On a cold Saturday afternoon in Mid November or better described at midday when it´s a BBL game day, you will find most Fraport Skyliners going through their regular game day routines with finishing with the pre game shoot around and if you’re a Quantez Robertson possibly getting a last short sweat in the weight room as that freak athlete is still in top shape at 33 and then spending some quality time with his kids before it means taking the short 10 minute ride to the Fraport arena for the 6:00pm battle against ratiopharm Ulm. However if your a Philip Scrubb you most likely will be in his second living room the BCM watching a Pro B game or a NBBL game as he is one of the most faithful Skyliners that follows and watches the lower teams of the Fraport Skyliners. In the NBBL(U-19) league you don´t have the usual luxury that professional players have of spending the whole day preparing mentally for the evening clash against a formidable opponent, but more often than not have to get on the floor at 12 or 1 in the afternoon which presents totally different kinds of pre game preparation than would a professional player who plays the bulk of their games in the evening. The 3-2 Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had a midday tip off against the 3-1 TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen who came into the game with a solid 3-1 record and were giving up only 48 points per game. The Frankfurt side went into the season having lost their big 3 from last season with Isaac Bonga who could still play, but is concentrating only on the EasyCredit BBL as well as Konstantin Schubert and Cosmo Gruehn who were too old. The Frankfurt team now had to rely on other pieces like Niklas Pons and Maxi Begue who have to take over the heart and soul role of the club. Against the Leverkusen team, it looked for a long time like Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners would leave the court as the losers, but they never gave up as a furious first half-second half comeback rewarded them with a hard fought victory and the guests from Leverkusen like the unfortunate losers who seemingly gave the game away. After the win, Frankfurt head coach Miran Cumurija looked content, but also knew that he had some luck on his side, but his defensive adjustment in the second half proved to be the correct decision. “We played our standard big man defense in the first half, but in the second half we changed it and played more switching which gave them problems. We also fought the whole game and played with heart which factored in the win”, stressed Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners head coach Miran Cumurija. On the other side, Leverkusen head coach Hansi Gnad was disappointed of having let the game fall out of their hands in the second half. “We gave up a big lead. They played more physical and we couldn´t adjust to that. We have two very big players, but we couldn´t get the ball inside on a regular basis. Frankfurt did a good job taking that away from us”, stressed Leverkusen head coach Hansi Gnad.
A few minutes before the game started Leverkusen head coach Hansi Gnad took a short break form reviewing his game plan and actually looked like he could moonlight as a sewing specialist as he put together a jersey with number for 18 year old 191cm guard Jan Philipp Merkens who had forgotten his jersey. The first quarter had two stories as both teams played at eye level in the first five minutes, but down the stretch run, Leverkusen made a run and had the comfortable 24-13 lead after 10 minutes. Leverkusen started off hot as 17 year old small forward Lasse Branding got a pair of buckets already putting Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners early on their heels and having to be in comeback mode. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners got big production from ex TV Langen guard Niklas Pons who found his stroke early hitting two three´s and tying the score at 8-8. But then all of a sudden their stellar defense that was giving up only 48 points per game and had a very functional zone began to halt Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners on offense and in their offense climbed out on a 12-2 run to take the commanding 20-10 lead. The Leverkusen defense also sparked their offense getting two easy transition baskets from 17 year old 200cm Maximillian Marcus and 17 year old 185cm point guard Simon Muller-Landsvik from Norway. Then came the unbelievable three point shooting clinic from 18 year old 185cm guard Leutrim Ebiballari who entered the game averaging only 4,3ppg and was shooting 16,7% from outside suddenly had 8 points on his basketball account nailing two trey´s and making free throws and totally shocking the BCM gym. That wasn´t enough as he stroked home a third for good measure as did Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners guard Leon Pullen. At the end of 10 minutes Ebiballari had 11 points and was leading the game in scoring as Leverkusen led 24-13. “We had a bad start and then the Leverkusen big run hurt us”, stressed Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners guard Niklas Pons. TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen was shooting 57% from the field and 50% from outside while Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was shooting 33% from the field and outside. Leverkusen had the 9-5 rebound lead and five turnovers while Frankfurt had seven turnovers.
The second quarter also looked like a tale of two quarters as Leverkusen continued to extend their lead to huge proportions leading by as much as 21 points, but a much needed 11-0 run in the second part of the quarter not only brought Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners back into the game, but also was the start of their massive comeback that would go until the end of the game. Leverkusen started the second quarter with a bang going on a 8-0 run nailing consecutive three´s as Ebiballari hit his fourth in a row and kept giving Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners fits and Muller-Landsvik also connected from outside and from inside giving the guests their biggest advantage of the contest at 32-13. Frankfurt was doing a good job on Leverkusen´s bigs Thiemann and Selimovic limiting them to little touches and no points, but didn´t have the guard Ebiballari on their scouting report as he was a menace with his shot. The Leverkusen zone was giving Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners headaches as they had no rhythm on offense and Maxi Begue was no factor yet. 15 year old huge German talent Len Schoorman stopped the Leverkusen run with a pretty runner, but then it was time for Leverksuen to show how lethal scoring in bunches can be as they went on a mini 4-0 run getting a Marcus and Merkens fast break points as Leverkusen had their biggest lead of the game 36-15. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners didn´t lay down and die, but fought back showing life as they closed out the second quarter with a furious 11-0 run to claw back into the game and trail only 36-29 at halftime. In the run, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was led by Niklas Pons who hit his third three of the game in as much tries and also Maxi Begue who nailed his first field goal and added another one while 17 year old 180cm guard Cem-Turkay Akbayir who started his career at EOSC Offenbach snuck inside making a back door layin and 16 year old Risto Vasiljevic who started his career at BC Darmstadt also scored. A big factor in this run was the Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners defense that was led by 18 year old 200cm forward Antonius Douloudis who was active in the paint. “We woke up after the time out and defended more aggressively and showed more quality on defense”, added Niklas Pons. TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen was shooting 37% from the field and 40% from the three point line while Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was shooting 36% from the field and from the three point line. Both teams had 18 rebounds apiece, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had 15 turnovers and Leverkusen only nine turnovers.
Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued their improved play in the third quarter continuing where they had left off in the second quarter working on their run and extending it to 17 points in a row as they added 6 points in the first minutes cutting the Leverkusen lead to only 36-32 as they had once trailed by as much as 21 points in the second quarter. After getting his rhythm on defense in the latter part of the second quarter where Douloudis was a huge spark, he let that carry over into his offense as he scored twice in the lane as his aggressiveness and athletic cleverness haunted Leverkusen. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners remained very aggressive in the paint area as 16 year old 180 cm energy package Alvin Oniya also snuck inside for two points. However Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners lost a bit focus and intensity and couldn´t totally get over the hump as they allowed Leverkusen to go on a 10-2 run to lead in double figures again 46-34. In the run Leverkusen finally got on the board for the first time in the second half at the 6.29 minute mark as 17 year old 190cm guard Moritz Finke scored. Leverkusen also got a basket from 17 year old 195cm forward Justin Peplinski who started his career at BBV Koln-Nordwest and two baskets from Marcus who carried the team as their two bigs Thiemann and Selimovic continued to be no factor in the scoring department. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners closed out the third quarter not getting lost in the Leverkusen run, but getting back into the game with a key 9-3 run as their comeback was still in full throttle as they trailed 49-43 after 30 minutes. In the run, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners got some production inside from Douloudis and 18 year old 196cm forward Dennis Machlab that scored inside, Begue free throws and a clutch trey at the buzzer from Akbayir. “We continued to fight and never gave up. Guys like Oliver Babitsch and Alvin Oniya took more responsibility on the court”, added Niklas Pons. TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen shot 39% from the field and 35% from the parking lot while Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 37% from the field and 31% from the parking lot. Leverkusen had the slight 28-27 rebound advantage, but only 13 turnovers while Frankfurt had 18 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners kept fighting and annoying Leverkusen with their defense taking control of the game as the guests couldn´t buy a basket at their will. 17 year old 208 cm German Lars Thiemann entered the game averaging 11,3ppg and 12.3rpg, but had been held scoreless for the first three quarters, but finally got on the board with an off balance shot to give Leverkusen the 51-43 lead. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to defend hard and with passion getting two stops which led to two buckets from 18 year old 193cm guard Oliver Babitsch who started his career at TG Hanau and from Begue as both Germans dominated in the paint as they were taking advantage of the penetration, but Leverkusen led 51-47. Leverkusen now had a small phase where they got Thiemann better involved which led to free throws and another basket inside as Leverkusen stayed strong trying to defend off the Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners comeback as they led 55-49. However Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners didn´t back off as they continued to go inside as their penetration was working as Akbayir scored. After Marcus free throws, Oniya tested his 35% three point accuracy and passed finding nothing but net as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners suddenly trailed only 56-54 with 3.28 left. A Douloudis block led to Oniya free throws as the game was deadlocked at 56-56. 18 year old 203cm 135 kilo beast Dezemal Selimovic had been quiet all afternoon long but got fouled and hit free throws as Leverkusen led 58-56. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners came back strong as Pons made a very difficult and risky pass, but it was perfect through traffic finding Pullen back door for the easy layin as the game was deadlocked again at 58-58. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners clamped down on defense now and also got some fortune as guard Muller-Landsvik stayed true to his 33% free throw percentage missing both and Oniya made a steal which led to Pons and Begue free throws as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 60-58. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners then stopped Thiemann forcing him to a miss and Begue came back at the other end taking responsibility and hitting a clutch runner from the corner giving Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners the 62-58 lead sealing the win. “I didn´t start so well and I continued to fight to get a rhythm. I got my defense going and then got my offense going as I got to the basket more. I had a lot of confidence making that last shot”, stressed Maxi Begue. After a Finke miss, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners scored one more bucket and had the very hard fought 65-58 win. “Begue had a bad start, but was strong at the end. Our physicality was key at the end. We had better luck with the 50/50 balls and just wanted it more”, stressed Niklas Pons. “Frankfurt was more clever at the end and deserved to win”, stressed Leverkusen head coach Hansi Gnad. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners were led by Maximillian Begue with 13 points and Niklas Pons added 12 points. TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen were led by Leutrim Ebiballari with 14 points, Maximillian Marcus added 12 points. And Simon Muller-Landsvik had 10 points, five assists and seven steal. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 27% from outside while TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen shot 32% from the field and 30% from outside. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners won the rebound battle 42-37, but had 21 turnovers while the guests had 16 turnovers.