When Will The Beko BBL Playoffs Become In Fashion Again In Braunschweig?

There was a period in Braunschweig that not too many basketball fans will forget where the then StadtSport Braunschweig had an amazing run in the 2002-2003 season where a young Shaq cousin by the name of Demond Mallet was starting to make  a name for himself and he had solid side kicks like Pete Lisicky and Szymon szewczyk supplying fire power on the court. However then came a seven year drought in Braunschweig where the club didn´t make the playoffs despite having a well known coach with Emir Mutapcic were living in the middle of the standings seeminly being stuck in a cocoon without any way of escaping. That all changed when Sebastian Machowski came in 2009 and did a fantastic job leading the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig to three consecutive playoff appearances including two semi finals and a cup final in 2011 in Bamberg. He had only had two years of coaching ability in Poland for SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg (Poland-DBE), but was able to win a cup. In Braunschwieg he had the special touch building a harmonious team chemistry early with a solid core of Americans with Kevin Hamilton and Brandon Thomas and adding the needed puzzle parts with guys like Marcus Goree, Kyle Visser or Lamarr Greer over the three year period. However after he was lured to Oldenburg, the playoff run by the organization ended again as last year the team ended in 13th place with Greek mastermind Kostats Flevarakis and even with the aid of future NBA player Dennis Schroeder, the team already had their summer vacation booked in May. This season, the team brought in a new coach with Austrian Raoul Korner who finally made the jump to top level Beko BBL after winning titles in Holland and Austria and coaching three Dutch Allstar Games. However at the moment, the team is right there again where they have been before Sebastian Machowski lounging in no mans land as they are unable to get a big winning streak going as inconsistency has been a sort of staple this season. The team has shown that it can play all styles of basketball and had impressive wins like against ratiopharm Ulm , winning a shoot out against Phoenix Hagen, Bonn and the Artland Dragons. However they also have had difficulty not winning close games. They have lost 10 games by five points or less and give them five wins form those ten close loses and they would b ein the playoffs. It is difficult to dissect exactly what has been the problem since they have  a very solid roster, but there is no blame for Korner to have. “Coach Korner is great, he’s good every week, just a lot of bad bounces and bad luck in a few games”, stressed American point guard James Florence. The Beko BBL is a very competitive league and perhaps 5-6 years ago with this roster, Braunschweig would have been a playoff team, but ex Florida State guard Isaiah Swann reflects on the season and despite many hardships is proud of how the coach and club have fought all season long to be successful. “I think we have had some tough luck. Some things we can’t control but I think in some of the close games that we’ve lost by a close margin could be due to fatigue or turnovers or not making shots.It could be a bunch of excuses why we have lost those close games. Fact of the matter is we lost and now we are out of the playoffs. I think that we were unfortunate to have Nana get injured twice this year, I feel like he is a big asset to our defense, rebounding and our depth. We now just have to find a way to get some wins, which I’m confident we will do I think our coach is a great guy and a hell of a coach. With this being his first year in the league, I think he has adjusted very well. Through our ups and downs he has always remained calm and he has been easy to talk to. He has been pushing us since we’ve got here and he won’t let up. That’s all you can ask for as a player, because if your coach doesn’t push you, that’s when you know he has given up. I have been proud of the fight that the guys show in practice and in the games, of course every teams has a couple games where no matter what you just can’t seem to click. But I like the fact that we will fight until the end and not give up. That shows character and we have a group of guys with strong character”, stressed ex ratiopharm Ulm guard Isaiah Swann.

After reaching the Beko BBL playoffs three years in a row with Sebastian Machowski, the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig weren´t able to make it four times in a row as new head coach Greek Kostas Flevarakis was unable to form a competitive team as guys came and went thus not being able to grow a suitable team chemistry and let the team grow as the season went on. Last season the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were your typical team placed somewhere in no mans land in the standings that could beat the weaker teams, but couldn´t beat the playoff teams. The team finished in 13th place with a record of 14-20. The team had some talented Americans like Thaddeus Mcfadden and Casey Mitchell, but they had to pack their bags during the season. The club had many talented players, but that certain quality that was needed for the team to be more successful seemed to be lacking. Braunschweig manager Oliver Braun is a very ambitious person and is seeking to get back to the playoffs and with head coach Korner kept four important players with Immanuel Mcelroy, Harding Nana, Robert Kulawick and Erik Land. The team added nine new players and with the splendid promotion that Dennis Schroeder gave for the German youth program brought in four new young Germans to help for the future. The club have a good balance of shooters and inside presence, but a big factor for the success this season will be how well the bench can step up game in and game out and will there be a German player that makes the next jump and gets minutes?

