Even if professional basketball players all had their games last weekend, it wasn´t difficult to get lost in the 2015 NBA Allstar weekend festivities as fans were hand fed amazing feats as Russell Westbrook scorched the East team with 41 points including a record 27 second half points, Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry won the three point shooting contest nailing 27 points and new dunk sensation Zach Lavine brought back some hope winning the slam dunk contest to a seemingly dwindling competition as the Vince Carter´s and Dominique Wilkins of yesterday are a distant memory to what innovation and skill once was. With the NBA allstar weekend in New York 72 hours old, there was enough time for Den Bosch guard Brandyn Curry to concentrate on Eurochallenge play even if his experiences in the last weeks had been as difficult as it is for a Yale fan to put on a Harvard jersey. In the last weeks, the ex Harvard Crimsen guard had been involved in some very spectacular games as he lost a hard fought battle in Frankfurt almost leading his team to victory with 27 points, a week later hit a game winner against Tartu Rock steering 20 points, then lost back to back games against Russian team Avtodor Saratov including a double OT loss at home where they were leading by 10 points with three minutes to play, but threw the game away. Instead of possibly being 3-1, Den Bosch was 1-3 having lost the three games combined only by 10 points and now had a do or die game in their own living room against the Fraport Skyliners who came into the game with a 3-1 record and could clinch a berth in the quarterfinals with a victory. For Popeye the sailor man giving his body some spinach some extra energy to perform at the highest level is a given, but if Curry gave his system a few portions of cheese cake before the game was unknown as that was a food he liked in his high school cafeteria and it is no secret that yummy cheese cake can be found in Holland but he got going again, but left the floor as a looser again for the third consecutive Eurochallenge game 94-92 in double OT as the SPM Shoeters lost all three games by a combined score of only seven points. If there is any consolation he won the head to head duel against future NBA player Justin Cobbs again outscoring him 26-23, but didn´t get the ticket to the Eurochallenge quarterfinals which Frankfurt did. “This was a tough game and it has been just such a crazy experience the last weeks with all the close loses. We could have been 4-1, but it goes to show that you have to pay attention to minor details if you want to win the close games. This game was a battle that saw both teams having the game on the line. We made a great comeback, but my tip my hat to Frankfurt who played great. The battle against Cobbs was great. I couldn´t take any plays off and couldn´t gamble the way I wanted to because he is always attacking the basket”, stressed ex Harvard guard Brandyn Curry. After the win Justin Cobbs departed the locker room like always donning a Los Angeles Dodgers hat and one wouldn´t have known if Frankfurt had lost by 40, won by 30 or won on a buzzer beater, because his expression is always the same and he was proud of his team making history and reaching the first quarterfinal and talked about the rookie C goals of both him and Curry. “It means a lot to have made history and I take a lot of pride in this team. We kept our composure and made plays when we had to. I think if we keep playing this well sky is the limit for us. It was another great battle against Curry. He made shots when he had to. His goal of being the best point guard in Europe is great and my goal is to play in the NBA with Lebron, Kobe and my cousin Russell Westbrock. We all have different goals”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Justin Cobbs. After having a cold 1/10 shooting day in Frankfurt with seven points, Georgia native Chris Denson was the game´s high scorer with 28 points, but like Curry was unable to get his team over the hump in crunch time. “This loss really hurts. Frankfurt is a good team. Their defense hurt us in the first half as they were very physical. They did a good job taking away the things we do well, but we regrouped came back in the second half and the game could of gone either way”, stressed SPM Shoeters Den Bosch guard Chris Denson.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the game without Mike Morrison, Konstantin Klein and Danilo Barthel all out to injury and didn´t waste anytime getting off to a hot start taking a 15-2 lead as the SPM Shoeters Den Bosch looked like they still had not recovered from the carnival festivities that had accompanied the Dutch city days before. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners demonstrated a sound inside out game as Sean Armand connected on his first two jumpers and Quantez Robertson followed with a step back jumper. Frankfurt then got more production from downtown as Canadian Aaron Doornekamp and Robertson fired home three pointers. Den Bosch seemed a bit nervous and like a 6 year old kid that has that angst of the first day of school. Frankfurt was defending like a nasty lion forcing Den Bosch to unwanted turnovers. In the down stretch of the first quarter, Frankfurt finally got production from their big men as German national player Johannes Voigtmann hit a step back jumper and Johannes Richter added a tip in at the buzzer. Den Bosch got needed production from 31 year old center Marcel Arts who is playing his 13th season with the team and twice showed the young German centers old school moves with a slick finger tip role in that had Voigtmann wondering how he managed to slip that by him and another lay in as he tip toed inside for the clean finish. After one quarter the Fraport Skyliners had the comfortable 19-8 advantage. “Frankfurt started the game with strong intensity. We moved the ball very well on offense and were talking on defense”, stated Gordon Herbet son Daniel Herbert. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 50% from outside while Den Bosch was shooting30% from the field and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the 13-6 rebound edge and both teams had five turnovers a piece.
