The basketball fireworks started to take off early in the first quarter of the Beko BBL game between the Fraport Skyliners and ratiopharm Ulm last weekend, but the way it happened came from the hands of the most unlikely recipient in a Skyliner´s jersey. It wasn´t from the soft hands of big 205cm, 108 kilo center Florida native Mike Morrison who has never met a rim he didn´t fancy, or from the freak athlete Quantez Robertson who has unleashed so many flights in the Fraport arena at both ends of the court as Tez airlines that he would of made any flight controller in the area dizzy with all the traffic that the Cincinnati native as produced since arriving in Frankfurt in 2009. The big Aaron Doornekamp lob pass and throw down alley-oop dunk from Mike Morrison would entertain the fans late in the second quarter as a kind of main entrée. However it was actually an athletic play by Aaron Doornekamp that would serve as a nice game opening appetizer early in the first quarter that got many fans to see a totally different side to the game of the Canadian that one had never seen before. It is normal procedure to hear the rippled splash sound from the corner when Doornekamp unleashes a shot, but too see him in full flight and in the air like Air Jordan had never been seen before or was it really Quantez Super Tez Robertson in a mask? With the contest tied at 5-5, Doornekamp was behind the three point line at the right part of the court and with a defensive break down by Ulm that left ex Boston Celtic guard Chris Babb wrong footed, allowed Doornekmap the needed split second to accelerate to the rim as he had as clear a lane as Michael Jordan got on a daily basis back in the day where his tongue became famous with his flight toward instant bucket. Doornekamp flew to the bucket and finished with a beautiful hard one handed dunk that electrified the fans. After the comfortable 92-73 victory, Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert as usual kept the lauding to a minimal and tried not to be overexcited about the very strong team win. Herbert is the type of guy that keeps his joking to a minimal, but after a win like that where the team played really smart and well, he was able to release one witty remark saying that was the first time that he remembered seeing Aaron Doornekamp dunk in the last five years. “Aaron is a true professional and old man joke is funny but Aaron can really play this game at an extremely high level. He does a lot for our team and I’m sure he will be himself at Giessen. His dunk was awesome. I loved the scream after also”, stressed Fraport Skyliner point guard Jordan Theodore. The Fraport Skyliners shot an amazing 55% from the field, won the rebounding duel, dished out 22 assists, coughed up the ball a respectable 11 times only and held the hottest team in the league Ulm to only 73 points. Frankfurt would of held them under 70 points easily had they been able to keep ex Michigan state forward Raymar Morgan better under control. “Our defense vs Ulm was Skyliner basketball. We’re a tough group who likes to get after it on the defensive end”, warned ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore. All in all, it was another great team win, but just another small step in the current season of the Fraport Skyliners.
Even if the Fraport Skyliners have a week off before they start their Europe Cup quarterfinal best of three jaunt with Israeli team Maccabi Rishon Le Zion, they are back in the lab this week to prepare for a middle of the week game in Giessen. This season, the Fraport Skyliners may be the little darlings of the Beko BBL, but the Giessen 46ers and s.Oliver baskets Wurzburg are the two shinning lights in the league as they have more than exceeded expectations as both are in eighth and ninth place and in good shape for reaching the promised land if they can keep up their consistent play. Currently the Giessen 46ers are quietly on a 4 game winning streak having defeated Bayreuth, Bonn, MBC and Wurzburg and amazingly enough have developed into an extraordinary crunch time team as they beat three of these four teams by a combined total of six points and had three of those wins by two points in each game. A big strength in the game of the Giessen 46ers is their team basketball that can be credited to the head coaching of Dennis Wucherer and the team being together for the last 2-3 years. In a way there is a similar parallel to the Fraport Skyliners in that they have that special quality of team basketball, but in a somewhat more junior like way whereas the Frankfurt team togetherness on the court has more of a senior taste. “Coach has stressed team basketball all season long. That is the only way we are going to be successful in this league. We do not have that one guy that we can rely on in games or in tough situations so we need to