The next time Justin Cobbs will see a Beko BBL opponent Phoenix Hagen will be more than two weeks after their disappointing choke loss in Bonn where they were leading by 15 points and just caved in the last quarter. In this time the 2004 Beko BBL champion has been occupied with pursuing the team´s third title in Eurochallenge play as combined both teams have been on the road for more than a week trying to reach the final four. In the last nine days the Fraport Skyliners and Russian team Enisey Krasnoyarsk have only played against each other twice, but combined traveled around 32,255 kilometers. If this best of three series actually had one game more back in Krasnoyarsk, then both teams would have combined traveled around the world once in the last nine days. The Fraport Skyliners won game one in Frankfurt a week ago 77-74 as they were playing catch up basketball all night long, but in the fourth quarter put their heads together and let the general Justin Cobbs play heroics and do what he does best in crunch time which is win games. In game two Enisey Krasnoyarsk defended their home court winning 78-68 as despite 23 points by Skyliner rookie Sean Armand were unable to put the series to record as they were without the heart and soul of the team Justin Cobbs as he had knee problems. Frankfurt was unable to stop the Enisey 14 three pointers and coughed up the ball 19 times. In game three the whole travel fatigue was put aside as the only thing on the menu for both teams was 40 minutes of basketball in a do or die situation. Justin Cobbs was back in action despite having hurt his knee in game one and on Monday was seen as a 50/50 chance of playing, but the importance of the game didn´t leave the Los Angeles native sitting, but he dressed up and led a furious comeback in the second half after being down by 19 points leading the Fraport Skyliners to a 85-80 victory and invitation to the Eurochallenge Final Four and keeping his record spotless at 10-0 in the competition. After a slow first half where he had eight points, but was unable to guide a sputtering offense, the American stepped it up in the second half combing with German national player Johannes Voigtmann for 45 points, but foremost got his team going in the third quarter leading a 33-15 run where his scoring was put on the back burner and he got his playmaking to function like a well oiled bicycle. “I thought my game was ok. I thought that I made a few too many turnovers and missed some critical shots in the fourth quarter. I didn´t feel pressure in this game at all. Our pick and roll worked very well in the second half. Joe Voigtmann and I have a great feel for the pick and roll. Joe sets the screen, I make the decision and he did the rest. Joe has good hands and I know that all I have to do is put it close to him and he will pull it down and do the rest. Reaching the Eurochallenge Final four is in my top achievements. I only reached the NCAA Sweet 16. This is a great step for us to be seen at a big stage and we can show what we can do”, stressed Fraport Skyliners point guard Justin Cobbs. “Cobbs did a great job. He is a tough cover and he will get his assists or basket one way or the other. He is a big time player and is 10-0 in Eurochallenge play. We can compete without him, but it is like day and night when he is playing with us. He took the game to another level in the second half. He is such a great floor general and the best point guard that I have ever played with”, stressed Fraport Skyliners forward Jacob Burtschi. Cobbs made the job so easy for teammate Johannes Voigtmann who is delighted to have a super point guard like Cobbs feeding him the ball. “He reads the pick and role so well and it is all so easy with him. He is a stone cold dog and deserves the nickname Mr Eurochallenge”, stressed Johannes Voigtmann.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the do or die game averaging 80,0points per game and were giving up 74points per game in the Eurochallenge and in the two game series The Club averaged only 72points per game in the two game series and knew that if they didn´t defend Fraport Skyliners basketball that they would have a very difficult time beating the high scoring Russian team. After scoring only 25 points in the first half, the Fraport Skyliners came out of their funk scoring 60 points in the second half as they put on an NBA like scoring explosion. “We played a lot better in the second half. We had three assists in the first half and 15 in the second half. Coach got loud at halftime and told us that we weren´t moving the ball and were giving up easy baskets. After a while when you keep getting scored against, it starts to paralyze you after a while where you can´t react. Halftime was a good time to come for us. In the second half, we went inside more and did a better job on the pick and role. We played with a lot more energy in the second half. We are very happy about reaching the Eurochallenge Final Four, but need to remain focused on everything else”, stressed Fraport Skyliners center Johannes Voigtmann. Enisey Krasnoyarsk entered the game averaging 84 points per game and had given up 79ppg in the Eurochallenge. In the two game series they averaged only 76 points per game and averaged giving up 72 points per game. But for the Russian team who is second to last in the VTB league with a record of 6-16, it was the old story which has hampered them all season, the difficulty of conserving leads. “We have been up by 20 points so much this season and tonight we were unable to hold the lead again. You have to be able to make adjustments, but we were unable to do that in the second half. We weren´t aggressive anymore on the pick and role and lost intensity on defense”, added Chicago native DJ Cooper.
