The first few weeks in Germany haven´t been easy for Fraport Skyliner Kwame Vaughn as he came into a difficult situation to a team that was suffering growing pains and needed the instant savior as the Oakland, California native didn´t lead the team to new heights, but rather to low heights on a 5 game losing streak. It isn´t always fair to blame the point guard for the team woes, but that is how the basketball reality usually works and the American had to hear criticism, but his play wasn´t all that bad as he showed flashes of his scoring ability and knack of fine playmaking, but just didn´t do it consistently and he also didn´t have a team on the same page which didn´t make his conducting skills any easier. It was obvious that sooner or later the ex Cal State Fullerton(NCAA) guard would slip out of his funk and be good for a break out game and that is exactly what happened 5 days ago where he helped snap the team´s five game losing streak and register their first win in the Champions League. Vaughn entered into the game in Slovenia with a chip on his shoulder and was brilliant scoring 27 points, grabbing five boards, dishing out five assists and getting three steals. He didn´t let a pointless third quarter discourage him as he netted vital buckets in crunch-time to preserve the victory on the road. Vaughn now had some new refreshing self-confidence and had the golden opportunity to add on to his stellar game in Slovenia and help defeat one of the hottest teams in the BBL with medi Bayreuth. Vaughn entered into the Bayreuth game focused and looking to extend the Fraport Skyliners winning streak to two games, but despite a solid effort on his part, he was unable to get the needed support on offense as the Fraport Skyliners lost their fourth game in a row in the BBL and sixth of their last seven games. After the third loss in a row at home in the BBL, Vaughn had the same helplessness look that he had against the SC Rasta Vechta loss, but he didn´t point any fingers at his teammates. “We lost as a team and my teammates always help me on the court. Our problem at the moment is that we can´t execute. I always try to get the team involved, score on my own and just pick my spots. We need to bring more energy and fight to the court. Our biggest downfall today was that we didn´t bring enough intensity at both ends”, stressed Kwame Vaughn who finished with 12 points, four assists and shot 44% from the field.
On the other side of the floor, it was medi Bayreuth rookie Joseph Lewis who played at Louisville(NCAA) last season and stole the show from Vaughn as he filled up the stats sheet like a Monta Ellis once did and was aggressive all game long and especially in the fourth quarter closed the curtains on Frankfurt with his stellar combo guard play. It was the best playmaking game of the season for the American who started his basketball career at Penn St. (NCAA) netting 17 points and dishing out six assists in Frankfurt. The American was thrilled about the win, but also used that standard player word that most use when they are successful. “We knew that it would be a difficult game. Coach told us it would be a defensive test. We had to step and take up the challenge and did. We controlled game on defense and executed when we needed to. I just always try to be aggressive”, smiled Garfield Heights, Ohio native Joseph Lewis. Ex TCU (NCAA) guard Kyan Anderson who is playing his second professional season after a stellar rookie season with Crelan Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-Scooore League) had a quiet afternoon, but he wasn´t fully fit either and gave the reigns to Lewis who profited from the advice of Anderson in the first few months. “Lewis is a combo guard, but I pull him in a lot and pick his brain and try to teach him as much as possible about the point guard position. He made the right plays at the right time today. He is very good at retaining the information and played well today”, stressed Kyan Andeson. Anderson also had some soothing words for his opponent point guard Vaughn who isn´t playing bad at all, but still needs time to grow into the system and to mesh with his teammates. “I played against Vaughn last season in Belgium. He is a wonderful point guard. I almost didn´t play today, because I have an ankle problem, but I played because I knew Vaughn´s tendencies and knew he could go off at any time. He is still new to the team and is still learning how to get all involved. We knew that we would either take him out or the rest of the team, but we took out the rest of the team”, explained Fort Worth, Texas native Kyan Anderson.
On a beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon as it was perfect weather for a stroll, 4,030 fans decided rather on gathering in the Fraport arena for an afternoon of basketball and quickly got a dose of what had been happening the last weeks in the arena as the offense was sputtering as the Fraport Skyliners missed on their first three possessions as Quantez Robertson took the first three shots that didn´t fall through. Except for an Andreas Seiferth lay in, medi Bayreuth was unable to take advantage of the Frankfurt miscues and led only 2-0. Frankfurt then crawled out of their daze and went on a vicious 6-0 run started by Kwame Vaughn free throws and two high energy buckets from Robertson who scored back to back buckets. Medi Bayreuth was a rut in this phase as their offense wasn´t executing as five possessions couldn´t muster points. However when you’re the second best scoring team in the BBL averaging 88 points per game, you won´t go too long without getting back on the scoreboard as Lewis drilled home two massive trey´s to tie the game at 8-8. Max Merz gave Frankfurt their last lead of the game, but in spectacular fashion as he drove from the right wing and then made an incredible reverse layup that only saw net and no back board. “I knew that I would shoot the ball like this, because I fell forward on the drive and had to shoot it like that”, stressed Max Merz. Then the lack of consistency effected Frankfurt again as they gave up a 10-2 run to give medi Bayreuth the 18-12 lead after one quarter. In the run, medi Bayreuth was aided by Egyptian Assem Marei who played at BC Siauliai (Lithuania-LKL) last season and has really stepped up in the BBL scoring twice inside as even on the double team he was unstoppable. Lewis hit free throws and German national player Bastian Doreth hit a difficult shot inside. “Frankfurt played tough and physical defense. Bayreuth got more comfortable in their sets in the second part of the quarter. Bayreuth defended better and gave Frankfurt problems with their press taking much time off the shot clock before Frankfurt could get in their sets”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Travis Thompson. Medi Bayreuth was shooting 47% from the field and 50% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 33% from the field and 0% from outside. Medi Bayreuth had the comfortable 12-5 rebound edge, but three turnovers while Frankfurt had zero.
