Even if the Fraport Skyliner players forgot the 83-59 massacre in Giessen a little more than two months ago, head coach Gordon Herbert probably thought of that loss daily wondering what it was that negatively turned their season around? The Fraport Skyliners had had a 9-4 record going into that Giessen game on the road and anything but a win seemed realistic, but the surprising loss had turned into a negative trend in that Frankfurt had had a 3-6 record since then and suddenly the playoffs seemed to be a question mark. However their last win in Ulm 18 days ago had lifted the team´s spirits and one can´t forget that they had had suffered many unwanted injuries in that 9 game span and players had been slowly been coming back. The Fraport Skyliners had had a long break of 18 days as they had to wait out the World Cup qualifying games schedule and had a lot of time to work on their weaknesses as well as producing a potent game plan against the s.Oliver Wurzburg squad who had creamed them in their own living 81-64 shortly before the new year. On that night the Bavarian squad came alive in the second half and in total dropped 15 three´s which put out the lights for the Fraport Skyliners. Both teams were fighting for a playoff spot and the perfect playoff atmosphere was set in the Fraport arena as 5000 fans came out for a mild Sunday afternoon matinee and saw a hard fought game that wasn´t pretty and despite Frankfurt having control of the game, they never could totally shake Wurzburg from their backs as they grinded out a brutal 78-72 victory which held them on playoff course.
After the game Frankfurt top scorer Philip Scrubb reflected on the big win and the battle to close down a Robin Benzing. “It was a hard fought game and Wurzburg came at us in the second quarter. But we played them tough and rebounded well. We also hit some shots when it counted most. I missed some games this season while Benzing stayed very consistent. He is really difficult to stop. I felt we did a good job making it hard for him to score in the fourth. That was one of the keys to getting the win”, warned Canadian national player Philip Scrubb. For s.Oliver Wurzburg, it was a bitter loss as they need every win they can get for reaching the playoffs. They did a good job fighting until the end, but had problems getting stops and getting Benzing involved in crunch-time. “We didn´t rebound well and let Scrubb loose. We need to tune up our defense more in the next games to be successful”, stressed s.Oliver Wurzburg guard Abdul Gaddy.
S.Oliver Wurzburg were complete while the Fraport Skyliners were without Mike Morrison and Isaac Bonga and got out on a quick start taking the 6-2 lead. The Fraport Skyliners established themselves in the paint area getting buckets from Scrubb, Finish national player Shawn Huff and ex Alba Berlin center Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann. S.Oliver Wurzburg got a huge trey from ex Bamberg guard Maurice Stuckey who got a bullet pass on the ball reversal from Benzing cutting the Frankfurt advantage to 6-5. The Fraport Skyliners received a valuable gift from Wurzburg at the 6.26 minute mark as the Bavarian team were hit early with their fifth foul. However Frankfurt couldn´t really take advantage of that to the fullest as they missed too many free throws and led only 8-5 with Quantez Robertson and Wolfarth-Bottermann free throws. Stuckey responded attacking the paint and scoring in traffic while crashing to the ground, but he was still intact. The Fraport Skyliners continued to control the game, but couldn´t really get away as Stuckey continued to be aggressive and carry Wurzburg. Despite Scrubb free throws and a Niklas Kiel runner and 14-8 Frankfurt lead, Stuckey contributed three free throws as Wurzburg trailed only 14-11. S.Oliver Wurzburg did a strong job limiting Scrubb from taking shots, but after Scrubb free throws came the first significant turning point of the game against Wurzburg. Stuckey went down with a knee injury and wouldn´t return again. S.Oliver Wurzburg surely would have had a lot better chances at crunch-time to be more versatile and less predictable had Stuckey been on the floor. The Fraport Skyliners led 16-12 after 10 minutes. “Both teams had been off two weeks and the offenses weren´t smooth. The game started as a defensive battle. Defensive rebounding was key for us keeping the lead”, stated Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 36% from the field and 0% from outside and had grabbed 10 rebounds and had four turnovers while s.Oliver Wurzburg had been shooting 20% from the field and 17% from outside and had grabbed seven rebounds and coughed up the ball four times.
