One of the great thrills of any basketball season is the home opener and with the Fraport Skyliners it´s no different as fans had to wait a long five months after the last game of last season where Frankfurt closed out the season in flying colors beating 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin 83-71 making missing the playoffs a little less annoying. The biggest change off the court was getting that much needed tip that there would be 450 less parking spaces on Hundsruck street as they were no longer available for patrons to use, so making your way to the arena an hour earlier was your best bet to not already having a bad mood before even having entered the arena. Once in the arena one was greeted by the arena employees with a warm hello, one saw many familiar faces from the last season as well as a few new ones and the smell of the usual German delectable foods like hot dogs, pretzels and donuts made the whole basketball experience come back to life that had been so dearly missed during the dogs days of summer. On the court a Voigtmann and Barthel were still very much missed, but then again other players from last season like a Vaughn or Starks not so much, but an AJ English on the other hand was missed. A Quantez Robertson was still around entering his ninth professional season and as ex Skyliner Justin Gray recently stated with a smile a real Skyliner lifer and for him to ever switch jerseys would be as untypical as a Ricky Paulding to ever move to another venue away from Oldenburg. A Mike Morrison was still present with his high energy play and crashing dunks always looming on the horizon as well as defensive specialist Shawn Huff who had a few stories to tell from his 2017 European championships run with Finland. The next young generation of name that next Voigtmann and Barthel candidates of Isaac Bonga who scorched Science City Jena with 10 points on Friday and new Skyliner Richard Freudenberg were ready to battle while four year man Niklas Kiel was missing with a concussion. New on the floor were new point guard Tai Webster who quickly let everyone forget Kwame Vaughn from last season´ as the ex Nebraska(NCAA) point guard who from a distance could pass for ex Skyliner Shavon Shields brother had a great professional debut in Jena with 15 points and seven assists and Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann who has the most professional experience from any German this season on the club and will finally make his real BBL breakthrough. But the biggest jewel on the court was Canadian Philip Scrubb who won 7 titles with Carleton and for many has been seen as the greatest Canadian college player of all-time is also known as Mr Canada and this season could become Mr EasyCredit BBL as he is on the verge of having his break out season as a professional. 3.00 finally came around and the Fraport Skyliners were looking to continue their win streak after their solid 82-70 win in Jena while 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen were looking to make amends from their 93-85 loss to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, but couldn´t as even despite knocking down 14 three´s Frankfurt almost matched that, but just destroyed them inside and wore them down in the fourth quarter winning 88-80. After the victory, it seemed like Philip Scrubb was more pooped from all the single photo requests from fans, but also from the obligatory group photos of Skyliner corporate supporters than he was from his 33 minute 25 point effort, but when all calmed down, he was just thankful to be back home in the Fraport arena after missing a whole season due to injury. “I missed the atmosphere and the crowd the most. It had been a long time since I had played here. I remember the home games well here. It was great getting the energy from the fans and my teammates. I quickly felt comfortable hitting three´s again. As for our game, we gave them confidence hitting easy open shots in the first half. Once we played better defense, they hit tough shots keeping their confidence high. We did a good job battling back and played very good defense in the fourth quarter. We did a better job helping each other out and playing team defense and not leaving guys in one on one situations”, stressed Philip Scrubb. BG Goettingen played a spirited game, but just were unable to find a way to limit Frankfurt´s buckets inside which really took a toll on their team. “Frankfurt wore us down. They played hard all game long and made the big plays down the stretch and we didn´t. We will have to deal with our inside game on the defensive end and find ways to get rebounds”, warned BG Goettingen Guard Michael Stockton.
