It is always nice to see a player reappear in an arena after a very long time where he has seen many teams and developed his game further. The last time Bamberg center D or Fischer was in the Fraport arena, his head coach Chris Fleming was still coach with the Artland Dragons without a title, teammate Jared Jordan was a senior at Marist, teammate Elias Harris and future NBA player was still a rarely unknown young player with SG Bad Duerkheim/Speyer (Regionalliga), line drive shooter Anton Gavel was making his first experience outside Germany with Polaris World Murcia (Spain-ACB) and Fraport Skyliner guard Quantez Robertson was playing his second season at Auburn. It was the 2006-2007 season where the then Deutsche Bank Skyliners swept the EWE baskets Oldenburg 80-70 and 76-70. During that season some of his teammates were German national player Heiko Schaffartzik, Americans Doron Perkins and Dan Grunfeld and current Artland Dragons head coach Tyron Mccoy. Playing against Fischer for Frankfurt were guys like Skyliner legend Pascal Roller, current Oldenburg center Travon Bryant, current Wurzburg guard Jimmy Mckinney and 2002 bronze medalist for Germany at the World Championships Nino Garris. Since then, Fischer has been all around the basketball globe and reached his height playing with Macabbi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid two teams that not many players can say they played for. He also played in countries like Belgium and the Ukriane after starting his basketball career with West Virginia(NCAA) and being a teammate with ex Skyliner Johannes Herber. Fischer might have to ask some Germans who read the new book of Herber called Almost Heaven, if he was mentioned during his West Virginia recap. With so much history having happened in the last seven years, the Philadelphia native wanted to make some sweet history in the Fraport arena in hopes of winning for the first time there and he was an instrumental part in the 64-54 Bamberg win scoring eight points hauling down 11 rebounds and blocking three balls. “It was nice to play in Frankfurt again. The league is different now and the quality is better. My job is too be vocal and play good defense. My game was ok. Voigtmann made a hook shot over me and I remembered it and frustrated me, but I moved on quickly”, smiled Philadelphia native D or Fisher. Frankfurt had their problems against Fisher and Dane Watts could observe his play from the bench. “He is a great shot blocker and alters shots so well. He has a good touch and makes shots and its tough to play defense against him”, stressed ex ratiopharm Ulm forward Dane Watts. Bamberg knows exactly what they have with the big man. “Even if he doesn´t get the block, he usually can alter the shot. He is so important in protecting our basket. Before he arrived, we had problems often keeping players in front of us, but if it happens now, we know that we have big fish behind us. On offense he is so vital on the pick and role”, warned Bamberg guard Jamar Smith.
Sometimes after a bitter weekend like the Brose Baskets Bamberg had being shut out of a title in Ulm losing to Alba Berlin and even beating the mighty FC Bayern Munich in the game for third place was never as meaningless for the defending champion than last weekend, so in order to forget this hardship, it was beneficial to get right back on the court and get that feeling of success with a new win. Alba Berlin won 83-67, but that was helped with a rapid surge in the fourth quarter by Alba Berlin too easily seal the win. Except for one lead change late in the first quarter, Alba Berlin led in the whole game. Where was the usual Bamberg dominance? How could Alba Berlin pull away in the fourth quarter in a do or die game against the usual so unstoppable Bamberg? One rule that is becoming more and more visible in the Beko BBL is playing just ok won´t cut it and that is what happened to Bamberg. Both teams shot poorly from outside, but Bamberg couldn´t compensate it from the field. It was no secret that Alba Berlin have the advantage inside and Bamberg was killed on the boards. 11 turnovers for Bamberg is ok, but allowing only seven Alba Berlin turnovers will make it harder to get extra possessions especially when you need more and more in a comeback. Anton Gavel stepped up as usual and Bamberg got nice production inside from Maik Zirbes and Jamar Smith, but where were Casey Jacobsen a Rakim Sanders or Jared Jordan? Bamberg that gell as a team didn´t play as a team. Jordan had eight points and five assists in 32 minutes which are stats that he might have at halftime during a stellar game by him. When you see Bamberg manager Wolfgang Heyder roaming around an arena before a game, you often get the feeling he is cherishing old memories with his team that once happened or in deep thought about what can make his team better tomorrow. Before the game against the Fraport Skyliners, the German had some time to reflect on the cup weekend. “We weren´t as stable as we wanted to be in Ulm. We have had many new guys coming in with Fisher, Harris and Jordan are still finding ourselves and that is why we are a bit inconsistent. We have many young guys and with Smith and Sanders they can be up and down and when Casey Jacobsen is in a hole then it is tough to win. You can always lose against Alba Berlin. Sanders didn´t have a good game against Alba Berlin, but played well against FC Bayern Munich. Jordan still needs to be integrated. He has only been here four weeks and when you always get pressured, it isn´t easy to always play well. Everything just needs to fit together. We have to be more consistent and play team basketball. When each guy is helping each other, then we tend to play well”, warned Bamberg manager Wolfgang Heyder.