In his short basketball career Rilwan Bakara has really gotten around the block as he was never comfortable playing at one school as he bounced around the States playing for schools like Columbus State Community College (NJCAA), Danville Area Community College (NJCAA), Campbellsville (NAIA) and Texas Wesleyan (NAIA) before turning professional two seasons ago. Now in his third professional season, the 26 year old 201cm forward that hails from Chicago is already playing with his fifth professional team with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. After playing his rookie season in Germany with TuS Breckerfeld (Germany-2.Regionalliga) where he played 18 games averaging 19.9ppg, and 10.5rpg where he was able to get a first feel for the European game, he moved to BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL) last season where he played 18 games averaging 11.2ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 57.8%, FT: 58.5% and demonstrated further that he was prepared for tasks in higher leagues. This season the big American has really been active as he started the season with Pernion Urheilijat Basket (Finland-1st Division playing 2 games averaging 20.0ppg, 11.0rpg, 1.0spg, in Oct.’16 moved to Union de Santa Fe (Argentina-TNA), where he played 17 games averaging 4.5ppg, 3.4rpg. Usually when you leave a misfortunate situation, you want to get back on the floor as quickly as possible and forget the last experience, but just doing that was a problem the last weeks as he wasn´t cleared to play for Frankfurt, so sitting around and watching the Frankfurt BBL team battle and new team Fraport Skyliners Juniors duel against opposing teams was a difficult matter for him to accept and adjust to, but last weekend he finally made his debut in Germany scoring four points and hauling down two rebounds in a bitter 80-74 loss at Weissenhorn. Bakare was ready to finally make his home debut, but had to match his skills with the top power forward in the Pro B and good buddy Aaron Nelson who was his teammate in high school in Illinois as both the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and Dragons Rhondorf were looking to rebound from loses and Frankfurt came away with the big 92-81 loss.
After the tough loss, Nelson was sitting on the floor looking as pooped as if Shaq had just run full speed around the court, but he still had a smile ready for his small daughter who had made the trip to watch big daddy play and was disappointed at the loss, but blessed that he could play against friend Rilwan Bakare. “It was fun playing against Rilwan. Who would have thought 7-8 years ago that we would both be playing in Germany one day. It has been a great experience for both of us in Germany. He has gotten stronger and I know his strength and weaknesses. Not only he made me tired today, but the whole Frankfurt team. Rilwan is a great player”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf forward Aaron Nelson. After making his home debut and winning, Bakare strolled over to a battered Nelson in front of the Dragons bench and the American looked a lot fresher than Nelson and was also blessed to finally play against his ex teammate. “I knew from day one when I arrived in Frankfurt where Aaron played and had marked this day on the calendar. When I was playing in Finland earlier this season, I always watched his games. I haven´t seen him play in 7-8 years, but he has gotten better, but is still the old Aaron Nelson in that he is still a dominant player. I like how Rhondorf gives him the freedom to shoot the ball”, stressed Chicago and Fraport Skyliners Junior Rilwan Bakare.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors entered the game coming off a tough loss in Weissenhorn where they had a huge lead at halftime, but threw away the game in the second half. This time the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got off to another quick and potent start like in Weissenhorn, but this time they were able to play a complete game. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were sparked by the hot shooting by Alaska native Travis Thompson who drilled home six trey´s in the first half paving the way for his team. “We executed well tonight. We played with a lot of confidence tonight. In Weissenhorn we gave up in the second half and the difference tonight was that we were disciplined and kept our composure in the second half helping us get the win”, added Fraport Skyliners Junior Rilwan Bakare. The Dragons Rhondorf were also coming off a tough loss in the Pro B against PS Karlsruhe where they shot the ball well, but didn´t box out well enough and were unable to combat the aggressiveness on the boards of the opponents who scraped 19 offensive rebounds off the glass. Against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors , they let a big start hurt their game plan as well as they weren´t able to come to terms with the deep bench of Frankfurt. “We dug a hole early and Frankfurt came out more aggressive. We seemed to be a step slower all night long and Travis Thompson really lit us up. We had to expand more energy as the night went on and just couldn´t come back”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf forward Aaron Nelson. Rilwan Bakare finished with seven points and three rebounds in 16 minutes and knows that he is still far away from his A game. “I missed some shots, but I have confidence. I still need to be integrated, but we have a good team where I can grow well. My role is to rebound and score when I can. We have shooters on the team and I won´t get the ball 90% of the time like Nelson does, but I just want do the best I can to help the team to win”, stressed Rilwan Bakare.
