For most of Beko BBL Germany this weekend, it was time to follow which top German team, Munich, Berlin, Bamberg or Ulm would hoist the seasons first title in the air at the cup weekend in Ulm. Just following the incredible matchups of a Jared Jordan against Clifford Hammonds, an Anton Gavel vs David Logan or seeing a Per Guenther tangle against a Malcolm Delaney was worth the time to just chill back and enjoy stunning basketball. For all the other teams that were off this weekend, it also was a time for players to catch up on the March Madness action and see how top teams like UCONN, Michigan, Michigan State, Dayton or Florida are playing and to observe top players like Nick Johnson, CJ Fair or Casey Parther strutting their stuff on the NCAA catwalk. However with all this excitement going on, there was also make up games to be played between teams like medi bayreuth and the Mitteldeutscher BC or the Fraport Skyliners and Walter Tigers Tuebingen on a very rare Saturday afternoon tipoff even before the German soccer Bundesliga had commenced. It might not have been the Beko BBL cup weekend or NCAA March Madness, but fans still had the opportunity to see ex NBA player Daequan Cook and his 367 NBA games experience battle against the likes of Quantez Robertson and Danilo Barthel. A game is a game no matter what else is going on and the players were as focused as if it was a normal Beko BBL game day even if it was spring out with beautiful sunshine, a cool breeze and weather that would warrant pulling out a lawn chair and an enjoyable book like Drive: The story of my life”, by Boston Celtic legend Larry Bird. Despite all the action being in Ulm this weekend for the Beko BBL cup Top 4, fans in Frankfurt saw a very exciting game down the stretch as Tuebingen slipped by Frankfurt 71-70 giving basketball fans a more than suitable choice for spending two hours on a Saturday afternoon. “It was difficult to be in Ulm for the weekend since we had a game in Frankfurt, but it was a normal game for us. I had no problem being in Frankfurt for a game when there is exciting basketball in Ulm. I am very biased towards Alba Berlin since Reggie Redding plays there so I will go with Alba Berlin while I think that the Munich/Ulm game will be very close”, predicted Tuebingen and ex Skyliner Robert Wintermantel. “We just worried about our game and not where everyone else was this weekend concerning the cup. We were just focusing on ourselves. I think that Bamberg and Munich will play in the final”, warned Ohio native Quantez Robertson.
It was the debut of ex NBA player Daequan Cook in the Fraport arena and had he had his usual game of shooting out the lights, then the arena still would have been relatively bright, because of the rare early Saturday afternoon game, but the Cook spotlight was robbed from the presentation of the dynamic hair duo of Americans Quantez Robertson and Ramon Galloway. If one wasn´t too close to the court and only had a side view of both players, one might not have had the easiest time differenciating between the two players, because both had similar hair cuts with braids. Both had very solid games and both combined for 27 points as Robertson had 17 points and hit big shots and filled up the stat sheet as always and Ramon Galloway made some tough shots, but also led the club in assists with six. Despite the bitter loss at the end of the day talk of their similarity in hair styles remained present after the game and also erased some of the focus on the tragic hero Jacob Burtschi that coughed up the ball on the last play, the question remained with what hair style would Galloway surprise fans next against the Brose Baskets Bamberg this week? “People said I looked like the little brother of Tez. I decided to switch up hair styles as in the last game it was Bryson Johnson and this game Tez. I think next I will have the bald head Jordan look”, smiled Ramon Galloway. “Ramon has been twisting and untwisting his hair the last games. He has changed his hair now three times, but I think that he will have same look in next game”, stated Quantez Robertson. “Galloway has really been changing his look often. Maybe my hair will be his next look”, laughed ex ratiopharm Ulm forward Dane Watts.
