Players come and go and one remembers some very dearly while others get erased off the personal memory bank as rapidly as a nasty hurricane can wipe out a complete neighborhood in Florida in their dog days of September where homeowners pray every year that they still have their own shelter as soon as October comes around. It also is rare for a club like the Fraport Skyliners to present two welcoming mats back to back, but that is exactly what happened this week as five days ago, old friend Jordan Theodore who was a main reason the club won only it´s third ever title last season returned back to Frankfurt in Champions League play and once again displayed that dominance and coolness on the court this time leading his new Turkish team Banvit past his old team in his ex living room. Just how much reunions with loses could the Fraport Skyliners handle as five days later another ex Skyliner Derrick Allen returned back to his old stomping ground especially in the paint where Theodore and Allen do their most damage at will. Derrick Allen is a dinosaur who is a 36 year old 203cm forward from Gadsen, Alabama that just keeps chugging away playing in his 14th professional season and 12th in Germany. He was a rookie in Iceland and also played in Belgium. He has played for teams in Germany with BG Karlsruhe, Bayer Giants Leverkusen, Frankfurt(2007-2010), Alba Berlin, Bremerhaven and Braunschweig. He won a scoring title with Leverkusen, was runner up once with Frankfurt, is a three time BBL allstar and two time finalist with Frankfurt and Alba Berlin. He may not have the speed of his 10,7 track mark in 2009 in Frankfurt, but he still is able to get easy buckets inside with his ballerina moves or his fade away mid distance shot. Since his departure in 2011, Allen has gone on to play with Alba Berlin, Bremerhaven, and Braunschweig and came back to compete against old friend Quantez Robertson who he was teammates when the Cincinnati native was a rookie and almost won the BBl title in 2010 against Bamberg. Allen returned back to his old stomping ground flirting with an 8-5 record against his old team, but had his better run with Alba Berlin where he was 7-2 while with Bremerhaven and Braunschweig only had a 1-4 record. He also has stayed relatively consistent in his games against Frankfurt scoring in double figures nine times in 13 games. Allen was back now, 10 years the senior of Theodore, but just as motivated as the younger ex Skyliner and D.A as his friends call him wanted to rack up win number nine in his head to head encounters with his ex club and did as he contributed 7 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes of work helping SC Rasta Vechta win their first game ever against the Fraport Skyliners 68-61. After the game, Allen was all smiles as he had his two year old daughter in his arms and even was congratulated by ex coach Gordon Herbert. Allen still looks trim and plays like a 28 year old, but knows his days are numbered as a professional. “Whenever I enter the Fraport arena, I always think of the old days. I played here for three years and it is a very special place. Seeing all these familiar faces always brings back good memories. I won´t play into my 40´s. I may look and feel like I could, but I won´t”, smiled Derrick Allen. Allen teammate Scott Machado who is 10 years younger and still has many years ahead of him as a professional could imagine him playing for a long time. “I don´t see why he couldn´t play into his 40´s. If he wanted to he could. He is the energizer bunny and is the life of practice. He is always trying to give us his basketball wisdom on the court”, expressed ex NBA player Scott Machado.
Even if some of the good old die hard old Skyliner fans were happy to see Derrick Allen, that sweet homecoming for the Alabama native didn´t erase the reality that the Fraport Skyliners were going through that they had just lost their fifth game in row and the guys after the game had faces that were literally on the floor and as long as if somebody had taken away the afternoon snack privilege from Shaq. Basketball life at the moment is very difficult in Skyliner country as the club just can´t seem to get it all together for 40 minutes and play good basketball. The team once again found a way to lose as the second half has been their Achilles heel in the last three games in the loses in Wurzburg, at home against Banvit and once again at home against SC Rasta Vechta. The player that probably took it the hardest was American Kwame Vaughn who as the point guard has to take responsibility and lead his team to victory. The American who came from French team Asvel recently didn´t even do a bad job in the last few minutes as the open guys were found, but the club just didn´t execute missing wide open shots. In a situation like this, teams often fall apart, but the club isn´t pointing any fingers, but just trying to find a way to come together. “We have to get better at communicating during the game. We do it well for maybe 20-25 minutes in the game. When we are great then we are great, but when we are bad then we are bad. I feel so bad, because the coaching staff worked so hard to have us prepared, but we didn´t execute. We had careless turnovers and missed shots at the end that cost us the game. The game was there for us to win”, added Kwame Vaughn. The team has shown that it wants to stick together and try to help each other out. “It is tough for Vaughn. We need to help him and Ekene Ibekwe get settled. We need to do this as a group and come together better. Coach Perwas did a great job going over the defensive schemes for the game, but we need to know them and more. The coaches can´t do everything and can´t play for us either. We need to see as a whole what we want to accomplish as a team and just do some serious soul searching. Things have to change and we won´t point any fingers”, expressed Fraport Skyliner guard Antonio Graves. “I was excited to play here again after losing twice with Oldenburg here. We played unbelievable defense at the end. I just did my best taking care of the ball and making the right decision. We messed up the last game coughing up the ball at the end and there was no way we would do it again here”, warned ex Iona(NCAA) point guard Scott Machado.