In the first few minutes, both teams displayed their offensive strength as both executed early. Aaron Nelson got his team going scoring the Dragons first five points while Thompson drilled home two three´s putting a stamp on the parking lot for himself early. With the contest deadlocked at 8-8, Frankfurt went on a 10-2 run to get the 18-10 lead as they stepped up their defense forcing Rhondorf to two turnovers and Thompson also notched a steal. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got added valuable production from Thompson as he nailed two more three pointers and also got a trey from 20 year old Jamin Knothe and a free throw from Armin Trtovac. Frankfurt didn´t lose any concentration or register any flaws in their execution as they continued to shoot very well upping their lead to 27-15 as Rilwan Bakare got a bucket inside and hit a 15 footer while ex Freibrug forward German Cosmo Griehn also dropped a three pointer. Frankfurt continued to use their bench and get solid production from everyone as German wing Lenny Okeke scored inside as did ex Ludwigsburg guard Stefan ilzhoefer and Thompson closed out the first quarter with a memorable three pointer buzzer beater giving Frankfurt the very comfortable 34-20 lead. “Thompson took over the team with his shooting, but I felt that overall is was a very good team performance. Our bench played very well and our second five can bring it just like our first five. We bring a good mix and all play with 100% energy”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Mahir Agva. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 52% from the field and 50% from the field and the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 67% from the field and 57% from the field. Frankfurt had the 9-5 rebound edge and had two turnovers while Rhondorf had five turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to overpower the Dragons Rhondorf with their potent scoring and led by as much as 18 points having the 54-39 advantage at the break. The Dragons Rhondorf started off solid going on a 5-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 36-25 as Nelson executed on a hook shot and Bedford, New York native Will Trawick hit a three pointer, but Fraport Skyliners Juniors head coach Eric Detlev who was coaching against his ex team had the luxury of a hungry bench and guys that came on the floor to perform as young German Konstantin Schubert gave the team a vital spark nailing a floater and lay in to give Frankfurt the 38-25 lead. Trawick who played at Emory(NCAA3) with RheinStars forward Alex Foster continued to have his teams hot hand dropping a trey as Frankfurt led only 38-28. However the Fraport Skyliners then exploded on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 48-28 as Thompson continued to get open and hit two trey´s while 17 year old German wunderkind Isaac Bonga connected on a 20 footer and German forward Tim Oldenburg scored inside as Bonga fed him with the pretty no look pass. The Dragons Rhondorf were able to bounce back and go into half-time trailing only 54-39 as they went on a 11-6 run. In the run, Rhondorf was fortified by the Canadian sensation Mike Lucifer who scored on a hook shot, German Thomas Michel hit a pull up jumper and Wil Trawick made another three pointer. Frankfurt got another big trey from young German Cosmo Gruehn to keep Rhondorf at bay. “We hit shots against their zone and we did a good job with our ball movement getting good shots. Our defense was solid, but could have been better”, stressed ex Tuebingen center Mahir Agva. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 50% from the field and 50% from the three point line while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 58% from the field and 56% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 16-15 rebound edge and five turnovers while Rhondorf had 10 turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Dragons Rhondorf played better on defense, but so did the Fraport Skyliners Juniors not allowing their opponent any big runs and easy short cuts back into the contest. Ilzhoefer and Nelson traded buckets in the first minute, but then it was Thompson again not only shinning with his sharp shooting instincts, but helping the club in other ways as he showed his quickness sneaking inside for the lay in and then fed Tim Oldenburg for the two handed stuff as Frankfurt led 61-45. Rhondorf continued to look for ways to get back and even managed an important 8-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 63-53 as they got massive support from Wil Trawick who scored over 1000 points at Emory(NCAA3) hitting two clutch three pointers. However the Fraport Skyliners Juniors never really allowed Rhondorf to really cut into their lead as they continued to have answers on the offensive end as Oldenburg executed with a dunk again as Schubert made the nifty pass and Bonga nailed a 20 footer and Thompson once again hit a trey from the parking lot that he owned on that night. Ex Bayer Giants Leverkusen German Florian Wendeler and Ilzhoefer traded free throws to close out the third quarter, but Frankfurt still led 74-59. “In Weissenhorn they switched to zone and we missed shots and today when Rhondorf did we made shots. We stayed very disciplined against the zone and didn´t go wild. We executed well, set good screens and hit open shots”, added Rilwan Bakare. “We were a little more physical, but not enough. They continued to have a good rhythm and we played better defense, but they still hit shots. Thompson continued to keep team going and it continued to be hard to come back”, commented Aaron Nelson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 49% from the field and 48% from the parking lot while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 45% from the field and 39% from the parking lot. Both teams had 26 rebounds apiece and Frankfurt had eight turnovers and Rhondorf 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Dragons Rhondorf continued to show fight and heart and made one last run as Aaron Nelson showed his dominance cutting the Frankfurt lead down to five points as he scored 12 consecutive points, but their defense couldn´t contain Frankfurt at the end resulting in the loss. Dragons Rhondorf head coach Matthias Sonnenschein had the right words in the short break between periods as the club put a clamp on the Frankfurt offense stopping their first 6 possessions and Aaron Nelson got to work bringing his team back on a 12-0 run cutting the Frankfurt lead down to 74-68. In the run, Nelson did what he does best using his whole offensive arsenal as he dropped a trey, jumper, lay in and made a put back. “I tried to give us a boost. I fell down on a play and that was the moment where I knew that I could either go out hurt or take over. The team did a good job finding me and I took advantage of it”, stressed Aaron Nelson. After Bakare free throws, Nelson made a hook shot and free throw cutting the once 18 point Frankfurt lead down to 76-71. However Frankfurt didn´t let this giant comeback get in the way of their goals on the floor as a relatively quiet Isaac Bonga to that point in the scoring department ripped out the heart of the Dragons Rhondorf as he made two shots upping the Frankfurt advantage to 83-74. In the last few minutes, Bonga sealed the win getting to the free throw line three times keeping Rhondorf out of reach in any more last minute miraculous come-back attempts. “That Nelson run reminded me of 2009 when we were playing together when he was doing things like that. Even when he is way back in the game, Nelson always stays calm and composed. Our deep bench helped us seal the win. We have very good players and everybody does their job which is a big credit to our coach”, added Rilwan Bakare. “We fought well, but fatigue got to us. We came back from 18 points and cut it down to five points showing a lot of heart. Our biggest mistake was digging that hole early from which we couldn´t recover”, stressed Aaron Nelson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Travis Thompson with 32 points, five rebounds and five assists. Isaac Bonga contributed 15 points, six rebounds and six assists and Stefan ilzhoefer produced 13 points and seven boards. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Aaron Nelson with 33 points and nine rebounds. Will Trawick added 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 45% from the field and 43% from outside while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 45% from the field and 31<% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 38-35 and had 15 turnovers while Rhondorf coughed up the ball 17 times.