Before the game even started Fraport Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi was the last player to exit the court in pregame shooting and took one last shot from halfway from the court to the runway door and nailed it. If that wasn´t a good omen for things to come with hot shooting, it didn´t occur in the first half as Frankfurt couldn´t hit the side of a barn even if they were standing in front of it. That hot Burtschi 14 meter shot before the game started to rub off on Frankfurt in the second half. The first quarter was one of those quarters where one could feel the tenseness of both teams as effort and nerves seemed to take something off their shooting. Enisey Krasnoyarsk took the early 4-1 lead as Serb forward Sava Lesic scored inside and 25 year old 191cm guard Vyacheslov Zaytsev scored inside. It took the Fraport Skyliners a few minutes before they found their groove as they went on a 7-0 run to take the 8-4 lead. The run was started by a Quantez Robertson jumper which was followed by Aaaron Doornekamp three pointer and Voigtmann lay in. The first quarter seemed to remain a fight as no team could really go on a run as Frankfurt had their nose forward as Cobbs nailed a pull up jumper and Sean Armand scored a lay up on the fast break to lead 12-7 as Frankfurt caught the Russian team napping on transition defense. Frankfurt lost some intensity at the end of the first quarter as Enisey Krasnoyarsk snuck in a mini 4-0 run to trail only 14-13 after ten minutes. On the run it was Elmedin Kikanovic hitting a jumper and White showing his athletic ability scoring on a drive to the bucket. “Both teams got off to slow shots and neither team shot well”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Andrew Bock. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 20% from outside while Enisey Krasnoyarsk were shooting 36% from the field and 20% from outside. Frankfurt had the slight 9-7 rebound edge and both teams had four turnovers a piece.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners totally fell apart as Enisey Krasnoyarsk put on a scoring clinic winning the second quarter 31-11 leading 44-25 at the break. The second quarter actually started off on the right foot for the 2004 Beko BBL champion as Justin Cobbs connected on a step back jumper for the 16-13 advantage, but then everything went downhill. Enisey Krasnoyarsk then went on a 11-0 run to lead 24-16 as their back up point guard Pavel Sergeev who played in the Fraport arena 6 years ago with Triumph Lyubertsy tested his 37% three point shooting percentage nailing three in a row and showing that they had their own type of Sean Armand who can hit buckets. Frankfurt then had a little daylight going on a mini 4-0 run as Cobbs and Voigtmann hit free throws as Frankfurt trailed 24-20. However Enisey was just getting started in their previous 11-0 run and ended the second quarter with an annoying 20-5 run. The Russian team was displaying accurate inside out play as Memphis native Terrico White hit back to back three pointer and Sava Lesic continued to be aggressive inside getting two lay ins and free throws. Kikanovic also did damage inside as he nailed his bread and butter the 15-20 footer and Evgeny Kolesnikov dropped a three pointer for the last points of the second quarter. “Sergeev had the hot hand and they made many in your face shots. Frankfurt couldn´t get any offense going and didn´t have good one on one defense”, stressed Rialto California native Andrew Bock. Enisey Krasnoyarsk was shooting 53% from the field and 50% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 33% from the field and 11% from the three point line. Enisey had the 18-14 rebound edge and only six turnovers while Frankfurt had eight turnovers.