Braunschweig is really one of those teams like a handful in the Beko BBL that could be a playoff team or be exactly where they are now in no mans land in 14th place. They have a record of 10-18 and will have no difficulty staying in the league. The first half of the season was more impressive as the second half of the season. They started the season winning four of their first six games, but simply consistency has been a huge problem this season. They had a 7-10 record in the first half of the season and currently in the second half of the season have a 3-8 record and are riding a six game losing streak. If they had won half of those games then they would be scratching at a playoff place. They were able to beat Artland and Ulm this season, but then lose the season series to medi bayreuth. It is scary to think where the club would be had they not had Isaiah Swann who has been simply stellar having scored in double figures in each game except one where someone one must have stolen his holster, because he was held scoreless in 30 minutes against Ludwigsburg which is about as unlikely as keeping Darius Adams of Bremerhaven scoreless in a game. Braunschweig and the Fraport Skyliners have one thing in common and that is that they both have a losing streak combined at nine games as Frankfurt has lost the last three games. 96 hours ago in Wurzburg, he was the better team for three quarters, but ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and were a bit over rolled by the Wurzburg momentum, Jimmy Mckinney and the atmosphere of the arena. Fraport Skyliner Jacob Burtschi knows what they can´t do again on the court when they face off in Braunschweig tonight. “Braunschweig will still have the blowout in Frankfurt on their mind. They have lost some close games and are a way better team than their record shows. They have great players with Swann, Visser and Mcelroy. It is never easy to win there. If we aren´t ready than we might go home with our fourth loss in a row. Last Friday Skyliner Quantez Robertson played against friend and tough warrior Jimmy Mckinney and in Braunschweig will face another top player who he has battled over the years with Imac. Tez knows that to win, the basics will be important as always to come out with a win. “We need to execute better on offense and defense, take care of the ball, outrebound them, limit them to one shot and importantly hold the lead”, warned Quantez Robertson.

The Fraport Skyliners have had very very fond memories of The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig as they have a 15-2 record since March 11th, 2006 as Braunschweig won 81-76 then. They also haven´t lost at home since 2002 having won the last nine games in a row.The two most memorable games were from the 2008-2009 season. Who could forget the 68-58 win in the cup game which brought Frankfurt to the TOP 4 in Hamburg. That game displayed the best performance by guard Adam Emmenecker who came out of his shell and proved he has no nervous shooting hand as he left captain Pascal Roller on the bench as he had the hot hand leading the team with 13 points. However in the regular season game in Braunschweig, Roller got his revenge as he led the team to a 55-53 win as his last minute clutch jumper paved the way to the win. In 2009-2010, Frankfurt swept the series winning 81-77 as Frankfurt came from behind to win as Aubrey Reese poured in 21 points and prevailed at home 71-62 as Derrick Allen steered 18 points to the triumph. In teh first game this season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners pulled out a thrilling 94-91 win at home. Frankfurt fought back in the fourth quarter as they came back from being behind 90-87 and close out the game on a 7-0 run as Skyliner captain Pascal Roller hit  a huge three pointer and Dashaun Wood a shot. Frankfurt did a fantastic job distributing the ball as seven players scored in double figures led by Pascal Roller and Kimmo Muurinen with 13 points a piece. Frankfurt dominated the boards 38-24. In 2010-2011, the Skyliners were 2-1and stretched their winning streak to 12 games as they won two memorable games winning 94-91 at home as they finished the game with a 7-0 run capped by a big three pointer by Pascal Roller. Seven players scored in double figures and nobody scored more than 13 points. In the return date in Braunschweig, Frankfurt pulled out a nail bitter  68-67 as Frankfurt was down 67-65 and Frankfurt won the game on their last possession as Dashaun Wood scored on  a penetration and got the free throw to fall. Kimmo Muurinen led Frankfurt with 20 points. In 2011-2012 the Fraport Skyliners won the first meeting of the season in Braunschweig winning 76-70 as Jermareo Davidson added 26 points and Michael Thompson 22 points. The Fraport Skyliners won the second meeting in an exciting 81-80 win in OT as Dennis Schroeder had almost won the game in the regular time with big buckets in the lane at the end. However the Fraport Skyliners kept their cool in their living room winning. Michael Thompson led the Skyliners with 16 points and Tim Ohlbrecht steered 15 points and 11 rebounds to the win. In the first meeting last season, the Fraport Skyliners won a nail bitter 61-59 as ex Skyliner Ted Scott sealed the win with free throws and German Nils Mittman missed a three pointer to win the game. In the second game last season in Braunschweig, Braunschweig won 73-66 with the help of  a big second quarter by Dennis Schroeder who had 13 points and led the team with 18 points while Immanuel Mcelroy had 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Devin Gibson with 13 points and Johannes Voigtmann had 12 points. In the first game this season, the Fraport Skyliners rolled past Braunschweig 79-53 as the ycould get nothing going. Frankfurt wa sled by ex NBA player Andrew Rautins that had 26 points. Ramon Galloway added 11 points and Johannes Voigtmann contributed 10 points. Braunschweig was led by James Florence with 16 points and Isaiah Swann added 12 points.

