Playing against the big 3 B´s of Bamberg, Berlin and Bayern Munich are the season highlights not only for the Fraport Skyliners, but for every other club in the easyCredit BBL, but battling the Giessen 46ers in the Hessen Derby each season would easily come in as a close fourth as the most anticipated games each season. The two cities Frankfurt and Giessen are only 65 kilometers apart and both clubs possess special fans that get extra motivated for the two season duels each season. Giessen fans won´t forget the last game in Giessen as almost two months ago, the Giessen 46ers finally won in their living room against the Fraport Skyliners again something they hadn´t done since 14 years dating back to 2002. The last time Giessen was able to depart the court in Giessen with a win, current Giessen Americans Dwayne Evans and Justin Sears weren´t even in high school yet. In the memorable victory on November 19th, the Giessen 46ers gave their best defensive performance of the season as they held the Fraport Skyliners too only 52 points while they were led by Canadian national player Thomas Scrubb who steered home 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals to the historic win. This coming summer his brother Philip might carefully kid him that that loss might not have happened had he not been injured, but then again the Scrubb brother mentality never centers about them, but moreover what the team can do or not. The Fraport Skyliners entered the contest with a two game winning streak having celebrated big wins on the road in Jena and Tuebingen including an amazing buzzer beater by ex Iona(NCAA) guard AJ English while the Giessen 46ers came into the game having last suffered a tough 87-83 road loss in Vechta. Once again fans had to wait again for the professional head to head battle debut of the Scrubb brothers, but that didn´t damper the breathtaking Hessen derby atmosphere as 5,002 fans were in the loud Fraport arena witnessing a classic game that the Fraport Skyliners were able to grind out in Crunch time 65-61 getting their third win in a row in the BBL.
After the victory, the Fraport Skyliners practiced their first Humba ceremony which is to get on the floor and get up and dance around something hat the team practices on occasion after a home win. American Kwame Vaughn who has gained professional experience in countries like Italy, France, Belgium and Israel and learned the basketball game at Cal State Fullerton the same school that produced explosive ex BBL player Bobby Brown looked a bit confused and perturbed after the Humba victory dance had been completed. “The Humba was new for me. I had never seen something like that before. I think having a dance like that is engaging for the fans. You can see something like that in the NCAA, but it depends on the school. We did a good job in this game staying the course, fighting hard, executing which allowed us to come out with a win”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Kwame Vaughn. Giessen 46er Thomas Scrubb couldn´t repeat his strong effort from the first game against Frankfurt and scored only 9 points this time around and was disappointed by the team effort, but enchanted by the breathtaking atmosphere in the Fraport arena. “Our offense wasn´t great. We didn´t get in a flow on offense and our shots weren´t falling and we didn´t get out on transition. Our defense was ok, but we made a few mistakes and they capitalized on them which cost us the game. The atmosphere was great and one could feel the passion of the fans. I really felt the intensity in the arena and it felt good coming down at the end”, added Canadian national player Thomas Scrubb. “The atmosphere was great. I wish it could be like that in every game. I am thankful that I could be a part of it, but most important was that we got the win”, explained ex Iona(NCAA) guard AJ English.
