One of the two hardest things for any ex Fraport Skyliner to do when he returns back to his old stomping ground is to not enter the first door on the right after coming through the glass door of the catacombs of the Fraport arena, but actually taking the third door and when entering the arena not taking that first left but actually taking the longer stroll to the bench on the right. Ex Fraport Skyliner Johannes Richer may have started his career with the Franken Hexer 2nd team (2.Regionalliga) in 2009 and played two seasons with the Brose Baskets Bamberg where he never made his break through, but it is fair to acknowledge that his most prosperous time as a professional came with the Fraport Skyliners from 2013-2016 where he played a total of 57 BBL games and 20 international club games and crowned his three seasons last spring winning the Fiba Europe Cup in Chalon, France. He also made his break through with Frankfurt in the 2014-2015 season where he helped clobber the Bakken Bears twice including his 15 point six rebound game in Frankfurt where he came off the bench for the injured Johannes Voigtmann and denied the Danish Bears honey on that night. The 205cm power forward/center was able to improve his minutes each season, but wasn´t able to make his full break through with Frankfurt and fled for the Telekom Baskets Bonn. However in Bonn, the big man continues to wait to get more trust from head coach Predrag Krunic as he is averaging only 2,5ppg and 1,3rpg. The only consolation prize that Richter is fighting for is a third consecutive trip to the playoffs something that the his ex team Skyliners are in jeopardy of reaching this season. Frankfurt entered the game having won two of their last three games, but digesting a tough OT loss in Bremerhaven while the Telekom Baskets Bonn had lost two of their last three games, but had beaten playoff candidate Ludwigsburg 90-86 last weekend. The Fraport Skyliners controlled the game, but an unfortunate turn of events at the start of the fourth quarter where Quantez Robertson was hit harder with fouls three,four and five then it is when Tom Brady gets sacked in the red zone which propelled Bonn to come back and squeeze out an exciting 74-73 win. After the win ex Skyliner Johannes Richter was beaming about returning back to Frankfurt and reflected on his lightening 4-0 run that he hit Frankfurt with. “I felt comfortable playing here today. It has been an up and down year for me. I always try to give as much energy as possible and help my team. I have to take the positives with my season. I think I have developed my game as with Bonn they focus more on defending the shot from the four whereas in Frankfurt it was more of defending the inside”, stressed Johannes Richter. Telekom Baskets Bonn head coach Predrag Krunic was thrilled after the victory and after hearing a positive homage to the great play of Johannes Richter and that he should get more minutes, the Serb coach was only able to blurt out “I am lucky that he is with us”, smiled Predrag Krunic.
The story of the game wasn´t only the early fourth quarter exit of Fraport Skyliner captain Quantez Robertson, but the hot scoring of Bonn point guard Josh Mayo who may be in his seventh season, but continues to play as if he has a gigantic chip on his shoulder and still needs to prove his worth despite having been a ruthless scorer wherever he has played if it was Latvia, France, Italy or Turkey.
Mayo who hails from Merrillville, Indiana and was already a deadly scorer at Illinois-Chicago (NCAA) hurt Frankfurt in so many phases in the ball game with his powerful stroke from outside as he connected on five trey´s. He also overwhelmed his opponent with his quick foot work and fast penetration to the hoop including a beautiful and masterful fingertip role that could have been the legendary Nate “Tiny” Archibald from 45 years ago when he averaged 34,0ppg with the Kansas City Kings. Josh Mayo may be tiny, but isn´t Archibald, but he sure played like him. “I don´t know much about Tiny Archibald, because it was before my time, but I have heard he was a great player. It is an honor for me to be mentioned with him”, smiled Josh Mayo. It wasn´t a beautiful game, but the American was pleased that his team and he escaped Frankfurt with a win. “It was an ugly game. But we grinded it out and held Frankfurt to 73 points. We defended very well and made up for our slow offense”, added Josh Mayo. It was a very unsatisfying end result for the Fraport Skyliners who controlled the game for the most part of the game, but allowed the Telekom Baskets to get back into the game in the fourth taking advantage of the fifth foul of Robertson. “It was a tough loss, but that’s basketball. It came to one possession and it could have gone either way. They made some big plays especially Julian Gamble who is a beast. It was a great game and I wish that it would have gone our way”, added ex Iona(NCAA) guard AJ English.