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg entered the game in second place with a record of 22-4 and were coming off the semi final loss in the cup game against Alba Berlin. Bamberg played an all around solid game and were to heighten their defense each step of the way especially in the second half as the Fraport Skyliners had huge difficulty getting into their sets as they were not accustomed to fighting through their pressure defense. “This was a very big win for us coming off the cup weekend and gave us much self confidence. We locked down as a team on defense and on offense we cut hard, moved the ball well and made the extra pass. Jared Jordan made it so much easier for us as he gave us easy shots through his passing of both hands so well”, stated ex Boston Celtic Jamar Smith. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game with a 11-14 record and in 11th place and wanted to start a new winning streak after their bitter one point loss to the Walter Tigers Tuebingen last weekend. The Fraport Skyliners played a strong first quarter and were behind only by a bucket at half time, but in the second half were unable to get any scoring power as Bamberg locked down on defense. “We had a good first quarter and started to let down in the second and third quarters. We made a push in the fourth quarter, but they hit some big shots and our mental mistakes allowed them to pull away”, stressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. It wasn´t only the aggressive Bamberg defense that forced costly turnovers, but it was also the mental lapses that really ate away at the Frankfurt game. “We had many turnovers and as a result our intensity dropped. You can´t play like that against a team like Bamberg. They took advantage of it”, expressed ex Tuebingen forward Dane Watts.
On a rare Wednesday game where Borussia Dortmund was playing Champions League soccer in Madrid, only 3,580 fans wanted to see the game. Frankfurt was without Dane Watts while the Brose Baskets Bamberg were without American Sharod Ford and Anton Gavel. The Brose Baskets Bamberg got on the board first as ex Real Madrid center D or Fisher hit a mid distance jumper, but Frankfurt quickly got on the board as Quantez Robertson spun inside and no Bamberg player even had the audacity attempting to get in his way. Bamberg continued to roll on offense as Fisher connected again from 15 feet for the 5-2 advantage. Skyliner Johannes Voigtmann then battled inside getting the offensive rebound and putting the reverse lay up into the hoop as Frankfurt trailed 5-4. American Rakim Sanders then showcased his pretty shooting stroke hitting from downtown, but Frankfurt kept up the pressure as American Ramon Galloway made a fade away jumper at the shot clock buzzer and Voigtmann made a baby hook to tie the game at 8-8. Sanders and Danilo Barthel exchanged baskets as the game stayed even 10-10. However the Fraport Skyliners then inserted the turbo closing out the first quarter with a big 10-3 run to lead 20-13 after one quarter. Robertson and konstantin Klein hit back to back three pointers and Galloway connected on an off balance shot. Sanders closed out the first quarter with a buzzer beater three pointer. “Frankfurt was defending very well and they hit some big three pointers. Sanders kept Bamberg in the game with big shots.”, stressed Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 67% from the field and 100% from outside while the Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 50% from the field and 50% from outside. Frankfurt had the 6-4 rebound edge and three turnovers while Bamberg had six turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners relinquished their lead and let Bamberg back in the game. Bamberg started the second quarter with a powerful 5-0 run as Maik Zirbes made a 20 footer after getting a quick pass from John Goldsberry and Sanders once again fired from outside connecting on an open three pointer as Frankfurt led 20-18. Aziz Ndiaye entered the game and quickly jolted the arena with a massive dunk as Robertson sneaked a quick feed inside, but Bamberg was able to execute on offense and retook the lead 23-22 as Zirbes nailed a 20 footer and Smith stole the ball form Klein and went coast to coast for the easy bucket. Frankfurt suffered many lousy turnovers in the quarter as they mostly resulted in easy scores. Galloway did give Frankfurt the lead back stroking home a three ball as Frankfurt led 25-23. Bamberg then went on a 6-0 run taking advantage of more Frankfurt turnovers as Smith made a jumper, Sanders scored on a lay in after a Fisher block on Barthel and Elias Harris made free throws as Bamberg led 29-25. Frankfurt did close the second quarter with an enormous Voigtmann two handed jam as Galloway found the trailer. “Bamberg stepped up their defense which was more aggressive forcing many turnovers. Sanders continued to make shots. Frankfurt was defending well as it was a typical Frankfurt game in the 60´s, but they couldn´t get anything going on offense”, added American Steven Wriedt. