There was a time when the Frankfurt Skyliners were involved with international club play year in and year out and even if the majority of the fans stayed clear of the arena as they had better things to do during the middle of the week, but for the fans that made the trek to Hochst to watch high class basketball, they were entertained by high class players like Gerrod Henderson, ex NBA player Shammond Willimas, ex NBA player Daniel Ewing, ex NBA player Tyus Edny or Scoonie Penn. However in the last three years, the Fraport arena has been closed for middle of the week basketball and as dark and lifeless as the Frankfurt airport during the wee hours of the morning. The last time that the Fraport Skyliners could register a win in international play was almost four years ago three days before Christmas against Khimik Moscow as Gordon Herbert was coach and Frankfurt was led by Dashaun Wood with 18 points, Marius Nolte started the game registering four points and two rebounds in 12 minutes battle, American Joe Dabbert played 25 minutes and Frankfurt legend Pascal Roller was held scoreless in 17 minutes. Since then the club is riding a seven game losing streak in the international club play. Back in the 2011-2012 season, they lost six times in Eurocup against teams like Banvit(turkey), Lokomotiv(Russia) and Gran Canaria. Only two players from the roster of today with Quantez Robertson and Danilo Barthel found action in those games. In their first game this season in the Eurochallenge play, they were embarrassed 94-59 in Aalstar, Belgium as a one time little used Phoenix Hagen player from Belgium Thomas Dreeson led all scorers with 22 points, but one has to understand that they were hurt much by injuries. This wasn´t any different today as the Fraport Skyliners had to battle Bakken of Denmark and had to withstand a tough Danish squad that fought until the end, but the 2004 Beko BBL champion had a strong fourth quarter mustering a 74-64 victory winning their first game in the Eurochallenge. It was an unlikely hero who stepped up when he had to as it wasn´t Cinderella, but just young 20 year old German Johannes Richter who shone in the spotlight before midnight leading Frankfurt with 15 points and six rebounds. After the victory five journalists were crowded around the ex Bamberg center as guys like Quantez Robertson, Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtman slithered past the big man unnoticed as they were not on the question menu. Richter was all smiles after the win and reminded the journalists that he is a normal guy that tomorrow morning has class at university at 9AM. “I came into the game playing with pain and it wasn´t easy. I was hoping that I would get some minutes, but the Barthel and Voigtman foul problems gave me extra minutes. I thank coach for giving me the confidence and I am happy that I could pay him back with good play. I have to also give thanks to Tez and Richie Williams for finding me and letting me finish and get into the game. I have much confidence from the Pro B games and practice, but in reality basketball is the same everywhere, so this game for me is nothing special”, remarked Johannes Richter. “This wasn´t Cinderella, but something that Richter is capable of doing. I am so happy for him that he could give us this performance when we needed it badly. He has a real fighting heart which is his best quality”, warned assistant coach Eric Detlef. It was the second win in a row for the Fraport Skyliners and a real team effort as Bakken didn´t give any presents for 40 minutes. “Baken really did a great job making it hard for us to get into our sets. However we did the little things and hustle plays in the second half which we didn´t do in the first half. Richter played great, Kyle Fossmann hit crucial three pointers and Sean Armand warmed up in the fourth quarter helping us get the lead, “warned RichardWilliams. Bakken lost their second game and just couldn´t sustain the Frankfurt offense in the last quarter. “Frankfurt didn´t give us any second chance shots and just played overall good defense. That whole team was on the same page on defense”, stressed Illinois native Maurice Acker.
The Fraport Skyliners got going quickly in the first quarter going on a 6-3 lead as the Skyliners German duo of Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann scored in the paint. Quantez Robertson got into his comfort zone quickly on defense getting a quick steal and going coast to coast for the lay in. After a Acker bucket, the Fraport Skyliners continued to run their well oiled offense cruising out on a 10-2 run to lead 16-7 as Canadian Aaron “Mr 7am practice man” Doornekamp nailed two three pointers, Armand split the defense for a bucket and Richter made his first presence muscling for an offensive rebound and put back. Frankfurt kept their momentum and just got support from everyone from the bench as Richter made a stuff and Canadian Kyle Fossmann dropped a three pointer. Williams found his shooting touch early as he displayed his fancy foot work doing a cross over and drillied home a jumper. Bakken forward Nicolai Pederson ended the first quarter with a bomb from down town as Frankfurt had the comfortable 23-15 advantage after 10 minutes. “Frankfurt did a good job showing their presence on defense which led to some fast break points. Frankfurt demonstrated good team basketball and Doornekamp hit some big three pointers”, stressed Italian basketball agent Luigi Battista. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 66% from the field and 75% from outside while the Bakken Bears were shooting 50% from the field and 33% from outside. Both teams had six rebounds a piece and Frankfurt had six turnovers and Bakken had seven turnovers.