4,880 fans came out on a gorgeous warm early spring afternoon in the third to last home game of the season and witnessed the absence of Skyliner point guard Kwame Vaughn who won´t return this season on account of an injury and the Telekom Basket Bonn were without Ryan Thompson and Konstantin Klein . Both teams got their offenses going quickly as Frankfurt converted the pick and roll perfectly from Tez to Florida native Mike Morrison for two points and Niklas Kiel made a massive two handed stuff barreling to the bucket like a mini Dwight Howard while Bonn kept pace getting buckets from ex Giessen Cuban Yorman Polas from the free throw line and a lay in from ex Miami, FL (NCAA) forward Julian Gamble to tie the game at 4-4. The Fraport Skyliners then stepped up their defense not giving up anything easy and making Bonn work extra hard for each shot and went on a 8-2 run to take the 12-6 lead. In the run, Frankfurt spread the ball around well getting a trey from ex Nebraska(NCAA) forward Shavon Shields, a lay in by Robertson and a heads up tip in by AJ English who helped out on the offensive glass. In the NBBL, Isaac Bonga´s teammates find him when in desperation to get a bucket while with Bonn, Josh Mayo is the guy when there are tough times as he erupted for a quick 5-0 run nailing a three and making a runner to cut the Frankfurt lead to 12-11. However Frankfurt would start a trend now that would carry over until the end in that whenever Bonn crept dangerously closer, they would find a way to get away again and did going on a 8-2 run to close out the first quarter leading 20-12. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners were fortified by an English runner, a clutch trey form German Max Merz and an off balance shot by Finish forward Shawn Huff. “Frankfurt defended very well against us giving us nothing easy and hit their shots. We could hurt them a bit on transition”, stated ex Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Klein. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 44% from the field and 29% from outside while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 25% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt had the 11-9 rebound edge and one turnover while Bonn had four turnovers.
Both teams were unable to convert on their first two possessions in the second quarter until English scored Frankfurt´s first points upping their lead to 22-12. The Telekom Baskets Bonn that got a few stops on defense and executed well on offense going on a 7-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 22-19. In the run, Bonn got big support from ex Skyliner Johannes Richter who scored in the paint after Mayo served the dime and made a fast break basket proving he can run the floor well for a big man and Mayo was Tiny Clutch again dropping a trey on transition. Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert then took a time out and it sparked Frankfurt to go on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 29-19. In the run, Frankfurt took advantage of consecutive TJ DiLeo turnovers and got buckets from Shields and Kiel in the paint and free throws from English. Frankfurt continued to keep their healthy comfortable lead getting timely three´s from Huff and English to lead 36-26. Mayo closed out the second quarter with a fade away shot as Bonn Trailed 36-28. “We had a small run, but couldn´t stop their runs. We looked a bit too calm and didn´t have the right body language”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Konstantin Klein. Wandering around next to the Bonn bench at halftime was a young man who looked like TJ DiLeo´s brother and in fact was as Max DiLeo who is playing with Gotha in the Pro A was watching the game with his dad Tony who once was the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. “It was a very physical game. Frankfurt was doing a good job clogging the lane. Nobody was hitting shots for Bonn except Josh Mayo. I was happy that TJ got the start against Nanterre last week and he performed well”, said Tony Di Leo. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 25% from the three point line while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 42% from the field and 40% from the three point line. Bonn had the 17-15 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had five turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners continued to control the game, but allowed the Telekom Baskets Bonn to hang around. Shields started off the third quarter with a trey which was followed by a Gamble lay in and too that point had been the best opportunity for Bonn where a player had a clear route to the rim and didn´t face a wall as Mayo supplied the pass. Frankfurt combined a nice mix of inside out basketball hitting their open shots as English scored and Shields made a two handed dunk on transition as Frankfurt led 46-33. However Bonn continued to hang around and had their ups and downs on defense, but then hit Frankfurt with a vicious 8-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 46-41. The Telekom Baskets Bonn found more room in the paint now getting big buckets inside as Polas made a reverse lay up, ex UAB (NCAA )guard Jamarr Sanders made a runner and Gamble made a tip in off a Polas miss. After an English trey, it was Mayo again who gave scoring in bunches a new name as he drilled home another three bomb and then showed his cross over moves hitting another trey as Bonn trailed only 49-47. However the Fraport Skyliners stayed ahead getting another clutch three from English, as well as Huff free throws and a runner in traffic at the buzzer as the Fraport Skyliners led 56-51 after three quarters. “We slowed our offense down and executed better. We were able to slow down their transition a bit. They hit tough shots and we hit our open looks”, stressed Quantez Robertson. “Frankfurt played hard defense for 40 minutes and kept the lead. We sent them to the line too much”, added ex Temple(NCAA) guard TJ DiLeo. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 32% from the parking lot while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 53% from the field and 50% from the parking lot. Bonn had the 25-19 rebound edge, but had 16 turnovers while Frankfurt had seven turnovers.
