There are some players that play in the Fraport arena like German national player Per Guenther who has been annoying the Fraport Skyliners since 2008, but then again there are players that played there once and then don´t return for many years as Michael Jenkins did. Jenkins came into the BBL in 2009 after playing at Winthrop(NCAA) and his rookie season with BC Buducnost Podgorica (Bosnia-1A) and then made a splash with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen averaging 14.0ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.3apg, Steals-3(1.9spg), FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 72.6%. In the time from 2009-2016, the Kinston, North Carolina native gathered valuable experience in Belgium for two years, Italy for two years and in Turkey for two years. He even had a taste of the NBA being a part of the Oklahoma Thunder in training camp in 2014 and playing catch and picking the brains of future NBA legends Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. A little more than 85 months ago on October 18, 2009 Jenkins made his first appearance in the Fraport arena getting plastered with Tuebingen by Frankfurt 98-66 as he supplied the losing squad with 11 points. Back in that game he had teammates like Lebron James friend Romeo Travis and Bane Ratkovica that are still playing today while Frankfurt had guys like Aubrey Reese, Greg Jenkins, Seth Doliboa or Dominik Bahiense De Mello all retired now. Jenkins also battled against Pascal Roller and Marius Nolte who usually watches the Champions League game from various area´s in the arena. Dinosaur Derrick Allen was also on the floor and is still chugging around in the paint in Germany displaying his never aging ballerina moves. There was only one player on the floor from 7 years ago that was also present in 2016 with Frankfurt and that was current Fraport Skyliner captain Quantez Robertson who was a young pup fresh out of Auburn(NCAA) and was a rookie showing the BBL his first taste of his freak athleticism as he finished with 10 points, eight boards and three steals. Both guys met again with the biggest difference that Robertson has called Frankfurt his home since then while Jenkins has gotten around. The Fraport Skyliners were reeling finally to get a win again as their 6 game BBL losing streak had effected the club and had to meet up with Greek powerhouse Aris the ex team of Gordon Herbert and they came up with a special welcome back gift for their coach who had been out for a while as they stepped up in crunch time shocking Aris 81-74. After the big win Quantez Robertson was already playing daddy for Autumn on the court, but had big words for Michael Jenkins whom he opposed as a rookie in 2009. “I really didn´t even remember him until assistant coach Klaus Perwas said during video that he played in the league once. He made some tough three´s and got going early and stayed with it until the end”, stressed ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson. For Michael Jenkins there was no happy return to the Fraport arena as his record there fell to 0-2, but remembered Quantez Robertson. “It doesn´t only feel good to play here, but just being able to play each day is a blessing. It is always good playing against familiar faces like him and being in Germany in general”, added Aris guard Michael Jenkins.
After a bitter loss in Denmark to Bakken last week that propelled the Fraport Skyliners to 2-3, they wanted to come back home and show the fans a better performance and get back on a winning streak in the Champions League. That was easier said than done as they had to face Greek powerhouse Aris who came to Frankfurt with a strong 4-1 record and 6oo fans as well. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t play their best basketball for long phases, but when it counted most in crunch-time, they didn´t fall apart, but stuck together as a team, hit big shots and clamped down on defense. Just having Gordon Herbert back on the sidelines made a huge difference for the Fraport Skyliners even if they didn´t play consistent basketball. “Coach Herbert reminded us of our goals this week which we had set at the start of the season. We tweaked them a bit and came back together, had energy and just played tough. I felt we didn´t play selfish and the bench stepped up which was key. We need everyone to step up from the bench if we want to be successful. We executed better in the second half, rebounded, made open shots and hit our free throws”, stated Cincinnati native Quantez Robertson. Aris will most likely need some time to digest this loss as they had the win in their hands and just gave it up. They were the better team for 35 minutes and in control letting Frankfurt stick around and at the end didn´t make the necessary plays to eke out the win. “We didn´t finish the game. We had control of the game, but it was a game of run and Ibekwe made big three pointers. It came to being a close game and they had the home court advantage which was key”, stressed Aris guard Michael Jenkins.