The Fraport Skyliners kept their momentum in the second quarter until the mid way point where they lost some of their intensity letting Den Bosch put a dent into their play finishing the second quarter with a 11-2 run to lead 39-28 after 10 minutes. Den Bosch got on the board first with a Curry floater, but Frankfurt then quickly rushed out on a 13-4 run to lead 32-14. In this run the unsung hero was Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi that once again defined what the ultimate team player is as he assisted on three consecutive Frankfurt buckets giving up a good shot for a great shot as he found Justin Cobbs parked all alone in the corner for three, then penetrated, but saw the better positioned Voigtman for the put back and then fed Doornekamp for an open outside shot. Steffan Wessels of Den Bosch that played his 47th Eurochallenge game and has won four Dutch league titles interrupted the Frankfurt run with a three pointer. Frankfurt then got a massive two handed dunk from Voigtman who was set up by Doornekamp and Sean Armand then made a steal feeding Doornekamp for the easy lay in as Frankfurt was in command 37-17. Frankfurt continued to have an offensive flow and combined good defense with stronger offense. However as so often is the case, the game received a rift as the home team finally found some consistency on offense as ex Auburn guard Chris Denson started to get hot as his penetration was baffling Frankfurt until halftime leading Den Bosch on a 11-3 run into halftime notching eight points as the Dutch team trailed only 39-28. Dension scored twice with his bread and butter penetration and dropped four free throws. “Frankfurt wasn´t moving the ball well, played too much one on one and it wasn´t so much about the play of Den Bosch, but more about us”, stressed Daniel Herbert. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 48% from the field and 40% from the three point line while the SPM Shoeters Den Bosch was shooting 40% from the field and 14,3% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 22-11 rebound advantage, but 11 turnovers while Den Bosch had eight turrnovers.
In the third quarter the SPM Shoeters Den Bosch continued to be a thorn in the side of the Fraport Skyliners never going away, but continuing to hammer on the back door of Frankfurt that kept a healthy lead until the end where a Dutch run cut the Frankfurt lead to 55-48. Chris Denson got Den Bosch on the board first with an off balance runner, but Frankfurrt countered with a staggering 7-0 run as Doornekamp scored back door, Robertson nailed a three pointer and Cobbs buried free throws as Frankfurt led 46-31. Wessels then hit a big three pointer while Doornekamp scored inside as Frankfurt led 50-35. Den Bosch finished off the third quarter with a timely 13-5 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 55-48. North Carolina native Brandyn Curry got Den Bosch flying as he got back to back buckets scoring on hard penetration and then getting a steal and going coast to coast. Curry then showed why he is a floor general setting up Wessels with a no look pass for the easy basket as Den Bosch was coming back trailing 50-41. However with the momentum on the side of the Dutch squad, Cobbs came back and with his typical coolness and nailed a in your face jumper giving Frankfurt the 52-41 advantage. Despite a Jacob Burtschi three pointer Den Bosch finished off the third quarter with key three pointers from Arvin Slagter and Kees Akerboom capitalizing off two consecutive Frankfurt defensive miscues. “We weren´t as focused in the last five minutes and they showed that they are a great team staging a comeback”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 37% from the parking lot while the SPM Shoeters Den Bosch were shooting 47% from the field and 30% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 31-15 rebound edge, but 16 turnovers while Den Bosch had 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the SPM Shoeters Den Bosch continued to be on the comeback quest and forced the game into overtime. The Fraport Skyliners got off to a horrible start getting four team fouls in the first 49 seconds and already had five team fouls with two minutes played. Den Bosch fed off the Frankfurt foul turmoil going on a mini 4-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 55-52 as Slagter hit free throws and Aarts connected on a broken ally op play. Frankfurt responded in fine fashion going on a 6-0 run to lead more comfortably 61-52 as Tez made free throws and Cobbs hit free throws and connected on a pull up jumper. However every time when it seemed like Frankfurt might make that long awaited run, it was halted by lightening offense from Den Bosch as Curry nailed a three pointer and Denson hurt Frankfurt once again with the penetration as Frankfurt led 61-57. The game remained dramatic and exciting as both teams fought with intensity and no one could ultimately break way. Voigtmann hit a beautiful baby hook shot, but Curry responded with a huge three pointer to cut the Frankfurt lead to 63-60. After Doornekamp made free throws, it was the rookie c & c show of Curry and Cobbs as they both seemed to want to take command as Curry scored twice inside and Cobbs did once as Frankfurt led 67-66. At the 1.26 mark of the fourth quarter it was three point specialist Slagter that gave Den Bosch their first lead of the game 68-67 with free throws. Cobbs then made free throws, but Denson hit a runner over Doornekamp to give Den Bosch the 70-69 advantage. Voigtman then made one free throw to tie the game at 70-70. After Denson had an air ball Frankfurt had one last possession with 12 seconds, but had three opportunities, but failed to win the game sending it into overtime. “It was fun watching Cobbs and Curry create, lead and battle down the stretch”, stated Jacob Burtschi. “We went to zone after seeing they kept running the same play. We increased our defensive intensity”, stressed Den Bosch guard Chris Denson.
