It isn´t often that a professional basketball player returns back to a foreign basketball court after experiencing the total maximum extremes in game efforts the last two years, but as is the wonderful saying three is a charm and after having a 1-1 record in his basketball career in Wurzburg, Fraport Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi wanted to return back and continue where he left off two seasons ago where he was wearing the Fraport Sklyiners jersey. Wurzburg is already a very very very very uncomfortable place to play in and two seasons ago on a winter day in January, the Fraport Skyliners rose from the trenches winning the battle of Wurzburg 55-51 as fans saw possibly one of the hardest fought games ever in the history of both clubs. During the game Devin Gibson sustained a cramp as did players from Wurzburg after the game. Both teams went to the limit not wanting to give any free gifts and just defended with their hearts. “We knew that Wurzburg is a very tough defensive team and we just had to slow down the game. Their defense at the start was the best defense that I have ever played against. It was a civil war battle. It calmed down in the second half and we were able to play our basketball”, warned Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney. S. Oliver Baskets Wurzburg guard Ricky Harris sat on the sidelines and couldn´t play due to injury, but understood that there was no beauty to this game. “This was an ugly game that was battled out on defense. This was like a heavy weight match. They came out throwing punches and then we came back throwing punches and it went back and forth”, stressed Ricky Harris. Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi might not have had memories of having to play much defense in Hagen, but was used to defense at the Air Force in the NCAA. “This was the battle of the trenches. This was one of the biggest defensive battles I have ever been involved with. At the Air Force, we led the nation three years in least points given up. Patrick has a very tough minded team with guys like Boone and Tomazek and the guards are so physical. They really wear you down, but we were able to sustain their aggressive defense in the second half and also limited them to less shots”, added Jacob Burtschi. However last season, the effort that Burtschi new club Eisbaeren Bremerhaven gave was in a way an insult as the team rolled into Wurzburg flat and rolled out steamrolled as nothing went right on the night as the team had to come to terms without starting point guard Stanley Burrell that stayed at home on account of illness. The Fraport Sklyiners and Jacob Burtschi visited the trenches of Wurzburg again as guys like Jason Boone and Jimmy MCkinney were still standing tall as was Burtschi, but this time it wasn´t so much a battle of the trenches as more scoring was involved as the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg slipped by the Fraport Skyliners 80-71 but both Burtschi and Mckinney still remembered that first battle of Wurzburg 26 months ago. “That was such a defensive battle and it was an all out knock down brawl where we came out with the win”, stated Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. “I remember that Wurzburg came after us and we withstood the pressure. Tez had a great game just like he had today. I think the difference today to then was that we just made many shots tonight”, explained St Louis native Jimmy Mckinney.
For six years, Frankfurt fans could witness St Louis native Jimmy Mckinney hitting jumpers from anywhere on the court and one could just marvel at the grace of his play and his smooth stroke justifying his slick and suave play at all times. Just watching his demeanor in time outs was worth the price of admission. Last season one first had to get used to the darker uniform that he was suiting up with Wurzburg and at times that big shot was missed in Frankfurt. He was able to beat his ex team in Frankfurt last season , but this season had to leave the court with his head sunk as Wurzburg was defeated 89-78 as for a change points were more frequently seen as in games before where mustering points and easy looks was as difficult in the battle of the trenches as it was not landing on the floor in some kind of capacity. In that game Mckinney contributed with 13 points and it was one of his more solid games this season with Wurzburg and he hit three three pointers something he has only done four other times this season. All in all, it hasn´t been a great season for the ex Skyliner as coming into the Frankfurt game he was averaging 7,9ppg, 2,5rpg and 1,4apg while shooting 33,6% from the parking lot. He has scored only in double figures eight times with his two best scoring games being 16 points against FC Bayern Munich and 14 points against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Mckinney is a scorer and this season that consistency has been missing. Was it the bad start by Wurzburg, the seemingly never ending turmoil with a new coach coming in and players coming and going? It definitely wasn´t the best conditions for any professional basketball player to shine and it has taken a toll on Lorenzo Gordon cousin Mckinney. And even to add insult to his season, he was a scratch against FC Bayern Munich two weeks ago, the opponent where he had his best game of the season against earlier in the season. Mckinney was back in the lineup against Frankfurt and showed all doubters if there were any that he can step up whenever he wants to scoring 17 points hitting five from five from the parking lot. “I feel that I am at a point in my career where I don´t have to prove anything anymore, but just do my job. I felt good had open looks and hit my shots. I haven´t been as consistent this season as