Sometimes miracles do happen in sports as over the years there have been some amazing feats that nobody would have ever dreamed of like the 1980 USA Ich Hockey Gold, Boris Becker´s 1985 Wimbeldon win at age 17 or even Germany´s Ice Hockey team 2018 Olympic silver medal in Korea, but mostly one sees surprises that don´t necessarily classify as a miracle especially in the German Pro B. This season there had been some big time games that teams won that nobody would have expected like Giessen winning at Rhondorf with only seven players or last weekend as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors snuck into Bochum with only a seven man rotation and two NBBL(U-19 league) players and came away with an amazing, but also somewhat surprising 87-83 win in OT against the much deeper VFL SparkassenStars Bochum. The favorite Bochum had a 12 man rotation and filled with nonstop talent and experience with imports like Ryon Howard, Jarvis Davis and Davon Roberts as well as many German role players, but totally underestimated the Frankfurt team and now had to win a do or die game on the road. Sometimes it doesn´t matter who you have, but if the attitude and effort isn´t there, then a team like the Fraport Skyliners Juniors who had nothing to lose can make the seemingly impossible become a reality. A negative aspect to game two against Frankfurt for Bochum was that now the home team had the opportunity to have many of their BBL license players on board, because the BBL team didn´t play until Sunday. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were a lot deeper than in game one against Bochum and wanted to slam the door on them and end their season with a sweep, but the opponent lived another day as they forced another do or die game for them winning in Frankfurt 78-70. The VFL SparkassenStars Bochum did a great job to overcome a big deficit in the second quarter and overpower the Fraport Skyliners Juniors in the second half with solid team basketball and good defense. After the win ex EWE Baskets guard Marco Buljevic had a huge simile on his face and content with the huge road win as competing in the Pro B is still a big thrill for him. “We had many highs and lows in this game, but our will was there to win after a bad second quarter. We were motivated to win as we were up 8 points with 1,30 to go in game one and playing against a team seemingly half our age. We reduced our turnovers tonight, played good defense and played with heart. I´m looking forward to game three. We saw two road wins and there is still a lot of fire in both teams”, warned Marco Buljevic. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors departed the floor after the buzzer faster than one could blink and eye, but soon players returned to stretch and top Frankfurt scorer Konstantin Schubert reflected on the loss. “We had a good lead in the second quarter, but then we tried to keep the lead over time, but only saw it shrink. At the end we didn´t play to win, but played not to lose. We gave up too many easy points and gave up too many offensive rebounds and didn´t play good 1-1 defense. We rebounded better with seven men in Bochum. It´s not a good excuse, but we were a bit tired. Many of us practice with the BBL team and we had a two hour practice this morning. We were tired mentally”, stressed Konstantin Schubert.
In the first quarter, the 20-30 Bochum fans who made the trip to Frankfurt saw a very balanced game where Marco Buljevic got the hot hand quickly while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors lived from their strong rebounding on the offensive boards. VFL SparkassenStars Bochum got off to a fast 5-0 lead as Buljevic who played 7 Eurochallenge games with Oldenburg dropped a trey and ex NBBL allstar Felix Engel scored inside on the penetration as Frankfurt´s lazy 1-1 defense would be lacking all day long. However basketball is a game of runs and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors quickly stepped up their defense and made 5 stops while going on a 8-0 run to lead 8-5. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors became aggressive inside and ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb made a reverse lay up and lay in and Schubert also scored twice. Buljevic continued to get the ball and dropped two more trey´s while Armin Trtovac who started his career in Mainz scored inside and made a free throw to deadlock the contest at 11-11. Jules Akodo who was with the British national team last summer got aggressive and led the Fraport Skyliners Juniors on a 9-3 run scoring twice and finding Tobias Jahn who once scored 35 points against Hanau with an easy basket. Bochum fought back as American Jarvis Davis who averaged 20,0ppg with Rostock last season nailed a trey and ex Rhondorf center Alex Angerer hit free throws to cut the Frankfurt lead to 20-19. Akodo scored again and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors led 22-20 after one quarter. “We moved the ball well and Schubert and Trtocav played well in the paint. We slowed down Buljevic at the end and got some transition baskets”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 53% from the field and 33% from outside and had 12 rebounds and 4 turnovers while VFL SparkassenStars Bochum were shooting 46% from the field and 50% from outside and had 4 rebounds and three turnovers.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors made their move and led by as much as 14 points only to lose focus and intensity and see their lead evaporate two three points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors played Frankfurt basketball getting a quick rhythm on offense and slowing down the Bochum defense making everything difficult and went out on a 14-2 run to extend their lead to 36-22 as they were rolling. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors received great support from Schubert with 7 points as he dropped a trey and attacked the rim twice executing with success. The club also got big production from 2017 NBBL top scorer Felix Hecker with a three and a transition basket and a bucket from Trtovac. Zeeb was doing a good job being playmaker getting three assists while organizing the offense and getting everyone involved. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were playing with a lot of self confidence and were playing good unselfish ball while Bochum had fallen into a rut that they had problems recovering from. However as is often the case one team´s big run quickly stops and the opponent takes over going on a run as Bochum scored 11 unanswered points and suddenly Frankfurt´s comfortable lead had gone to 36-33. Bochum knew what was at stake and never gave up showing real heart and began attacking the paint and got to the free throw line three times. They also got added buckets from ex Ehingen guard Engel, ex MBC forward Davon Roberts and ex Scared Heart(NCAA) forward Ryon Howard. Bochum was playing clever offense and doing a better job on the offensive boards as Frankfurt couldn´t buy one. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors struck back on a 5-0 to stop the Bochum run as ex St Johns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg hit a trey and Schubert scored again inside as Frankfurt led 41-33. However Bochum closed out with an important 5-0 run topped off by a Howard buzzer beater as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors led only 41-38. “We executed well and made shots at the start and got consistent stops. Frankfurt then went small as Jahn and Trtovac were on the bench having no inside presence where they hurt us. We then did too much 1-1 play allowing them back into the game”, stressed ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 53% from the field and 33% from outside and had grabbed 20 rebounds while VFL SparkassenStars Bochum were shooting 38% from the field and 47% from the three point line and had grabbed 18 boards.
