Coaching the Fraport Skyliners is never an easy task for Canadian Gordon Herbert as injuries and just not having a full supply of personal is about as usual for him over the years as Michael Koch must ask himself will this be the year I finally win my first coaching title. In the game against German pro A team RheinStars Cologne there were times where Herbert must have thought why me why me in terms of not being able to run a full functional team, but he was saved by a potent and in beast mode Johannes Richter who scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half pacing the Fraport Skyliners to a commending 72-59 victory, but when the 1984 Olympian thought that basketball life would get easier on Sunday against medi Bayreuth then he was mistaking. The RheinStars Cologne may have had three solid Americans, but two of them were rookies, but with Beko BBL team medi Bayreuth, the Fraport Skyliners were the clear underdog as the team led by head coach Michael Koch had the total experience factor as well as high quality players like a Travis Leslie who played 10 NBA games with the Los Angeles Clippers, Jeff Xavier who played six season sin the Spanish Leb Gold, Canadian national player and high flyer Daniel Mullungs who is a young buck compared to the older Quantez Robertson who has been around the block for years, American Jake Odum who played in Greece or a Ken Horton that tore up the Korsliga in Finnland and not to forget Bastian Doreth who continues to grow that long beard and now stands alone in the BBL as Anton Gavel cut his long ago. This was a great test for the young Skyliner kids like Zeeb, Okeke and Hoffmann to see how they match up against these experienced players. The Fraport Skyliners stayed tough and matched up well for the first 15-16 minutes, but medi Bayreuth then showed that there was a talent and experience difference as they started to take control of the game and never looked back winning easily 101-75. Medi Bayreuth came into the game licking their wounds after being embarrassed by Phoenix Hagen the day before and came out a lot stronger against Frankfurt and especially shot very high from the field and from downtown. “We came out very flat against Phoenix Hagen being stagnant on offense and defense. We changed up some things for the game against Frankfurt installing three new plays and playing better defense. We helped each other more on defense and that was a big difference”, stated ex Providence Friar Jeff Xavier. It was like day and night comparing the teams on paper and the talent difference was very noticeable. “We had a 8 man rotation and had only two plays. We got into foul problems as well. We played well in some phases and the young guys played well. Our best phase was in the second quarter, but we had only three players from last season while the rest were Pro B players and that makes a difference”, stated Fraport Skyliners guard Konstantin Klein.
The Fraport Skyliners got off to a hot start as Frankfurt´s two bigs Morrison and Richter harmonized well as the American gave the German the extra pass for the easy lay up and ex Bremerhaven Eisbaer Garai Zeeb tested the gym netting early burying a three pointer as Frankfurt led 5-0. Frankfurt continued to lead 7-2 as Morrison scored again after Klein lost the handle, but the ball squirmed to the big man who just had to put the ball home. Nothing was functioning for medi Bayreuth except for Jake Odum who was the team in the first 4 minutes as he was an instant offense magnet as he scored the first 12 points for his team. The 24 year old 193cm point guard from Terre Haute who played at Indiana State and in Greece last season was a thorn in Frankfurt´s side as he hit the tough off balance shots, but also nailed two three pointers. At this point the game went back and forth as there were seven lead changes in the first quarter. Ken Horton who played for Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga) last season nailed a three pointer giving medi Bayreuth the 15-12 advantage. Frankfurt fought back getting the lead back 16-15 with a Quantez Robertson dunk and Johannes Richter free throw. Medi Bayreuth did a fine job drawing fouls in the first quarter as ex Bonn forward Steve Wachalksi and Canadian national player Daniel Mullings made free throws as they led 19-17 after 10 minutes. “We didn´t have an answer for Odum. He is a point guard that can score. He simply hit everything”, stated Konstantin Klein. “Odum is a great player. He is a smart player that won´t rush anything. He can score and pass. We have many guys that score 20 points night in and night out and today it was his turn”, stressed Jeff Xavier.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners continued to hang with medi Bayreuth as best as they could, but a 19-4 run by the Bavarian team changed the tide of the game and they would never look back. St Petersburg, Florida native Mike Morrison got Frankfurt on the board first tying the game at 19-19 as he rudely swept Malte Ziegenhagen to the side as if a train had knocked over a light stallion along side the track and then had a clear passage to the rim slamming the ball home. Medi Bayreuth recaptured the lead as three point specialist Steve Wachalski nailed a three for the 22-20 lead. Morrison then dead locked the game at 22-22 finishing well inside after getting the quick pass from Jona Hoffmann. Xavier then made a free throw and big step back three as Frankfurt trailed 26-22. Frankfurt then had their best phase of the game going on a 8-1 run to lead 30-27 as Johannes Richter made his bread and butter the running hook shot and Klein scored in bunches connecting on a trey and making a steal and going coast to coast for the easy lay up. However medi Bayreuth then took matters in to their own hands going into halftime with the commanding 46-34 lead as a back breaking 19-4 run decided the game which Frankfurt couldn´t recover from. In the run it was mainly Odum and Horton that supplied the damage, but German Malte Ziegenhagen who played at Tulane(NCAA), Hawaii Pacific(NCAA2) and Northwood(NAIA) hit a three pointer as well. Odum continued to be the best example as to why he was already in the ocean so hitting shots was no problem as he made an off balance and another three pointer, while Horton got some back door lay ins. Johannes Richter was hit with an elbow above his right eye, but after shaking up he returned back into the game with a white bandage on his forehead. “We learned from the game against Phoenix Hagen the day before. We were up 24-19 in the first, but had a lousy second quarter. Tonight we played a better second quarter. We know we have to play well for 40 minutes to be successful in the league and turned it up a notch in the second quarter”, expressed Jeff Xavier. “The last three minutes were very bad. We lost focus”, added Konstantin Klein. Medi Bayreuth was shooting 56% from the field and 64% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 50% from outside. Medi bayreuth had the 13-12 rebound edge and seven turnovers while Frankfurt had nine turnovers.
