It is always a special basketball treat when one sees two basketball minds and two top coaches in the easyCredit BBL with Gordon Herbert and John Patrick go head to head on the sidelines and since the 2010-2011 season where Herbert was coach with Alba Berlin and the Fraport Skyliners while Patrick was head coach with BG Goettingen, Wurzburg and now Ludwigsburg, the two have had some intense battles as the current record stands at 10-10. Herbert won the first five duels, but Patrick is 10-5 since that first season where Frankfurt had BG Goettingen´s number. But not only watching the best two coaches bark the commands and witness how the players execute is a delight, but also seeing each team´s best player go head to head. That unfortunately didn´t happen in the return game in Frankfurt as Thomas Walkup was on the court, but Frankfurt´s best player Philip Scrubb was not. One can argue all day long as to who are each team´s best players, but these two surely would get a good share of the votes. Scrubb showed as a rookie two seasons ago why many in Canada called him the best Canadian college player ever as his high IQ, scoring and passing game made many Skyliner fans´s two hour basketball experience a very enjoyable time. This season Scrubb heightened his game as Frankfurt was hit with the injury bug and he had to really show his scoring gene and did being the leagues top scorer, but a knee injury put him out of action again. The MHP Riesen have many talented players, but of all Thomas Walkup may go the farthest. He came from a lesser known school SF Austin, but made a name of himself scoring 33 points against West Virginia and 22 points in his last NCAA game against Notre Dame. Many basketball experts saw him as a guy that could fit the mold of the New look NBA as a versatile player that can do a bit of everything which isn´t always appreciated from clubs at that level, but the American impressed. “The basketball world is so connected that you can play anywhere in Europe and still be on a NBA team´s radar. I am playing good ball now after not playing as well last season. I will just continue to keep working and see where it takes me”, warned Thomas Walkup. But instead of landing in the NBA, he played a season with the Windy City Bulls (D-League) playing 40 games averaging 7.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 28.2%, FT: 84.5%.. He put the NBA on the back burner and is concentrating on his game and help Ludwigsburg get a title. He has put up impressive stats as he understands how to fill the stat sheet and really has improved his shooting from downtown averaging 42% in the BBL and BCL competitions. Not only his stellar all-around play has rubbed off on his teammates, but also his winning mentality that has allowed them to be an early BCL title candidate and his hidden strength of having that important winning mentality also has been key. In the first meeting with the Fraport Skyliners, the MHP Riesen toppled Frankfurt 79-62 as he led all scorers with 19 points and while they keyed in on Scrubb limiting him to six points on 1/7 shooting. The Fraport Skyliners had a lot of revenge on their minds as they welcomed the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg into their living room and for three quarters looked like they might win, but couldn´t handle Thomas Walkup as he stole the show from Tai Webster pouring in 27 points and scored 12 of the last 14 Ludwigsburg points propelling them to the come from behind 88-81 win.
The Fraport arena hadn´t seen that type of dominance from one player since the good old days with Dashaun Wood and Jordan Theodore, but Walkup was simply unstoppable and when he started to get hot in crunch time, his teammates kept feeding him the ball. After the win, the American didn´t look any different as he had a stern expression when answering questions, but did sneak in a few smiles here and there, but moreover was all business about his game. “My show wasn´t planned. Kerron Johnson got into foul trouble and I just stepped up. It could have been anyone, but it just happened to be me. This was one of the better games I have had this season”, answered Thomas Walkup. Earlier in the season seeing a scoring show from Fraport Skyliner Philip Scrubb was normal, but now the Canadian could only sit helpless on the bench and watch as he was still nursing an injury. One could see that Scrubb was impressed by Walkup, but one also noticed he would have especially liked to have been on the court and trade scoring blows with him. “His performance was impressive. He is a very versatile player and at the end was playing point guard and one could see he could run the offense and was good with the ball and made good decisions. That is sometimes how basketball is. You can´t do anything against a performance like that”, stressed Philip Scrubb.
If someone had watched the first 30 minutes of the contest and left, one wouldn´t have ever thought that the Fraport Skyliners could lose the game. They were shooting the lights out led by Mr clutch Tai Webster and had Ludwigsburg´s number against their press defense. However in the fourth quarter, they tired a bit as their four players that average 30 plus minutes were feeling the stress more in their bones and they suddenly didn´t execute as well anymore as Ludwigsburg stepped up their defense a bit and let Thomas Walkup conduct a shooting clinic from all over the court. It was a hard fought win for the MHP Riesen, but one they will take gladly over an always aggressive Frankfurt team who play until the end. The loss of German national player Johannes Thiemann for the season due to an injury hurt their overall game, but they continued to play their game and never gave up and got rewarded having channeled their energy well throughout 40 minutes. “We didn´t play our best basketball in the first half. We didn´t stick to the scouting report and let them attack. In the second half, we buckled down on defense, got stops and that is when we turned it around playing much better defense”, stressed Thomas Walkup. The Fraport Skyliners left the floor after 40 minutes knowing they could and probably should have won the game, but a lack of execution and keeping Walkup better in check ruined their victory parade at the end. “It was a tough battle. We controlled the game for a majority of the time as Webster and Huff hit big shots. But in the end there were 3-4 minutes where our offense wasn´t fluid. Walkup made big plays at the end. It was a tough game to lose with us battling the whole game”, added Philip Scrubb.