Often in tight games, the heroics and climax happen at the end, but in this game, an early indication to where the game would go happened early in the fourth quarter. After German Florian Koch had dropped a trey to start the last 10 minutes, Quantez Robertson nailed a line drive three with a second remaining on the shot clock as Frankfurt kept the 59-54 lead and looked in control with an in charge Quantez Robertson leading the charge on offense and defense. However the momentum of the game changed quickly as Robertson was hit hard with his third, fourth and fifth fouls in seemingly a matter of seconds. He got his third and then a fourth after fouling Polas and then let his emotions take control as he muttered words to himself while going back to the bench to take a breather, but instead could take a permanent seat as he was hit with a technical and fifth foul. “I might have had two fouls like that but never three in my career. I was yelling, but not at the ref, but at myself”, stressed Quantez Robertson. Of course the Telekom Baskets Bonn took advantage of the technical as Josh Mayo dropped all three shots and then got a Ganble lay in and lay in from Mayo who displayed his Nate “Tiny” Archibald moves as he got to the hole like a 100 meter sprinter and finished in Tiny Archibald manner stretching and laying the ball in with the finger tip roll as Bonn had the lead back for the first time since 5-4 leading 61-59.
The last four minutes proved to be very exciting as there would be 9 lead changes. Shields gave Frankfurt the lead with free throws 62-61 only to see it erased after Polas free throws and the 63-62 Bonn advantage. Bonn would extend their lead to 66-62 with a strong Polas back door lay in as Mayo made the bullet pass. Frankfurt never gave up and recaptured the lead back at 67-66 as Merz hit another clutch trey for the 67-66 Frankfurt lead.
Gamble and Huff then traded leads again only for Mayo to get Bonn the lead at 71-69 as he hit another trey. English and Morrison would give Frankfurt the lead back twice as Frankfurt led 73-72. With less than a minute to go, Gamble was in total beast mode getting an offensive rebound and put back. Frankfurt had one last chance, but Huff was unable to convert on an open look from the corner as the Telekom Baskets Bonn prevailed 74-73. “That Tez technical was very unfortunate for them since he is their leader. It sparked us and helped Mayo continue to play well”, said TJ DiLeo.
“I thought Huff´s shot was going in. I not only live and die with him shooting in that situation, but also with any other guy on our team. It was a good look by Huff and good play by Merz, but I have to admit that I would have loved to have had that chance to shoot”, stressed AJ English. “It was a one possession game and anything could happen. It was tough losing like that, but we played together and with heart. We just couldn´t execute better”, added ex Ludwigsburg player Shawn Huff. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Josh Mayo with 24 points. Julian Gamble supplied 20 points and 10 boards while Yorman Polas contributed 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by AJ English with 20 points. Shavon Shields had 19 points and Shawn huff added 11 points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 50% from the field and 44% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 40% from the field and 33% from outside. Bonn won the rebound duel 36-28, but had 17 turnovers while Frankfurt coughed up the ball 10 times.