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 48% from the field and 50% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 48% from the field and 38% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 14-13 rebound edge and both teams had nine turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners offense stalled like an old beat up 1975 Volkswagon beetle that needed some movement again after being holed up in the garage for two years as the Brose Baskets Bamberg slowly pulled away on a 15-3 run to lead 44-30 as it took Frankfurt almost five minutes to score their first field goal. On the run, Bamberg got rolling as American Jared Jordan tested his ankle after hurting it in the second quarter and ran around the court and around all Skyliners before weaving inside and scoring off balance as Voigtmann was a step to slow, Sanders and Fisher made free throws and Smith made two bombs form the parking lot for the damage. Bamberg was doing all the little things, making big defensive plays and just playing smart while Frankfurt looked a bit puzzled on the offensive end and made bad decision after bad decision which usually resulted in a turnover. American Jarred Dubois finally made the first field goal for Frankfurt with a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed 44-33. Down the stretch, ex TBB Trier center Maik Zirbes made two buckets inside and Dubois closed out the third quarter with only the second field goal of the quarter as Bamberg led 49-37. “Bamberg did a very good job taking away our entry on offense. We also held the ball too long letting the shot clock wind down too often. You can´t let that happen against a quality team like Bamberg”, warned Missouri native Dane Watts. “We came together on defense and forced many turnovers and got easy buckets”, warned ex Los Angeles Laker Elias Harris. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 44% from the field and Frankfurt 35% and they had the 24-23 rebound edge, but 15 turnovers while Bamberg had 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners continued to battle back, but Bamberg was always capable of having an answer on offense to keep the lead near 10 points. Klein started the fourth quarter with a pull up jumper and Ndiaye made a free throw to cut the Bamberg lead to 49-39. Harris then made a three pointer, which seemed to have been after the shot clock expired, but the refs let it go as Bamberg led 53-39. “I think that shot and call deflated us, but that is part of the game. Not everything can go your way. We had to be mentally tough in that situation, but weren´t”, stressed Dane Watts. “That Harris three pointer hurt us and next time down I rim out a three pointer. They made the shots when they needed to and that is why they are the defending champions”, stated Jacob Burtschi. Frankfurt then was caught sleeping as Jordan zipped a bullet pass from the inbounds play finding German national player Karsten Tadda for the easy basket as Bamberg led 55-41. Frankfurt continued to have bright moments as Voigtmann made a tip in off a Robertson miss as Frankfurt trailed only 55-44. However Bamberg was always able to react as ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen nailed a three pointer to keep Bamberg at 58-44. With time running down, Frankfurt had one last push going on a 6-0 run to cut the Bamberg lead to 58-50 as Voigtmann made a mini hook shot over Fisher, Robertson went coast to coast for the lay in and Galloway showed all his athletic ability moving in form the wing for the simple penetration bucket. However American Jamar Smith sealed the Bamberg win with two consecutive three pointer as Bamberg extended their lead to 64-50 with a minute to go. “You could say that Sanders and I supplied the knockout punch tonight. My teammates have a lot of confidence in me and found me and I feel always comfortable taking those kinds of shots”, added Jamar Smith. Frankfurt closed out the game with a 4-0 run as Galloway made free throws and Voigtman made a lay in. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Jamar Smith with 18 points and Rakim Sanders added 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Voigtmann with 15 points and seven rebounds while Ramon Galloway added 13 points. Frankfurt had a miserable shooting day with 37% from the field and 24% from outside while Bamberg shot a respectable 43% from the field and 41% from outside. Frankfurt did win the rebound battle 34-28, but had a weak 18 turnovers while Bamberg countered with 15 turnovers. Team basketball was a problem against Bamberg and Frankfurt will need to find that again when they tangle with the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. The Fraport Skyliners don´t have much time to ponder over the loss as they play in Wurzburg in 48 hours.