For a while, reaching that last home game for the regular season wasn´t the last home game for the Frankfurt Skyliners, because in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the 2004 Beko BBL champion would have extended home games in May as they reached the Beko BBL playoffs four years in a row. In the last three years visiting the Fraport arena in May, one wouldn´t have seen any baskets on the court, but just a dark arena with the last basketball season already a painful distant memory. Especially last seasons last home game was nothing for weak nerves as the club had their second do or die game in their existence in terms of staying or possibly dropping down the league a sin 2006 they were saved on the last game day against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and last season won a nail bitter against Ludwigsburg. This season, the team had nothing to worry about as they were far away from the cellar to be at any risk of moving down and enough wins shy of reaching the playoffs as their dismal 2014 and crucial crunch time loses disallowed them extra games in May. So with the last home game of the season against the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven, there was really only one thing to look forward to and that was seeing ex Fraport Skyliner Derrick Allen battle in the zone and dazzle the fans with his ballerina moves. It seems ages since Allen last played in Frankfurt as the only two players left from the 2009-2010 season where Allen last played in Frankfurt were Quantez Robertson and Marius Nolte. Besides observing the Alabama native one could also watch Frankfurt legend Derrick Allen vs future Frankfurt legend Danilo Barthel. 33 year old Allen is in the twighlight of his career and 25 p 12 rebound nights aren´t present as much, but he still gives 110% and is consistent as he scored in double figures 15 times in his first 16 games. Barthel is on the verge of the German national team and wanted to finish his last home game of the season with a bang. Both guys know how to score and Allen can always catch his defender on the wrong foot with his ballerina moves. Allen was back in his old stomping ground and had a tough hard fought duel with Barthel, but he couldn´t come out on top as the Alabama native had to depart from the floor with a 72-65 loss. For the ex Alba Berlin player Allen it is always a joy to come home, but his presence was more of a side note in his eyes as his humbleness was there as always. “It is always good to come home and a joy to play for the fans, but the game was more for Marius Nolte than for me. It more about him than me”, smiled ex BG Karlsruhe forward Derrick Allen. Allen had his typical type of game finishing with 12 points and six rebounds and three steals as Danilo Barthel had eight points, three rebounds and two blocks. He may have been in the shadow of Darius Adams and his 23 points, but he got Bremerhaven going at the start with points and offensive rebounds. Bremerhaven Calvin Oldham couldn´t have asked for more from the 33 year old. “He is our captain and leader. He did everything that I asked him to do this season. I am happy that the Frankfurt fans greeted him so nicely. He really couldn´t have played better for his age this season”, stressed 1989 BBL champion with Bayreuth Calvin Oldham. 2014 Beko BBL best offensive player Darius Adams got big eyes when asked about the worth of Allen to the team. “D.A was the best leader that I could have been around. He taught me to be a leader. I am still learning from him. Even when we are losing he kept us together”, warned Darius Adams.
Every good thing always comes to an end, but for professional athletes retiring from the job they love comes a lot earlier than for the normal individual. Marius Nolte is a 33 year old 206cm center from Paderborn that played for Paderborn from 2001-2009 and came to Frankfurt in 2009. His best stat season was 2010-2011 as he averaged 5.1ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP: 56.1%, FT: 71.4%. He was a guy that never played much, but was the leader of the team and was always there for everyone on and off the court and was the perfect role model for the young kids. Coming into his last home game, Nolte had played 246 Beko BBL games with 140 for Frankfurt and 106 for Paderborn.This season he was out for most of the year as he was coming off a knee injury and played only nine games scoring five points in Ludwigsburg and Vechta. Not too long ago he announced that this would be his last season. The game against Bremerhaven was very emotional as his parents and wife watched on as he said farewell after the game in a teary eyed speech. Gordon Herbert allowed him to start his last home game and he contributed four points in nine minutes. It seemed like this time his post game routine took a lot longer as he posed for every picture and autograph and granted every interview. Nolte was very emotional after the game, but was thrilled for the way his last game was received. “It was a great atmosphere in the arena. I am happy that we won and it couldn´t have been a better ending to my last game at home. Derrick Allen came to me before and after the game and wished me the best. Also throughout the game players from Bremerhaven came to me and wished me the best. I thought that this was great to see the togetherness that is present in the Beko BBL”, stressed Marius Nolte. Missouri native and injured Skyliner Dane Watts was in awe to be able to witness a game where he could feel the special atmosphere of having a Derrick Allen playing in his old living room and the farewell to Marius Nolte. “Allen has had a long career and great years in Frankfurt. He had a good game today, but Frankfurt got the win. The reception that Nolte got speaks for itself. It just shows how important and special he has been to this organization. Every player wants a farewell like that”, stressed ex Tuebingen forward Dane Watts. Nolte will move into Skyliner management and suit up for the Pro B farm club.
