After a very successful, but also interesting training camp in Austria where the club was confronted with some adventurous experiences like having to stay at an area hotel at the airport which in comparison to the giant Frankfurt city airport is like a town airport instead of staying somewhere in the captivating nature outside of Vienna or the moment when there were too many players on the elevator resulting in the machine standing still. In the game of ice hockey, one can be penalized for too many men on the ice, while in an elevator you get punished with getting a claustrophobic feeling which for Danilo Barthel would still be more bearable then getting surprised with sudden falling spiders from the ceiling. The club won every exhibition game in Austria by more than 15 points and looked very sharp as Gordon Herbert already had his stamp of team basketball inked on his team as no one player stood out, but each guy produced and often the team had 4-5 players in double figures. The Fraport Skyliners finally returned home to their training facility BCM and presented themselves for the first time for the home crowd against Belgium team Leuven. It was the chance for newcomers Richard Williams, Sean Armand, Mikka Koivisto, Mike Morrison and Aaron Dournekamp to display their basketball talent and they didn´t disappoint as they came back after a weak first half where they gave up 45 points to turning up the intensity in the second half and letting up only 25 points and prevailing 78-70. Rookie Sean Armand was thrilled to finally breathe the same air as the fans in Frankfurt. „It was a great feeling playing in this gym. The fans were really excited and one has to apprciate their support. Not all teams have this type of facility and kind of fans“, stressed Iona alumnist Sean Armand. For Aaron Doornekamp, the competition was a healthy change for the team. „It was a great atmosphere and it was good playing against a team Like Leuven that was tougher to play than the teams in Austria. However we were sloppy and can´t have that happen again“, added Aaron Doornekamp. 45 minutes after the game, Quantez Robertson was ending his evening with a quick post game bite at Mcdonalds and also the last time that he would have his afro hair look. Just like last season at the first home test game that Frankfurt won, he had the afro look. Against Leuven it was present again and the luck is on his side as the team is 2-0 when Robertson has that Lion look. „Johannes Voigtmann told me to keep the lion look, but on Sunday I will look normal again“, smiled Quantez Robertson.
The BCM training facility was packed, but fans didn´t see starting point guard import Richard Williams who had a groin injury, but should be ready for the home opener against Phoenix Hagen October 3rd. The Fraport Skyliners started with the big German 3 of Konstantin Klein, Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel, Quantez Robertson and Sean Armand. However the Belgium team got on the board first as 208cm forward Stehpanie Moris who looked like a mix out of Marius Nolte and Maksym Shtein displayed his soft touch burying a three pointer. However the Fraport Skyliners found their rhythm right away as Johannes Voigtman scored twice as he was served perfectly with passes from Klein and Armand for the 4-3 advantage. Leuven retook the lead as Frankfurt didn´t defend Moris closely as he dropped another three pointer, but Klein tied the score with a lay in. 26 year old 191cm point guard Jason Westrol who played at Bently(NCAA2) scored inside, but Robertson cut the Leuven lead to 10-9 with a three pointer. Westrol got going scoring two more buckets as Leuven led 14-9. New Skyliner Mikko Koivisto who played at the 2014 World championships in Spain with Finland and played against NBA stars like James Harden and Derrick Rose recently hit his first jumper cutting the Leuven lead to 15-14. Howver then it was Morris again nailing his third three pointer of the game as Leuven led 17-15. „Moris is a pick and pop player. When he screens then we know he will pop. He got going and got confidence that helped us“, stated Elias Lasisi. Oliver Troisfontaines then connected on a three pointer as Leuven led 20-15. In the last minute, Frankfurt closed out the first quarter with a 5-0 run as Doornekamp hit a pull up jumper and Klein as always used his aggressive defense to his advantage forcing a steal and going coast to coast. After 10 minutes the game was deadlocked at 20-20.
In the second quarter the game stayed even for the first five minutes before Leuven went on a run in the last five minutes to go into halftime with the lead. A positive aspect to the more weaker first half for the Fraport Skyliners was the stepping up of certain players in certain moments as young German Johannes Richter was one of these players as he connected on two consecutive three pointers as Frankfurt still led 26-23. However Jaromir Boachic from the Czech Republic brought back some old school elements with a left handed hook shot and then scored inside as Leuven regained the lead 27-26. Voigtmann would give Frankfurt the lead one more time with a lay in 28-27, but Leuven then went on their run closing out the second quarter with a 18-8 run to lead 45-37. As it was Moris in the first quarter making nine points, now it was time for Belgium Yannick Desiron to take the reigns into his own hands as he made 10 of the 18 points in the Leuvin run. He scored the first 7 points in the run as Leuvin led 34-28. Frankfurt was having immense problems on the defensive side especially keeping their shooters covered. The only highlight for Frankfurt in this run was the Mike Morrison dunk that was actually a Danilo Barthel airball that was perfectly in the air for the athletic big man to stuff home. Desiron hit another three pointer as Leuven led 42-34. „Desiron got us going. After he hit that first shot, he got confidence and continued making shots which carried us“, stressed Elias Lasisi. Leuven kept the momentum and led 45-37 at halftime. „I think that Frankfurt had to much adrenaline which got to them in the first half“, said ex SC Rasta Vechta point guard Richard Williams. „We really played very good defense in the first half“, added Elias Lasisi.
