The do or die games within the Fraport Skyliners organization continue to grow, but in the past the Beko BBL team had problems winning the big games as they were unable to win the Eurochallenge title where do or die was on the menu and their farm team Fraport Skyliners Juniors ended their season in Rostock as they went down fighting, but ran out of gas in the second half as deepness was missing in their roster. Beko BBL team Fraport Skyliners may have some do or die situations in the upcoming playoffs to pull revenge from their gloomy Eurochallenge weekend in Turkey, but as of now the young kids of Eintracht Frankfurt have displayed nerves and heart in big games as they had won their last two playoff games in do or die fashion first disposing of Team Basket Munchen Nord in game three 69-56 as Jules Akodo sparked the team with 32 points and last weekend the young guns of head coach Sebastian Gleim did it again going into an extremely hostile environment in Ulm and were powered by 2014 NBBL rookie of the year Niklas Kiel who manufactured 18 points and hauled down 16 rebounds as the Frankfurt club were victorious 71-65. In game one, Eintracht Frankfurt encountered an aggressive defense by ratiopharm Akademie Ulm that they had never encountered before this season losing 54-42 as they were clobbered down low 52-37, missed an unacceptable 15 free throws and were 2/21 from downtown helping in the loss. In game two, they rebounded winning 71-65 keeping their nerves under control and doing a better job in all three categories of outside shooting going 9!21, dominating the boards 61-36 and hitting 14/23 free throws for 60%. Having won their last two do or die games, Eintracht Frankfurt was searching for their third do or die win in a row and kept their nerves making a huge come back in the third quarter regaining the lead and withstanding a last run by ratiopharm Akademie Ulm in the fourth quarter to earn a ticket to the NBBL Top 4 in Hagen winning 58-55. Besides Niklas Kiel showing his beast mode inside with 13 points and 20 rebounds, the other hero was Brit Jules Akodo who came into the game shooting 6/32 from the field in the first two games and had a cold first half where nothing was falling, but in the third quarter got the team going finally hitting shots and getting four quick assists inside to his big men. “This was the biggest win of the season. It was tough being down at halftime, but we grinded it out in the second half. He played solid defense today and also the whole series, but not good offense. Today we put it all together. I know that I didn´t play good in the first two games, but everyone kept believing in me and told me to keep playing my game”, added Eintracht Frankfiurt point guard Jules Akodo. After the loss a dejected Carlos Cerdan was letting the last 40 minutes pass through his head as he was the last Ulm player sitting on the bench knew that his team had every chance to win, but just came up a bit short at the end. “We feel really bad now, because we wanted to win this game so bad and move on to Hagen. Frankfurt just played good basketball. They played good defense the whole series and played well enough to win today”, added Spaniard Carlos Cerdan.
There were many notable persons in attendance in the BCM like Eintracht Frankfurt president Peter Fischer and an array of Fraport Skyliners like Danilo Barthel, Jacob Burtschi, Johannes Richer, Mikko Koivisto, Marius Nolte, Stefan Ilzhoefer and Max Merz who was back from Australia and who will help the team in the playoffs against FC Bayern Munich. The first few minutes were back and forth until ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was able to take control of the game and end the first quarter with a 9-0 run to lead 17-8. 2014 NBBL rookie of the year Niklas Kiel got Eintracht Frankfurt on the board first with a lay in, but Ulm counter attacked as German/Austrian David Kramer hit a step back three pointer in front of his own bench almost falling into the lap of a teammate. Kiel then gave Eintracht Frankfurt the lead back with a step back jumper 4-3, but Cerdan erased that swiftly with a jumper and free throw and 6-4 advantage. The game developed into a defense battle from the get go as both teams were forcing the other to tough shots as the field goal percentages took a dip early. After Ulm guard Michale Dorsch scored in traffic to give Ulm the 8-5 advantage, Frankfurt clawed their way back as Kiel made a free throw and 18 year old shooting guard Lennart Okeke opted for the hard penetration sneaking in from the baseline for the 8-8 score. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm then ended the first quarter with a late spurt going on a 9-0 run to lead 17-8. 16 year old Christoph Phillipps started off the run with a quick finger tip roll lay in, 17 year old 206cm forwad Bernhard Benke who only took three shots in game two made a trey and free throw and Kramer put up a prayer that found the back board and fell through the rim. “I enjoy watching the NBBL. These are the players that one may see in the BBL in 3-4 years. Frankfurt played a sloppy first quarter while Ulm did a good job against the pressure. Frankfurt did a good job rebounding, but couldn´t throw it the ocean”, stressed Fraport Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 38% from outside while Eintracht Frankfurt was shooting 23% from the field and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the 14-9 rebound edge. But five turnovers while Ulm had three turnovers.
