So it´s been only two games, but things sometimes never change and for EN Baskets Schwelm versatile guard Chris Hortman he could be singing the same song he did last season when he exploded game after game and so far has continued to be a menace in the higher league Pro B. Last season the Cinderella career of the Milwaukee native continued after having to prove himself in three lower college level´s Juco, NAIA and NCAA 3, the 29 year old 191cm point guard who compares his game as a mix between a Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker who had only one brief gig in Australia as a professional in the last three years just dominated the Regionaliga like no other averaging (25.0ppg), 9.7rpg, 5.1apg, 2.9spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 76.9%. He scored in double figures in all 26 games, scoring 20 points or more 16 times, thirty points or more 10 times and totally blasted off against Frintop with 45 points and also registered a triple double against Herten with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists displaying his knack for not always having to go off on teams like a Steph Curry, but can also be that playmaker like Chris Paul. Often those players that were left off the radar and had to prove themselves in the Regionaliga have been able to make the jump the way a Ricky Easterling did with Saarlouis and BG Karlsruhe in the Pro B and with Horton it has been no different in the Pro B. After two games, he has exploded again and is a one man wrecking crew and putting up mind boggling stats leading his club in scoring with 24,5ppg, rebounding with 11,5rpg, assists with 6,5 and three point shooting at 54,5%. On a talented EN Baskets team that has many international veterans, he has meshed in perfectly and also been that special anchor on defense as he has helped lead the team to giving up only 63 points per game in the first two games against new Bavarian Pro B team Coburg and new Pro B team Kit Karlsruhe. Hortman brought his perfect 2-0 EN Baskets Schwelm to Frankfurt for a nontypical 3.00pm afternoon matinee and had less veterans to contend with except Tobias Jahn, but more German talents like Garai Zeeb, Konstantin Schubert, Armin Trtovac and Cosmo Gruehn who wanted to put a dent into his perfect season. However the American from Milwaukee, Wisconsin remained perfect and didn´t need to put on a serious scoring show as he had enough support from his teammates taming the Fraport Skyliners Juniors 76-63. “We had our ups and downs and key was sticking together and getting the 50/50 balls. We let our offense take over which led to easy offense. We communicated very well on the defensive end and helped one another”, stressed Chris Hortman. The American who had a stellar rookie season at Ibbenburen finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds and had an off night shooting only 5/13 from the field and 4/8( from the free throw line. The American knows that making the jump from the Regionalliga to Pro B is a process. He also showed that he doesn´t have to score right away, but tried to get his teammates going before he started taking shots. “The speed at the Pro B level is a lot faster, but I feel that I am keeping up well. The most important thing for me is always being focused and getting the win. My game comes from the feel of the game. If the team needs me to score then I bring it, but that wasn´t the case at the start and I focused on rebounding and being aggressive on defense”, stressed Chris Hortmann. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continue to struggle and were once again unable to put together a solid team effort for 40 minutes as they struggled shooting, rebounding and closing the lane. After the loss, German Tobias Jahn struggled to find the right words for the loss. “We hit nothing and didn´t get the job done on defense. Experience was a factor as it seems they average 30 years of age and we 20 minus me. They played with more intensity and we didn´t play Frankfurt basketball”, stressed ex Ehingen center Tobias Jahn.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were without Isaac Bonga who was questionable for the game and being rested for the BBL game in Ludwigsburg on Sunday while Richard Freudenberg was sick. Hortman was disappointed that he couldn´t battle Bonga who is a projected 2018 NBA draft pick. “I have heard of Bonga´s notoriety and I would have liked to measure up to him. But it was all about the team and I was focused on winning. It would have been the same if Kobe would have been on the floor”, stressed Chris Hortmann. Both teams didn´t need much time to find their rhythm as both teams got going quickly as 30 year old 206cm forward Dario Fiorentino who has played with teams like Herten and Essen showed his precise inside out play scoring inside and hitting a trey while Frankfurt countered with an old school hook shot by German Armin Trtovac and three pointer from rookie Alex Fountain who played at Houston Baptist (NCAA) and was making his home debut. However with the score dead locked at 5-5, Frankfurt showed first signs of defensive lapses allowing the EN Baskets Schwelm to go on a 7-0 run as they were sharing the ball as three guys scored with Hortman draining his first three, 29 year old Lithuanian Andrius Mikutis who played at John Brown(NAIA) from 2007-2011 hit a pretty turn around shot and ex Iserlohn small forward Thomas Reuter scored on the fast break as Frankfurt trailed 12-5. However basketball is a game of runs and that was once again proved as now it was Frankfurt´s time to shine as they escaped out on a 9-2run to tie the game at 14-14. Alex Fountain was extremely vital in this phase as he scored twice demonstrating that he may not be that total Travis Thompson replacement in terms of ruthless sniper qualities, but he will be a very important scoring threat as he can really shoot the ball. Trtovac scored again showing that the hook shot has slowly become his bread and butter and third year man Konstantin Schubert hit a jumper. Frankfurt couldn´t keep that offensive consistency as they allowed the EN Baskets Schwelm to break away again on a 6-0 run to trail 20-14. In the run, Reuter nailed a beautiful fade away jumper while 33 year old Croatian Alexsandar Cuic who played at Oregon State scored on a lay in getting a nice pass from 207cm big man Sebastian Schroeter and then connected on free throws. Reuter then dropped a three, while Frankfurt got some production from the bench from second year man Cosmo Gruehn getting a bucket inside. Hortman put some added salt in the Frankfurt comeback wound hitting an amazing off balance lay in at the buzzer as the EN Baskets Schwelm led 25-19 after 10 minutes. “Frankfurt had intelligent ball movement and we didn´t bring the intensity on defense yet and that is why we couldn´t break away sooner. Hortmann didn´t have to show his scoring and did what was important for the team. In some games he doesn´t even score in the first 10 minutes, but has great stats at the end of the game”, stressed EN Baskets Schwelm manager Omar Rahim. The EN Baskets Schwelm were shooting 67% from the field and 50% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 44% from the field and 18% from outside. The EN Baskets Schwelm led the rebound duel 8-6 and had two turnovers while Frankfurt had one turnover.