On a beautiful autumn day where temperatures reached 14c, many people were enjoying the outdoors and enjoying the last comfortable day before the cold comes for good, but still 4,320 fans found their seats in the Fraport arena to witness a quick 8-0 lead by the home team catching SC Rasta Vechta off guard and possibly with their thoughts somewhere in a street café outside. In the Frankfurt run, the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner were fortified by some hot shooting from ex Auburn guard Quantez Robertson and Kwame Vaughn who drilled home a trey and a beautiful bucket inside by rookie Shavon Shields who split the defense and made a head fake pass to Vaughn and made the easy lay in. SC Rasta Vechta seemed a bit shocked, but that didn´t last long as they stormed back going on a 9-4 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 12-9. However, one couldn´t really criticize the Frankfurt defense as they stood their ground and forced the opponent to very difficult shots that they somehow made. The run was started by ex Bremerhaven sniper Moses Ehambie who made a tip in and then the club made three consecutive tough shots as ex MBC forward Christian Standhardinger made a finger tip roll in in the post and then a runner in traffic. Then it was ex Pasta Reggia JuveCaserta (Italy-SerieA) guard Frank Gaines that made a tough runner. Antonio Graves gave Frankfurt some needed energy and helped weaken the SC Rasta Vechta momentum leading Frankfurt on a 6-2 run to end the first quarter with the lead 18-11. Ibekwe made a lay in on the fast break, ex Ehingen forward Mahir Agva made a lay in and Graves hit a jumper. “Frankfurt started the game with good defense and SC Rasta Vechta weren´t in the game. Frankfurt couldn´t get anything going inside and had to rely on their outside game. Standhardinger kept Vechta in the game and Derrick Allen did a good job keeping the Vechta intensity up on defense”, stated Fraport Skyliner youth coach Igor Starkevic. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 40% form outside while SC Rasta Vechta was shooting 28% from the field and 17% from outside. Both teams had nine rebounds apiece and Frankfurt had five turnovers and the guests only four.
In the second quarter, both teams went on runs with the guests having the first, then the Fraport Skyliners having the second and SC Rasta Vechta the third and as a result both teams went into halftime deadlocked at 31 points apiece. SC Rasta Vechta started off the second quarter going on a 5-1 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 19-16 as ex EWE Baskets Oldenburg center Philipp Neumann barreled into the zone like a heavy footed guard and ex Giessen guard Besnik Bekteshi dropped a trey. Frankfurt then retaliated and found some substance on offense going on a quick 7-1 run to extend their lead to 26-17 as they got some hot shooting from Graves with a step back jumper and Vaughn trey and Robertson scored inside. SC Rasta Vechta crawled out of their lull getting the momentum back going on a brutal 9-0 run to tie the score at 26-26. In the run, the guests got some much needed production from ex Bremerhaven center Devin Searcy who made a reverse lay up and hard dunk, Machado hit a step back after making a slick cross over against Max Merz, but the German stayed sharp staying on his feet as his ankles weren´t broken and Standhardinger made another one of his typical baskets in traffic. Shields and Gaines then traded three pointers and Standhardinger made a steal at center court getting in the passing lane and going coast to coast like a guard for the 31-29 advantage for the guests. Vaughn secured free throws as both teams went into the break with 31 points apiece. “Frankfurt had problems with the Vechta zone. Vaughn seemed to have problems adjusting to the zone and they also couldn´t get Shields involved on offense. It´s always nice to see how much a Derrick Allen wants to play and win. Allen is always there and wanting to give his best unlike some other Americans on the court”, warned Igor Starcevic. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 48” from the field and 33% from the three point line while SC Rasta Vechta was shooting 41% from the field and 44% from the three point line. Both teams had 15 rebounds apiece, but Frankfurt had 12 turnovers and SC Rasta Vechta only eight turnovers.