In the second quarter s.Oliver Wurzburg continued to battle and despite the loss of Stuckey got huge minutes and production from Miles Jackson-Cartwright who was giving his easyCredit BBL debut. The Fraport Skyliners got rolling rapidly going on a 4-0 run as ex Nebraska(NCAA) guard Tai Webster stayed calm hitting a pull up jumper and dropping two of three free throws extending the Frankfurt lead to 20-12. The Fraport Skyliners were playing perfect zone and had allowed only two field goals in 12 minutes of play. It seemed like this was the moment where the Fraport Skyliners could break away and totally break open the game, but s.Oliver Wurzburg escaped on a 4-0 run as they finally got to use their strength of transition. Ex Washington(NCAA) guard Abdul Gaddy scored inside as he read the defense, found his spot and used his quickness and then ex Alba Berlin guard Cliff Hammonds scored with his left hand on the fast break to cut the Frankfurt lead to 20-16. After Wolfarth-Bottermann and Benzing traded baskets came the big moment of Jackson-Cartwright. The American from Van-Nuys, California had played in Holland as a rookie, in the German Pro A with Hanau and this season was in the third German league Pro B with Wurzburg´s farm team and was promoted for the Frankfurt game. He needed no time to adjust and made a big play when he was inserted getting a steal and feeding ex Alba Berlin forward Krescimir Loncar for the lay in cutting the Frankfurt lead to 22-21. However whenever Frankfurt needs instant buckets in 2011 or 2016 it was Dashaun Wood or Jordan Theodore to supply the heroics and in 2018, it´s Philip Scrubb who launched a deep trey connecting and giving Frankfurt the 26-21 advantage.
However s.Oliver Wurzburg had confidence and carried that into the break going on a lethal 12-3 run to lead 33-29. S.Oliver Wurzburg stepped up their defense and got some steals and big plays. After a Benzing fade away jumper, the guests got instant buckets from ex Oregon(NCAA) forward EJ Singler who stole a pass from Webster and then went coast to coast for the lay in and then it was Jackson-Cartwright who made a timely block and found Singler again for transition points as Wurzburg had it´s first lead of the game 27-26. Scrubb gave Frankfurt the lead back with a trey from the corner 29-27, but Wurzburg closed out the second quarter with a 6-0 run as Benzing connected on four free throws and Jackson-Cartwright hit a beautiful buzzer beater runner for the well deserved 33-29 lead. “We had a few turnovers that they turned into transition baskets. We didn´t do a good job getting back on defense. It´s difficult to keep the lead when we turnover the ball too much and they answer with points”, added Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 33% from the three point line and 17% from outside and had hauled down 19 rebounds, but coughed up the ball 12 times. S.Oliver Wurzburg were shooting 40% from the field and 9% from the three point line and had 19 rebounds and six turnovers.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners recovered the lead, but couldn´t shake s.Oliver Wurzburg who continued to hang out on their door step. Halftime must not have been too pleasurable for the Fraport Skyliners as head coach Gordon Herbert surely let out some frustration. The Fraport Skyliners came out rejuvenated and went on a quick 7-0 run to recaptured the lead 36-33. In the run, the 2000 BBL cup winner got important production from ex Giessen center Marco Voeller with a lay in, Webster hit a runner and Scrubb nailed an of balance shot. The Fraport Skyliners caught s.Oliver Wurzburg flat footed and did a good job getting easy baskets while on defense had their immaculate zone giving the guests headaches. S.Oliver Wurzburg finally got on the board after being stopped on their first four possessions as Benzing made a nice kick out pass to the corner to Gaddy who found Hammonds cutting inside and finishing with a floater cutting the Frankfurt lead to 36-35.