In the first few minutes, both teams were bound by the immense sound level which increased the intensity especially on the defensive end. Ex Bremerhavne center Maurice Pluskota got active early on the offensive boards securing two offensive rebounds and making a put back while his opponent Florida native Mike Morrison slammed down a two handed dunk after getting tossed up the sweet offering from German Stefan Ilzhoefer, but Giessen still had the slim lead 3-2. However the Fraport Skyliners then broke free and cruised out on a satisfying 9-0 lead to up their lead to 11-3. In the run, Frankfurt got solid production from Morrison and Vaughn and rookie Shavon Shields demonstrated again just how deadly he is on the one on one play as he nailed a trey and connected on a jumper over Cameron Wells. Frankfurt were calm in their offensive sets finding the best shots and on defense played even more aggressive not allowing Giessen anything simple, but stifling their offensive rhythm. However Giessen then showed how dangerous they can be as they quickly hit consecutive three´s as ex Citadel(NCAA) standout Cameron Wells scored as did ex Trier forward Dwayne Evanas to cut the Frankfurt advantage to 11-9. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert inserted AJ English and new Skyliner Shawn Huff who had played three seasons with Ludwigsburg and the club continued to execute in fine fashion on offense. English quickly supplied the support scoring three free throws and feeding Morrison on transition for the monster dunk as Frankfurt led 16-9. Giessen continued to battle back going on a 6-2 run as Evans showed his spectacular one on one skills as he slid by Huff for the lay up and Scrubb made two more unorthodox, but efficient shots to cut the Frankfurt advantage to 18-16. Huff was able to close out the first quarter with a perfect catch and pop play to give Frankfurt the 21-16 lead. “We were very excited to play against Giessen again after our last loss there. We came out strong and we knew that we had to step on the gas pedal. Giessen always plays hard and defense set the tone”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Max Merz. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 40% from outside while the Giessen 46ers were shooting 38% from the field and 40% from outside. Giessen had the 9-7 rebound edge, but four turnovers and Frankfurt two turnovers.
In the second quarter, both teams took a step back from their offense consistency that they had practiced in the first quarter and stepped up their defense more which dictated the game. Both clubs missed on their first three possessions until BBL rookie and ex Yale (NCAA) forward Justin Sears connected on a tip in dunk. Frankfurt continued to be cold from the field and allowed Sears two more points off free throws as Giessen cut the Frankfurt lead to 21-20. The Fraport Skyliners finally broke the ice from the field in the second quarter as ex Auburn(NCAA) standout Quantez Robertson showed his always aggressive side getting to the hole and finishing strong with his left hand for the 23-20 Frankfurt advantage. Frankfurt continued to keep the lead as Shields nailed two free throws for the 25-20 Frankfurt lead. After a Benjamin Lischka lay in on transition, it was Shawn Huff completing a perfect offensive play as Robertson passed up a good shot electing to give Huff the great shot as he nailed the trey as Frankfurt led 28-23. The Giessen 46ers continued to work hard on offense to get good shots and execution as ex Missouri So. (NCAA2) guard Skyler Bowlin hit a pull up jumper and Wells then dropped a huge three as Lischka had made the perfect ball reversal pass as Giessen dead locked the game at 28-28. Frankfurt´s offense was floundering and instead of getting misfortune had some luck as Robertson hit a difficult shot clock buzzer beater over Lischka and Shields made a turnaround shot to complete the Frankfurt 5-0 run and go into halftime with the 33-28 lead. “Giessen got into the game better by giving up easy points and offensive rebounds. These are two things that we continue to work on in practice to correct”, added Max Merz. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 29% from the three point line while Giessen was shooting 36% from the field and 38% from the three point line. Giessen had the slim 18-17 rebound edge, but seven turnovers while Frankfurt had only four turnovers.