Besides the emotional Marius Nolte farewell at home, there was also a 40 minute basketball game to be played as 4540 fans found their way into the Fraport arena. The Fraport Skyliners entered the game in 11th place with a record of 13-19 and had a two game winning streak and were coming off a huge buzzer beater win in Vechta as Fraport Skyliner Kevin Bright displayed that light bright whenever he nailed three pointers. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t play a great game, but it was enough to win as they picked up their game in the fourth quarter. “This was a tough game, but nice to see familiar faces. We want to end the season on a good note. We didn´t do too much well until the fourth quarter when we got the lead up to 10 points and played the way we should”, stressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven entered the game in 13th place and had a 11-21 record. They weren´t having too much luck the last weeks as they were riding a six game losing streak and were coming off a tough 75-72 loss against the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. After the loss, Bremerhaven head coach Calvin Oldham was sullen, but was able to find the right words as too why his club had problems winning this game. “We simply don´t have enough deepness when we have this double weekend games. Both games against Wurzburg and Frankfurt were physical. We were without Philipp Ziwener and Nick Schneiders which hurt us. Frankfurt rebounded better and attacked at the right moments and kind of caught us on our heels a few times. Frankfurt was aggressive on offensive boards and we couldn´t handle it which was a sign of fatigue. However our guys fought hard”, stressed Eisbaeren head coach Calvin Oldham.
With the game being meaningless for both teams, Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert inserted captain Marius Nolte and Max Merz into the starting lineup. Fraport Skyliner Kevin Bright had a huge game in Vechta with seven three pointers 48 hours ago, but his bright light from then wasn´t shinning yet as he made a bad pass which American Darius Adams picked off and went coast to coast for the lay in. However Bright made up for his mistake shinning some of that three point light hitting form the parking lot for the 3-2 Frankfurt lead. Allen then made his patent fade away jumper and despite his 33 years looked like it could have been something out of his BG Karlsruhe days. Both teams would swap leads as much society girl Paris Hilton does her hobbies as it would go back and fourth. Danilo Barthel then hit a three pointer with one second left on the shot clock after Merz had been denied inside and kicked the ball out. Bremerhaven then went on a quick 7-0 run to lead 11-6 as Allen scored via his patent ballerina movies and Adas Juskevicious hit a runner. This was probably the strongest phase of Bremerhaven in the game as they extended their lead to 19-10 as Darius Adams took over as offensive force scoring twice inside as his quickness was steering up big problems for Frankfurt, ex TBB Trier forward Brian Harper scored on a running hook shot and Adams tossed up the perfect ally-op pass that ex Giessen guard Anthony Smith dunked home. However Frankfurt collected themselves and hustled back into the game ending the first quarter with an 8-2 run to cut the Bremerhaven lead to 21-18. Burtschi and Quantez Robertson scored back to back coast to coast lay ups coming off Bremerhaven turnovers, and Jarred Dubois hit a runner. “Derrick Allen really got Bremerhaven going. I felt both teams had problems coming back on transition defense”, stressed Dane Watts. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were shooting 50% from the field and 0% form outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 29% from outside. Bremerhaven had the big 12-5 rebound edge and both teams had three turnovers a piece.
