Having a perfect regular season in any sport is an accomplishment if it is in baseball with 162 games or NBA or NHL with 82 games or even in the NFL which has 16, but accomplishing this is as rare as Boston Red Sox fan ever having the audacity to put on a hated New York Yankees cap at the bleacher bar at Fenway Park. Sometimes it is done as Tom Brady took the New England Patriots to a perfect record in the 2007-2008 season, but couldn´t cap of a 19-0 season as the New Giants crushed their season winning the Super bowl on the last drive. In a way Tom Brady and Basketball Lowen Braunschweig guard Derek Needham have one big similarity in that they had perfect regular season records, but the Needham took it one step further by not losing a single game last season for BK Khimik-OPZ Yuhzny (Ukraine-Superleague) going 37-0 winning the league title while playing 36 games averaging 11.9ppg, 3.4rpg, 4.6apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 71.0%. After not having that horrible feeling of defeat once last season in the Ukraine, losing the first regular season game with Braunschweig must have been like a culture shock, but the American hopes that with due time his winning experience from last season will be transformed on to his new team and he knows what it takes to win and there definitely were no secretes. “No secrets we worked very hard and loved each other. We stayed focused throughout the season and had a great coach. We players and coach get along it makes it easier to go to battle with your team”, stated Derek Needham. If someone had told him this season like last season that he wouldn´t lose a single game, he probably would of uttered the same words as a year ago. “I would have said they are crazy and that’s very very very hard to do. To stay focused and perform every night and to win the games was amazing. Still can’t believe that happened”, added Derek Needham. Needham is a 25 year old 180cm point guard from Dalton, Illinois and playing his third professional season and belongs to the smallest guards in the Beko BBL. He is a player that can penetrate very well and knows when to find his teammates and since the unbeaten season last season has leadership that is a strength even if he feels it isn´t always noticed. “Maybe my leadership is hidden, I love to help my team and make sure everyone is one the same page and in tune with the game so we can play our best every game”, said Derek Needham. He has always been consistent since he started at Fairfield (NCAA) in 2009 and played until 2013 and then moved on to Lithuania and the Ukraine last season and never averaged less than 11,4ppg. He also has improved his three point shooting as he shot his best last season during the title run. Surprisingly he had his best games against the top teams like Bamberg and Alba Berlin where he even had a better ranking then top Beko BBL point guard Brad Wanamaker. The season is still young as Braunschwieg is up and down and the team is trying to still find each other, but Needham will continue to develop further as he gets used to the style of the Beko BBL as he tries to fill the shoes of last seasons point guard Dru Joyce. After last season´s bitter end of just missing the playoffs, Braunschweig could have the arsenal to make it this season and with the mix of the disappointment of Nicolai Simon missing the playoffs last season, the NCAA experience and success of Josh Gasser and Needham´s run last season could be the right mentality for added minutes in May.
After being in the Beko BBL middle ground for many years with Emir Mutapcic, Sebastian Machowski came in 2009 and did a fantastic job leading the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig to three consecutive playoff appearances including two semi-finals and a cup final in 2011 in Bamberg. He had only had two years of coaching ability in Poland for SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg (Poland-DBE), but was able to win a cup. In Braunschwieg he had the special touch building a harmonious team chemistry early with a solid core of Americans with Kevin Hamilton and Brandon Thomas and adding the needed puzzle parts with guys like Marcus Goree, Kyle Visser or Lamarr Greer over the three year period. However after he was lured to Oldenburg, the playoff run by the organization ended three years ago as the team ended in 13th place with Greek mastermind Kostats Flevarakis and even with the aid of future NBA player Dennis Schroeder, the team already had their summer vacation booked in May. Two seasons ago was the second consecutive season that the team didn’t reach the playoffs as the team finished in 15th place. Two seasons the club brought in a new feel with Raoul Korner who finally made the jump to a top level Beko BBL after winning titles in Holland and Austria and coaching three Dutch Allstar Games. However the team wasn’t able to make any noise last as they were lounging in no mans land and were unable to get a big winning streak going as inconsistency had been a sort of staple that season. The team had shown that it could play all styles of basketball and had impressive wins against ratiopharm Ulm , winning a shoot out against Phoenix Hagen, Bonn and the Artland Dragons. However they also had extreme difficulty not winning close games. They have lost 12 games by five points or less and take five wins from those 12 close loses and they would have reached the playoffs. The main problems was not having that vocal leader, not having more durability from the bench the inability of developing the German players to the Beko BBL level that season which severely restricted the depth of their bench. Last season the club were so close to making the playoffs, but despite winning their last two games at the end, didn´t get help from other teams and finished in ninth place. Their biggest wins were against Bamberg and FC Bayern Munich and also swept the Artland Dragons.
