The walking wounded list of the Fraport Skyliners in the last weeks has been growing without pleasure the way a Christmas wish list does for a toddler for its parents. It took the Fraport Skyliners a while to find a new guard to help in the scoring and playmaking department, but it seems like the 2004 BBL champion found a gem with23 year old Los Angeles native Justin Cobbs who is already joining his fourth professional team in his fourth month as a rookie having played with Tibor Pleisss ex team Laboral Kutxa Vitoria (Spain-Liga Endesa), the Charlotte Hornets (NBA), released in Oct.’14 and recently VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL). After a year at Minnesota(NCAA) where he played for ex Kentucky skipper Tubby Smith where he didn’t like the slow pace of the game moved to California(NCAA) where he finished his stellar career averaging 15.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 5.8apg, FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 81.7% as a senior. Ex Boston Celtic Leon Powe who also played at California years earlier described Cobbs as his favorite point guard there the last years and Cobbs credited his leadership skills to current NBA player Mexican Jorge Gutierrez stayed in the hearts of California fans with his game winning shot at Oregon and his amazing and exciting step back buzzer beater against then current number one team Arizona. It be still be a while before the Fraport Skyliners will be able to have both Richard Williams and Konstantin Klein back in the lineup so for the time being the club will have the formidable duo of Sean Armand and himself in the back court. At California many saw Cobbs and current NBA player Allen Crabbe the best back court duo in the Pac 10 as they tore up other teams defense the way Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson do in the NBA now. If Armand will be as lethal as Crabbe was with Tubbs will be seen in the next weeks, but both guys can collect buckets the way Ronaldo does goals and have a great eye for their teammates. After helping the Fraport Skyliners win their second game in a row and first on the road against 2004 Fiba cup winner Mitteldeutscher BC in Leipzig with a eight point effort, the American was focused to help his team achieve a must win in his first home and international game against Aalstar and after only four days in Germany celebrated his second win in a row over Okapi Aalstar 80-58. At halftime, the American had only six points, but really took control in the second half and poured in 14 points in totally taking apart Aalstar. The play of Cobbs reminded one of a former Skyliner who won the Beko BBL MVP in 2011 and looked like a road runner when darting to the basket. After the game former Skyliner Marius Nolte was able to compare Cobbs to two Skyliners in look and play. “Cobbs helped us a lot tonight bringing us forward. He reminded me a lot in appearance to Michael Thompson and with his play on the court to Dashaun Wood the way he was able to take command when he wanted to. However one has to be careful not to speculate too much after only one game”, added Paderborn native Marius Nolte. After the win, Cobbs was confident and soft spoken with the reporters and it was just another day at the office for the general. “I have been here only a short while, but I am just trying to help the team win. I feel very welcome here and just want to keep it going. I wanted to be aggressive and I was hitting shots. Coach told me to just go on the floor and play my game. I wasn’t thinking, but just playing and having fun”, smiled Justin Cobbs. His teammate Sean Armand was impressed and also a little happy that some of that scoring load doesn’t lean fully on his shoulder. “He fits in well and was under control and that is when good things happen. He is a very confident player, sees the flow and has a very high IQ. It all looks so easy because he makes the right plays”, stressed Sean Armand. “Cobbs was the general for Frankfurt. He is a good player that knows when to find his teammates and when its his turn to score. It looked like he had been there for a while”, added ex Georgetown(NCAA) guard Justin Clark. “A reason why it looks so easy is because Cobbs is great at changing the pace. At times he can rock you to sleep and then he can explode. He controlled the whole game with his play”, added Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game riding a huge two game winning streak having won at home against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and on the road in Leipzig and were facing a must win in Eurochallenge play as they had a 1-2 record and had played superb defense in this stretch holding their opponents to an average of 62 points only. Against Belgium team Okapi Aalstar, the Fraport Skyliners came out very focused and despite a quick run by them were able to find their game and were down only by four points by halftime and thanks to an offensive explosion in the third quarter outscoring their opponent 27-6 and were able to coast to victory in the fourth quarter as they never let up. Injured Mike Morrison was so pumped and happy that he was doing his own dancing to the arena music and had the most utmost respect for his teammates. “I am so proud of the way the team played tonight. It was an exciting game and we got great support from the fans. After losing so badly in Belgium, We played very strong with a great defensive effort and had our offense going”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison. Okapi Aalstar had started the Belgium season 7-0 and were rolling in Eurochallenge play with a 3-0 record, but had fallen into a rut as of recent losing their last two games in the Belgium league as their scoring average had been shrunk from 96 to 76 points and their defense was more than suspect as they had averaged giving up 89 points in the last two games. The club found their rhythm early, but then were unable to match the intensity of Frankfurt and just shot very poorly and had defended very poorly as the aggressiveness was left somewhere between Aalst and Frankfurt. “Frankfurt played an overall better game than we did. The Frankfurt 27-6 third quarter was key for them winning. We played no defense and had no communication”, added Okapi Aalstar guard Jason Clark.
