack coming of the screen and just get the ball up on the rim”, stressed Ramon Galloway. Dane Watts liked what he saw from teammate Galloway from the bench in crunch time. “His game helped us get energy. We really needed those dunks which got us together”, added Dane Watts. “Galloway forced some things in the first half, but calmed down in the second half. That is why there are two halves of basketball”, smiled Jacob Burtschi. However ratiopharm Ulm was not about to lay down and play dead as they still fought getting some extra offensive rebounds which led to a Nankivil three pointer to tie the game at 58-58. Ratiopharm Ulm then regained the lead as Daniel Theis made a pulsating dunk as the rainbow ally-op pass seemed to hang up in the air for seconds. However the Fraport Skyliners then made their crushing blow going on a brutal 10-0 run to lead 68-60 and clinch the win. In the run, it was Mr Top Gun Jacob Burtschi who nailed two three pointers after having taken only one shot in the game. “Shooting is my staple and Klein found me open twice. After not doing anything else the whole game, I was happy to finally do something. I never force shots and only pass up shots for better shots”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. “Burtschi is a great guy to have on the team. He is a veteran player that came off an injury and to hit two big shots like that was huge. It was good to have him back for these two wins”, added Dane Watts. Ratiopharm Ulm had one last once of energy in their gas tank as Long scored inside and Gunther hit a pull up jumper to cut the Frankfurt lead to 68-64. However game quiet American Jarred Dubois unleashed the last blow dropping a three pointer which ultimately broke the sturdy back of ratiopharm Ulm as the Fraport Skyliners won 71-67.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ramon Galloway with 18 points. Quantez Robertson added 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Cameron Long with 18 points and Per Guenther contributed 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners had a great shooting day with 46% from the field and 48% from outside while the usual ratiopharm Ulm offensive powerhouse shot an untypical weak 34% from the field and 29% from outside. Ratiopharm Ulm controlled the boards 38-34 and both teams had 13 turnovers a piece. The Frankfurt defense continues to shine as it averaged only 64 points against FC Bayern Munich and ratiopharm Ulm. If the team can continue to execute their defensive principles then they will be a very tough team to beat. “A big reason for our success is that we slowed down the game and let ratiopharm Ulm into their halfcourt game. Instead of letting them shoot at 19 seconds left on the shot clock we got them under 10 seconds often which was important”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners next welcome the Walter Tigers Tuebingen on March 29th looking for their third win in a row.