There wasn´t only a great atmosphere in the Fraport arena as 600-700 Aris fans were on hand, but the Fraport Skyliners also had support from soccer club Eintracht Frankfurt and their ace in the sleeve with Gordon Herbert was back on the sidelines trying to bring some life back into a one time successful team. The crowd support of Aris was incredible, but they have always been known for being very passionate and having almost nonstop chanting. “This wasn´t the first time I had seen this. I remember in my second season when we played Besiktas in Eurocup, their fans also had a whole section”, said Quantez Robertson. You knew Herbert was back as he started his two bigs again as Mike Morrison and Niklas Kiel were upfront again, while Aris was weakened by the loss of ex NBA player Devyn Marble who was nursing an injury in Greece. The Fraport Skyliners fell into a hole early falling behind 7-0 as ex Tuebingen guard Michael Jenkins led the charge with 5 points as he scored on transition and also connected on a pull up jumper while feeding ex Georgia State center Eric Bucknor for an easy pick and roll dunk. Frankfurt couldn´t muster any kind of offense getting shut out in their first four possessions as the two big me Morrison and Kiel coughed up the ball. It seemed like it couldn´t get any worse as at the 6.31 minute mark of the first and still a big fat goose egg on the score board for Frankfurt, the next lull came when Morrison missed two free throws. However then seemingly out of almost nothing, they found some daylight spanking Aris for a 6-0 run to trail only 7-6. They got three stops and on offense got instant production form rookie Shavon Shields who was all over the court grabbing an offensive rebound and making a put back, making a steal and going coast to coast for the dunk and then fed Morrison a bullet pass inside catching Aris flat footed. However it didn´t take long for Aris to bounce back as they exploded out on a 13-4 run to lead easily 20-10 after 10 minutes. In the run. Aris got valuable support from ex Alba Berlin forward Tadijy Dragicevic with a lay in as Jenkins snatched the dime and also got a lay in from ex Valencia forward Vlado Jankovic and a trey from Greek point guard Vassilis Xanthopoulos. Aris could have led by more had they successfully hit their free throws. Aris was playing a beautiful offense which Frankfurt couldn´t match. “Aris had their offense going and getting easy baskets inside while Frankfurt had no rhythm on offense and had problems stopping the Aris transition defense”, stated Hebeisen White Wing German Till Joscha Joenke. Aris was shooting 46% from the field and 25% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 0% from outside. Aris had the 9-8 rebound edge and four turnovers while Frankfurt had seven turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners stayed in come back mode as Aris would get out too nice little leads, but the Fraport Skyliners would always fight back and cut the lead way down. Aris got on the score board first as Xanthopolous made a pull up jumper as Frankfurt trailed 22-10. The Fraport Skyliners then really stepped up their game and went on a furious comeback going on a 11-4 run to cut the Once big Aris lead down to only 24-21. The Frankfurt offensive rhythm still wasn´t there, but they excelled in their one on one play as Kwame Vaughn scored twice with his traditional pull up jumper and ex Artland Dragon Antonio Graves nailed a 15 footer from the wing and a trey. Aris was weakened a bit as their starting point guard ex Temple(NCAA) player Will Cummings had two early fouls and was on the bench. However whenever Frankfurt threatened, Aris always had an offensive answer being able to get away a bit. Aris went on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 31-23 as Jenkins showed his one on one brilliance scoring in the paint with a lay in high off the glass breaking traffic, Thodoris Zaras who last played with KAO Dramas hit a trey and ex Georgia State center Eric Buckner made a tip in. However Frankfurt just kept battling and staying in the game as Shields made a jumper as Frankfurt trailed 33-27. Then came the most spectacular moment of the game as for a minute, the game took a break and moved over to NBA showtime as fans saw three dunks in a row, one finer than the next. Morrison started the dunk fest with a hard throw down as Vaughn found him, but then it was the Eric Buckner show. The ex Turk telekom center who averaged 21 and 13 in China first made a hard ally-oop dunk and then another as this time it seemed like he was in the air for minutes and got up and threw down the ball with one hand. Both times, Jenkins had made the perfect passes. “Eric and I had battles in college. I always knew what he was capable of doing. I really had to ask him on one of them how he caught it. It was tough stopping him off the pick and roll”, stated Mike Morrison. “I have to give my teammates credit for finding me with right pass. I just finished. It was nothing special really, but I do like doing it”, smiled Aris American Eric Buckner. Even Quantez Robertson was amazed by the dunk show that didn´t have his input at all. “Those dunks were pretty good. We were pretty lax on help-side defense. It didn´t surprise me since Buckner is a guy that can jump out of the gym. All you got to do with him is put up the ball and he will put it down”, stressed Quantez Robertson. The two Aris alley-oop dunks gave the Greek team added energy and momentum as they led 37-29. However Frankfurt went into halftime strong going on a 5-0 run to trail only 37-34 as they were aided by an Aris technical foul. In the run, Vaughn made a runner and then tricked Aris on the last play not driving and finishing as many suspected, but kicking the ball to the corner to Graves who hit another typical three pointer at the buzzer. “The game shouldn´t have been as close as it was. Frankfurt had little ball movement and too much one on one as Vaughn was holding the ball too long. Buckner put on a show for the fans with two alley-oop dunks. I didn´t know that he was that athletic”, stated ex ratiopharm Ulm guard Till Joscha Joenke. Aris was shooting50% from the field and 22% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 17-14 rebound advantage, but 10 turnovers while Aris had seven turnovers.
