A week ago a new guard terror was born in Frankfurt that has a German/English flair as Garai Zeeb and Jules Akodo from England exploded for a combined 47 points sending the unbeaten Iserlohn team back home beaten for the first time this season. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors have been up and down this season and could easily have been 1-4 at this juncture had they not pulled out narrow three point wins in Coburg and Karlsruhe, but after the big win against Iserlohn one could sense as if some of the players were on cloud nine with the season really just having begun in the fifth game. Meanwhile not far from the Rhein river, the Dragons Rhondorf had come home torn and tattered from a brutal massacre at the hands of the ScanPlus baskets losing by a score of 103-72 as their defense totally collapsed after having only given up an average of 65 points in their first four games. Not only was the team not on the same page defensively, but had lost that usual aggressiveness on the boards losing the rebound battle with ease and coughed up the ball an uncharacteristic 24 times. The Dragons Rhondorf had been brought back down to earth with that tough loss in Elchingen as the team faced it´s first real hardship of the season and were looking to get back on the winning track in their own smug living room in the Dragon Dome while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors wanted to continue their win streak. Both teams have very solid big men, but it was the guard play that was in the focus in this game as the Dragons Rhondorf showcased their point guard ace Vikto Franl-Maus and scoring gem Kameron Taylor while the Fraport Skyliners juniors were totally shorthanded without Isaac Bonga, Garai Zeeb, Richard Freudenberg and Lenny Okeke who were in Munich for a BBL game and Tobias Jahn was out only had their lethal guard Jules Akodo who was hungry to continue their terror after tearing apart Iserlohn with ease. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were more than hungry, but famished for success as they controlled the game for 40 minutes and left their hearts out on the court only to be cruelly beat by a buzzer beater by Kameron Taylor 82-80. After the win, ex Seton Hill stand out Kameron Taylor was ecstatic about the win and it didn´t take him long to summarize his buzzer beater history. “I hit three or four buzzer beaters as a senior at Seton Hill. So taking a last shot like tonight was nothing new to me. I told my team right away that I got to take it. I attacked Akodo and lost it a bit at first, but then found my footing and my few inches on him helped. It felt good making this shot for the fans and I was very happy to get it here”, smiled Kameron Taylor. After a long talk in the dressing room, Fraport Skyliner Junior Alex Fountain came back trudging slowly on to the court with his thoughts still on that last play and one could sense the immense disappointment in his eyes, but was proud of how his teammates battled for 40 minutes. “This loss is tough. I wish we could have got some of those shots and mistakes back. We controlled the game. We had an 8 man rotation and played very hard. Each guy played hard. The positive thing was that we had no let downs. We knew it would go to Taylor on the last shot. He lost the handle at first, but recovered hitting a tough contested shot. That is what good players do. You can´t do more than tip your cap to him”, added ex Houston Baptist(NCAA) forward Alex Fountain. “I have to give a lot of credit to Frankfurt. They came out and played so hard with more intensity than us hitting shots and having good spacing. We saw their 8 man rotation and underestimated them thinking it would be a cake walk. We tried matching their tempo too much instead of playing our own game. In the second half we slowed down the game, crashed the boards and picked up our half-court defense and press”, stressed Kameron Taylor.
The Dragons Rhondorf have had good starts this season at home in the Dragon Dome, but against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors came out as if they had woke up on the wrong side of the bed as their play showed allowing the guests to begin 8-2. Pro B rookie Alex Fountain proved right away that he can score in bunches and is like a fountain sprouting three point buckets as he nailed his first two shots, but he had to. “I have never had a coach like Sebastian Gleim who has given me so much confidence in my shot. He told me at the start that if I didn´t make my first two shots that he would sub me out”, smiled Alex Fountain. German 112 kilo big man Armin Trtovac who entered the game averaging 11,3ppg and 8,8rpg also made a lay in in the explosive start. Frankfurt kept up their impressive start continuing to attack the rim like there was no tomorrow as English national player Jules Akodo and ex Kronberg standout Felix Hecker scored to extend the Frankfurt advantage to 12-4. The Dragons Rhondorf seemed very surprised by the high intensity of Frankfurt and just couldn´t match it. However basketball is a game of runs and that would be demonstrated the whole game as Rhondorf escaped on a 7-0 run cutting the Frankfurt lead to 12-11 as German top Pro B point guard Viktor Frankl-Maus scored inside, Thomas Michel challenged his 50% three point percentage sinking a shot from downtown and Canadian Kevin Thomas scored in the paint. Frankfurt stopped the Rhondorf run and rebounded with their own 7-2 run to extend their lead to 19-13. In the run, Frankfurt was aided by a Konstantin Schubert lay in, Trtovac free throws and another trey by Fountain. German Valentin Blass and Latvian forward Ronalds Elksnis responded with buckets inside while German fifth year man Jasmine Knothe drilled home a three giving Frankfurt the 22-17 lead after 10 minutes. “Frankfurt started off good scoring eight points in their first five possessions while we scored only two points in our first five possessions. Frankfurt did a good job with their ball movement and getting open shots. We just didn´t have as much luck hitting our open shots”, explained Dragons Rhondorf assistant coach Max Schwamborn. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 40% from the field and 36% from outside while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 44% from the field and 20% from outside. Rhondorf had the 12-10 rebound edge, but four turnovers while Frankfurt had one turnover.