The Fraport Skyliners kept the lead getting back to back baskets from Voeller who was a menace in the paint, but Wurzburg stayed on their heels with Benzing and Gaddy buckets to trail only 40-39. Frankfurt had their chances to get away from Wurzburg, but both teams would produce runs. The Fraport Skyliners went on a 7-0 run to lead 47-39 as Jules Akodo hit a clutch trey, Scrubb made free throws and Huff made a runner. S.Oliver Wurzburg then followed with a 6-0 run getting some key stops as Frankfurt rushed their offense a bit while on offense got Benzing free throws, a Jackson-Cartwright jumper and Gaddy lay in cutting the Frankfurt lead to 47-45. After a Webster runner and Voeller free throw, it was Jackson-Cartwright who followed up his second quarter buzzer beater with a third quarter ending buzzer beater finishing with a runner as Frankfurt led only 50-47.
“Wurzburg did a good job staying in the game getting in the paint and hitting open shots. We didn´t do a good job clogging the paint and closing out their shooters”, stressed Philip Scrubb. “We had various guys step up and make plays despite having Stuckey out and having Hammonds in foul trouble. We buckled down on defense better”, added Abdul Gaddy. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 18% from the parking lot and had got 31 rebounds and had 15 turnovers while s.Oliver Wurzburg were shooting 40% from the field and 7% from the three point line and had got 18 rebounds and had eight turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners retained the lead in the fourth quarter and despite a very late scare by s.Oliver Wurzburg closed out the game to their benefit. S.Oliver Wurzbrug got on the board first as Jackson-Cartwright finished with his left hand getting by Webster easily and cutting Frankfurt´s lead to only 50-49.
Jackson-Cartwright made his BBL debut finishing with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal and after the contest was content with his showing. “I was a little anxious for this game. I felt that I had been working hard for it. But once I got on the court, it was just basketball. When I got out on transition is what got me going. That is what I do well picking up the pace and finding guys for easy buckets”, stressed Miles Jackson-Cartwright. However this flash of basketball lightening from Jackson-Cartwright didn´t faze the Fraport Skyliners as they jumped out on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 57-49.
Frankfurt´s two main scoring options on this afternoon delivered as Scrubb nailed a trey and free throws and Webster hit a floater. Webster remained aggressive on offense and got to the free throw twice extending Frankfurt´s lead to 59-51. Frankfurt had stepped up their zone defense and turned off the Benzing instant offense button as he wasn´t getting the position or good shots to execute the way he knows how. However s.Oliver Wurzburg didn´t lay down and die, but Jackson-Cartwright and Gaddy executed well hitting shots and cutting the Frankfurt lead to 61-56. Benzing did get to the free throw line, but Frankfurt also got to the free throw line and could up their lead to 68-59 with three Huff free throws and two free throws by Scrubb. S.Oliver Wurzburg continued to fight and had some life left after a Gaddy lay in and Lipkevicius free throws as they trailed only 70-65 with 1.04 minutes to play. Scrubb and Benzing traded baskets as Frankfurt led 72-67 with 50 seconds remaining. Felix Hoffmann hit free throws after a Gaddy steal cutting the Frankfurt lead to 72-69. With 43 seconds remaining, Wurzburg defended well getting Frankfurt to a few seconds to shoot on the shot clock, but Scrubb like always blasted away from about 9 meters away finding nothing but net and giving Frankfurt the 75-69 lead with 24 seconds to go. “I was do for a three. I had missed a few early in the game that I should of made. I had some luck. When I´m open I´ll take it. I´m always confident I´ll make it”, stressed Philip Scrubb. Voeller and Scrubb closed out the win with free throws. “Webster did a good job controlling the pace of the game. He didn´t panic. He got us into our offense and made big plays. We played good team defense limiting Benzing”, stressed Philip Scrubb. “Frankfurt did a good job on Benzing down the stretch playing good position defense and making him take tough shots”, stressed Abdul Gaddy. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Philip Scrubb with 31 points and nine rebounds. Tai Webster added 16 points and six assists. S.Oliver Wurzburg were led by Robin Benzing with 21 points. Miles Jackson-Cartwright added 13 points and Abdul Gaddy contributed 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 44% from the field and 25% from outside and had 39 rebounds and18 turnovers. S.Oliver Wurzburg shot 39% from the field and 9% from outside and they grabbed 25 rebounds and had nine turnovers.