The third quarter belonged to the Fraport Skyliners as they started a massive comeback outscoring Enisey Krasnoyarsk 33-15 to trail only 59-58 after 30 minutes. The first few minutes went back and forth as both teams traded buckets and Enisey Krasnoyarsk was able to keep the comfortable 20 point lead. Kikanovic got the Russian team on the board first with a runner in the lane, but Frankfurt responded with a 5-0 run as Doornekamp hit a three pointer and Robertson made free throws to cut the Enisey lead to 46-30. Enisey responded with a 6-2 run to extend their lead to 52-32 as that 20 point cushion seemed to haunt the Fraport Skyliners. In the run for Enisey, it was Kikanovic again who continued hurting Frankfurt with his mid distance shot, White made a pull up jumper off the fast break and Zaytsev hit from the corner. The Fraport Skyliners desperately needed a spark and then all of a sudden the Frankfurt offense started to shine as they went on a 20-4 run to cut the Enisey lead to only 56-54. As is so often the case good aggressive defense sparked the offense as the Fraport Skyliners starting hitting shots, getting their pick and role game going, got on the break and got to the free throw line. The run was started by a two handed dunk from Robertson after getting the no look pass from Voigtmann. Robertson and Cobbs then scored in the paint on the transition and Burtschi nailed a three pointer as Frankfurt trailed only 54-41. Some more costly Enisey turnovers were fueled by Skyliner points as Doornekamp cut the Enisey lead to ten points and Voigtmann then scored seven points in a row as he was wearing down Kikanovic inside with a lay in and free throws as Frankfurt trailed 54-51. Frankfurt continued to be on the comeback trail and continued to cause havoc inside as the two big men Voigtmann barreled into the zone splitting the defense and ramming home and one handed dunk and ST Petersburg Florida native Mike Morrison ended the pick and role pass from Cobbs with the monster two handed dunk. Cobbs closed out the third quarter with a coast to coast drive as Frankfurt trailed only 59-58 after 30 minutes. “We finally made shots and we stepped up on defense as Tez and Armand got in the lane and guys made plays”, stressed Justin Cobbs. “Frankfurt made shots and keyed in on me better not letting me do my strength with the pick and role”, added Chicago native DJ Cooper. “We ran more and played better and showed that a game has 40 minutes”, added Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. Enisey Krasnoyarsk were shooting 51% from the field and 42% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 53% from the field and 31% from the parking lot. Enisey had the 22-18 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had 10 turnovers.
The fourth quarter remained very exciting and had that do or die flair as there were four lead changes, but in the end Frankfurt hit the more timely wins to squeeze out the win. The Fraport Skyliners regained the lead on their first bucket as Morrison made a dunk off a Cobbs feed as Frankfurt led 60-59. However Enisey Krasnoyarsk struck back nailing consecutive three pointers as the two Americans Cooper and White hit for the Enisey 65-60 advantage. However Frankfurt didn´t allow the Russian team to go on another huge run and struck back with a 5-0 run as Burtschi made a big tip in and Sean Armand drilled home a three pointer to deadlock the game at 65-65. Then it was time for an Enisey 4-0 run as Lesic hit free throws and White scored on the fast break for the Enisey 69-65 lead. The Fraport Skyliners then went on a 11-2 run to regain the lead 76-71 and would never look back. In the run it was the wrecking crew of Voigtmann and Cobbs that preserved the points. Voigtmann scored inside as did Cobbs and then the American may have made his finest play on the night as on the fast break he faked to his right to Armand, but passed to his left finding a flying Voigtmann who powered home the big dunk. This huge play led to a Robertson steal and coast to coast score and Cobbs free throws. Enisey didn´t hang their heads as they fought back getting a fade away jumper from Kikanovic to trail 76-74. However Frankfurt had no flaws now as Cobbs and Voigtmann continued to do their own show as the American found the German big man for a lay in and then hit free throws as Frankfurt led 80-74. Cooper hit some big baskets late including a three pointer with a minute to go to cut the Frankfurt lead to 82-79, but Armand and Cobbs secured the win with free throws. “When a game is tight at the end it is all about execution and we did that. Our pick and role worked and we stepped it up on defense securing the win”, stressed Justin Cobbs. “Cobbs continued to get into the paint and we failed to make any adjustments on defense. We haven´t been able to correct this problem all season long with letting guys do what they want in the paint”, stressed DJ Cooper. “We got many 50/50 balls, got tough rebounds, hit shots and got to the free throw line”, expressed Quantez Robertson.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Voigtmann with 26 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Justin Cobbs added 19 points and eight assists. Quantez Robertson chipped in with 13 points. Enisey Krasnoyarsk were led by Elmedin Kikanovic with 21 points. Terrico White added 17 points and six rebounds while Sava Lesic added 11 points. The Fraport Skyloiners shot 51% from the field and 25% from outside while Enisey Krasnoyarsk shot 50% from the field and 44% from outside. Enisey Krasnoyarsk won the rebound battle 30-26, but had 17 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners will go for the 2015 Eurochallenge title on the last weekend in April. “Reaching the Eurochallenge Final 4 is big and we will have a tough opponent with Nanterre. Now we can show what we are capable of doing and build of this momentum for the next BBL games”, added Jacob Burtschi. “I wish Frankfurt all the best. I think they have a good chance to win it”, added DJ Cooper.