During the halftime, Gordon Herbert had a very intense talk with his team behind closed doors and it seemed to do wonders as it was like night and day as the Fraport Skyliners won the third quarter 28-7. „Coach Herbert told us to stop playing individual and play harder with more effort“, stressed Sean Armand. The Fraport Skyliners came out rejuvenated and quickly poured on a 10-0 run to lead 47-45. Frankfurt got input from many players as Robertson hit free throws, Doornekamp a pull up jumper, Barthel a tip in dunk and three pointer and Klein a lay up with hard penetration. Herbert had rattled the lineup keeping Armand out and inserting Doornekamp. The Canadian didn´t feel that his entrance was a big reason for the turnaround as this was something that was bound to happen. „It is easy to come out after a horrible first half. We had to get better and we had more energy. We can´t afford to have a first half like that again or we could be down 20 points“, warned Aaron Doornekamp. The Fraport Skyliners were clicking as a unit as they kept their turnovers down which was a problem in the second quarter and forced their opponent to more turnovers with more intensity on defense. Voigtmann got to the free throw line twice and made a reverse lay up and Doornekmap nailed a three pointer. With so much offense clicking the self confidence rises as even a Max Merz attempted a tough fade away jumper from the corner that saw nothing but net as Leuven trailed 58-49. Frankfurt also was doing a better job getting their transition game in action as Merz found Voigtmann running the floor for two easy points. Barthel poured down a three pointer as the Fraport Skyliners led 64-52 after 30 minutes. „Energy and effort brings execution. Defense was the key in the third and we played as a team and not individually“, commented Sean Armand.
It took Beko BBl rookie Sean Armand 32 minutes before he got his first bucket hitting a three pointer. All in all it was a disappointing debut for him at home as he shot 1/9 with two rebounds one assist and two turnovers. One could see on his expression that he was more than not content with his performance, but as a shooter one can´t always expect Andrew Rautins shooting performances. „It was just one of those days where nothing was falling. When that happens I try to get my passing game involved and play good defense and get that win“, stressed Sean Armand. „It was one of those days. Everyone has them. You have to remember Armand is a rookie and it is a learning process“, stated Richard Williams. New Skyliner American Mike Morrison who had been quiet got some energy into the game with a tip in and then thunderous dunk as he drove through the lane as the Leuven defense just watched as Frankfurt led 71-57. Barthel got his shooting going making a three pointer as Frankfurt led 74-59. The game pretty much ended here for Frankfurt as with 4 minutes to go, Leuven closed out the game strong going on a 11-4 run. Jason Westrol got the offense going with a fade away jumper. Leuven changed their game plan a bit and got to the free throw line more as Lasisi and Tumba got there as did Westrol. This was perhaps a strategy they should of followed earlier. „We ran out of time at the end. We could of come back as they let go. But all in all, Frankfurt played with more intensity in the second half and we had problems completing our plays“, stressed Elias Lasisi. „We were sloppy at the end. We need to end games better“, warned Aaron Doornekamp.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Danilo Barthel with 17 points and nine rebounds. Johannes Voigtmann added 12 points and six rebounds. Aaron Doornekamp had a solid game scoring 10 points, hauling down six rebounds and dishing out three assists. Leuven was led by Jason Westrol with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds. Stephanie Moris had 12 points while Yannick Desirl added 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 33% from outside while Leuvin shot 48% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 36-29 and had only 12 turnovers while Leuvin had 15 turnovers. An interesting tidbid that one could dwell on was how much more fasterwould the team be if Richard Williams had been in the game? „That is tough to judge because we have a different look with him as he can always change the the rhythm. We would have been even quicker. I think teams in general will have problems with us. We have Williams and Klein that bring nonstop pressure as does Max Merz. There aren´t many teams that have three guards like that“, warned Aaron Doornekamp. As the team is less than two weeks away from opening day there are good things, but also bad things in the game that need to be erased. „I like how we came back in the second half. It was either fold or accept the challenge and we played well. We need to work on bringing energy form the start, better execution as like always defense can be better“, warned Sean Armand. The Fraport Skyliners wrap up their pres season on September 28th with a game against Bruessels.