In the second quarter, Mike Morrison got the Fraport Skyliners on the board first with a lay-in, but medi Bayreuth then got superb bench support from ex German Braunschweig guard Robin Amaize who cut inside getting the dime from big man Andreas Seiferth and then nailing a three from the corner extending the medi Bayreuth advantage to 23-14. After five missed possessions by Frankfurt, it was Florida native Morrison who electrified the arena with a massive dunk as Vaughn fed him in the lane. Then Ex Davidson forward Demon Brooks fired a bullet pass to the corner finding Anderson for a quick three as Frankfurt trailed 26-16. Frankfurt then found some daylight sneaking on a 4-0 run as ex Maryland(NCAA) forward Ekene Ibekwe was aggressive on the offensive boards making a put back and Vaughn glided around Seiferth for an easy two to cut the medi Bayreuth lead to 26-20. However Frankfurt just couldn´t get consecutive stops on the defensive end as the guests went into the break on a 7-3 run to lead 33-23. On the run, medi Bayreuth was sparked by a tough turn around shot from Marei over Morrison, ex Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Nate Linhart stroked home a trey and Anderson closed out the potent 7-0 run with a lay-in. Vaughn closed out the scoring with a lay in with a few seconds remaining. “Bayreuth continued to play very physical which made it tough for Frankfurt. Shields is a player with a nice shot and can finish around the rim, but Bayreuth had a lot of respect for his game and focused on taking him out”, added Alaska native Travis Thompson. Medi Bayreuth was shooting 43% from the field and 42% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 34% from the field and 0% from the three point line. Medi Bayreuth had the 22-14 rebound edge and six turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
In the third quarter like against Banvit 11 days earlier, the opponent was able to break open the game and extend the lead to as much as 19 points as precise shooting from downtown hurt the Fraport Skyliners. Before the three point onslaught arose, Frankfurt was able to stay with medi Bayreuth, but not make any ground on them either really. Lewis started off the third quarter with free throws, but Frankfurt reacted with a mini 4-0 run as German Stefan Ilzhoefer finally broke his 9 game 93 minute drought of not scoring and finally hit from the corner getting a kind Fraport arena bounce while Shields got his first bucket of the game in the 22nd minute cutting the medi Bayreuth lead to 35-27. “In the first games, I didn´t think too much about it, but as time went on it went on my nerves. I don´t get many shots and I just wasn´t hitting. I continued to take extra shooting practice and in the last games I went in with the mentality to let the game come to me. I never want to force anything and if I am open then I will shoot”, warned Stefan Ilzhoefer. “I just try to stay with it. Morrison and Robertson have picked me up. I just try to stay aggressive and make the right plays when I can”, stressed ex Nebraska(NCAA) forward Shavon Shields. Frankfurt continued to claw back as Morrison got two buckets inside as Frankfurt trailed only 40-32. However medi Bayreuth then totally carved open the game hammering Frankfurt with a 13-2 run to extend their lead to 53-34. In the run, Frankfurt was hit by four three pointers as Lewis and Linhart stroked home three pointers and Steve Wachalski nailed two trey´s. Frankfurt did close out the third frame solidly with a 7-3 run as Morrison scored inside and Vaughn hit a three pointer, but they still trailed 56-41 after 30 minutes. “We can get hot at any time. We have a good inside out game and in the third we felt the need to shoot the three and hit”, added Kyan Anderson. “We were unable to keep Bayreuth under pressure and they took advantage of it”, said Fraport Skyliner Max Merz. Medi Bayreuth was shooting 46% from the field and 53% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40” from the field and 10% from the parking lot. Medi Bayreuth had the 26-20 rebound advantage, but 10 turnovers while Frankfurt had seven turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners continued to battle, but at the same time continued to exert energy in their comeback efforts that folded halfway through as a medi Bayreuth 8-0 run extend their lead from 12 to 20 points again that ultimately decided the game. After a Marei free throw, it was the Fraport Skyliners finding some instant offense as Ilzhoefer scored his second basket of the game with a jumper and ex Artland Dragon Antonio Graves connected on transition cutting the medi Bayreuth lead to 57-45. However each time when it seemed like Frankfurt could make a run and really get back into the game, it was the guests that always had an answer as Wachalski used his bread and butter again hurting Frankfurt with a trey from the corner as Vaughn was a step late as Frankfurt trailed 60-45. A Ibekwe free throw and lay in cut the medi Bayreuth lead to 60-48, but then came the final blow as the guests slammed the door shut on Frankfurt with a heartbreaking 8-0 run to extend their lead to 68-48. In the run, it was Lewis playing the perfect combo guard role, finding Seiferth twice inside for points, and then making a pull up jumper and Brooks hit a step back jumper. The game had been decided, but the Fraport Skyliners did close out the game strong with a 8-4 run to lose 72-56. In the run, Frankfurt got production from Robertson with four free throws, an Ibekwe lay-in and Shields lay-in. “We had some let downs, but overall we finished the game well. I am glad we won, but we could of won by more”, stressed Joseph Lewis. “We never gave up, but we just didn´t have more to get closer”, added Max Merz. “We keep growing and take no win for granted. We just try to keep building and prepare for the next game. We are able to get past wins quickly. We don´t celebrate long”, added Kyan Anderson. Medi Bayreuth was led by Joseph Lewis with 17 points and Assem Marei added 13 points and eight rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Kwame Vaughn with 12 points. Ekene Ibekwe added 11 points and Mike Morrison had 10 points. Medi Bayreuth shot 45% from the field and 47% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 37% from the field and 7,1% from outside. Medi Bayreuth won the rebound duel 35-30, but had 14 turnovers while Frankfurt coughed up the ball 10 times.