With no Jordan Theodore on board since two seasons and Philip Scrubb back from a long injury, some people have speculated if the Canadian sensation not only will be able to replace the current Milan point guard who still has aspirations of making the NBA, but if he can also become a EasyCredit BBL superstar this season. After two games, the first signs are pointing in this direction as he is averaging 23,0ppg and his three pointer has been hotter than hot as in his first two games against Science City Jena and BG Goettingen he is shooting an overwhelming 10-16 and as ex Skyliner Jacob Burtschi would say “ hitting the ocean”. On a club that is lacking that sure-fire scorer as well as clutch time performer, Scrubb finds himself in a role that he once had at Carleton and something he exceled at in the CIS in Canada and now should be able to master in the EasyCredit BBL. Two seasons ago, he showed his scoring qualities, but also displayed a knack for amazing playmaking skills, but this season there is less scoring power and his making points on a regular basis is more than needed. After the contest his teammate Quantez Robertson who has had the limelight in Frankfurt for years now is more than comfortable to share it with him. “Phil has had two strong outings shooting the ball very well and making his free throws. He is pushing superstar status”, smiled ex Auburn guard Quantez Robertson. Even if his three pointer might stand out a lot more than two years ago, Mr Canada Scrubb still has the complete game and is capable of getting ample assists, rebounds and steals on any night. Mike Morrison may disagree about what was the play of the game as he has an ESPN moment every night with his thunderous dunks, but at the start of the fourth quarter, Scrubb made like Larry Bird making an amazing play. Scrubb already has that Bird like three pointer accuracy, but he also has those passing instincts. Early in the fourth quarter, a loose ball was heading out of bounds on the baseline in the Frankfurt end and he saved the ball throwing it over his head finding Finish national player Shawn Huff as if he had had eyes in the back of his head. Bird made passes like these on many occasions liking to find his big men Robert Parish or Keven Mchale in the 80´s. Scrubb was flattered by the Bird comparison and was just happy he found Huff somehow. “On that play I didn´t want to throw the ball toward the basket. I didn´t know who was there, but just threw it up and was lucky that Huff was there. These kind of passes aren´t my style. I rather like to keep it simple. You never know when you have to throw one of those passes, but who knows maybe you will see one or two of those again this season”, smiled Philip Scrubb. Shawn Huff smiled when asked about the Bird like pass from Scrubb. “Maybe that was like Bird, but we actually practice those kind of situations with a guy getting the ball and other guys running in that direction. You can never give up in that type of situation”, added Shawn Huff. Quantez Robertson added his humor and saw all Bird on that play. “It was a Birdesque pass. Maybe He heard Huff say something so he found him so easily. But he knows how to make those kind of passes and shows it in practices and games”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
at 0.13 seconds is the classic Larry Bird pass over the head. Philip Scrubb did the same kind of pass saving a pass out of bounds and finding Shawn Huff to start the fast break in the fourth quarter against BG Goettingen
BG Goettingen got on the board first as Frankfurt denied the pick and roll and Dominic Lockhart had the open 15 footer draining it. The Fraport Skyliners retaliated quickly and threw a nasty 6-0 run at their opponent to take the 6-2 lead. Three different Skyliners scored with Robertson, Wohlfart-Bottermann and Tai Webster as the club showed early that they would try to take advantage of the BG Goettingen inside woes. However that basketball is a game of runs is proved every new game as from Frankfurt´s short term momentum quickly fell and BG Goettingen cruised out on a 8-0 run to lead 10-6. In the run, the club got a three from ex Utah (NCAA) forward Jordan Loveridge, a lay in from Stockton and a trey from ex Michigan(NCAA) forward Evan Smotrycz. Frankfurt would gain the lead back on a Huff three as both teams displayed solid offense as their shots were popping. BG Goettingen retained the lead as their shots continued to fly as Smotrycz nailed another trey and Stockton again got inside and scored over Huff for the 15-11 advantage. Frankfurt was active on the glass in the closing minutes as Florida native Mike Morrison scored a tap in on an alley-op and made an offensive rebound and turn around shot, but Frankfurt was unable to gain any ground as BG Goettingen got vital bench support from ex Jena forward Stephen Haukohl who drained a trey and then scored inside as BG Goettingen had the slim 20-19 lead after one quarter. “Both teams got into an offensive rhythm quickly. Both teams didn´t defend bad, but their offenses were just better. It was fun watching Tai Webster. He is real solid. He doesn´t have the level of a Scrubb yet, but he will get there”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Tobias Jahn. BG Goettingen was shooting 50% from the field and 44% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 33% from outside. Frankfurt had the overwhelming 11-4 rebound edge, but five turnovers while BG Goettingen had three turnovers.
The second quarter remained a real dog fight as no team could break away until the Fraport Skyliners gradually did in the last few minutes. BG Goettingen jumped all over Frankfurt quickly going on a 5-0 run as ex Nancy scorer Brion Rush scored on a lay in and Smotrycz hit his third trey of the game extending the BG Goettingen lead to 25-19. The Fraport Skyliners went on a 6-2 run benefited by the Mike Morrison four point play as he made one of two free throws got his rebound scored and then was rewarded another free throw which he dropped and Robertson scored on an easy lay up cutting the BG Goettingen lead to 27-25. Despite a clutch three from 22 year old German talent Joanic Gruttner, Frankfurt was in charge and threatening again as they strolled out on a 7-0 run to get back the lead at 32-30. In the run, Frankfurt was fortified by a Richard Freudenberg lay in, Scrubb three which only happened because Frankfurt got a loose ball and a hard dunk by Wohlfarth-Bottermann dunk from the wing after Robertson dished him the ball. Scrubb finally had made his first field goal and Frankfurt had dominated in the paint overpowering the smaller BG Goettingen team. Gruttner continued to have the range from outside connecting on one more trey giving BG Goettingen the 33-32 advantage, but after a Scrubb three pointer giving Frankfurt the 35-33 lead, they would never get the lead back again until briefly in the fourth quarter. Frankfurt couldn´t totally break away, because Rush was inserted again scoring eight points including back to back three´s as Frankfurt led only 46-43 as Frankfurt got big trey´s from Huff and German Garai Zeeb. In the last minute Morrison scored inside while Scrubb made a big steal and on Frankfurt´s last possession hit a step back buzzer beater giving Frankfurt the 52-45 lead at the break. “Frankfurt did a better job getting their bigs Morrison and Wohlfarth-Bottermann involved something they didn´t do as well in the first quarter. Scrubb was forcing a little too much in the first quarter and doing things he usually doesn´t do, but in the second quarter he stuck to what he does best and had success with his three pointer. Scrubb was Frankfurt´s x-factor”, stressed ex Ehingen center Tobias Jahn.The Fraport Skyliners were shooting an amazing 63% from the field and 60% from the three point line while BG Goettingen was shooting 52% from the field and 50% from the three point line. Frankfurt still dominated the boards 20-9, but had 10 turnovers while BG Goettingen had six turnovers.