The third quarter was a tight affair but the VFL SparkassenStars continued to step up their game and led by four points after 30 minutes and would never look back. In the first 3-4 minutes the Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn´t have much offensive power except for Jules Akodo who kept the Fraport Skyliners Juniors in the game. Akodo hit a three and made a lay in to keep Frankfurt ahead 46-42, but Bochum continued to attack the lane going on a 5-0 run as the Americans Roberts and Howard scored giving Bochum the 47-46 lead. Akodo struck right back giving the Fraport Skyliners Juniors the 49-47 lead as he broke the Bochum defense inside again with a penetration lay in and free throw. The game lived from the runs as Bochum took the 52-49 lead as they scored 5 unanswered points as Davis and Angerer connected with free throws and ex Essen forward Mark Gebhardt scored inside. Schubert who had the hot hand all game long and was playing superb inside out basketball tested his 24% three point accuracy nailing a trey deadlocking the game at 52-52. Bochum continued to give Frankfurt headaches on the offensive glass while Tobias Jahn was a beast getting defensive rebounds. Engel and Schubert traded buckets as the game remained tied 54-54. Bochum then got big play from their bench closing out the third quarter with Gebhardt and David Stachanczyk baskets as the latter would continue to be a menace in the fourth quarter. Bochum led 58-54 going into the fourth quarter. “Both teams were playing at the same level and missing many shots. We didn´t sink our heads into the sand, but stayed in the game” added ex Giessen guard Marco Buljevic. “We weren´t able to play our game. They took advantage of our mistakes with their experience”, added Konstantin Schubert. VFL SparkassenStars Bochum were shooting 36% from the field and 32% from the parking lot and had secured 30 rebounds and had six turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 47% from the field and 32% from the parking lot and had secured 30 rebounds, but had 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the VFL SparkassenStars Bochum didn´t hesitate at the start, but attacked the Fraport Skyliners Juniors on offense which they had no answer for and quickly were playing catch up ball and couldn´t get over the hump. Bochum went on a quick 9-2 run to extend their lead to 67-56 over the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. In the run, Bochum was fortified by their bench as David Stachanczyk hit a clutch trey and runner, Davis scored inside and Angerer scored inside after getting fed the lob pass from ex Herten forward Raphael Bals. Bochum played aggressive while Frankfurt played too cute with no risks turning off the aggressive button while Bochum also continued to control the offensive boards. There continued to be hope for the Fraport Skyliners Juniors as they stormed back on a 8-0 run getting back to back trey´s from Schubert and Akodo and free throws from Freudenberg to cut the Bochum advantage to 67-64. However it seemed like the Fraport Skyliners Juniors just didn´t have that will to win like in game one as in crunch-time they allowed Bochum to go on a 9-3 run to extend their lead to 76-67 and decide the game. In the run, Bochum got vital support from Engel who hit a clutch trey and also found Buljevic cutting to the hoop for an easy bucket. Buljevic showed he isn´t just a guy who sits in the corner waiting for the ball but can score on the penetration. Engel also found Angerer for an easy basket while Davis also scored in the paint. Engel had been the unsung hero finding his teammates while Frankfurt refrained from any kind of one on one defense. Freudenberg did nail a trey with 18,5 seconds remaining to cut the Bochum lead to 76-70, but the most damage had been made. Davis and Engel closed out the game with free throws. “We were very sharp on the execution in the fourth quarter. Stachanczyk and Engel gave us strength. It was a team win. Game three will be a real battle. Frankfurt has a young team and will come to Bochum showing their teeth. If they lose it´s no big deal, but our goal was to reach the next round. We have to give the fans a win after the game one loss”, smiled Marco Buljevic. “We tried some press, but they adjusted well to it. We were tired and didn´t move the ball well only doing high pick and roll. Stachanczyk and Engel hit the deciding shots”, stressed Konstantin Schubert. The VFL SparkassenStars Bochum were led by Felix Engel with 16 points. Marco Buljevic added 14 points while Alex Angerer added 12 points and 12 rebounds and Jarvis Davis had 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by led by Konstantin Schubert with 21 points while Jules Akodo added 17 points and six assists. Richard Freudenberg had 11 points. The VFL SparkassenStars Bochum shot 39% form the field and 35% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 43% from the field and 34% from outside and had 40 rebounds and 15 turnovers.