Eintracht Frankfurt stormed into the NBBL playoffs with the best record in the South West having a 15-1 record and went into the series against Team Basket Munchen Nord as the favorite, but were given a scare as they lost Niklas Kiel to the series. The 17 year old 2014 NBBL rookie of the year who is heralded as one of the top players form the year 1997. He was hit with a concussion in the Pro B series against the Rostock Sea Wolves and missed the whole series against Munchen Nord. His dominating inside out play that has given him 16 and 8 stats this season was missed in the series as Eintracht Frankfurt was forced to a do or die game three at home, but overall the team held together well and came through adversity and won the series. The club continued to show their defensive consistency as they held Munchen Nord to an average of only 64 points per game and surely gave them massive confidence going into the series with ratiopharm Academie Ulm. Eintracht Frankfurt knew that this series will need a strong defensive performance, team basketball and togetherness as the opponent averages 89 points a game and are simply a real genuine offensive powerhouse. After having missed the last 4 NBBL games, the 207 cm big man with the shade of red was back in the lineup to showcase his baby twin tower play, but received a defensive lesson along with his teammates from ratiopharm Akademie Ulm who played an amazing consistent game on defense for 40 minutes stifling Eintracht Frankfurt 54-42 and taking a 1-0 series lead. Eintracht Frankfurt had held their opponents under 50 points 12 times this season and got a taste of their own medicine as they had never witnessed an aggressive defense like that of Ulm who made offense a burden for Eintracht Frankfurt all afternoon long. Eintracht Frankfurt defended very well, but Ulm even better which was the difference in game one. “We came into the game knowing that Eintracht Frankfurt was a good team. We prepared well all week long and practiced hard and played as a team. We did a good job denying the lanes and didn´t let them move the ball well. We did a good job on one on one defense. We were lucky that they missed so many free throws”, expressed ratiopharm Akademie Ulm point guard Carlos Cerdan. Eintracht Frankfurt never found a consistent rhythm on offense and were limited to 42 points their lowest of the season. “We started well moving the ball, but they then got us out of rhythm and we never had any easy shots. They did a good job rebounding and were more physical then us. They also didn´t let us play transition”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Jules Akodo.
The first few minutes of the first quarter didn´t actually predict that the contest would be a low scoring affair as both teams got on the board on a consistent rate. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm got off on a 4-0 lead as Spanish point guard Carlos Cerdan hit a jumper and 17 year old German 206cm forward Bernhard Benke scored off the inbounds pass from Cerdan. Eintracht Frankfurt then got back to back buckets from Paderborn native Kiel with a step back shot and 17 year old 201cm center Armin Trtovac scored inside. 19 year old 201cm forward Joschka Ferner who played one Eurochallenge game with BBL team ratiopharm Ulm then nailed a floater and Kiel scored inside dead locking the game at 6-6. The lead then went back and forth as Jules Akodo made one free throw for the 7-6 advantage, but 18 year old 210 cm German Daniel Woltering made a hook shot for the Ulm 8-7 lead. Eintracht Frankfurt then found some daylight on offense going on a 5-0 run to retake the lead 12-8. In the run it was Akodo stifling Ulm with a slick cross over as he found the hole plus the free throw and then found big man 203cm Ivan Mihaljevic for the left handed lay in. However ratiopharm Akademie Ulm stepped up their energy on defense in the last minutes which led to good offense as Woltering scored inside and after a Ferner block, it was 16 year old Nikolas Moebus scoring inside tying the game at 12-12. Trtovac then got an offensive rebound and put back something he usually gets, but wouldn´t get as much against Ulm as that lane was clogged so often. Eintracht Frankfurt had the slim 14-13 lead after one quarter. “It was a very good defensive game. One could see that both teams had scouted well”, added Fraport Skyliner assistant coach Eric Detlev. Eintracht Frankfurt was shooting 43% from the field and 0% from outside while ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 17% from outside. Ulm had the 11-10 rebound edge, but five turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt had three turnovers.
