After the disgusting 83-59 loss to the Giessen 46ers in the always annoying Osthalle where the home fans tend to be rather aggressive with their choice of words at times, the Fraport Skyliners crawled off the court with the only thing missing was bags to cover their faces as not only had Frankfurt been the clear favorite which no one expected to lose, but to be splattered with an embarrassing 23 point loss was about as untypical with the current stellar play of the team as it would be for the New England Patriots to lose their last two home games against Buffalo and Miami. After the loss Quantez Robertson escaped off the court after stretching with that bewildered look as if he had found out that Mcdonalds was closing in the Nordwest center mall where the club trains and lives, but in reality he was still trying to fathom what the club had produced in the second half. The Fraport Skyliners scored a measly unacceptable 22 points and gave up 43 points as their defense their usual staple had totally betrayed them. Usually it is their stellar defense that fuels their offense, but on this unforgettable 22nd of December in Giessen, the defense actually influenced their offense in a negative way. A week earlier Gordon Herbert had boasted that the incredible win against Alba Berlin had been one of the best wins he had ever been a part of and a week later the loss in Giessen has to go down as one of the worst loses in the club history in the last 10 years. The uninspired and haphazardly play of the Fraport Skyliners scared a lot of people and the only positive thing after a miserable loss like that was that it could only get better. The horrible loss gave a bad taste for their Christmas and the team didn´t have much time to prepare for their next opponent or digest their Christmas dinner either as Herbert had his team practice every day over the holidays. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were fighting for their lives, had a new head coach with Mathias Fischer and desperately needed wins. The Fraport Skyliners came into their own living room having done a lot of soul searching over the holiday weekend and came back rejuvenated, focused and very aggressive retaliating from the Giessen embarrassment and whipping the Walter Tigers Tuebingen 90-63.
After the big win, one could see a more content look on the sweaty face of Fraport Skyliner center Mike Morrison who was a big factor in the good start of the team. “One we made shots, two we played defense and three we played with a lot more energy than in Giessen. When you play good defense, you get more transition opportunities and we made it tough for our opponent from the start”, stressed Florida native Mike Morrison.
After the game Tuebingen rookie Reggie Upshaw had a sullen look on his face and put the blame on being too aggressive. “We came out too aggressive on the defensive end and they were already in the bonus with only three minutes played which put us in the hole early. We knew that they were a good three point shooting team and tried to take that away early and for a while did a good job, but in the second half they were able to open it up more and were able to get free from us”, stressed Reggie Upshaw. As usual injured Canadian Philip Scrubb was very observant from the bench and was very happy of how the team responded from the bad Giessen loss. “It is tough to keep watching from the bench, but I´m happy when we get the win. We rebounded well from the tough loss in Giessen. The game was tight in the first quarter, but we did a good job continuing to stay aggressive on the defensive end and pull away in the second quarter. It´s always good to bounce back from a tough loss. It helps us get better as we continue to get to the end of the season”, added Philip Scrubb.
On the second official Christmas holiday in Germany only 3,920 fans made the trek to the Fraport arena and Frankfurt fans saw young 20 year old German Garai Zeeb in the starting lineup again while Philip Scrubb, Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann and Richard Freudenberg were still on their walking wounded list. The first few minutes was tight, but it wasn´t a Webster or English that got the team going, but four year Skyliner Mike Morrison who scored three buckets in a row ranging from an unorthodox turn around shot, dunk and layin for the 9-5 Frankfurt lead. The big man also helped get Tai Webster his first field goal of the contest with a dime. “I think the more shots that I get the better chance I have of scoring more. I have always shot at a good rate from the field. I don´t get a lot of post ups in our system. I just don´t try to force anything”, warned Mike Morrison. It took the Walter Tigers Tuebingen a bit longer to find a sound offensive rhythm as Frankfurt continued to fire away as Webster made his second trey of the game extending the Frankfurt lead to 14-6. Tuebingen had little offense except for rookie Reggie Upshaw who had a knack of getting free and hit for two trey´s in a row upping his first quarter point total to 9 and all of a sudden Frankfurt led only 14-12. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were living with their three and staying in the game while the Fraport Skyliners had a more balanced inside out game. The Fraport Skyliners were able to keep their nose slightly ahead of the guests as Quantez Robertson and Marco Voeller scored in the paint area while for Tuebingen it was ex Skyliner Ryan Brooks who dropped a trey trailing Frankfurt only 20-17. “Usually when we start off inside it opens up a lot for our guards. We felt that opening with Mike Morrison was a good option. He took good shots and we have the confidence that he will make them. Upshaw kept Tuebingen in the game”, added Fraport Skyliner Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 29% from outside and had 10 rebounds and two turnovers while the Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 40% from the field and 50% from outside and hauled down 9 rebounds and had four turnovers.
