Usually in the German Pro B one marvels each weekend about the amazing young German talents going head to head as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors present Niklas Kiel one of the biggest German talents from the year 1997 that wants to go the NBA route the German way the way Dirk Nowitzi and Dennis Schroder did or 18 year old Garai Zeeb who came from the Bremerhaven school of basketball and has lightning speed when he glides to the rim while opponent Weissenhorn also has potent youth to offer with guys like 19 year old German/Austrian point guard David Kramer who has played Eurocup this season with ratiopharm Ulm and sometimes seems like a human slinky as he moves about the court or a Joschka Ferner who is a 20 year old 202cm forward that has unending talent oozing from his body as he had his first Eurocup experience at age 17 and never gets enough from basketball as last season he played in 4 leagues with BBL, Eurocup, Regionaliga 2 and NBBL just always trying to get better each season. But sometimes there is that oldie effect that lets you refrain from marveling at the youth and reminiscing about the past especially when the combined age of 71 go head to head with a Marius Nolte and Nils Mittmann. Nolte is 35 and played in the Beko BBL from 2006-2013 with Paderborn and Frankfurt and fought against 36 year old Mittman when he was playing with Ludwigsburg, Braunschweig and Tuebingen. Nolte is the charismatic center that has moved from the court to the front office while still having the love for the game dueling against kids 16 and 17 years younger each weekend, while Mittmann is the ultimate warrior who already played in the BBL in the late 90s with Braunschwieg and stayed faithful to the North German team for 8 years. They met only once in the Pro B and that was last season where the Fraport Skyliners Juniors won 75-50. Frankfurt also won the first game in Weissenhorn 93-78, but this oldie battle didn´t come to take place as Mittmann was there, but Nolte was not. Nolte has been known to not have played all games this season, but usually was at the home games, but if Valentines Day had anything to do with the disappearance wasn´t really known, but then again the god of desire Cupid does rule on this love day. Niklas Kiel and Garai Zeeb were also absent, but Johannes Richter was present as he was the difference leading the Fraport Skyliners Juniors past the Weissenhorn Youngsters 87-83 despite a massive comeback by the guests in the fourth quarter. “We did a good job moving the ball tonight, but should never have allowed Weissenhorn to comeback in the fourth quarter. We did a good job the whole game not allowing Weissenhorn any easy points”, stressed ex Bamberg center Johannes Richer. The losing continued for Weissenhorn as it was their sixth in a row and fourth where the team lost by a combined total of only 9 points as crunch time continues to be a nasty thorn in their side. “Losing the last games has been tough by only a few points. We continue to be unable to execute down the stretch the way we should. We lost focus mentally and it can be a layup, rebound or a play that we miss. We can´t allow our opponent to lead by 15 points at half time. If we would have played in the first three quarters the way we did in the fourth, then we would of won the game”, stressed California native Christopher Anderson.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors got on the board first as Johannes Richter got a good feel of the rim getting an offensive rebound off a Stefan Ilzhoefer miss and making the put back. However Weissenhorn quickly demonstrated how quickly their offense can get going as they scored seven unanswered points as many guys were getting involved as long slender guard David Kramer dropped a trey, 36 year old ex Beko BBL oldie Nils Mittman made a lay in as Kramer found him streaking to the hole and 20 year old rising German talent Joscka Ferner fed 21 year old 213cm big man Bjoern Rohwer for the easy bucket. However the Fraport Skyliners didn´t hesitate long to get their offense in gear as they rattled off back to back three pointers from Ilzhoefer and Richter to give Frankfurt the 8-7 advantage. Then came some lightening production form Weissenhorn as within 30 seconds they rattled off seven straight points started by the diminutive Anderson who made an off balance shot and then stole the inbounds pass from Merz and made an easy layup and Ferner then dropped a three pointer as all of a sudden Frankfurt was reeling in come back mode trailing 14-8. However as is so often the case in basketball, it is a sport of runs and the momentum button can be switched on and off as rapidly as Klay Thompson releases the next bomb from the three point line. Frankfurt closed out the first quarter with an explosive 14-0 run to lead 22-14. In the run, it was Max Merz scoring in bunches as he nailed a jumper and three pointer, Richter scored six points as he was aggressive inside drawing fouls and Alaska native Travis Thompson hit his first shot after he had been taken out of the offense well. “Weissenhorn did a good job keeping Thompson from shooting. Frankfurt was making easy mistakes and had too many turnovers”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Jordan Theodore. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 41% from the field and 44% from outside while Weissenhorn was shooting 38% from the field and 25% from outside. Weissenhorn had the 10-9 rebound edge, but six turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