The second frame was a tale of two quarters as the Fraport Skyliners kept up their intensity and lead in the first five minutes, but then let up drastically letting the Bakken Bears back into the game and handing over the lead at the end going into halftime. Quantez Robertson started the second quarter hitting an open pull up jumper, but Bakken came back in a fury and used their inside presence getting two quick buckets. 35 year old Chris Christoffersen who played at Oregon(NCAA) form 1998-2002 and played three seasons with ex Giessen 46er fan favorite Florian Hartenstein made a quick lay in and Jonas Bergstedt followed with a lay in as these two big men harmonized well. Frankfurt made a rapid halt to this run as Quantez Robertson buried a three pointer and Williams connected on a floater as Frankfurt had a double digit lead again at 30-20. However Bakken now got stronger and finished the second quarter on a 18-6 run to sneak into halftime with the 37-36 lead. Cristoffersen did damage again inside as his huge body was like a big mack truck as nobody was going to stand in his way as he scored inside again. Doornekamp had one highlight in the Bakken run finding daylight from the wing and smashing home a one hand dunk. However Morten Sahlertz right away silenced the Fraport arena nailing back to back three pointers as Bakken was inching its way back into the game and trailed only 37-31. Bakken continued to come back and reach the free throw line. 23 year old forward Thomas Laerke ended the second quarter with a three pointer as Frankfurt´s once big lead had dwindled like an ice cube that is left out to melt on a hot sunny day. “Bakken did all the same things which Frankfurt didn´t do. Frankfurt turned away from their team basketball from the first quarter. Frankfurt defended less and were less aggressive on the boards while Bakken tried to finish more inside”, added Italian basketball agent Luigi Battista. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 35% from the three point line while the Bakken Bears were shooting 48% from the field and 41% from the three point line. Bakken had the slim 18-17 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had only nine turnovers.
Both teams took a rest from scoring in the third quarter as more aggressive defense and sloppy play reigned on the field and there were an impressive 10 lead changes which showed that both teams were willing to fight extra for the win. Armand got Frankfurt the lead back at 39-38 with a lay in. Bakken then retrieved the lead back as Bergstedt nailed free throws and Bakken led 40-39. No team was able to hurry off on a run as the lead changes just went back and forth. Williams then made an amazing play with 0,6 seconds left on the shot clock, he somehow pushed the pass in traffic to Richter who somehow got off the shot and scored as Frankfurt fetched their lead back to 41-40. Thomas Laerke then responded with the 42-41 Bakken lead with a tough off balance shot. Voigtmann then connected on free throws as once again the lead changed and Frankfurt led 43-42. Bergstedt and Robertson then traded buckets as Frankfurt led 45-44. Bakken American Semaj Inge who played at Temple with NBA player Lavoy Allen and ex Fraport Skyliner Ryan Brooks and current Giessen 46er TJ Dileo hit a difficult off balance shot as Bakken led once again 46-45. Voigtmann then made his prettiest basket of the evening making a nasty spin move around Bergsetdt and laying the ball in as Frankfurt led again 47-46. After Bergstedt and Williams free throws, it was Acker who nailed a ridiculous in your face three pointer over Barthel as Bakken led 52-49 after 30 minutes. “No team was able to get a run. This quarter was a combination of good defense and sloppy play. We missed mayn easy lay ups, but you have those days sometimes”, stressed San Diego native Richard Williams. “Both teams played excellent defense and it was tough to score and get into rhythm”, added Maurice Acker. The Bakken Bears were shooting 44% from the field and 37% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 27% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 28-23 rebound advantage, but 15 turnovers while Bakken had 14 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners left the sloppiness of the third quarter behind them and found back to their old ways of sound structured offense that is flowing like it was in the first quarter. Frankfurt didn´t waste any time sprinting out on a 15-5 run to lead 64-57. The Fraport Skyliners got their run started after Iverson had scored inside with a very peculiar play where they definitely had some luck as Williams tried to throw the ball off a Bakken defender to get a new possession, but instead the ball deflected right to Richter who had the easiest put back of his life. American Sean Armand and Canadian Kyle Fossman now combined for 10 points as each nailed a three pointer and scored a field goal which was the beginning of the end for Bakken and Armand ended the run with another jumper as he saved his best for the fourth quarter. “I hurt my wrist in the last game and I had swollen hand, but I still played. With my shot not falling early, I just tried to get my team involved and play good defense”, said Sean Armand. After a Bergstedt two handed slam dunk, it was Armand showing his unselfishness even when he is scoring to go down a gear and let somebody else score riffling a pass inside to Richter who had no deadline to midnight, but just made a routine put back as Frankfurt led 66-59. Frankfurt did a good job not leaving the door open in crunch time and just buckling down and getting the win. Armand and Richter closed out the scoring as the Fraport Skyliners left the floor with a 1-1 record in Eurochallenge play. “I thought that we played the way we wanted to and dictated the game. We did a good job controlling the offensive boards something we have had problems doing this season and executed on second chance points. When we do those things good things happen. This win gave us more confidence and momentum going into the next tough game in Bamberg”, warned Sean Armand. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Richter and Sean Armand with 15 points a piece. Quantez Robertson contributed nine points and eight rebounds. Richard Williams had eight points and nine assists. The Bakken Bears were led by Jonas Bergstedt with 23 points. Maurice Acker added 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners finished the evening shooting 43% from the field and 33% from outside while the Bakken Bears shot 39% from the field and 26% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebounding duel 41-32 and had 18 turnovers while Bakken had 19 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners next play on Sunday November 16th in Bamberg.