The second quarter was very tight as there were seven lead changes and nobody could take advantage of it as both teams went into the break dead locked at 39-39. Frankfurt retook the lead as some role players took control. Aziz Ndiaye had some luck as a Jacob Burtschi shot was blocked, but reached the big man which he layed home and little used German Stefan Ilzhoefer nailed a three pointer from the parking lot as Frankfurt led 23-22. Then in a matter of minutes there were four lead changes as Adams took over showing his immense basketball talent hitting contested jumpers and then tip toeing between the two guards and then somehow sneaking home a lay in past Barthel and Ndiaye. Frankfurt got production via a Robertson three pointer and Burtschi runner, but Bremerhaven still led 29-28. Frankfurt retook the lead with the seventh lead change of the game as they went on a 8-0 run to lead 36-30 as Barthel and Bright dropped back to back three pointers and Dubois hit an off balance shot. However Frankfurt was unable to find consistency in their game and take the momentum into halftime as they allowed the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven to close out the second quarter 9-3. American Devin Searcy scored inside, hit free throws as did Juskevicious and Adams nailed a tough shot over Super Tez as he made a stutter step and fell back with the Skyliner in the face, but catching nothing but net. “Adams kept them going and we forced them too tough shots and they ahd problems getting back on transition defense”, stated Dane Watts. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 52% from the field and 33% from the three point line while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were shooting 47% from the field and 14% from the three point line. Bremerhaven had the 17-13 rebound advantage and both teams suffered six turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners were able to break away from the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven leading 60-53 after 30 minutes. The Eisbaeren did get on the board first retaking the lead 42-39 with a Brian Harper three pointer. However Frankfurt responded going on a 5-0 run to lead 44-42 as Klein scored inside and Robertson nailed a three pointer. The lead was quickly erased with another step back jumper from Adams over Tez as the game was tied 44-44. Johannes Voigtmann then took matters into his own hands scoring five unanswered points scoring with a lay in and then on the fast break as the trailer and Klein added on to the run with a three pointer as Frankfurt led 52-44. Allen then converted a 15 foot jumper and Barthel scored inside as Frankfurt still led 54-46. Then came perhaps the prettiest play by Jacob Burtschi as he penetrated and found big man Ndiaye with the underhand pass for the massive dunk as Frankfurt led 56-46 having their biggest lead of the contest. However Bremerhaven continued to chip away at the Frankfurt lead as Harper connected on an open three pointer and Smith scored inside. Burtschi hit some free throws in the last minute as Frankfurt led 60-53. “We stopped attacking and started taking jumpers. When we did get inside, we had problems making free throws. We had problems executing without Adas Juskevicious who was hurt. We had problems with play calling and decisions”, stated Calvin Oldham. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 52% from the field and 37% from the parking lot while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were shooting 41% from the field and 23% from the parking lot. Bremerhaven had the 27-21 rebound advantage, but nine turnovers while Frankfurt had eight turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven had a little energy left in their gas tank at the start to make a run, but Frankfurt was too potent extending their lead again as the opponent had cut it down to two points. Bremerhaven came out roaring in the fourth quarter going on a 5-0 run as Allen scored inside and Adams and Harper made free throws as the Frankfurt lead had dwindled down to 60-58. Frankfurt then decided the game with a 8-0 run to lead 68-58 as they made two spectacular plays in a row led by German Johannes Voigtmann. On the first play with the shot clock at one second, he took an off balance three pointer that went in and then showed his passing qualities once again as Harlem Globetrotter basketball was in the house as he made a no look pass behind to Robertson who made the lay in. Adams then gave Bremerhaven a little more daylight with a bomb from outside, but Bright quickly erased any last hopes with an off balance shot as Frankfurt led 71-61. Searcy and Burtschi then made free throws and Smith made the last bucket of the game as Marius Nolte left the floor as a winner. “We had bad shot selection, Frankfurt rebounded better an dhit some last second shots and in the second half, they wanted it more than we did”, warned Derrick Allen. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 15 points. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven were led by Darius Adams with 23 points. Derrick Allen contributed with 12 points. Anthony Smith added 11 points and Brian Harper 11 points. Frankfurt shot better than Bremerhaven at 48% from the field and 33% from outside to the 38% from the field and 22% from outside for Bremerhaven. Frankfurt came back to win the rebound duel 35-34. Frankfurt had 14 turnovers and Bremerhaven 11 turnovers. Alba Berlin welcomes the Fraport Skyliners May 1st for the last game of the season.