The most important player they kept was The  33 year old 193cm guard Immanuel Mcelroy who is playing his third season with the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig after successful years in Cologne and Berlin. He played at Cincinnati (NCAA) and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001. He already made a name for himself winning titles with Rhein Energy Cologne His overall quickness, combined with his mental toughness, makes him well-suited as a defender in the attacking defense. He is very athletic, a 40-inch vertical jump and a bench press approaching 300 pounds, ability to break defenders down with his dribble and his explosiveness to the basket makes him an effective scorer. He also possesses good court vision and excellent ball-handling skills, giving him the ability to distribute the ball, particularly in the transition game. He is a natural leader who makes others around him better players. He also has very much experience having won three BBL cups and two BBL league titles. “If you want to slow down Mcelroy, you have to deny him the ball and give him the jump shot until he starts to make some”, warned 2009 Beko BBL scoring champion Omari Westley. Mcelroy who has never been known as a good shooter has really improved his shooting the last few years. Mcelroy may not score 20 points every night, but he belongs to the top players in the BEKO BBL, because he can really do it all on the court and is also one of the top defenders in the league. The American played at Cologne from 2004-2008 before moving to Alba Berlin in early 2008 as the team had financial difficulties. With Cologne, he was Beko BBL champion in 2006 and won the beko BBL cup in 2005 and 2007. With Alba Berlin, he won the German championship in 2008 and cup in 2009. Last season Mcelroy played  33 games averaging 9.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.9apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 81.0%

Harding Nana is a 32 year old 203cm power forward that is playing his second season in Germany for Braunschweig. He started his basketball career at Virginia Tech (NCAA) in 2001 and finished at Delaware in 2006. As a senior he played  30 games: ScoreCAA-2(19.0ppg), RebCAA-1(10.9rpg), 1.7apg, 1.2spg, BlocksCAA-5(1.3bpg), FG: 46.9%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 64.1%: Finished career at Delaware ranked sixth in rebounds (784), eighth in scoring (1,345 points), eighth in blocks (92) and tied for first in double-doubles (40). Harding has had a consistent career in Europe having played four seasons in Poland and one in Spain and Greece. In five of six season where he was healthy, he was able to be a force in scoring and rebounds. Last season, he played for  Ilysiakos Athens (Greece-A1, starting five): 22 games: 12.0ppg, Reb-3(7.5rpg), 1.0spg, FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 73.4%. He has been a member of the Cameroonian National Team in 2008, 2009 and 2011 and played at the African Championships in Libya -09 (Semifinals): 9 games: 9.6ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 73.7%.Last season Nana played 27 game averaging 10.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 44.4%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 60.0%. He is a versatile big man that can help out at the center position.  27 year old 191cm guard Robert Kulawick is playing his third season in Braunschweig after having played the three years in Goettingen. He started his basketball career at TUS Lichterfelde in 2003 and also played for Alba Berlin from 2004-2006 playing 14 BBL games, three ULEB Cup games and winning the BBL cup in 2006. After playing with The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven in 2006-2007, he crossed the boarder into Holland and played for Den Helder Seals playing 34 games averaging 7.9ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 84.6%. Already in 2008-2009, one could see the confidence of John Patrick in the German letting him average 10 minutes per game, and in 2009-2010 season he increased his minutes to 17 minutes. In 2010-2011 for BG Goettingen, he played EuroCup: 14 games: 7.5ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 37.0%; German League: 36 games: 5.4ppg, 1.9rpg, FGP: 30.0%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 78.6%.  Last season he played 32 games: 4.8ppg, 1.3rpg. He lives off his shot which looks unorthodox, but deadly at times. Erik Land is a 23 year old 205cm center that is playing his second season with Braunschweig. Last season he played 22 games: 2.5ppg, 1.4rpg, played also at Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (ProB, starting five): 13 games: 11.3ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 26.3%, FT: 74.1%. He started his basketball career in the Bamberg system and played a total of 14 Beko BBL games for Bamberg. He also played for Saar-Pfalz Braves (ProA) and is a player that is the back up to Visser and had brings nice moves and versatility to the big positions.