The game became even more defensive as ratiopharm Akademie Ulm held Eintracht Frankfurt to five points and sped out to a 29-19 lead at the break. In the first five minutes both teams were putting up a brick clinic as nothing was falling for either team. It was then 2015 Beko BBL Allstar slam dunk contestant Marvin Omuvwie who brought his team some energy which got ratiopharm Akademie Ulm going and really never looked back as their defense stayed very consistent, but offense had its ups and downs. Cerdon found Omuvwie with an ally op pass that the German couldn´t dunk home in spectacular fashion, but did just enough to get the ball to fall through. The 17 year old Omuvwie who played at the u-16 European championships in 2013 in the Ukraine then made a coast to coast sprint finishing with a dunk as Ulm led 17-14. Armin Musovic then got his bread and butter the pull up jumper to fall even if the back rim helped as Eintracht Frankfurt trailed 17-16. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm then went on a 5-0 run to lead 22-16 as 16 year old Christoph Phillipps hit free throws and Cerdan then used his big strength the penetration scoring with his left hand. Lennart Okeke then stopped the Ulm run with a huge three pointer cutting the Ulm lead to 22-19. However ratiopharm Akademie Ulm finished the second quarter strong going on a 7-0 run to go into halftime with the comfortable 29-19 lead. In the run it was Ferner dropping a timely three pointer and then scored inside as well as Cerdan as Eintracht Frankfurt had immense problems on one on one defense. “Eintracht Frankfurt wasn´t playing as a team and didn´t have good ball movement. Ulm kept them out of the paint and Omuvwie gave them the needed energy with his play. Frankfurt didn´t come to terms with the Ulm aggressive defense”, stressed Fraport Skyliners Juniors head coach Eric Detlev. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was shooting 36% from the field and 15% from the three point line while Eintracht Frankfurt was shooting 29% from the field and 9% from the three point line. Ulm had the 24-19 rebound advantage and both teams had nine turnovers a piece.
Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm remained to have the comfortable lead in the third quarter until Eintracht Frankfurt were able to cut it down and trail only 38-31 after 30 minutes. Cerdan continued to be the best player on the court as he dropped another jumper which was matched by a Kiel lay in who made some Ulm players dizzy with his nonstop moves. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm then missed 8 straight shots, but Eintracht Frankfurt were unable to capitalize as their offense continued to fizzle. It couldn´t continue to be unproductive so in time they got production again from Benke with a lay in and a coast to coast run and lay in from 18 year old 193cm point guard Michael Dorsch as Ulm led 35-23. Eintracht Frankfurt then closed out the third quarter going on a 8-3 run to trail only 38-31. Musovic got going making a lay in and step back jumper. Eintracht Frankfurt also got free throws from Kiel and Can Akbayir, but only one from two as the free throws haunted them all afternoon long. “Coach told us at halftime to be aggressive, move the ball better and rebound better. We did it sometimes in the third, but not consistently”, added Jules Akodo. “We played good defense and moved the ball well. If we do this then we usually have success”, stressed Carlos Cerdan. ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was shooting 31% from the field and 11% from the parking lot while Eintracht Frankfurt was shooting 28% from the field and 7% from the parking lot. Ulm had the big 41-26 rebound edge, but 15 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt had 13 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, ratiopharm Akademie Ulm stayed strong and despite some resistance from Eintracht Frankfurt were able to consistently score while the home team didn´t. Akodo got Eintracht Frankfurt going with a huge three pointer and after three quarters where his three pointer was as flat as Paris Hilton´s chest, he finally got one to fall and it was a relief as he looked up at the ceiling as to signalize a thank you to the lord. Eintracht Frankfurt cut the Ulm lead to 38-34, but would never get closer. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm then slowly closed the door on Eintracht Frankfurt breaking their back going on a 16-7 run to win game one. In the run it was Cerdan who got his team going scoring five points with a pull up jumper and three pointer. Eintracht Frankfurt then got a rare easy bucket as the two big men Kiel and Mihaljevic harmonized nicely as the latter made a lay in. However the guests continued to score at leisure while Eintracht Frankfurt continued to be forced too tough shots with the shot clock very low. On offense Ulm got further production from Dorsch who made back to back shots with a runner and floater. Every time Eintracht Frankfurt made a bucket which was rare there was hope as Akodo cut the Ulm lead to 47-38 with a pull up jumper, but Ulm then gave them a slap in the face as Phillipps hit a three and Benke a turn around shot to decide the game and extend the Ulm lead to 52-38 with a few minutes remaining. Eintracht Frankfurt continued to miss free throws as on the day they shot a miserable 40% 10/25. “Sometimes a team needs somebody to spark the team and I did at the start with my shots. We played tough defense. I don´t think they ever faced a defense like ours this season and they got tight in the fourth quarter and tired”, stressed Carlos Cerdan. “Ulm had a good rhythm at the end and we just took bad shots. We weren´t to this aggressive type of defense which made it so much harder having to come back. They masde everything tough for us on offense”, added Jules Akodo. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm were led by Carlos Cerdan with 14 points. Joschka Ferner added 10 points. Eintracht Frankfurt was led by Jules Akodo with 10 points. Both teams shot miserably as Ulm shot 35% form the field and 16% from outside while Eintracht Frankfurt shot 28% from the field and 10% from outside. Ulm easily won the rebound battle 52-37, but had 20 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt had 15 turnovers. Next weekend Eintracht Frankfurt faces a do or die game in Ulm. “We have to be more physical, keep them out of the paint, rebound better and play team basketball”, warned Jules Akodo. “If we stop one on one and guys like Kiel and Akodo and play team basketball, then we have good chances to win”, warned Carlos Cerdan.