Medi Bayreuth took control in the third quarter leading by as much as 20 points as the hole contined to look as big as an ocean as they continued to shoot at an extreme high percentage. Frankfurt was in a hole quickly sustaining a 13-6 run to trail 59-40. In the run medi bayreuth got support from ex NBA player Travis Leslie that played 10 games for the Los Angeles Clippers who got by Richter with ease, Horton hit over Morrison, Wachalski and Horton made three pointers as did Leslie. After Richter and Hoffmann scored, it was German national player Bastian Doreth that nailed a three pointer getting his team the 64-44 lead. Then there was a ray of light on the horizon for the Fraport Skyliners as they quietly broke out on a 8-0 run to cut the medi Bayreuth lead down to 64-52. In the run, Frankfurt got fruitful production from Richter who made another running hook shot inside as his blow to his head seemed to make him angrier and stronger with his game, Morrison scored twice inside once getting the riffle pass from Richter and Hoffmann dropped free throws. However medi bayreuth always had an answer as Jeff Xavier crushed Frankfurt´s hopes with back to back three pointers upping the Bayreuth lead to 70-52. After Oldenburg and Wachalski traded free throws, it was Horton that closed the third quarter with a lay in as the Fraport Skyliners trailed 74-54. “I know that I will always get my shots. It is just about being patient and waiting my turn. I am a streaky shooter and all I need is one shot”, stressed Jeff Xavier. “We didn´t defend bad, but they just hit tough shots. Our foul problems also continued to hurt us”, added Konstantin Klein. “They hit many three pointers. We were unable to get up on their shooters”, added Mike Morrison.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners added 21 points, but when your down 20 points and give up 27 in the last frame, there is nothing else to do but go home and watch video of this game. Medi Bayreuth just continued to shoot at a high percentage as the Fraport Skyliners just couldn´t put a dent in their rhythm. medi Bayreuth kept putting on the pressure and put up a 11-3 run to begin of the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 85-57. Frankfurt continued to have no answer how to stop Horton as he continued to score at ease inside. Mullins got to the free throw line twice connecting while Xavier nailed two more three point bombs. After being down by 28 points, Quantez Robertson scored five unanswered points with a three pointer and coast to coast run and lay in off a steal cutting the lead to 93-70. Every guy got into the scoring on this night as Travis Leslie hit two more three pointers as he got medi Bayreuth to 101 points and had the obligatory task of having to get a case for his teammates which is a basketball ritual in Germany when a team reaches 100 points. “We stayed consistent until the end. Our goal is to be a mid to playoff team and to do that we have to play well for 40 minutes and not 30. We played much better defense than against Phoenix Hagen. We helped each other more as there is more trust. Our offense will always be there. We have to step it up on defense for 40 minutes”, added Jeff Xavier. “This was a tough loss, but this was a good test for the young guys. They can see where they stand against BBL competition. The pre season isn´t about winning, but about improvement and getting ready for the real games”, warned Mike Morrison. “Today we let our defense carry over to our offense which led to many great shots”, added Travis Leslie. Medi Bayreuth was led by Ken Horton with 22 points. Jake Odum added 21 points while Jeff Xavier chipped in with 16 points and Steve Wachalski added 13 points and Travis Leslie 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Richter with 17 points. Konstantin Klein contributed 16 points while Quantez Robbertson added 13 points and Mike Morrison 12 points. Medi Bayreuth shot 59% from the field and 63% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners shot 51% from the field and 38% from the three point line. Medi Bayreuth won the rebound battle 30-19, but had 17 turnovers while Frankfurt had 15 turnovers.