The biggest pick up was Isaiah Swann who returned back to Germany after playing in Ulm two seasons ago. Last season he played for Royal Hali Gaziantep Buyuksehir Belediye (Turkey-TBL) playing  24 games averaging 13.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.1apg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 83.8%. Swann is a 28 year old 188cm combo guard from Maryland that has a hidden quality of being able to pass the ball very well as hiss coring is always seen as his biggest quality. He played at Florida State and has experience having played in Italy and Israel. When he played in Ulm he played 40 games: Score-3(15.8ppg), 2.7rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 85.5%. He is the head of the team and the club´s success will often depend how well he can put the ball in the net. Kyle Visser returns back to Braunschweig for a third time. Visser is a 28 year old 211cm center rom Grand Rapids, Michigan that played with Chris Paul at wake Forest  reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2007. He played the first time in Braunschweig from 2007-2009 and then again in the from 2010-2012. Last season he played for JuveCaserta (Italy-SerieA): only pre-season, in Dec.’12 signed at Radnicki Kragujevac (Serbia-A League): Adriatic League: 10 games: 3.2ppg, 2.2rpg, Visser is the only true big man on the team and brings that gentleman style to the game and is respected for his solid consistent play. The club also brought in 25 year old 185cm point guard James Florence from Marietta, Georgia that is playing his fourth professional season. He played at Mercer(NCAA) and as a rookie had a try out with the Philadelphia 76ers. H eha splayed in countries like Bosnia, Ukraine and Hungry. Last season he played for : Kryvbasbasket-Lux Kryvyi Rih (Ukraine-Superleague, starting five); EuroChallenge: 5 games: 12.0ppg, left in Jan.’13: 25 games: 15.6ppg, 4.2rpg, 6.3apg, 2.0spg, 2FGP: 44.9%, 3FGP: 35.1%, FT: 68.0%, later that month moved to Szolnoki Olajbanyasz (Hungary-A Division): 21 games: 14.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.0apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 74.6%, 3.2rpg, 3.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 35.3%, 3PT: 41.7%; Adriatic League: 9 games: 12.6ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.1apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 84.8%. Even though Florence is the classic pass first point guard, he has let hiss coring do the talking and made the transition well to the Beko BBL.

The club also added Aaron Doornekamp who is a 28 year old 201cm forward from Odessa, Ontario, Canada. He is playing his first season in Germany after playing three years in Italy. He didn´t play last season and two seasons ago played for  Otto Caserta (Italy-SerieA): 31 games: 7.2ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 43.6%, 3PT: 44.6%, FT: 85.4%. He played at  Carleton University (CIS) from 2004-2009 and played with Osvaldo Jeanty. He also has played for the Canadian national team and played against Germany and Dirk Nowitzki in a test game in 2006. He is a very versatile forward that presents mismatches at the three and four positions. Quick 27 year old 177cm Achmadschah Zazai is playing his first season for the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig who has already played for 12 teams in his still young career. He started his basketball career at TUS Lichterfelde in 2003. From 2005-2011, he played for teams like SG FT/MTV Braunschweig, : BSG Ludwigsburg, Bremen Roosters, Horsens IC (Denmark), Telemotive Muenchen, Artland Dragons, TV Langen, USC Freiburg and  BV Chemnitz 99 (Germany-ProA). Last season for Giessen he played 27 games averaging 8.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 44.3%, 3PT-1(55.8%), FT: 75.6%. He was a slow developer, but now is turning into a solid Beko BBl role player. He is a very good playmaker that possible has the biggest heart for a 177cm player.Maurice Pluskota is a 21 year old 208cm center that started his basketball career in the Bremerhaven system. He played five Beko BBL games for Bremerhaven and last season played for  Cuxhaven BasCats (ProA, starting five): 33 games: 4.6ppg, 4.5rpg.He is a robust player that now can develop under Liviu Calin who has been known for getting young kids going in the right direction. Dominique John son is a 21 year old 194cm forward that also started his basketball career in the Bremerhaven system where he played three Beko BBl games. Last season he played for  Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (ProB): 24 games: 5.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 38.6%, 3PT: 23.0%, FT: 64.9%, played also at SG Braunschweig 2 (2.Regionalliga). Lucas Gertz is a 23 year old 196cm forward that has been in the Braunschweig system since 2008. Last season he played for  Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (Germany-ProB, starting five): 20 games: 6.9ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.1apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 38.0%, 3FGP: 26.7%, FT: 72.0%. The team recently picked up Kenny Kadji to help bolster the team and bench. He is a  25 year old 211cm power forward from Cameroun that is a rookie. He started his basketball career in 2004 with the Pau Orthez junior team. He also attended the well known : IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL). He played two seasons at Florida(NCAA) playing 44 NCAA games and then went to Miami(NCAA) playing two strong seasons. As a senior played 36 games: 12.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 66.1%. Last summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Cleveland Cavaliers): 5 games





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