In the second quarter ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was able to keep the lead until Eintracht Frankfurt closed out the second quarter with a timely 6-0 run to trail only 34-30 at the break. Eintracht Frankfurt got out on a lightening start going on a mini 4-0 run as the big men Kiel made a lay in and 17 year old 201cm Armin Trtovac made a bay hook after being fed perfectly via no look from Jules Akodo cutting the Ulm lead to 17-12. However whenever Eintracht Frankfurt seemed to be getting going Ulm always had an answer and made their own run of 5-0 as Benke scored inside and Kramer dropped a three pointer from the corner as Ulm led 22-12. The second quarter continued to be a game of runs as Eintracht Frankfurt responded with a 5-0 run to cut the Ulm lead to 22-17. In the run it was 18 year old 203cm forward Ivan Mihaljevic who battled inside finding the perfect position grabbing an offensive rebound and making the put back while Akodo made the play of the game dunking hard over Ulm forward Marvin Omuvwie and made the free throw as Eintracht Frankfurt trailed 22-17. “Marvin bumped me a bit which didn´t allow me to follow through as well. That was my second best dunk ever. My best was in Slovenia”, stressed Jules Akodo. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm continued to be consistent on offense going on the next run of 7-0 to extend their lead to 29-17. In the run it was 18 year old 210cm center Daniel Woltering making a dunk as Kiel lost control of a loose ball and then made a lay in after getting fed from Cerdan. Phillipps then closed out a fast break with a lay in and free throw. Frankfurt made up some ground making free throws from Kiel and Musovic, but Woltering continued to do damage as he made a baby hook shot and then connected on a three pointer as Ulm led 34-34. With a minute to play in the second quarter, it was Lennart Okeke who finally started to hit shots nailing back to back three pointers to keep Eintracht Frankfurt in the game as they trailed only 34-30. “Ulm controlled the pace, did a good job on 50-50 balls and hit shots. Frankfurt continued to be cold shooting, but got a big confidence booster with the three pointers from Okeke”, stated Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was shooting 38% from the field and 29% from the three point line while Eintracht Frankfurt was shooting 36% from the field and 18% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 26-19 rebound edge, but seven turnovers while Ulm had five turnovers.
The third quarter saw the Awakening of Jules Akodo who led a 19-4 run to get the big 49-38 lead after three quarters. It had been a tough 10 quarters for Jules Akodo in the first two and a half games, but a slump can only last so long and the Brit finally got going on the offensive end being involved in seven of the eight field goals in the third quarter. Akodo started off the third quarter testing his season 45% three point shooting percentage and hitting and then used his other strength the penetration and finding Trtovac back to back with the no look pass. Kramer made a little dent in the Frankfurt comeback with a step back three, but Akodo was in his own element as he had so much energy and intensity that one just had the feeling that his romp on the court would continue and it did. Akodo gave Eintracht Frankfurt the lead back 39-37 with a coast to coast sprint and lay in. He continued to be aggressive on offense as he made a floater from a tough angle finding nothing but net and then set up Trtovac for the third time in the quarter as Eintracht Frankfurt extended their lead to 44-38. Akodo continued to find his teammates now dishing a no look pass to Mihaljevic and 18 year old 190cm shooting guard Can Akbayir added salt into the wound by hitting a jumper as Eintracht Frankfurt totally turned around the game and went into the fourth quarter with the massive momentum leading 49-38. “I was too passive in the first half and just came out more aggressive in the third quarter. I was looking to create more for my teammates and looking for my shot”, stressed Jules Akodo. “Frankfurt played zone and their defense fueled their offense which got going. We couldn´t stop Akodo who always found his big men. Frankfurt made a good comeback”, stressed Carlos Cerdan. Eintracht Frankfurt was shooting 44% from the field and 25% from the parking lot while ratiopharm Akademie Ulm was shooting 30% from the field and 30% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 38-25 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Ulm had 10 turnovers.
The fourth quarter had two tales as David Kramer got Ulm back in the game and then Eintracht Frankfurt grinded out the win with hardnosed defense. Kramer was the only real offensive threat the whole game for Ulm and he came out on a mission in the fourth quarter as he was a one man wrecking crew taking ratiopharm Akademie Ulm on his own 9-0 run nailing consecutive three pointers and then connecting on three free throws cutting the Frankfurt lead to 49-47. Eintracht Frankfurt stepped up their defense forcing Ulm to tough shots and clogging the lane against the penetration while on offense they continued to bang the ball inside with success as Kiel found Trtovac for a lay in and the big man then got an offensive rebound and put back for the 53-47 lead. The game remained close as Eintracht Frankfurt continued to miss easy free throws as Trtovac and Musovic missed three and Joschka Ferner who didn´t hit his first field goal of the game until late in the fourth made a few free throws tying the game at 54-54. However despite the game being close, Eintracht Frankfurt had control of the game as their defense was at its best getting stops while getting to the free throw line. Akodo made the last three free throws of the game to seal the win despite Frankfurt being called for a technical, Ulm was unable to capitalize as Ferner missed the free throw and with three seconds left Kramer pull up a prayer that found only air as Eintracht Frankfurt was headed to the NBBL Top 4 in Hagen. “We were composed at the end, got stops, gave up no second chances on the boards and just executed down the stretch”, stressed Jules Akodo. “We went to zone at the end trying to stop their one on one play. Anybody could of won at the end. That is how basketball is”, added Carlos Cerdan. Eintracht Frankfurt was led by Armin Trtovac with 17 points and nine rebounds. Niklas Kiel added 13 points, 20 rebounds and four assists. Jules Akodo chipped in with 12 points. Ratiopharm Akademie Ulm were led by David Kramer with 21 points. Eintracht Frankfurt finished the game shooting 36% from the field and 18% from outside while ratiopharm Akademie Ulm shot 30% from the field and 29% from outside. Eintracht Frankfurt won the rebound duel 52-39, but had 15 turnovers while Ulm had 13 turnovers. Despite the tough loss in Frankfurt, ratiopharm Akdamie Ulm can look back at a great season. “We have a young team and will lose some guys with Ferner and Woltering, but we will keep going and come back next season”, warned Carlos Cerdan. Eintrach Frankfurt now have two weeks to prepare for the NBBL Top 4 and are ready to battle. “We are going into the Top 4 knowing we are a good defensive team. We know that we can stop anyone”, warned Jules Akodo.