in the past and it is tough when you aren´t winning something I am not used to. I always want to be the go to guy no matter what, but at times my downfall is that I am too nice”, warned ex Skyliner Jimmy Mckinney. “Mckinney didn´t think too much about not playing in Munich, but just focused on Frankfurt as he felt comfortable and was very aggressive and hit shots”, stated Illinois native Marcellus Somerville. It isn´t always easy not knowing when you play or not, but that is the decision of the coach when you have seven Americans and can only dress six. “We all are professionals on the team. It isn´t always easy when you have to sit, but he takes it as a professional. You have to have a good week of practice which he had and he was our key player and he hit shots”, stated German Maxi Kleber. Last game it was Mckinney and tonight it was Baltimore native Rickey Harris who despite not playing took it in stride and despite the team having hardships all season long, players now in the last month are sticking together and giving each other support. “It is tough when you have seven Americans and have many wing players so there is always going to be one sitting. His confidence got going when he git that first shot. I am really happy for him as he is one of my best friends on the team. But it wasn´t only his hot shooting, but his defense as he stole a ball from Klein and another and made a huge block”, said Wurzburg guard Rickey Harris.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the game in 11th place with a record of 11-15 and were trying to snap their two game winning streak after tough loses against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and a not so pretty 64-54 defeat to the hands of the Brose Baskets Bamberg where the team totally forgot the term of team basketball in the second half as they showed an uncharachteristic play of individuality over us on the court. Their defense was more than stable in the last two games as they had averaged giving up only 67 points per game. However Frankfurt was unable to win their third consecutive game in Wurzburg and lost their third game in a row after playing three solid quarters and then not being able to close out the game in the fourth quarter. “We didn´t execute as well anymore in the second half on offense as in the first half. They made a run and made shots, got going in transition and hit free throws. Mckinney made big shots and got the crowd into the game”, stressed Ohio native Quantez Robertson. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg came into the game in 16th place with a record of 8-19 and not saved yet from the cellar as they only had two more wins than Tuebingen. They had lost three of their last four games including a 98-84 loss in Munich two weeks ago. They were more than rested while the Fraport Skyliners were playing their third game in the last seven days. Wurzburg stayed with the Fraport Skyliners for three quarters and then used their sixth man their fans getting them going and using the momentum of a 13-3 run to start the fourth quarter to pull away with the win. “We got better into the game in the second half and we knew that Frankfurt had played Bamberg two days ago and we felt they were tired and we used that to our advantage in the fourth quarter”, added German Maxi Kleber.
In a sold out Wurzburg arena, the Fraport Skyliners were without Dane Watts while the s.Oliver baskets were without Sebastian Betz. One recognized quickly in the first few minutes that the game would not be a repeat of the battle of Wurzburg 26 months ago as both teams hit shots at an influx. German Chris Mcnaughton got Wurzburg on the board first with an easy lay in as Kleber made the perfect lob pass. Robertson and Maurice Stuckey then traded three pointers and Danilo Barthel made a hook shot as the game was 5-5. The game would go back and forth for a few minutes as lead changes delighted the fans as Johannes Voigtman made a difficult step back shot as the shot clock was winding down and Mcnaughton made an easy put back after getting his own rebound as Wurzburg led 9-7. Galloway then gave Frankfurt the 10-9 lead with a transition bucket, but Kleber quickly erased that with a tip in as Wurzburg led 11-10. Wurzburg was doing a solid job getting easy points in the paint as Frankfurt was a bit too lax down low on defense. Frankfurt then broke away a bit going on a 7-1 run to lead 16-12. Galloway and Robertson nailed two three pointers and Galloway then made a tough runner. However Wurzburg displayed their own little run going on a mini 4-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 18-16 as Mckinney and John Little scored inside. The first quarter ended with Burtschi free throws and a last second Aziz Ndiaye tip in as the Fraport Skyliners led 22-17 after one quarter. “We got our confidence quickly as shots started to fall. When you see the ball go through much, it really gives you confidence. We gave Wurzburg too many easy baskets inside”, stated Canadian Bryson Johnson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 60& from outside while the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were shooting 44% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt had the 8-7 rebound edge and both teams had two turnovers a piece.