Time goes and goes in the basketball world as players get older and quietly glide away in the sunset into retirement while others remain or even come out of retirement when that itch to battle under the boards returns even after having banged in the trenches for 17 years and having had to endure countless elbows over that span. For German Maksym Shten who was known as the Ukrainian train can look back at a very long basketball career that allowed him to play in the Beko BBL for 6 years with teams like ratiopharm Ulm, Frankfurt, TBB Trier, Eisbaeren Bremerhaven and medi Bayreuth amassing a total of 200 games. It would be interesting to find out which place was most loving to him as he did help Ulm reach the BBL in 2006, but with the Frankfurt Skyliners, he played with a very special team reaching the semi-finals of the 2008 playoffs where no Frankfurt fan will ever forget the very exciting 5 game series win over Leverkusen and loss to the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Frankfurt was also the only time, he played international club basketball where he played 9 ULEB cup games and probably his best BBL game was his amazing 24 point outburst in Goettingen where half the team was sick and he had to step up. From that 2007-2008 Frankfurt team, only four guys are still active with Alex King with Alba Berlin, Jimmy Mckinney with Bonn, Derrick Allen with SC Rasta Vechta and Illian Evtimov with Chalon in France. Shtein had a perfect 3-0 PRO B record with Weissenhorn against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and 2-0 in the BCM and returned back ready to battle against the young German big men Johannes Richter and Niklas Kiel and show that this train still has ICE style. However Shtein saw only 6.15 minutes in the game making a point and an assist and as usual was very active inside, but his only shot was a missed three pointer as he was testing his 66% three point shooting. However it was the other ex Skyliner Filmore Beck that stole the show having a masterful game notching 28 points keeping the ScanPlus Baskets in the game, but overall as has been the case so often this season, it was the overall skill and deepness of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors that allowed them to win another game despite squandering lead after lead. “We had highs and lows in the game, but the difference was in the second half where we played better as a team, hit shots and made easy buckets”, stressed Fraport Skyliners Juniors guard Max Merz. ScanPlus Baskets point guard and leader Lorne Jackson was frustrated after the loss as he had fouled out at 6.16 minute mark of the fourth quarter, but stressed that there were many factors why his team couldn´t get over the hump. “They had the lead most of the game and we always had to fight back and were unable get the lead. They simply outworked us, made plays and hit many three´s which hurt us. We shot bad from the field and free throw line and had too many turnovers”, stressed ex Pepperdine(NCAA) guard Lorne Jackson.
You probably could have asked ScanPlus Baskets 35 year old Edward Williams who Tomas Dimsa was and he most likely would have shrugged and at least noticed that he wasn´t German, but after a few minutes and being down 17-4 quickly, the American who was German Pro B champion in 2009 with Crailsheim and played at North Carolina-Wilmington found out fast who the Lithuanian was as he steered 10 points in the run as his early explosiveness fueled the Fraport Skyliners which paved the road for a very strong team offensive performance over the course of 40 minutes. In the run, Dimsa showed just how lethal his athleticism is as he scored inside three times shifting gears with his speed whenever he wanted to and also knocked down a three. American Travis Thompson also connected from downtown and Johannes Richter scored inside on the pick and roll with Merz. The key to the big run was the aggressiveness of Dimsa which led to a consistent offense and they were defending steadily while they also had the upper hand in getting loose balls. However the day basketball ends being a game of runs is the day Donald Trump admits he isn´t the greatest as both will continue to be reality as now it was time for the ScanPlus Baskets to get some more luck and get a rhythm on offense as they smacked Frankfurt in the face with a nasty 12-0 run to trail only 17-15. The run was started by the never ending aggressiveness of American North Carolina native Tommy Spagnolo who got two offensive rebounds that he put home for put backs. German Brian Butler who played 65 Pro A games with Ehingen took a chapter from Dimsa´s book of being aggressive scoring inside and getting to the free throw line twice. Beck also nailed his first three pointer. The main reason for the Scan Plus Baskets getting back in the game was that they upped their aggressiveness inside and Frankfurt also got careless with taking care of the ball and on defense. However as has so often been the case this season, when an opponent is threatening, Frankfurt always find a way to stop the run and get their offense going again as Thompson and Stefan Ilzhoefer nailed three pointers carrying Frankfurt to the 27-20 lead after one quarter. “Frankfurt had a good start, but then allowed the opponent to go on a run and they played no team defense and too much 1-1 play”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 64% from the field and 57% from outside while the ScanPlus Baskets were shooting 44% from the field and 40% from outside. Both teams had nine rebounds a piece and Frankfurt had six turnovers and the ScanPlus Baskets five turnovers.