2,440 fans showed up in the Fraport arena for an untypical Tuesday night game, but witnessed Okapi Aalstar take the early lead 13-7. American Taylor Braun who played at North Dakota State and played NBA Summer League with the Phoenix Suns last summer got going early scoring a lay up and dropping a three pointer while rejuvenated Canadian Aaron Doornekamp who had a huge game against MBC with 16 points got aggressive scoring twice. Okapi Aalstar continued to be aggressive and reached the free throw line as American Tyren Johnson and Braun hit free throws. Johnson also found American/Samoan John Tofi who played at the University of Texas at El Paso for the dunk as the Frankfurt rotation seemed to have sunk in the light snow that was falling outside the arena. However Frankfurt slowly was finding their rhythm on offense and paralyzed Okapi Aalstar with a vicious 9-0 run to take the 16-13 lead. Brooklyn native Sean Armand hit a three pointer and lay in while Quantez Robertson snuck inside for a bucket and Danilo Barthel hit free throws. New Skyliner Justin Cobbs then hit his first bucket scoring inside and Johannes Richter connected for a left handed hook shot. Cobbs has little problems getting inside and scoring easily even if he may not be as quick as Dashaun Wood. “Cobbs is a bigger version of Dashaun Wood”, stressed 2004 Beko BBL winner with Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert. The Fraport Skyliners led 22-18 after one quarter. “I thought that we had a decent first quarter despite the slow start. We were aggressive on offense and were hitting shots”, added Fraport Skyliner Mikko Koivisto. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 30% from outside While Okapi Aalstar was shooting 35% from the field and 14% from outside. Both teams had nine rebounds a piece, but Frankfurt had no turnovers while Okapi Aalstar had two turnovers.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners were able to hold their lead, but let up a bit in the latter minutes as Okapi Aalstar fought back and regained the lead going into halftime as there was no stopping American Tyren Johnson who scored nine of the last 11 Okapi Aalstar points. The Fraport Skyliners got on the board first as German Johannes Richter scored on a hook shot as they led 24-18. Lodwick then connected on a three pointer and Robertson scored inside making an acrobatic reverse lay up as Frankfurt still led 26-21. After Arizona native Lee Cummard and Johannes Voigtmann traded free throws, it was Tyren Johnson that made the most peculiar bucket of the night as he crashed the boards and tried to tip a high rebound that seemed out of his reach and somehow tipped it into the bucket that took a rainbow dip. This basket was just the beginning of his domination in the last few minutes. Cobbs then hit a pull up jumper as Frankfurt led 30-25. Thanks to the high intensity of Johnson, he sparked Okapi Aalstar on a crushing second quarter ending 13-4 run as the Belgium squad led 38-34. 19 Year old Belgium Vincent Kesteloot contributed with two buckets, but it was Johnson who did the real damage as he nailed a three pointer, fade away jumper and connected for four free throws. He also showed unrelentless energy on defense blocking Johannes Voigtmann. “Our offense broke down and Tyren Johnson got hot at the end as we couldn´t control his aggressiveness”, stated Miko Koivisto. Okapi Aalstar was shooting 41% from the field and 30% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 14% from the three point line. Okapi Aalstar had the 19-16 rebound edge and both teams had four turnovers a piece.