This season the team wants to return to the Beko BBLplayoffs and are hovering around the end of the playoffs places with a record of 4-5. The club has started off quite well considering that they did a massive house cleaning as their budget was limited further so it was obvious they would be unable to hold top players Dru Joyce, Trent Lockett and Tim Abromatis. They did a clever thing bringing in BBL experienced guys with Tyrone Nash, Keaton Grant and Kenny Frease who know what it takes to win at this level. They were fortunate that Derek Needahm has been able to adapt and play very well at the BBL level something he didn´t see in Slovakia. Armin Stevens who came from the lower Austrian league has been solid, but can still heighten his game and rookie Josh Gasser has performed very well and is shooting 45% from outside. The team has experienced German Nicolai Simon that holds the team together and then a crew of many young Germans who are waiting for minutes. One player breaking out the way Maurice Pluskota did last season could be the difference between playing in May and not. The team is smaller than last season and so far have had to play fast as their only true big man is Kenny Frease. The team is averaging scoring 79 point while giving up 76 points and are only grabbing 30 rebounds per contest. So far the team has played like a non-playoff team having beat the lower class teams and lost to the playoff teams. The team is ok now, but if they suffer injuries could really get problems. Korner has done a fine job with the talent he has and with the season still long has the potential to develop the players and chemistry further.
The Basketball Lowen Braunschweig held on to experience with Nicolai Simon who is a 28 year old 190cm guard playing his eighth Beko BBL season and brought 219 games into his second with Braunschweig. He started his basketball career with Urspring Basketball Academy in 2002. He then played with Alba Berlin, Paderborn,Tuebingen and Bayreuth. Last season with Braunschweig he played 34 games: 5.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 37.0%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 87.2%. His best season was in 2012-2013 with Bayreuth where he played 33 games: 9.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 47.5%, FT: 86.8%. His big weapon at the moment is his three pointer which he has improved greatly in the last 5 years. The team also held on to Cornelius Adler who is a 26 year old 196cm swingman playing his second season with Braunschweig. He started his basketball career in 2006 with SG FT/MTV Braunschweig (2.Bundesliga). He then played two seasons with Ehingen and got his first experience in the Beko BBL in 2001 with BG Goettingen playing 7 games. He then played three seasons with Nurnberg playing 91 Pro A games. Last season with Braunschweig he played 27 games: 2.3ppg, 1.3rpg. He is a very smart player that seems to always make right play. Sid Marlon Theis is a 22 year old 204cm forward and the baby brother of Bamberg forward Daniel Theis. He played three seasons for Erdgas Ehingen/Urspringschule (ProA) before coming last season to the Basketball Loewen Braunschweig (BBL): 16 games: 0.8ppg, played also at DRUFF! Baskets Braunschweig (ProB): 22 games: 8.2ppg, 4.6rpg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 23.9%, FT: 72.7%. He is the classic role player that battles inside and has a knack to secure rebounds. Lucas Gertz is a 25 year old 196cm guard that is playing his seventh season in the Braunschweig organization. It was never easy finding his niche in the team as in the first three years he played one BBL game, but in the last three years 33 games. The club continues to believe in his talent at the shooting guard position.