The third quarter was like night and day for the Fraport Skyliners as they stunk up the house in the first five minutes not executing on anything after their first two scores, but Giessen couldn´t totally capitalize on their offensive lulls as Frankfurt closed out the third quarter with a 11-2 run to lead 48-37 after three quarters. Both teams demonstrated in the first few minutes why basketball is a game of runs as Frankfurt hopped out on a 4-0 run as Ilzhoefer had some fortune as he got a loose ball directly under the basket and made the put back and Vaughn made a step back jumper. Giessen then displayed some offensive power going on a 5-0 run as Wells connected on a catch and pop trey from Bowlin and Evans made a put back off his own miss as Giessen trailed only 37-33. Then came a down time on the offensive end of Frankfurt as they missed five consecutive possessions with three from Vaughn and two from Shields, but Giessen couldn´t get more than two Wells free throws to cut the Frankfurt lead to 37-35. Then out of the blue as if nothing had gone wrong previously, Frankfurt escaped out on a 11-2 run to go into halftime with the 48-37 lead. Suddenly Frankfurt could score again as they got most of the production from Shields with seven points as he hit a three, made a turn around shot on transition and lay in. Shields just owned every area he was in making the game look so easy with his execution skills. Robertson also hit a jumper and English converted on a 20 footer. “We played very good defense in that stretch playing good team defense and shutting down their best player”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard AJ English. “We had breakdowns on defense and didn´t score in a while on offense. We didn´t do a good job in our half court defense and Frankfurt did a good job using the mismatches and taking advantage of their one on one play”, added Thomas Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 26% from the parking lot while the Giessen 46ers were shooting 29% from the field and 29% from the parking lot. Giessen had the slight edge on the boards 29-27, but had nine turnovers while Frankfurt had only four turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Giessen 46ers were in come back mode and were never totally out of the game as the Fraport Skyliners once again showed their problem of not being able to finish games strong. Frankfurt couldn´t execute on their first two possession while Giessen did on their first whipping the ball around the horn until finding ex Creighton (NCAA) guard Jahenns Manigat who drained the three at the shot clock buzzer as Giessen trailed 48-41. New Skyliner Shawn Huff who is known more as a defensive specialist but has been known to turn it up on the offensive end nailed a trey and jumper to keep Frankfurt ahead 54-45 despite a Scrubb alley-oop tip in and free throws. Giessen continued to show why they have character and fought until the end exploding out on a 7-2 run to cut the Frankfurt advantage to 56-52. In the run, Giessen got big heads up play on both ends of the court as defensive pest ex Trier guard Joshiko Saibou stole the ball at center court and went for the easy lay in while Wells continued to show why he should be a front runner for most improved as he is having a great season upping his scoring average from 8 to 14 as he found Evans back door and then made a tough full throttle penetration to the hole somehow scoring in traffic which remined one of Dashaun Wood back in the day when he could score out of nothing for Frankfurt. Frankfurt was in another faze where their offense was stagnant and seemingly lacking focus as they just couldn´t put a lid on the game. “That is just basketball. In the NBA if every team would execute on every play there would be something like 200,000 points. Defenses are always making adjustments, but at the end of the day all that matters is if you get the win”, warned AJ English. Frankfurt then got a clutch three from English to extend the Frankfurt lead to 59-52 only to see them get into bad offensive habits and one turnover which led to a Evans offensive rebound and put back and Wells trey shredding the Frankfurt lead down again to 59-57. Vaughn and Evans then traded buckets, but Frankfurt led 61-59. After a Vaughn Miss, Giessen had all the time in the world, but got too excited and coughed up the ball with 33 seconds remaining. Then as if a second Tuebingen was calling, but not quite as spectacular this time, it was English time again as his buzzer beater was only nine days old, but surely in the back of his mind. This time English had more time then in Tuebingen and one could sense right at the start of the Frankfurt set offense that with English having the ball and the clock winding down that he would be involved in any heroics happening. English had that killer instinct in his eyes as a certain Jordan Theodore had all last season and took on Justin Sears and finished with a nifty finger tip roll in as Frankfurt had the more comfortable lead at 63-59 with 17,7 seconds remaining. “I wouldn´t say I had the magic hands, but just thankful that the ball went in. I felt as if I had to get the ball up over Justin Sears as he is a good shot blocker and a guy I played against recently at the Portsmouth Invitational. My confidence for this shot didn´t come from my Tuebingen buzzer beater, but from the time I put in in the gym and trust I get from coach Herbert”, stated AJ English. Robertson made a free throw and Evans closed out the game with a lay in as time expired. “You never know how the calls will go, but we executed, stayed tough, fought, got rebounds and played Frankfurt defense”, added AJ English. “A few possessions determined the game. We were down by two points and couldn´t execute on offense”, added Thomas Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Shavon Shields with 15 points while AJ English added 14 points and Shawn Huff added 13 points. The Giessen 46ers were led by Cameron Wells with 19 points and Dwayne Evans added 15 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 42% from the field and 29% from outside while the Giessen 46ers shot 35% from the field and 33% from outside Giessen Won the rebound duel 42-34, but had 12 turnovers while Frankfurt had only eight turnovers.