The second quarter was similar to the first quarter in that the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had a good start getting a healthy lead again, but then allowed the ScanPlus Baskets on a 12-0 run to get their first lead of the game, but they still went into halftime with the lead. Paderborn native Niklas Kiel gave Frankfurt instant offense with a three pointer and a lay in giving Frankfurt the 32-22 advantage. After being almost invisible in the first quarter on offense, American Lorne Jackson got going making free throws and connecting on a pull up jumper. After Beck hit a step back shot, it was Merz that made a three pointer extending the Frankfurt lead to 37-27. Then it was time for the second big run and ScanPlus Baskets comeback of the night as they moved out on a 12-0 run to take their first lead 39-37. The ScanPlus Baskets took some of that Filmore Beck pizazz on the offensive end as the ex TV Langen guard got very hot not showcasing his three pointer, but also some of that Ricky Easterling type of game scoring inside spinning on one hoop and scoring off balance on another. Jackson also contributed to the run as well as 32 year old German/Bosnian Mario Simic who played with Weissenhorn from 2004-2012 who finished with a pretty finger tip lay in. However Frankfurt didn´t lay down and die, but fought for the lead back as Richter nailed a three pointer and Dimsa snuck inside for another lay in to give Frankfurt the slim 44-42 lead at the break. “The ScanPlus Baskets were very confident in their run while Frankfurt got out of their offense. It was good that Frankfurt didn´t let the opponent get a bigger lead on their run”, added Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 48% from the field and 44% from the three point line while the ScanPlus Baskets were shooting 54% from the field and 29% from the three point line. The ScanPlus Baskets had the 18-14 rebound edge, but 12 turnovers while Frankfurt had 11 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had another good start in the third quarter, but unlike the first two quarters learned from their mistakes not letting the ScanPlus Baskets go on another big run to get back into the game. Frankfurt got off on a quick 8-0 run to extend their lead to 52-42. The run was started by supreme ball movement which led to a Merz trey and sparked the run for further potent offense as Richter nailed free throws and Dimsa got free and hit another three pointer. The ScanPlus Baskets stayed tough going on a 6-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 54-48 as it was Spagnolo scoring inside after getting a loose ball, Kevin Wysocki feeding Butler for an alley-oop slam dunk and the German dunker scored inside again. However the Fraport Skyliners continued to execute pretty well on offense and got enough stops to keep the opponent at bay and always have close to a 10-14 lead. Kiel was very effective getting to the free throw line twice and making a lay in as did ex Bremerhaven point guard Garai Zeeb being aggressive making free throws. Frankfurt showed their brutal three point shooting side connecting three times as Zeeb, Dimsa and Thompson connected giving the Fraport Skyliners Juniors the comfortable 73-59 lead after 30 minutes. “We hit big shots at the end. Thompson has been making them all season long. The ball movement was a lot better at the end. We know that we have very good shooters which helps our self confidence to take those shots”, added Max Merz. “Those three pointers at the end really hurt us. We were unable to make stops to get closer to them”, stressed Lorne Jackson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 50% from the field and 48% from the parking lot while the ScanPlus Baskets were shooting 50% from the field and 18% from the parking lot. Both teams had 23 rebounds a piece, but the guests had 14 turnovers and Frankfurt 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to throw their lethal offense at the ScanPlus Baskets while they slowly ran out of gas and were without their top scorer Lorne Jackson who fouled out early. The ScanPlus Baskets made their last push at the start of the fourth quarter going on a 8-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 77-67 as there was still a shimmer of hope. In the run, it was Beck hitting a step back, Simic scored inside and Butler made free throws and tip toed around Niklas Kiel for the easy lay in. However then it was Jackson who fouled out at the 6.16 minute mark which propelled Frankfurt on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 84-67 which broke the back of the ScanPlus Baskets even if Beck continued to give his all trying to get a comeback going with his buckets. In the Frankfurt run, it was Tim Oldenburg connecting on his bread and butter the 15 footer, Zeeb nailed a trey and Ilzhoefer anticipated perfectly where the rebound would go and tipped in the ball while cruising in from the wing. “I don´t want to say that we lost because I fouled out. We didn´t come together as a team. I thought the game was being called tightly. This was the fourth time that I fouled out this season and never this early”, stressed Lorne Jackson. Beck would score 12 of the last 13 ScanPlus Baskets, but they couldn´t get any stops on defense. Frankfurt continued to hit shots as Thompson made a three and Oldenburg a step back. Ilzhoefer was a type of unsung hero in the last few minutes keeping two plays alive with tip outs which kept the Frankfurt offensive alive. Without his stellar hustle play, who knows what else Beck could have fabricated extra on offense with a few more possesions. “We did a good job being aggressive on Jackson and getting him into foul trouble. I think even if he hadn´t fouled out, it would have been hard for them to win”, stressed Max Merz. “Frankfurt got in the bonus early and got to the free throw line and made their shots. We made stupid turnovers and they executed on most of them and also continued to execute on offense”, said Lorne Jackson.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Tomas Dimsa with 19 points. Niklas Kiel added 17 points. Travis Thompson contributed 12 points, Johannes Richter 11 points and Max Merz 10 points. The ScanPlus Baskets were led by Filmore Beck with 28 points. Brian Butler added 17 points and Lorne Jackson had 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 48% from the field and 44% from outside while the ScanPlus Baskets shot 50% from the field and 29% from outside. After losing the rebound duel by 30 in the first game, Frankfurt won the rebound battle this time 33-30, but had 17 turnovers while the ScanPlus Baskets had 18 turnovers. After the game, Fraport Skyliners Juniors head coach Eric Detlev had time to reflect on the win and season goals. “We reached one of our season goals which was to beat every team in the league at least once. Our next goal is to win at least two playoff games. We had good and bad phases today. The ScanPlus Baskets are an uncomfortable physical team where we did a good job taking advantage of their mistakes. The difference was when we play team basketball and have good ball movement we then are able to use our qualities best. When we have a good game rhythm, we are hard to stop. We have to defend well. In the playoffs, it will be important to do the dirty work”, warned Eric Detlev. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors meet the Artland Dragons in game one of the playoffs March 19th in Frankfurt.