The SPM Shoeters Den Bosch got off to a fast 4-0 run in overtime as Slagter made free throws and Wessels scored inside getting the perfect shovel pass form Curry for the 74-70 lead. This didn´t impress Frankfurt in the least as Super Tez dropped a three pointer and free throw to tie the contest at 74-74. The game continued to remain even as Curry hit a runner over Voigtmann and Cobbs kept his cool and made free throws as the game was deadlocked at 76-76. Then it was Doornekamp who dished out a team high four assists finding Voigtmann for the put back. Wessels then made one free throw while Cobbs hit two as Frankfurt led 80-77 with little time remaining. Curry then stood at the free throw line and had to make one and miss the second, but instead missed both and Den Bosch made a tip out that somehow reached Wessels in the corner and he nailed a hail mary kind of shot that found nothing but net and sent the game into a second overtime at 80-80. The shot in a way was similar to a Justin Cobbs buzzer beater he hit with California(NCAA) over Arizona in the only difference being that the Cobbs one was more graceful. “I didn´t know that the Wessels shot was going in, but I am happy it did. The arena was so loud after that”, added Chris Denson. “I was mad I didn´t make the free throw, but Wessels made a huge shot and I knew it was going in as it reminded me off that crazy shot Fortson made”, added Brandyn Curry. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 29% from outside while Den Bosch was shooting 39% from the field and 29% from outside. Frankfurt had the big 47-30 rebound edge, but 21 turnovers while Den Bosch had 14 turnovers.
The second overtime remained tight, but the Fraport Skyliners took control and except for one lead change were the better team doing the little things better that counted and hitting big shots when it counted and getting the win and clinching a ticket to the Eurochallenge quarterfinal. Sean Armand got Frankfurt on the board first nailing a three pointer for the 83-80 lead. After a Denson free throw, he struck back making a bomb from outside and giving Den Bosch the 84-83 lead. Frankfurt continued to be very aggressive on offense as Armand and Cobbs hit free throws for the 86-84 advantage. Denson then tied the game at 86-86 sinking a pair of free throws. Frankfurt always seemed to have their nose a bit more ahead then Den Bosch taking the 89-86 lead as the Baaken Bears honey stopper Johannes Richter made one free throw and Armand hit a huge off balance shot. Denson kept Den Bosch close with free throws to cut the Frankfurt lead to 89-88, but then it was Jacob Burtschi who was left all alone at the top of the key drowning a three pointer like there was no tomorrow as Frankfurt led 92-88 with under a minute to play which was the first match point. Winston Salem native Reggie Johnson who played at Miami(NCAA) with New York Knicks guard Shane Larkin could only make one free throw. Armand then nailed two free throws to add insurance and ultimately sealing the win as Frankfurt led 94-89 with 10 seconds to play. It was only natural that Kees Akeerboom who came into the game having shot 13/18 from downtown in both Avtodor games to nail a buzzer beater, but Den Bosch had a few more seconds too little as they lost 94-92. “Both teams were tired. We got good looks, but just couldn´t make shots. Denson made good decisions and took shots he would usually make in practice”, added Brandyn Curry. “We came together at the end which was key for the win. We got big offensive rebounds from Voigtmann and Doornekamp and Burtschi hit a big shot. We got stops late and the team came together and all made plays”, stressed Justin Cobbs. “We played hard and were tired, but that is no excuse for the loss. Our switching hurt us at the end. Richter got a big rebound and we had a defensive miscommunication which left Burtschi wide open for the big shot. Frankfurt is really solid and can play with any team in Europe when they are healthy. They will go far in the Eurochallenge”, warned”, added Chris Denson.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Cobbs with 23 points. Aaron Doornekamp scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists. Quantez Robertson added 16 points, six boards and three steals. Johannes Voigtmann added 14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Sean Armand contributed 11 points. The SPM Shoeters Den Bosch were led by Chris Denson with 28 points and Brandon Curry added 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Stefan Wessels chipped in with 14 points while Arvin Slagter added 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 29% from outside while the SPM Shoeters Den Bosch shot 45% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt dominated the rebounding 52-35, but coughed up the ball 21 times while Den Bosch did 15 times.