The third quarter was a tale of two quarters as the first half belonged to the Fraport Skyliners and the second half belonged to BG Goettingen. BG Goettingen had the better start out of halftime going on a 6-2 run as they stuck to their biggest strength on that day shooting strolling home two three´s from Rush and ex BG Karlsruhe guard Stockton while Morrison made another easy lay up as BG Goettingen crept closer trailing only 54-51. However the Fraport Skyliners then made their move breaking out on a vicious 11-3 run to extend their lead to 62-54. The run was started by a Huff lay in as he clawed and huffed to the basket scoring in traffic and then Frankfurt drilled home three trey´s as Isaac Bonga connected twice showing that working on his shot has paid dividends as he is 4/5 from downtown in the first two games and was fed each time by Scrubb and the Canadian also nailed a trey. However BG Goettingen never let down, but figured that two can play that game going on their own 12-1 run to suddenly be right back in the game deadlocking the game at 66-66. They got huge trey´s from Loveridge and Dutch national player Leon Williams as well as another Stockton lay in as he finished with his left hand and free throws. Frankfurt held the slim 71-70 lead after 30 minutes thanks to a Wohlfarth-Bottermann lay in and free throws from Bonga and Robertson. “There were ups and downs. BG Goettingen is that type of team that doesn´t run many plays, but just take quick shots which raises their confidence. We let them get on too big runs”, stressed Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 58% from the field and 64% from the parking lot while BG Goettingen was shooting 52% from the field and 52% from the parking lot. Frankfurt still had the huge rebound advantage 17-15, but had 13 turnovers while BG Goettingen only mustered nine turnovers.
In the fourth quarter Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert did something that he doesn´t do often and that is keeping work horse Quantez Robertson on the bench. Robertson is a guy who sometimes plays 40 minutes a game and usually is somewhere between 35-38 minutes per game, but he was missing in action in the first seven minutes as Frankfurt played small and three guards with Webster, Bonga and Scrubb and it worked as they went on a 10-0 run to lead 81-72 and would never look back. ”The guys were playing good, so coach didn´t feel a need to put me in and break up the chemistry. They were making easy baskets and playing good defense. It is usually when things get sloppy that coach puts me in to keep things under control”, smiled Quantez Robertson. BG Goettingen did get the first points on the board in the fourth quarter has Loveridge made a two hand dunk as Stockton fed him the perfect pass but their 72-71 lead was short lived as Frankfurt went to work unleashing 10 unanswered points. Scrubb dropped back to back three pointers and Bonga made a tap in and Huff a tap in dunk. On the defensive side Frankfurt forced BG Goettingen to only getting tough shots and not making them as they once did in the first half. BG Goettingen made one last comeback attempt going on a 6-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 81-78. In the BG Goettingen run it was the Loveridge show as he scored all six points with a lay in,free throw and a step back shot clock buzzer beater. However Frankfurt kept their composure closing out the game with a 7-2 run as Morrison put some sweet icing on the cake with a runner and a thunderous two handed dunk that one could of felt outside the Fraport arena. Scrubb hit three free throws for good measure as BG Goettingen was unable to stand the atmosphere and Frankfurt heat going to 0-2. “During that early stretch without Tez we had good guard versatility. We used many mismatches in the post and finished with confidence. We knew then that if we got the ball in the post that there would be a good chance that we would score”, added Philip Scrubb. “Frankfurt just executed very well and made the big plays while we didn´t”, added Michael Stockton. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Philip Scrubb with 25 points. Mike Morrison added 17 points and eight rebounds. Isaac Bonga and Shawn Huff supplied 10 points apiece. BG Goettingen was led by Jordan Loveridge with 16 points. Michael Stockton produced 15 points and eight rebounds. Brion Rush produced 13 points and Evan Smotrycz 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 55% from the field and 61% from outside while BG Goettingen shot 46% from the field and 44% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound duel 37-24, but had 16 turnovers while BG Goettingen coughed up the ball 13 times.