In the third quarter, Aris continued to hold the comfortable lead despite a quick comeback in the first few minutes by the Fraport Skyliners. Frankfurt stepped up their defense stopping Aris on four of their first five possessions of the third quarter and tied the score at 39-39 as Morrison made a dunk and Graves dropped a three pointer. However this didn´t faze Aris one bit as they rolled out on a rapid 8-0 run to extend their lead again to 47-39. In the run, they got consecutive three´s from Jankovic and Jenkins and a Buckner tip in while they forced Frankfurt to two traveling violations by Morrison and Kiel. It is no secret that rookie Shavon Shields who learned his basketball trade at Nebraska(NCAA) can score in bunches and has already evolved into that player like ex Skyliner Jordan Theodore in that when in need go to him. Shields kept Frankfurt in striking distance with a dunk form the wing, a lay in and free throws as his one on one skills were unstoppable as Frankfurt trailed 49-44. A Graves lay in and Ibekwe free throws cut the Aris lead to 52-48. However whenever Aris needed big time points, they looked to Jenkins that would come up big most of the time nailing a clutch three. Ibekwe hit free throws as Frankfurt trailed 55-50. “Frankfurt did a good job sticking in the game. They continued to fight and showed they had confidence”, stressed Michael Jenkins. “We kept fighting and didn´t put our heads down. We continued to execute our game plan and tried to cut down on turnovers”, stressed Quantez Robertson. Aris was shooting 47% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 25% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 24-21 rebound edge, but 17 turnovers while Aris had 14 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, it looked like Aris would put a golden seal on the win as they started off on a run, but Frankfurt had extra energy and did a good job using it efficiently in the last 10 minutes. Shields did start the fourth quarter with a runner cutting the Aris lead to 55-52, but then the Greek team went on a quick 6-0 run as if lightening had struck the Fraport Skyliners as Jankovic and Zaras made timely three pointers as they showed perfect team basketball and led 61-52. It has been kind of a strange season so far for Robertson on the offensive end as his trey hasn´t been falling as he came into the game shooting a dismal 23% in the BBL and 36% in the Champions League, but he finally hit his first trey of the game cutting the Aris lead to 61-55. Frankfurt continued to chip away at the Aris lead and were benefited again by an Aris technical foul and made easy buckets from the free throw line from Graves who then also made a runner cutting the Aris lead to 62-58. Shields continued his one on one rampage scoring with ease inside with a runner as Frankfurt only trailed 62-60. Aris guard Will Cummings then made a lay in as they led 65-60. Then it was time for the Ekene Ibekwe show as he nailed back to back three pointers giving Frankfurt their first lead of the game at 68-65. However Aris had their ultimate crunch-time player in Jenkins who displayed the same feat as Ibekwe dropping consecutive in your face trey´s as Aris led 71-69. “I work on my craft each day. That is what I do and I am glad they went in”, added Michael Jenkins. After Vaughn free throws to tie the game at 71-71, Jenkins had the audacity to throw up the third alley-oop pass to Buckner in traffic that he threw down again for 73-71 lead. Frankfurt got a few stops which Morrison used to make free throws under pressure to tie the game at 73-73 and Vaughn nailed a clutch three for the 76-73 Frankfurt advantage as they would never look back. “As the leader and point guard, I am always looking to make the big play. I had made some unneeded turnovers and I felt I had to take the team to the lead. My team did a good job freeing me up and I had a good look”, said Kwame Vaughn. Frankfurt then sealed the win with Vaughn, Robertson and Graves free throws. “We never gave up. Vaughn hit a big three and we did a good job rebounding and defending”, stated Quantez Robertson. “Frankfurt made all the big plays to win the game”, added Michael Jenkins. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Antonio Graves with 20 points. Kwame Vaughn produced 16 points while Shavon Shields added 15 points and Ekene Ibekwe steered home 14 points. Aris was led by Michael Jenkins with 22 points and nine assists and Eric Buckner added 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners shot 51% from the field and 39% from outside and Aris shot 43% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 33-28, but had 22 turnovers while Aris coughed up the ball 20 times.