do it as a team. That starts with being unselfish on both ends of the floor”, stressed Giessen 46ers guard Braydon Hobbs. The club averages 78 points per game, but also allows 78 points a game which doesn´t quite match the top defense of the Fraport Skyliners, but that crunch time advantage that they have had of late has kind of made up for some slip ups on the defensive end. The club has a solid roster from 1-12 and Denis Wucherer doesn´t shy from inserting every player on a consistent rate. The team has four players scoring in double figures with Nigerian Braimoh Suleiman with 13,0ppg, big man Gabriel Olaseni at 12,4ppg and 7,6rpg and had really been that missing piece under the bucket since his arrival recently, point guard Braydon Hobbs at 11,0ppg, 5,2rpg, 4,8apg, 1,8spg and shooting an astronomical 46% from downtown. The ex Rent4Office player is without a doubt the teams best and most consistent player this season and energizer inside out player Yormon Polas who is averaging 10,0ppg, 4,1rpg and shooting 42% from outside. The team also boasts great role players with Cameron Wells, Benjamin Lischka, Karsten Tadda, Eric Palm and Ethan Wragge. Their wins against the Brose Baskets Bamberg, ratiopharm ulm and sweeping of the Telekom Baskets Bonn shows that this is a very dangerous team and no one should take lightly.
After the last two seasons in the German Pro A, there was no famous Hessen derby between the Fraport Skyliners and Giessen 46ers and for fans of both teams this period felt like an eternity. Especially in Giessen, the opponent can always await a very rude and nasty environment where the fans are very close to the court. Especially when the opponent has to take free throws at the Giessen fan block area, he can always expect to hear nasty words and comments that wouldn´t even warrant the R rating from the motion picture association of America. “I’m not concerned with the crowd. I love playing on the road. I love to silence crowds. I feed off the loud fans”, stressed Jordan Theodore. Even if the Osthalle gym in Giessen is always a difficult 40 minutes of time for any opponent, it for some reason never hurt the Frankfurt Skyliners as they have won the last 10 meetings there dating back to 2002. Who could forget the onslaught before Christmas 2005 as Frankfurt routed Giessen 96 to 63 with seven three pointers from ex NBA player Desmond Ferguson. “I had a good rhythm going on in that game and my teammates made a good job getting me the ball. I wasn´t able to find my rhythm much while I played in Frankfurt for various reasons, but that game was probably my highlight playing there”, added ex Skyliner Desmond Ferguson. The last time, the Fraport Skyliners played in Giessen was 38 months ago where they easily won 79-59 as that was the season where Giessen was swimming in financial woes and was shortly before Ryan Brooks and Laquan Prowell escaped to Frankfurt to finish the season. From that team three seasons ago, there are only three players on the team that played in that game with Quantez Robertson and the twin towers with Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel who were surprisingly quiet on that night combining for 14 points. After a very strong effort against ratiopharm Ulm where both German twin towers combined for 35 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, they will be extra motivated to keep their big play alive. “Big Jo and Niko are definitely the best 4/5 duo in the league. They been playing together for a while now. So the things they do doesn’t surprise me or anyone else that watched us play. They are two of the best German bigs around”, added Jordan Theodore. This season, Frankfurt displayed a masterful defensive effort defeating Giessen at home. Quantez Robertson led the charge with 20 points while the Fraport Skyliners dominated inside with the 43-25 rebound edge and never gave Giessen a chance to find their rhythm on offense as they took contested shot after contested shot and left the floor wondering what had happened for 40 minutes. The Giessen team is the same except for the addition of Gabriel Olaseni that gives the team seven rebounds more per game and more strength inside. Giessen is a lot better and more defined team than in their last meeting three months ago and have that unique self confidence riding on their 4 game winning streak and know when it gets down to the nitty gritty in the last minutes, that they can win at home. “The key to winning is us playing together as a team and not letting the crowd get to us”, warned Jordan Theodore. This will be a huge challenge for the Fraport Skyliners who will have to rely on their staple their consistent defense which never lets them down just like the seemingly unending money of Donald Trump keeps him sputtering and sputtering on and on while America is still listening