On the night of the Super Bowl, 4,860 fans made the way into the Fraport arena as they continued to witness the walking wounded list of Frankfurt on the sidelines with Mike Morrison, Philip Scrubb, Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann, and Niklas Kiel. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game focused despite all their injury woes and quickly led 7-2. Walkup did get Ludwigsburg on the board first with a basket on transition, but after that Frankfurt got two huge trey´s from rookie Tai Webster and Finish national player Shawn Huff. Frankfurt was getting good shots as Webster showed he was their primary scoring option and he didn´t hesitate. The MHP Riesen seemed a bit sluggish as they couldn´t match Frankfurt´s intensity yet. The Fraport Skyliners continued their hot shooting going on a 8-3 run to extend their lead to 15-5. Their offense continued to be fluid, but at times had some fortune as they got a fancy desperation trey from Quantez Robertson, but also got a lay in from Webster and another three from Huff as the club practiced the smack extra pass. Basketball is always a game of runs and the MHP Riesen stepped up their defense without playing their real press game going on a 6-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 15-11. In the run they got free throws from ex Oregon(NCAA) guard Elgin Cook and ex Yale(NCAA) forward Justin Sears. Sears also would make a one hand dunk. The MHP Riesen benefited form the five team fouls of Frankfurt, made some big hustle plays and witnessed a static Frankfurt offense. However Frankfurt halted the Ludwigsburg run and got huge production from their farms team players big man German Armin Trtovac with a bucket inisde and Englishman Jules Akodo who dropped a trey. The MHP Riesen stayed on their tails as Walkup scored inside and ex Belmont(NCAA) guard Kerron Johnson dropped a trey. Three Cook free throws in the last seconds allowed Ludwigsburg to cut the Frankfurt lead to 23-22 after 10 minutes. “The young Frankfurt players did a good job stepping up for the injured players and the team shot at a high percentage. Frankfurt really did a good job holding their own against a top team”, stressed Basketball Aid chairman Hans Beth. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 53% from the field and 63% from outside an dhad six rebounds and three turnovers. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 55% from the field and 50% from outside and had seven rebounds and two turnovers.
The second quarter was a real dog fight as there were four lead changes, but halfway through the quarter Frankfurt kept the lead until the break even if they could never shake the MHP Riesen from their backs. Ludwigsburg got on the board first with a lay in from speedy German David Mccray who is playing his eighth season for the club. Then the Fraport Skyliners once again got huge production from their farm team player Jules Akodo who scored in bunches making a jumper and trey for the Frankfurt 28-24 advantage. Akodo who returned back to Frankfurt after playing in Slovenia and Spain the last two seasons and was mostly planned as a main scorer for their Pro B farm team, but because of injuries has really helped out well for the BBL team as he has needed no adjustment time to the higher league. The MHP Riesen then went on a mini 5-0 run to grab the lead back 29-28 as Canadian Peter Adika Mcnelly hit a trey and Sears went coast to coast for the lay in. Both teams were trading punches as the runs went back and forth as Frankfurt retaliated with a 5-0 run as Huff continued to have the hot hand netting another three and ex Iona(NCAA) standout AJ English hit a step back jumper as Frankfurt had the lead again 33-29 and would not let go of it again in the quarter. Even if the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg weren´t far off, it seemed like Frankfurt had open shot after open shot as Huff and Webster connected again while the guests had to work a lot harder for their execution success. Frankfurt also got a hand from 18 year old German wonder boy Isaac Bonga who did finish with a disgusting 8 turnovers, but he had his moments getting a monster block and making a beautiful lay in as Frankfurt held the 44-40 lead. Bonga answered with another bucket netting a pull up jumper after Walkup had hit a trey keeping Frankfurt ahead 47-43. After Johnson free throws, it was Webster that sent the fans satisfied into the break hitting a step back shot at the buzzer as Frankfurt led 49-45.The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg hadn´t shown much of their annoying press defense, but there was a reason for that. “We don´t play like that the whole game. The first half was the warmed down part. That is how we play it for 40 minutes”, expressed Thomas Walkup. “Ludwigsburg wasn´t playing their aggressive defense, but they were able to stay in the game. They saved their full press game until the second half”, added Basketball Aid chairman Hans Beth. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 59% from the field and 60% from the three point line and had grabbed 13 rebounds and had five turnovers. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 52% from the field and 50% from the three point line and had secured 14 rebounds and had five turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners led by as much as 12 points as they were able to beat the Ludwigsburg press and continue to execute. In the first few minutes, The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg continued to make life difficult for Frankfurt as Thomas Walkup was getting heated up for his microwave crunch time performance as he showed his versatile game scoring inside twice as on the second basket was fed nicely back door by ex Florida State(NCAA) forward Adam Waleskowski.to cut the Frankfurt lead to 52-50. Despite the heightened press game of Ludwigsburg, the Fraport Skyliners found a way from it and broke open the game going on a big 10-3 run to extend their lead to 62-53. Frankfurt got continued big buckets from Webster who must have seen an ocean at the rim every time he shot, because everything went in as he nailed a trey and made a pretty finger tip roll in as he was taking apart the Ludwigsburg defense. German Trtovac was continuing to get touches and made good execution making a lay in and free throw. Frankfurt was playing calm against the Ludwigsburg press, but even when they did turn it over, Ludwigsburg didn´t execute which must of given head coach John Patrick massive headaches on the side line. Frankfurt also had some more fortune on their side as often they would hit last second shots on the shot clock as Robertson showed. Sears and ex Giessen 46er Dwayne Evans kept Ludwigsburg in the game with some buckets cutting the Frankfurt lead to 67-59. Ludwigsburg did do a better job with their defense and press forcing Frankfurt to 8 turnovers in the third quarter, but could get no transition points which left them crawling trying to get back in the game. Webster continued to carry the team as he hit free throws and nailed another buzzer beater ending the third quarter as Frankfurt led 72-63. “Webster did a good job hitting big shots at the end of quarters. He was a big part of our offense getting in the lane and finding guys. But we expect that of him. It is nothing new for us anymore. As a team we kept our composure in the third quarter. We didn´t get rattled by their press and stayed in our offense. We had good ball movement and made big shots”, expressed Philip Scrubb. “Frankfurt executed well against our press and shot the ball well. Good teams make runs like that. We did a good job withstanding their run and hitting tough shots”, stressed Thomas Walkup. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 59% from the field and 62% from the parking lot and had hauled down 21 rebounds, but had 13 turnovers. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 43% from the field and 40% from the parking lot and had grabbed 23 rebounds and had nine turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg really came to life and proved that a basketball game has 40 minutes and not 30 minutes as they made a furious comeback and then allowed Thomas Walkup to offer the scoring heroics. Justin Sears got the ball rolling for Ludwigsburg as he scored back to back buckets getting a steal and going coast to coast for the lay in and then hit a pretty hook shot to cut the Frankfurt lead to 72-67. Sears proved again why he belongs in the BBL as after a solid rookie season with Giessen, he has made the next step for John Patrick as he finished with 13 points, four boards, four steals and a block in 19 minutes. “He stayed aggressive the whole game. When he missed a shot, he kept his confidence and kept shooting and attacking our bigs. We is very hard to stop one on one”, stressed Philip Scrubb. Webster continued to hit buzzer beaters as he made a three at the shot clock buzzer extending the Frankfurt lead to 75-67. However that was the last spurt of offense seen from Frankfurt as the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg went on a bitter 15-1 run to retake the lead 80-76 and totally turn around the game within a few minutes. Ludwigsburg crushed Frankfurt in the paint always getting inside and finishing as Walkup scored twice, Mccray scored twice and Johnson scored. In the run, Walkup showed that he is more than a scorer as he made an amazing Larry Bird like pass. He got the ball on the sideline and without flinching quickly gunned the ball inside to an open Mccray for the easy lay up before the Frankfurt defense could even react. “That was a good pass. We had a mix up on defense. He had the sense to figure out before he got the ball to make the pass when he got it”, stressed Philip Scrubb. Walkup started to slowly get heated up and the Ludwigsburg press was finally getting the best of Frankfurt as they begun to tire. Ludwigsburg also got some key rebounds which carried them in the run. With 3.09 minutes remaining, Thomas Walkp scored his teams last five field goals. AJ English did cut the Ludwigsburg lead to 80-79 with a trey, but Ludwigsburg closed out the game with a 8-2 run. Frankfurt couldn´t keep Walkup in line and on offense didn´t execute the way they did in the first 30 minutes. The one on one defense was a bit suspect in the last four baskets, but Walkup was riding the momentum and Frankfurt was playing with their absolute last drop of energy. “They may have gotten a bit tired from our press defense. We buckled down on defense and played with more intensity in the fourth and played better offense and hit our shots”, added Thomas Walkup. “We were a little tired. The difference was that they made better plays and we couldn´t stop their run at the end. That is how it goes in games sometimes”, stressed Philip Scrubb. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were led by Thomas Walkup with 27 points. Elgin Cook and Justin Sears added 13 points apiece and Dwayne Evans contributed 12 points and Kerron Johnson had 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Tai Webster with 24 points. Shawn Huff added 17 points and Quantez Robertson added 10 points. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg shot 48% from the field and 32% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 11 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners shot 54% from the field and 60% from outside and had 26 rebounds and coughed up the ball 22 times.