The Dragons Rhondorf battled back in the second quarter keeping the score close, but still not being able to produce their first lead of the game. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors came out strong again scoring seven points and extending their lead to 29-20. Armin Trtovac who is playing his fourth season with the club got aggressive hauling down two offensive rebounds and making put backs while Jules Akodo made a three pointer. However the Dragons Rhondorf didn´t let that two minute offensive explosion by Frankfurt hinder their aspirations for success as they strolled out on a potent 11-2 run dead locking the game at 31-31 bringing the Dragon Dome back to real life. In the run, Rhondorf got important production from their German role players as Kneesch scored twice in the paint and Thomas Michel drilled home another trey. The club also got a free throw from Frankl-Maus and a lay in from Taylor. The Dragons Rhondorf defended more aggressively on the defensive end, made better decisions and rebounded better as Taylor was all over the place cleaning up the paint area while his teammates were taking care of the scoring. Frankfurt responded with a 25 footer from Fountain from the base line and a trey from ex Freiburg forward Cosmo Gruehn for the 37-31 lead. Both teams continued to trade scoring in bunches as Taylor and Thomas respond with buckets cutting the Frankfurt lead to 37-36. After Trtovac and Taylor baskets, Thomas tied the score at 40-40, but Trtovac made a pretty old school hook shot over Alexander Moeller sending the Fraport Skyliners Juniors into the break with the narrow 42-40 lead. “Taylor and Thomas were big for us in the second quarter and a reason why we signed them. We had more luck hitting shots, worked better together executing and made 16 fast break baskets”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf assistant coach Max Schamborn. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 42% from the field and 29% from the three point line while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 47% from the field and 27% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the slim 22-21 rebound edge, but eight turnovers while Rhondorf had seven turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Dragons Rhondorf finally got their first lead, but at the end of thirty minutes were down by eight points. The Dragons Rhondorf came back on the court with their chests held high and battled their way to their first lead 49-47. After Trtovac and Kneesch traded buckets to start off the second half, Fountain did what he does best nailing home three pointers as he connected giving Frankfurt the 47-42 advantage. Rhondorf struck back with nine unanswered points taking the lead 51-47 as Frankl-Maus found Thomas with an alley-op dunk, Kneesch nailed a three, Taylor hit free throws and made a lay in off the inbounds pass from Frankl-Maus catching the opponent napping on defense. The game of runs continued as Gruehn dropped another trey and Akodo made a nice left handed lay in and free throw for the Frankfurt 53-51 lead. Rhondorf big man Alexander Moeller tied the score at 53-53 with a step back jumper. Rhondorf lost some intensity allowing Frankfurt to be driven once again by Alex Fountain closing out the third quarter with a timely 9-1 run. The run was capped by two Fountain three´s and an Akodo finger tip lay in. “Coach told us at halftime that we had to guard our man better as we were beat too much off the dribble. We put better pressure on the ball, but lost a little intensity at the end allowing the Fountain three´s”, stated Kameron Taylor. “We continued to play very hard outhustling them and having good ball movement. We got players open shots and were in the flow”, stated Alex Fountain. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 43% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 46% from the field and 27% from the parking lot. Rhondorf had the 31-28 rebound edge, but 15 turnovers while Frankfurt had 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, it looked like the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had the game wrapped up leading by as much as 14 points, but allowed the Dragons to crawl back into the game. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued their good ending to the third quarter where they went on a 9-1 run continued their run in the fourth quarter going on a 9-2 run extending their lead to 70-56 as they got two three´s from Fountain and a trey from Gruehn. Rhondorf then took advantage of a Frankfurt flagrant foul and some misses going on a 9-0 run to get back into the game trailing only 70-65. In the run, the home team was led by an Anton Geretzki trey, Taylor lay in and free throw and Frankl-Maus step back jumper. Knothe and Frankl-Maus then traded trey´s as Frankfurt still led 73-68. Both teams had suffered little breakdowns during the game and another one hit Rhondorf as Frankfurt could break away again as time was winding down. Frankfurt went on a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 77-68 with a Trtovac hook shot and Akodo free throws. Frankfurt would continue to give Rhondorf gifts with turnovers as not being able to throw the ball in within the allowed 5 seconds haunted Jules Akodo who was hit twice in crunch-time and ended with an unbelievable 9 turnovers. A Taylor steal and lay in and another Frankl-Maus trey cut the Frankfurt lead to 77-73. After a Thomas lay in, Fountain made free throws with Frankfurt leading 80-75 with 1,33 minutes to play. Taylor then scored again inside and made a free throw cutting the Frankfurt lead to 80-78 with 50 seconds remaining. After a Pons miss, Taylor found Michel for the lay in dead locking the game at 80-80. With 11 seconds left, Frankfurt had the chance to win, but once again Frankfurt was hit with a five second violation with the inbounds pass as Akodo was the tragic hero. Rhondorf had 11 seconds left and time for Kameron Taylor to write history with another buzzer beater winning shot in his short career. “The fourth quarter was our best in the game. We battled so hard and we were aware that we had to move even quicker on the press while keeping our composure. Frankl-Maus hit many big shots keeping us in the game. You couldn´t ask for more”, stressed Kameron Taylor. “We couldn´t close the door on them. Maybe they had a little more experience. We have to be able to finish better, but their press hurt us. We have to learn from our mistakes and improve”, added Alex Fountain. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kameron Taylor with 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Viktor Frankl-Maus had 12 points and 12 assists and Kevin Thomas had 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Alex Fountain with 30 points. Jules Akodo had 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Armin Trotovac had 14 points and nien boards. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 49% from the field and 28% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 44% from the field and 36% from outside. Rhondorf won the rebounding duel 37-35 and had 18 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors coughed up the ball 21 times.