Besides bring in American Derek Needham the team also added Keaton Grant who is a 28 year old 193cm guard from Kissimmee, Florida playing his sixth professional season and second in Germany. He played at Purdue with current Oldenburg guard Chris Kramer and won the Big tem tournament in 2009 with Purdue. As a professional he has played in the D-league, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece and Italy. In Germany he played with the Neckar RIESEN Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL):´in 2013-2014 playing 33 games: Score-5(15.8ppg), 3.7rpg, 1.8apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 74.8%. Last season he played with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A): 32 games: 7.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 21.1%, FT: 81.5%. He can play the 1-3 position and become more of a scorer as a professional and likes to penetrate and is adept at creating his own shot. The team also added Tyrone Nash who is a 27 year old 203cm forward from Queens, New York playing his fifth professional season and after three years in Germany with Tuebingen where he played 99 Beko BBL games, he went to France last season and played with SPO Rouen Basket (France-ProA) 11 games: 8.3ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 55.1%, FT: 50.0%. He played at Notre Dame from 2007-2011 playing a total of 118 games having ex NBA players like Luke Harangody and Ben Hansbrough as teammates. His natural position is the four, but if needed can play the three and five and is a very good ball handler that can hit the three. The team added Beko BBL experienced center Kenny FRease who is a 26 year old 212cm center from Massillon, Ohio playing his fourth professional season and fourth in Germany. He played at Xavier from 2008-2012 playing a total of 137 NCAA games and reaching two NCAA Sweet 16´s. As a rookie he played for Tuebingen, his second with Artland and last season with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-TB2L): 16 games: 13.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.1apg, 2.2bpg, 2FGP: 59.7%, 3FGP: 66.7%, FT: 44.4%, in Jan.’15 moved to Artland Dragons (Germany-BBL) playing 16 games: 8.6ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 63.5%, FT: 61.5%. He is a versatile center with nice moves and grabs rebounds at will.
The team also added talented American Amin Stevens who is a 25 year old 201 cm forward from Roswell, Georgia playing his fourth professional season. He played at Florida A&M (NCAA) and as a senior played 21 games: 17.1ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.4apg, 1.5spg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 61.6%. In 2012-2013 he was a rookie in Slovakia and in the last two seasons tore up the Austrian league. Last season he played for BC Zepter Vienna (Austria-A Bundesliga) playing 46 games: Score-3(18.2ppg), Reb-3(9.1rpg), 1.0apg, Steals-5(1.7spg), FGP-2(67.9%), FT: 64.6%. He has been a scorer as a professional and has great timing for the rebound. Josh Gasser is a 23 year old 193cm guard who is playing his rookie season after having an illustrious career at Wisconsin from 2011-2015 playing a total of 146 NCAA games and reaching the NCAA final in 2015 and Final 4 in 2014. As a senior he played 39 games: 6.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 82.7%. He was teammates with NBA player Jon Leuer and Frank Kaminsky. He can play the 1-3 positions and is the typical glue guy that is a great shooter. The team also added Martin Bogdanov who is a 23 year old 183cm point guard who has been with the team since 2013 having had a double license playing a total of 31 BBL games. Last season he played 25 games: 12.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 29.6%, FT: 65.0%, also a license to play for DRUFF! Baskets Braunschweig (ProB): 7 games: 1.9ppg. He started his basketball career with the Central Hoops Berlin and also played with SSV Lok Bernau and Cuxhaven. The team also brought in Robin Amaize who is a 21 year old 194cm shooting guard that started his career with the LTi Giessen 46ers (BBL) and played 10 BBL games in the 2012-2013 season. Last season he played for the DRUFF! Baskets Braunschweig (ProB) playing 26 games: 10.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 23.4%, FT: 66.7%.