The Walter Tigers Tuebingen came into the game in 17th place with a record of 5-21 and it was a sort of new experience not coming into a game as the doormat of the league. Tuebingen was coming off a big 74-67 win against TBB Trier and had nothing to lose except their pride. Tuebingen came into the game challenging Frankfurt who were back to back winners against Munich and Ulm and played their hearts out. After the game, Serb coach Igor Perovic looked very relived, but also was the good sport and lauded the Fraport Skyliners and especially three people. “We had a chance the whole game to win and we took it. We showed great character and played very organized defense throughout the game. I thought that we controlled the game for 40 minutes. We didn´t deserve to win as it could have gone either way at the end. Frankfurt not only did a great job today, but the whole season. They have a great coach that play excellent and you see his hand is behind their successful play. Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtman are two of the top players at their position as well as the best passers at their position. These two players are a big reason for their success this year”, warned Tuebingen head coach Igor Perovic. Even if Tuebingen still has a long way to go to stay in the league. They started a new Tiger trend that has been hidden all season long. “This was a big win and most important so far this season as it was the first time we won two games in a row. We have momentum, confidence among the players, playing good defense and we need to build on that. We made the big plays when they counted. It wasn´t a perfect game, but we got the big buckets when we needed them”, stressed Oklahoma native Josh Young. The Fraport Skyliners entered the game in 11th place with a record of 11-13 and had a huge two game winning streak having defeated Munich and Ulm and knew that they couldn´t underestimate cellar team Tuebingen, but all in all didn´t incorporate that deadly focus and intensity from the last two games and were unable to pull away in the third and fourth as they let Tuebingen cling to their backs and then had everything in their power, but lost the game on the last play. “Tuebingen was desperate and hungry to win here. They wanted to win more than we did and showed more energy for the loose balls. You cant allow that when you play at home. It was a pity that we couldn´t build on the wins from the last weeks”, warned Missouri native Dane Watts.
With the Beko BBL cup weekend in full swing and abnormal 20c for late March, only 3,920 patrons were in attendance seeing both teams find their rhythm quick as Tyrone Nash and Konstantin Klein exchanged three pointers. Then the future of German basketball took a hack at displaying who has the most beautiful touch from the mid distance as Johannes Voigtmann and Bogdan Radosavljvic traded buckets as the game was locked at 5-5. Cook then fed Bane Ratkovica on the fast break for an easy lay up and then it was Voigtmann again scoring inside as Galloway got the assist. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen then went on a 6-0 run as Cook and Radosavljvic connected on back to back three pointers. This didn´t scare Frankfurt as they roared back going on their own 6-0 run to tie the score at 13-13. Galloway supported some fire and energy with a two handed dunk and Quantez Robertson who seems to be feeling more and more at ease from outside drilled home a three pointer. Both teams were executing well on offense, but were taking a step back on defense as open shots were as prevalent as are the first trees blossoming early. Jonathan Wallace and Klein then traded three pointers and Jarred Dubois made free throws and Russian Anatoly Kashirov hit a mid distance jumper as the first quarter ended at 18-18. “It was important that we got into the game from the start and started to score. We played solid defense and we got support from many different players”, added Tuebingen manager Robert Wintermantel. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 38% from outside while the Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 44% from the field and 50% from outside. Both teams had nine rebounds and five turnovers a piece.
The Walter Tigers Tuebingen took a solid first quarter offense and shifted up a few gears in the second quarter continuing to hit jumpers on a consistent rate and getting a few more stops to go on a 14-5 run to lead 32-23. In the run, Rathkovica drilled a three pointer, Alex Harris hit a runner, Kashirov a turn around shot, Wallace a three pointer and Kashirov another jumper. Frankfurt didn´t come to terms with the Heightened Tuebingen defense which was bringing the Frankfurt pick and role to problems and turnovers. The curious thing also was that this run was a recipient of Non Cook play as he was sitting on the bench. Frankfurt closed out the third quarter with a 8-4 run to trail only 36-31 as Barthel made a few buckets and big monster block shortly before halftime on Rathkovica. “We moved the ball even better and continued to shoot very well. We made some bad unforced turnovers, but forced good turnovers. Our centers played good pick and role defense and just got Frankfurt out of their comfort zone”, expressed ex Skyliner Robert Wintermantel. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 47% from the field and 46% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 27% from the three point line. Tuebingen had the 16-13 rebound edge and both teams had nine turnovers a piece.