The first half of the second quarter was back and forth as seven lead changes were manufactured as no team could get away. However the Fraport Skyliners would finally break away erupting on a lethal 20-7 run to up their lead to 45-32 at the break. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen quietly went off on a mini 4-0 run to start of the second quarter getting their first lead 21-20. In the run, the club coached by German Matthias Fischer got a pretty alley-op dunk from ex Temple(NCAA) standout Ryan Brook as ex Tulane(NCAA) standout Kris Richard supplied the perfect pass. Ex medi Bayreuth center Javon Mccrea was aggressive making a tip in off his own miss. Then both teams handed over the lead many times as Morrison made a left handed hook shot, Mccrea scored again inside showing off his physical presence, and Quantez Robertosn was extra aggressive following in his miss and making the lay in giving Frankfurt the 25-23 advantage. Tuebingen was defending a lot better keeping Frankfurt´s sets down near the end of the shot clock and kept AJ English from getting his usual fair number of touches and shots which drastically limited Frankfurt´s offense. Brooks then hit a fade away and ex Ludwigsburg German Robert Zinn dropped free throws for the 27-25 lead. You can only keep an AJ English away from the ball so long as he finally got free and nailed a deep trey as Zinn didn´t attempt to contest it as Frankfurt led 28-27. Tuebingen had misfortune of giving up too many offensive rebounds to Frankfurt that helped them stay alive in many offensive sets and get easy baskets. The Fraport Skyliners would never hand away the lead again closing out the second quarter strong on a 16-5 run to lead 45-32 at the break. In the run, it was the scoring duo of Robertson and Finish national player Shawn Huff that combined for 13 points. Robertson who hasn´t had a very consistent offensive season, but today he was on and was making shots from inside and out. Huff also was his usual versatile self being able to hit the tough turnaround shot and also showing his athleticism and speed finishing twice on transition. “Robertson was a big spark for us. He can do so much for us and always gives us the energy when we need it. We weren´t scoring as well and he gave us the needed offense. He showed in that quarter that he can play offense at a high level. We did a good job taking Upshaw out of the game as we focused more on him”, stated Canadian national player Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 36% from the three point line and had grabbed 21 rebounds and had only four turnovers. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 40% from the field and 45% from the three point line and had 15 rebounds and eight turnovers.