The Fraport Skyliners have had very very fond memories of Braunschweig as they have a 16-3 record since March 11th, 2006 as Braunschweig won 81-76 then. They also haven´t lost at home since 2002 having won the last 14 games in a row at home. The two most memorable games were from the 2008-2009 season. Who could forget the 68-58 win in the cup game which brought Frankfurt to the TOP 4 in Hamburg. That game displayed the best performance by guard Adam Emmenecker who came out of his shell and proved he has no nervous shooting hand as he left captain Pascal Roller on the bench as he had the hot hand leading the team with 13 points. However in the regular season game in Braunschweig, Roller got his revenge as he led the team to a 55-53 win as his last minute clutch jumper paved the way to the win. In 2009-2010, Frankfurt swept the series winning 81-77 as Frankfurt came from behind to win as Aubrey Reese poured in 21 points and prevailed at home 71-62 as Derrick Allen steered 18 points to the triumph. In the first game this season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners pulled out a thrilling 94-91 win at home. Frankfurt fought back in the fourth quarter as they came back from being behind 90-87 and close out the game on a 7-0 run as Skyliner captain Pascal Roller hit a huge three pointer and Dashaun Wood a shot. Frankfurt did a fantastic job distributing the ball as seven players scored in double figures led by Pascal Roller and Kimmo Muurinen with 13 points a piece. Frankfurt dominated the boards 38-24. In 2010-2011, the Skyliners were 2-1and stretched their winning streak to 12 games as they won two memorable games winning 94-91 at home as they finished the game with a 7-0 run capped by a big three pointer by Pascal Roller. Seven players scored in double figures and nobody scored more than 13 points. In the return date in Braunschweig, Frankfurt pulled out a nail bitter 68-67 as Frankfurt was down 67-65 and Frankfurt won the game on their last possession as Dashaun Wood scored on a penetration and got the free throw to fall. Kimmo Muurinen led Frankfurt with 20 points. In 2011-2012 the Fraport Skyliners won the first meeting of the season in Braunschweig winning 76-70 as Jermareo Davidson added 26 points and Michael Thompson 22 points. The Fraport Skyliners won the second meeting in an exciting 81-80 win in OT as Dennis Schroeder had almost won the game in the regular time with big buckets in the lane at the end. However the Fraport Skyliners kept their cool in their living room winning. Michael Thompson led the Skyliners with 16 points and Tim Ohlbrecht steered 15 points and 11 rebounds to the win. In the first meeting three seasons ago, the Fraport Skyliners won a nail bitter 61-59 as ex Skyliner Ted Scott sealed the win with free throws and German Nils Mittman missed a three pointer to win the game. In the second game last season in Braunschweig, Braunschweig won 73-66 with the help of a big second quarter by Dennis Schroeder who had 13 points and led the team with 18 points while Immanuel Mcelroy had 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Devin Gibson with 13 points and Johannes Voigtmann had 12 points. In the first game in the 2013-2014 season, the Fraport Skyliners rolled past Braunschweig 79-53 as they could get nothing going. Frankfurt was led by ex NBA player Andrew Rautins that had 26 points. Ramon Galloway added 11 points and Johannes Voigtmann contributed 10 points. Braunschweig was led by James Florence with 16 points and Isaiah Swann added 12 points. In the second game, the Fraport Skyliners lost another crunch time game 82-81. Danilo Barthel led Frankfurt with 25 points while Braunschweig was led by Isaiah Swann with 23 points and Kyle Visser added 18 points. Last season the teams split the season series as Frankfurt won 84-72 at home and were led by Sean Armand and Danilo Barthel with 22 points a piece while Braunschweig was led by Derrick Allen with 16 points. In the return game in Braunschweig, the home team won 86-76 and were led by Dru Joyce with 22 points and Tim Abromatis contributed 21 points. Frankfurt was led by Justin Cobbs with 21 points and Johannes Voigtmann added 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners come into the game Sunday against Braunschweig sky high with a 11game winning streak and the best team in the league while Braunschweig has a three game winning streak and won four of their last five games. Frankfurt will have a big advantage inside and have the bench edge and Braunschweig will need a consistent offensive effort as any lulls could be a big factor against them. The Fraport Skyliners are the hottest team in the Beko BBL at the moment and riding such an explosive self confidence that not even a good current run by Braunschweig will get in the way of Frankfurt Sunday.