The third quarter was a real back and forth grind as there were seven lead changes as no team could escape from the other. Searcy and Shields traded the first two buckets of the third quarter. Then Machado scored in the lane giving SC Rasta Vechta the lead, but that was quickly erased as Shields executed on a trey after the club displayed perfect movement as Frankfurt led 36-35. SC Rasta Vechta retrieved the lead back 40-38 as Machado was left all alone as if he was on a stroll on the Brooklyn bridge at 3am. A Graves lay in and Vaughn free throws gave Frankfurt the advantage once again for the fourth lead change of the third quarter at 42-40. EX Phoenix Hagen guard Niklas Geske who really demonstrates a cool and controlled demeanor nailed a three as Frankfurt trailed 43-42. That didn´t last long as fans witnessed the seventh lead change as Graves made a steal and went coast to coast for the lead and 44-43 Frankfurt lead. Frankfurt held on to the 47-45 lead after 30 minutes after Agva made a running lay in and free throw. “The third quarter was just how it goes sometimes, with teams getting stops and no one getting away. Nobody was able to figure the other out”, added Shavon Shields. “It was an ugly grind out game. Frankfurt and us can play better than what we were showing. Games will always have the three´s and dunks, but other times it can be ugly like today. Only the toughest wins”, warned Derrick Allen. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while SC Rasta Vechta was shooting 39% from the field and 46% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 22-21 rebound edge, but 17 turnovers while SC Rasta Vechta had 12 turnovers.
The fourth quarter saw back and forth action again with seven lead changes, but in crunch time, Frankfurt just collapsed as SC Rasta Vechta stayed on their heels and won the game with a back breaking 10-0 run. It seemed like Frankfurt might run away with it at the start as Robertson nailed a trey for the 50-45 lead, but SC Rasta Vechta stayed calm and just played their offense which was led perfectly by ex Oldenburg point guard Scott Machado who used his whole experience and ability. He led his team on a harsh 6-0 run drilling a three and then it was Allen making an offensive rebound and put back and the made free throws as Frankfurt suddenly trailed again 51-50. Shields then hit a three as Frankfurt won back the lead 53-51, but then for the second time in the game, it was Searcy again scoring in bunches as he made an offensive rebound and put back and then made a tip in off high lob pass from Machado as Frankfurt trailed 55-53. Florida native Mike Morrison who had been fairly quiet all afternoon scored inside knotting the game at 55-55. Machado then made a pretty bucket for the 57-55 lead with four seconds on the shot clock taking the mismatch against Morrison and getting him in the air and then finishing with a nice fingertip roll lay in. “When the big man switches, I always have the advantage. I knew Morrison would jump after I hit some three´s. Every one expects me to pass, so the lane opened up letting me finish”, said Scott Machado. Robertson gave Frankfurt the lead back with a trey 58-57. After Searcy free throws, Graves gave Frankfurt their last lead of the game with three free throws 61-59. Everyone thought this back and forth would continue until the end, but instead, SC Rasta Vechta slammed the door on Frankfurt with a harsh run to end the game with the victory. SC Rasta Vechta extended their lead to 66-61 as they got a trey form Bekteshi and free throws from Gaines and Machado while Frankfurt was stopped on their three possessions as Robertson missed three consecutive shots. Allen would get to the line two more times while Graves and Shields were blanked from the field ending the game. “It was all about defense. We played good defense at the end. We had given up 93 points in the last three games and were better prepared today. Machado controlled the tempo well and held his foot down in crunch time and made tough basketball decisions”, stressed Derrick Allen. “This was a tough loss, but we need to stay together. We have to figure each other out and move on”, stressed Shavon Shields. SC Rasta Vechta was led by Scott Machado and Devin Searcy with 15 points apiece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Antonio Graves and Shavon Shields with 13 points apiece. Quantez Robertson added 11 points and Kwame Vaughn had 10 points. SC Rasta Vechta shot 39% from the field and 40% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 44% from the field and 33% from outside. SC Rasta Vechta won the rebound duel 35-29 and had only 13 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners coughed up the ball 20 times.