The Fraport Skyliners took off in the third quarter right from the start and Okapi Aalstar would lead one last time early, but a crushing 27-6 third quarter would seal the fate for Okapi Aalstar head coach Brad Dean whjo won a BBL cup in 1996 with Ulm and his team. The Fraport Skyliners took to heart what head coach Gordon Herbert told them in the half time and stormed out on a 6-0 run to retake the lead 40-38. The three buckets that Frankfurt produced in this run was the perfect example of how team basketball is played as hustle, intelligence and effort were on the menu. Barthel got Frankfurt on the board first as Voigtman penetrated, but dished the ball to him for two quick points showing game intelligence with the extra pass. Voigtman then made a running dunk as Aaron Doornekamp tapped the ball to the big man at center court showing hustle as he was off to the races and Doornekamp showed massive effort getting the offensive rebound and put back. Okapi Aalstar would get the lead back one last time as Johnson made a mid distance shot for the 42-41 lead. The Fraport Skyliners then displayed an early new years fire work display closing out the third quarter with a lightening 20-2 run to lead comfortably 61-44 after 30 minutes. The run was powered by Justin Cobbs who took command scoring 14 points while Danilo Barthel added two three pointers. Cobbs nailed two three pointers, scored inside, made a steal and went coast to coast for the one hand dunked, hit a floater and made free throws. “We dominated the third quarter with defensive intensity which led to transition and easy baskets. Once we had the momentum, it was hard to stop us”, added Mike Morrison. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while Okapi Aalstar was shooting 34% from the field and 20% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the slight 28-27 rebound advantage and still had four turnovers while Okapi Aalstar had suffered seven turnovers in the quarter totaling 11.
In the fourth quarter despite Okapi Aalstar cutting the Frankfurt lead down to 11 points couldn´t establish some defensive intensity as it had been lacking all game long as the Fraport Skyliners finished the game strong. Okapi Aalstar made one last run right to the begin of the fourth quarter going on a 10-4 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 65-54. Despite playing superb defense, one will never completely halt an offensive talented team like Okapi Aalstar. Braun showed his explosiveness getting the Belgium team on the board early with a steal and dunk and then connected on a three pointer. Johnson then scored on a lay in and Oregon native and ex Washington State forward Abe Lodwick hit a three pointer. The Fraport Skyliners then put a dent into the Okapi Aalstar run going on their own run of 7-0 to extend their lead to 72-54 which closed the door on the Belgium team. Frankfurt did a superb job letting other guys get involved as Justin Cobb stayed in the backround as German national player Johannes Voigtmann did something for his scoring account hitting two jumpers and making free throws. Frankfurt now also did a good job not getting sloppy , but why should they have, because they had been doing a great job of taking care of the ball the whole game. Frankfurt did a good job also with time sharing. Barthel hit another three pointer as he really had found his range in this game as Frankfurt led 75-56. Herbert then did a nice deed at the end inserting Pro B players Kyle Fossman and Tim Oldenburg from their farm team. Oldenburg grabbed two rebounds in garbage time while Fossman nailed a three pointer in the corner ending the game. “We knew that the game wasn’t over after three quarters. They are a strong scoring team and went on a run at the start, but we stayed focused and composed and controlled the game until the end”, added Mike Morrison. “That last run took a lot of energy out of us. It isn’t easy coming back when you have used so much energy”, stressed Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Cobbs with 20 points. Danilo Barthel contributed 16 points while Sean Armand and Johannes Voigtmann chipped in with 11 points a piece. Okapi Aalstar were led by Tyren Johnson with 15 points while Taylor Braun added 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 47% from the field and 36% from outside while Okapi Aalstar shot 32% from the field and 21% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 38-36. Frankfurt did a super job with only seven turnovers while Okapi Aalstar coughed up the ball 13 times.