Weissenhorn got off to a good start in the second quarter retrieving the lead briefly, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got it back in an instant and would go into halftime with the lead. After Mittmann and Ilzhoefer traded buckets, Weissenhorn cruised out on a 9-0 run to grab back the lead 25-24. In the run, Weissenhorn was fortified by the young Germans as Rohwer connected on a three pointer showing that he has even more rainbow than Johannes Voigtmann and Ferner scored six points as he made a three pointer and hit a pretty turn around shot over Ilzhoefer. Frankfurt then got some instant offense as Merz hit a pull up jumper at the free throw line and Ilzhoefer another trey as Frankfurt led 30-25. Then Rohwer scored inside and Thompson displayed his penetration skills as he scored with contact and Merz snuck inside again as Weissenhorn trailed 34-27. The game continued to be driven by runs and Weissenhorn continued to stay on the door step of Frankfurt as they went on a 6-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 34-33. In the run, the aggressive and nasty Weissenhorn defense led to two transition buckets as Anderson and ex Finke Baskets center Til Pappe made steals that led to easy transition hoops from Ferner and Anderson. However a huge strength in the game of Frankfurt was often when Weissenhorn were threatening, they were able to use their three pointing accuracy and nail back to back shots as Thompson and Michael Fuss did propelling the home team into halftime with the 41-33 lead. “Frankfurt did a great job at the end to shift gears after two bad turnovers to hit two big three pointers. Frankfurt was also rebounding very well”, stressed ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 45% from the field and 47% from the three point line while Weissenhorn was shooting 45% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 19-16 rebound edge and eight turnovers while Weissenhorn had 9 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors executed very well in the third quarter, but Weissenhorn kept fighting and cut the Frankfurt lead to seven points, but a big run by the home team at the end broke the game wide open again. Just like in the first half, German Max Merz demonstrated his scoring in bunches ability as he nailed a high rainbow from the corner and then made an off balance jumper extending the Frankfurt lead to 46-33. The Frankfurt offense was really rolling now as Richter made a beautiful old school hook shot and Ilzhoefer made a three pointer as Weissenhorn trailed 51-39. After Kramer and Merz traded buckets, Weissenhorn got some offensive daylight going on a 9-4 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 57-50. In the run, Weissenhorn got heavy production from Anderson who got going making a lay in as did Mittmann and 2015 Beko BBL slam dunk contestant Marvin Omuvwie. Frankfurt also got buckets inside from Germans Konstantin Schubert and Richter. Frankfurt then put a lid on this new Weissenhorn momentum closing out the third quarter with a furious 12-4 run to make a once more close game back to a blowout leading 69-54. Frankfurt was displaying sound inside out basketball giving the needed intensity inside as Ilzhoefer made a tip in and then for the third time in the game got back to back three´s from Thompson and Richter. Thompson then nailed three free throws while Anderson connected on a three pointer. “Basketball is a game of runs. Thompson and I hit some big three pointers at the end. When you are in rhythm you tend to get runs”, stressed Johannes Richter. “We had some tough defensive break downs at the end which led to open shots for them. It was tough going into the fourth quarter down by 15 points, but we stuck together and made one more push”, commented Christopher Anderson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 51% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while Weissenhorn was shooting 45% from the field and 44% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 30-20 rebound advantage, but 14 turnovers while Weissenhorn had 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, Weissenhorn had enough energy for one more come back, but at the end it was the little things that cost them the loss. Weissenhorn got going quickly as Kramer made a three pointer which sparked the team on a 26-9 run to take the lead at 80-78 and all of a sudden Frankfurt was having Saarlouis nightmares all over again. In the run Weissenhron were led by Anderson who secured 11 points and Kramer had nine points. Kramer hit three trey´s while Anderson was unstoppable in the lane as he made four buckets. In this phase the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had totally lost their rhythm as they were coughing the ball over on a regular basis. Weissenhorn had done a good job clogging the lane closing that down and getting out on the shooters better. “Weissenhorn gave us problems going to a smaller line up. They were more versatile with their shooting and penetration. We lost our rhythm and they were back in the game”, added Johannes Richter. However with Weissenhorn having acquired the momentum back, Frankfurt didn´t cave in, but stayed calm. Frankfurt closed out the game with a crushing 9-3 run as Richter was the hero scoring six points. After Omuvwie scored a seemingly impossible lay in where he went sprawling to give Weissenhorn the 82-80 lead, it then was time for the Richter show as he played heads up catching a Merz floater air ball for the put back, free throw and then made another offensive rebound and feeling he would be fouled heaved up a desperation shot underhand submarine style that went in high of the glass giving Frankfurt the 86-82 cushion that they needed. “I got the rebound on my last basket and knew I was fouled and just tried to get the shot off in the direction of the bucket. I was lucky that it went in”, smiled Johannes Richter. “We dug in as a team in the comeback. We finally got defensive stops and got out on transition. That is when our offense is at it´s best. Kramer hit big three´s and it was fun playing. We made more plays then they did”, added Christopher Anderson. Kramer then closed out the game with a free throw. “We were tough inside getting offensive rebounds and giving us more offensive rebounds”, said Johannes Richter. “We had mental lapses at the end. We needed to dig in deeper and have the bigger need to want to win”, warned Christopher Anderson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Johannes Richter with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Max Merz and Travis Thompson had 16 points a piece and Stefan Ilzhofer had 14 points. Weissenhorn was led by Christopher Anderson with 24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and eight steals. David Kramer contributed 16 points. Joschka Ferner contributed 14 points while Nils Mittmann had 11 points and Bjoern Rohwer had 10 points. Frankfurt shot 48% from the field and 44% from outside while Weissenhorn shot 49% from the field and 44% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 40-31, but had 19 turnovers while Weissenhorn had only 14 turnovers.