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners were able to pull away, but not enough to let the s.Oliver Baskets get closer shortly before halftime as they closed out the quarter strong. Despite Mckinney getting Wurzburg on the scoreboard with a three pointer, it was Frankfurt that got their offense rolling hurrying out on a 13-1 run to lead 35-22. The ever so bashful Burtschi who has been declining shots more the last weeks pulled the trigger nailing a three pointer and then made an easy lay in as Voigtman made the quick pass. Galloway then supplied Vogtmann the perfect pass as he made the hard two handed dunk. The Skyliner onslaught continued as Klein nailed a three pointer and Voigtman tested his 14,3% three point percentage finding the net. The offense of both teams continued to flow as defense took a back seat as Wurzburg found this sudden jolt of firepower going on a rapid 7-0 run to cut the Frankfurt advantage to 35-29. Stuckey who had that look in the eye like Mckinney does when he is on continued to make shots as he hit from downtown and he then scored again on a jumper as did Marcellus Somerville. Frankfurt continued to flaunt their offensive power going on a 8-2 run to lead 43-31 as it seemed like Frankfurt might forever break away in this game. Voigtmann charmed the Frankfurt fans with his second three pointer and Galloway was the other offensive figure that was in the zone as he scored on a lay in and connected on another three pointer. “Voigtmann is a great shooter. When he gets open, he has to shoot the ball”, stressed ex Bremerhaven forward Jacob Burtschi. However instead of going into half time with a big star on their foreheads, they went with only half a star as they allowed Wurzburg to nip at the lead letting them go on a 5-0 run to close out the second quarter. Stuckey connected on a three pointer and Mcnaughton made free throws as Frankfurt led 43-36. “We moved the ball very well and continued to hit shots. We also did a good job getting back on transition defense”, stated ex ratiopharm Ulm forward Dane Watts.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners were able to keep the lead, but couldn´t get in double digits as Wurzburg kept conserving their energy while the energy of Frankfurt was slowly depleting. An interesting duel in the game was the future German generation of the power forward with Danilo Barthel and Maxi Kleber. Barthel made a 15 footer and a lay in in the first minutes while Kleber displayed his touch from outside with a three pointer. Kleber definitely won the battle as he scored nine points hauled down seven rebounds, dished out two assists and blocked Barthel twice while Barthel had six points and three turnovers. “It is always fun to play against Barthel. He plays a lot like me even though he penetrates more while I shoot more from outside. I was lucky to block him today. If you can keep him in front of you and force him too a tough shot then you can block him”, warned Maxi Kleber. After Barthel scored Frankfurt led 47-40. Robertson was very potent mid way through the third quarter as he scored inside twice and dropped a three pointer as Frankfurt led 54-46. Galloway and Dominic Waters exchanged buckets in the last minute as Frankfurt still had the edge 57-51. TheFraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 59% from the parking lot while the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were shooting 46% from the field and 55% from the parking lot. Wurzburg had the 21-19 rebound advantage, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had 10 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the s.Oliver Baskets started an eruption in the arena almost as loud as if the club would present Dirk Nowitzki at the next home game as they blasted out on a 13-3 run to lead 64-59 as they would never look back. Mckinney and Somerville hit consecutive three pointers to tie the game at 57-57 as Frankfurt was shocked and all of a sudden the atmosphere in the arena was at an all time high and Frankfurt was at its mercy. Galloway responded with a hoop to give Frankfurt their last lead of the game, but it was Mckinney again who had the hot hand with a bomb from outside and Waters made a tough mid distance jumper and Little free throws. Galloway then scored in traffic, but Frankfurt then were caught napping on defense not getting back allowing Little to sneak behind them on the fast break and the 66-61 lead. Mckinney put more salt into the Frankfurt wound with a clutch three pointer as Wurzburg led 69-61. “Mckinney is a great player. He came out strong had the confidence and he showed why he has been a staple in this league for so long”, expressed Jacob Burtschi. Robertson stayed a warrior on offense being that mini Andrew Rautins as he led Frankfurt on a 5-0 run with a three pointer and pull up jumper to cut the Wurzburg lead only to 69-66. However with the game on the line, Frankfurt let Wurzburg end the game on a 11-5 run as Frankfurt was unable to get big stops. Mcnaughton made an easy reverse layup from a Kleber back door pass while Waters made an off balance fall to the side jumper in the mold of Chris Paul as Wurzburg led 74-66. Somerville made free throws and Kleber a lay in as Wurzburg led 80-68. Burtschi ended the game with three free throws. “Wurzburg let us play physical, but we were unable to supply the punch”, added Jacob Burtschi. “We noticed that they were a bit tired, so we stepped it up on offense and were more aggressive and hit shots. Our defense was also key in crunch time as we held them to 24 points in the second half”, added Marcellus Somerville. The s:Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were led by Jimmy Mckinney with 17 points. Chris Mcnaughton added 12 points and four rebounds. John Little, Marcellus Somerville and Maurice Stuckey chipped in with 10 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ramon Galloway with 19 points. Quantez Robertson added 18 points. Jacob Burtschi had 12 points and Johannes Voigtmann 10 points. Both teams shot very well as Wurzburg shot 52% from the field and 53% form outside while Frankfurt shot 49% from the field and 50% from outside. Wurzburg won the rebound battle 29-24 and had 14 turnovers while Frankfurt had 16 turnovers.