The second quarter remained tight as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to battle back and even led for the first time in the game, but gave it back to Schwelm as they went into halftime with the lead. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors played their best basketball in the first four minutes of the second quarter exploding on a 11-4 run to take their first lead of the game 30-29. In the run, Frankfurt finally found a healthy groove in their offensive sets and did a lot of damage in the paint area playing the EN Baskets Schwelm game. Schubert scored twice, Fountain nailed a jumper and Gruehn finished inside. Garai Zeeb had been hit hard on the chin earlier in the game and was playing with a patch and chip on his shoulder nailed a three pointer to close out the run. Frankfurt was aided by Hortman being off the court and were their most aggressive in this phase in the paint and offensive boards. However Frankfurt just was unable to put it all together and stay consistent as the EN Baskets Schwelm crawled out of their funk ending the second quarter going on an annoying 10-4 run to lead 39-34 at the break. In the run, the guests got a lay in from Mikutis and a trey from Fiorentino. Frankfurt got buckets from Jahn on a turn around shot and a nifty finger tip roll lay in from Zeeb. “In the Frankfurt run, we didn´t play clean sets and had timing problems. After we missed a few shots, we got unsure and were in a rut. However we found back into the game which showed the quality of our team”, stressed EN Baskest Schwelm manager Omar Rahim. The EN Baskets Schwelm were shooting 45% from the field and 50% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 42% from the field and 19% from the three point line. The EN Baskets Schwelm had the slim 19-18 rebound edge and three turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
The EN Baskets Schwelm took over in the third quarter leading by as much as 15 points as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to struggle at both ends of the court. The EN Baskets Schwelm didn´t need much time to get going as they slapped the Fraport Skyliners Juniors in the face with a 10-3 run to extend their lead to 49-37. In the run, the EN Baskets Schwelm got vital support from Hortman with a step back jumper, Fiorentino trey and two buckets inside from Mikutis. The more aggressive defense from the EN Baskets Schwelm forced Frankfurt too numerous tough shots and turnovers which were key in the run of the guests. Sometimes a few three´s can change the dimension of a game as Fountain who was the only consistent offensive Skyliner on the afternoon hit a trey which was followed by a trey by Jamine Knothe to cut the EN Baskets Schwelm lead to 49-43. However the lack of Skyliner consistency continued to be that unneeded monkey on their back as their run didn´t faze the guests as they shot back with a devastating 9-0 run to extend their lead to double digits again at 58-43. The EN Baskets Schwelm continued to make chaos in the paint as after easy lay ins by Hortman and Cuic, it was 23 year old 188cm guard Jean-Louis Marley who played 66 Regionaliga games for Alba Berlin 2 got started making one difficult lay up after another making one seemingly in New York traffic and the next in Tokyo. But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn´t hide their faces in the sand, but continued with their comeback going on a 9-2 run to close out the third quarter getting back into the game trailing only 60-52. In the run, Frankfurt was aided by Zeeb getting aggressive in the lane scoring twice including one difficult lay in high off the glass where one could clearly see his fast first step, Trtovac hit a 20 footer and ex Kronberg NBBL star Felix Hecker hit a beautiful trey from the corner. “We played good team defense and didn´t let any of our guys hang out to dry. We were helping out on screens and just working together on the defensive end”, stressed Chris Hortman. “We came out of half-time wanting to minimize our defensive mistakes. We wanted to play well, but just couldn´t execute the way we wanted to in certain situations”, added Tobias Jahn. The EN Baskets Schwelm were shooting 47% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 44% from the field and 28% from the parking lot. The EN Baskets Schwelm led the rebound duel 29-24 and had seven turnovers while Frankfurt had eight turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the EN Baskets Schwelm wore down the Fraport Skyliners Juniors with solid inside out play and played good defense to preserve the win holding them to 11 points. Frankfurt and Knothe started off the fourth quarter with a 5-2 run nailing a trey and Fountain connected on a 20 footer to cut the EN Baskets Schwelm lead to 62-57. However the EN Baskets Schwelm then slammed the door shut on the Fraport Skyliners Juniors with a 8-0 run extending their lead to 70-57. In the run, Mikuto drilled home a three and Marley continued his lethal rampage inside scoring his fourth and fifth difficult lay ups of the second half. Hecker connected for his second three of the game cutting the guests lead to 70-60, but with time elapsing the EN Baskets Schwelm put an exclamation point on their third win of the season as Mikuto nailed another trey and Schroetter scored inside closing out the game. “Marley was key in the second half. He is our toughness. When we need tough things then we go to him. He is our bully Bob. He is our Ron Artest and put his stamp on the game”, warned Chris Hortmann. “Marley hit all tough shots. There will be days where that doesn´t happen. When you are scoring and they continue to score then it is hard to come back. We just weren´t able to put our stamp on our defense the way we should of. The only positive thing in this game was that we never gave up”, warned Tobias Jahn. The EN Baskets Schwelm were led by Andrius Mikutis with 20 points.Chris Hortman supplied 15 points and 14 boards and Jean-Louis Marley produced 12 points and Thomas Reuter 10 points. The Frapor Skyliners Juniors were led by Alex Fountain with 22 points. The EN Baskets Schwelm shot 46% from the field and 36% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 40% from the field and 26% from outside. The EN Baskets Schwelm won the rebound battle 42-30 and had 10 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors coughed up the ball 8 times.