The third quarter got very exciting as there were six lead changes and no club was capable of fully pulling away as Wallace kept the TIgers in the game with 14 points and four three pointers. The Fraport Skyliners continued to manufacture their impressive comeback going on a 9-3 run to recapture the lead 40-39. Frankfurt did a good job scoring in the paint as Robertson and Galloway used their athletic ability scoring and Voigtman also added spice inside with a lay up. Wallace as usual on this afternoon supplied three point punch. Then both teams fought back and forth getting the lead back as Voigtman, Ratkovica, Robertson and Radosavljevic scored, but Frankfurt held on to the lead 49-48 despite back to back three pointers by Tez and Wallace. Barthel then hit a big three pointer, but quiet Tyrone Nash scored inside as Frankfurt led 52-50. Galloway then penetrated inside and set up Aziz Ndiaye for the monster dunk as Frankfurt led 54-50. This dunk was a momentum puller as it seemed, but Tuebingen shocked the Fraport arena with a lethal 8-0 run to close out the third quarter leading 58-54 as Wallace was in the zone connecting on two consecutive three pointers. It seemed like the hole looked like the ocean for him. “It felt good.I didn´t have a good shooting game last week, so I entered this game wanting to be more aggressive and attack more. We have many guys that can shoot and tonight it was my turn to get hot. Harris and Ratkoviva did a good job finding me”, added Jonathan Wallace. “We were unable to put them away, but Tuebingen has good players and Wallace hit big shots”, stressed Fraport Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi. “Wallace was our unsung hero. One could see that he really wanted to win this game”, added Oklahoma native Josh Young. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 53% from the field and 53% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Tuebingen had the 22-28 rebound edge and 14 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, fans would witness six more lead changes and the Fraport Skyliners came out on a mission going on a 7-2 run to retake the lead 61-60. Robertson who is known as one of the top defenders in the Beko BBL and has had to take more responsibility on offense this season nailed a three pointer and Galloway hit a clutch jumper. Then it was Robertson again who loves to fly to the hoop whenever possible and delivered a nifty finger tip role lay in that would even have had Tina Archibald smiling. However Tuebingen snatched the lead right back again as ex Braunschweig forward Nils MIttman did what he does best nailing a three pointer as Tuebingen led 63-61. Then it was Voigtmann who fought for his own rebound and made the put back as the game was dead locked 63-63. Robertson then made an off balance shot and Wallace a floater as the game was tied 65-65. After Radosavljevic made free throws, it was Klein with another clutch three pointer as Frankfurt led 68-67. Ratkovica then gave Tuebingen the lead back 69-68 with free throws, only to be denied by Voigtmann with a pretty lay in as Frankfurt led 70-69 with only 13,2 seconds to play. Then it was Cook who was the hero even though it had been Wallace who had done hero´s work all game long nailing a 15 footer pull up jumper. “Galloway was chasing and Cook got him with a good pump fake. One can´t give a good shooter like Cook an open look”, stressed Quantez Robertson. “Cook didn´t have great game, but he made last shot that counted. His strong individual qualities allowed him that shot. He didn´t have many open shots, but mostly contested shots. Great shooters like him have a very short memory. He made that last shot and forgot the rest”, stressed Tuebingen head coach Igor Perovic. Frankfurt then took a time out and with 3,8 seconds to play had one more chance to win the game, but Jacob Burtschi made a turnover electing not to shoot, but to try to find Barthel. “We fought so hard in this game and then I make this mistake. I should of shot to at least give Barthel the chance for the rebound. This last play effected the whole game. I was unable to let the team have the last shot to win the game”, stressed ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. “ I thought that Burtschi had a good look, but if the pass would have been perfect, Barthel would have had the dunk and Frankfurt would have won. Nevertheless, he is a smart player. As an opponent I am happy, but as a friend, I am sad”, expressed Josh Young. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were led by Johnathan Wallace with 22 points. Bogdan Radosavljevic contributed 17 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 17 points, six rebounds and three assists. Johannes Voigtmann added 14 points and Danilo Barthel 11 points. Ramon Galloway had 10 points. Tuebingen shot very well at 48% from the field and 46% from outside while Frankfurt shot 45% from the field and 35% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 28-27, but had 16 turnovers while Tuebingen had 15 turnovers. “We didn´t have the intensity level that we had against Munich and Ulm. We were all over the place. We need to get that intensity level back”, warned Ramon Galloway. If there is one positive thing that Frankfurt can take into the Bamberg game in 96 hours is a trait that Bamberg also do well. “We shared the ball very well. We had four guys in double figures and our offense was effective”, added Dane Watts.