After the Walter Tigers Tuebingen had let the Fraport Skyliners open up the game in the second part of the second quarter, one might have expected a reaction in the third quarter, but instead the Fraport Skyliners continued their offensive rampage going on a harsh 12-0 run to totally open up the game and decide it as it was lights out for the guests as the home team led comfortably 57-32. The Fraport Skyliners more than made up for their first five Tuebingen stops by scoring on each possession. In the run the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner got vital production from New Zealand guard Tai Webster who continues to show that he is an upgrade to last season´s Kwame Vaughn as he leads the team on offense with his playmaking and scoring as he produced six points showing his touch from outside as well as his craftiness getting in the lane and finishing with ease. Frankfurt also got a trey from Huff and massive two handed dunk from Morrison. Tuebingen finally got on the board at the 6.36 minute mark as ex Buffalo(NCAA) standout Mccrea nailed a 20 footer. But Tuebingen was unable to get a rhythm on defense as Frankfurt did how they pleased getting a trey and free throws from Robertson and Webster. The only bright spot for Tuebingen was Mccrea who showed what scoring in bunches is as he scored three times in the paint including a fierce dunk and free throws cutting the Frankfurt advantage to 67-42. Webster continued to be an aggressive force on offense scoring twice in the paint as the majority of the damage had been done by the Fraport Skyliners and the only question now was by how much Frankfurt would win by as they led 71-46 after 30 minutes. “We stuck to the game plan playing with high energy and being aggressive on defense. That 12-0 run to start the game put the game out of reach. That took any confidence that they had away”, stressed ex Carleton(CIS) guard Philip Scrubb. “The 12-0 run really hurt us. The game was decided then”, added Walter Tigers Tuebingen point guard Jared Jordan. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 44% from the parking lot and had 33 rebounds and seven turnovers while the Walter Tigers Tuebingen were shooting 38% from the field and 31% from the parking lot and had 21 rebounds and nine turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners didn´t allow the Walter Tigers Tuebingen any real breathing room and any chance of coming back as they whipped up a quick 8-0 run and stopped their first four possessions on offense extending their lead to 79-46. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners were fortified by four players as Morrison made a free throw, Robertson an acrobatic layin, Webster hit free throws and ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb hit an open three. In this run also came what could have been the play of the game, but wasn´t as the Lebron like pass off the back board to himself dunk didn´t work between Robertson and Morrison as both gave each other the blame for the miss. Robertson made a quick heads up play getting in the passing lane and making a steal while Morrison was sprinting down the left hand of the court. Robertson had the big fellow in eyesight somehow, and instead of finishing himself tossed the ball underhand off the backboard which Morrison couldn´t handle as it sailed out of bounds. “I knew that Tez would throw me the ball. He threw it too soon and I had to jump inward instead of upward. It was Tez´s fault”, joked Mike Morrison. “Of course Mike said it was my fault, but he missed it”, yelled Quantez Robertson. “ I had no idea that they would try that play. He almost had it. It was a good option to try for the fans when your up by 30 points”, smiled Philip Scrubb. Sid Marlon Theis who played at Braunschweig years finally broke the ice for Tuebingen hitting a trey at the 7.18 minute mark cutting the Frankfurt lead to 79-48. Theis remained hot connecting on another trey, but Frankfurt just didn´t miss much on this day as Morrison made a runner and English who had a cold offensive day with seven points made a layin as Frankfurt led comfortably 83-51. With 5.05 minutes to play Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert inserted the German Pro B farm team kids Konstantin Schubert and Armin Trtovac and at the 4.06 minute mark English man Jules Akodo came in. The game was more than decided and the Walter Tigers Tuebingen were able to take a little advantage of the Frankfurt bench closing out the game with a positive 12-5 run. Tuebingen got some production from ex Marist(NCAA) standout Jared Jordan with a trey, a Phillip Heyden tip in and Robert Zinn free throws. Ex Middle Tennessee(NCAA) forward Reggie Upshaw finally got a field goal again after being held scoreless in the second and third quarter. His very depressed expression showed after the game as he wanted to have been more of a factor for his team on this day. “I am a competitor and I always want to do all I can for my team. I had a good start, but couldn´t impact the game afterwards which was tough for me. I which I could of brought more, but just tried making my shots”, expressed Reggie Upshaw. Frankfurt bright spots in the last minutes was a three pointer from the corner from Akodo and a pretty baby hook shot from Armin Trtovac that ended the game. “It was smart putting in some of the younger players at the end. It worked in both ways in that they got extra experience and the other guys don´t risk an injury and could take a rest”, added Philip Scrubb. “We just kept fighting and we had been competitive in the last game against Braunschweig. But Frankfurt were like they always are. They are a tough team that defends well and every guy knows their role”, added Jared Jordan. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Tai Webster with 20 points, four rebounds and five assists while Quantez Robertson also added 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Mike Morrison added 14 points and 12 rebounds and Shawn Huff produced 12 points. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen were led by Javon Mccrea with 14 points and Reggie Upshaw produced 12 points and six rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners shot 47% from the field and 38% from the field and hauled down 43 rebounds and seven turnovers while the Walter Tigers Tuebingen shot 40% from the field and 36% from outside while getting 29 rebounds and coughing up the ball 14 times.