The weekend was supposed to start off with a bang for the Fraport Skyliners as the easyCredit BBL season was winding down with three games remaining as they were involved in a playoff dog fight with s.Oliver Wurzburg for the eighth and last place. Instead of beginning the weekend with a big victory in Berlin, the 2004 BBL champion stunk up the building so badly losing 106-69 that even NBA legend Jack Sikma who was watching his son Luke play must have thought did Frankfurt really deserve that? The embarrassing loss in Berlin brought back putrid memories from more than 10 years ago when coaches like Charles Barton and Murat Didin had to exit the then O2 arena with nasty 20 plus point slap in the face loses. The only positive effect to the lousy evening was that Wurzburg battled hard in Ludwigsburg, but ran out of gas in the second half losing 87-77. The Fraport Skyliners had one win more than the Bavarian team, but also knew that if they ended up late Tuesday afternoon tied in the standings that they would have an early summer vacation as Wurzburg would get that last ticket because they had the better head to head record. Wurzburg had an easy road game in Tuebingen while Frankfurt welcomed Science City Jena who had beat Giessen at home 48 hours earlier by 21 points and wanted to end their season in fine fashion as they were resting in 13th place. Even if this was a huge must win for the Fraport Skyliners, it is always a delight for the fans to be able to observe three BBL legends of Derrick Allen aged 37, Julius Jenkins aged 37 and Immanuel Mcelroy aged 38 for another time as these guys just don´t want to quit. When looking at the three Americans, you see unending experience and the three role models combined share 112 years of age. The three players brought combined 43 professional seasons into this season including 38 seasons in Germany displaying their amazing dedication to playing in Germany. The three BBL legends also aren´t short on titles as combined they share 13 professional titles and they share 11 BBL allstar appearances. The three also share 1,163 BBL games, 268 international club games and 66 Euroleague games experience. You could almost call them brothers as all three have a dedication to the game and their body that has allowed them to play so long into their thirties. Unfortunately for the fans only 1/3 of the three legends were active as Jenkins and Mcelroy didn´t make the trip due to injuries, but the Fraport Skyliners still struggled very badly as with a lot of breaks at the end, they didn´t witness a curse, but got around it surviving the guests 67-65.
There was a short span midway through the fourth quarter where it seemed like the basketball God had had it with the Fraport Skyliners and had set a curse on them. First Quantez Robertson made a steal, turned around and collided into Mike Morrison forcing a turnover, Robertson then missed two free throws and Tai Webster missed an easy lay up. Frankfurt was doing all it could to lose, but somehow the basketball God turned it´s head the other way in the last minute as Frankfurt escaped Science City Jena with a 67-65 victory. Mr Canada Philip Scrubb was calm after the win, but knew they had to quickly forget this loss and get focused for Oldenburg as a win there on Tuesday and a Wurzburg loss against Bayreuth would send them to the playoffs. “We toughed out a win. They hit shots early and quickly had confidence. We didn´t respond well to that and were sloppy taking care of the ball. We´ll take the win. There was no curse, but sometimes when you go through adversary, you don´t always get the bounces, but we did get the stops when we needed to. I hope we get all the right bounces on Tuesday in Oldenburg”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Philip Scrubb.
Science City Jena played a very scrappy game and played a tough zone that gave Frankfurt problems all night long. “We weren´t as prepared for the zone as we should have been. We didn´t move the ball as well and expected more space to open up. We needed to attack the zone more and get their defense moving which we didn´t”, added ex Carleton star Philip Scrubb. “This was a tough loss. We fought hard and a few mistakes at the end cost us the game. The ball went Frankfurt´s way at the end. The zone worked for us as well. There was no curse against Frankfurt, but just good defense. They did a good job overcoming problems and figuring out how to win. We also missed our share of easy shots”, said ex Oklahoma Thunder guard Kyle Weaver. “Frankfurt didn´t have their best day. Jena really gave a good chance away to win the game”, added Chicago Bull Paul Zipser.
4,540 fans came out on a balmy late April late afternoon wanting to see how the Fraport Skyliners would react after the embarrassing blow out loss in Berlin. German national player and Chicago Bull Paul Zipser also was in the arena picking up on the action. Despite the Fraport Skyliners breaking out on the fast 2-0 lead through a step back jumper from Tai Webster, Science City Jena reacted putting up a harsh 12-0 run to take the unexpected 12-2 lead as some fans might have been wondering if a second Alba Berlin game was in the making only 48 hours later? In the run, Science City Jena was led by ex Fraport Skyliner Derrick Allen who got going early registering three buckets. Ex Giessen 46er Skyler Bowlin also nailed a trey and ex Wurzburg forward Maxi Ugrai who quietly has become a solid BBL role player this season with Jena also buried a trey. The Fraport Skyliners seemed shocked off the lightening Jena start, but also very anxious to make amends after the massacre in Berlin. Science City Jena quickly showed their aggressive style of defending that Frankfurt had problems adjusting to early on. That basketball is a game of runs is no secret as the Fraport Skyliners slapped an excruciating 9-0 run into Jena´s faces cutting their lead to only 12-11. After a slow start by starting point guard Tai Webster who had registered 3 quick turnovers, head coach inserted German wonder boy Isaac Bonga who led the charge in the comeback. He ran the offense well getting everyone comfortable finding open shots for his teammates. Finish national player Shawn Huff scored in the paint, Scrubb nailed a trey and Bonga scored 4 points while his aggressiveness shone. However the runs continued as Science City Jena scored 9 unanswered points to extend their lead to 20-11. In the run, the guests spread the ball around getting healthy production from many faces. Science City Jena identity figure Ermen Reyes-Napoles who is playing in his 11th season there made a steal and coast to coast run and lay in, Weaver hit free throws, ex Alba Berlin Lithuanian Martynas Mazeika nailed a step back jumper, and ex Vechta center Oliver Mackeldanz made a lay in getting the no look dime form Weaver. However the Fraport Skyliners finished the first quarter strong getting a huge trey from Mr bench energizer Jordan Sibert who played at Ohio State(NCAA) and Bonga hit a pretty runner at the buzzer as Frankfurt trailed only 21-16. “We didn´t start well as they put us on heels right away making plays. We weren´t focused as we were missing intensity”, stressed Philip Scrubb. Science City Jena was shooting 50% from the field and 33% from outside and had five rebounds and two turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 40% from outside and had nine rebound and eight turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners retained the lead, but the contest was a real tug of war as no team could get away from the other. The Fraport Skyliners quickly started with a lot of intensity going on a 5-0 run dead locking the game at 21-21 as ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson hit a desperation trey and ex Dayton(NCAA) guard Jordan Sibert stepped into a Jena passing lane and went coast to coast and finished with an athletic dunk. Sibert had been in only a few minutes, but was very efficient making things happen at both ends of the court. However after Frankfurt stopped three Jena possessions, they finally got their first bucket of the second quarter as Mazeika hit an off balance shot. Science City Jena continued to keep the lead as Ugrai scored on a lay in as Frankfurt trailed 28-23. The Fraport Skyliners then proceeded to go on a timely 9-0 run to grab back the lead at 32-28. In the run, the 2000 BBL cup winner shared the ball well as four different players scored. Webster hit a pull up jumper, Jonas Wolfarth-Botterman scored inside, Robertson drained a three and Florida native Mike Morrison made a tap in off the perfect Webster pass. Science City Jena was doing a great job drastically limiting the looks of Scrubb, so the Canadian who is a good passer played playmaker and dropped two dimes in the run. Frankfurt was defending well clogging the lane and forcing Jena to tough shots. The Fraport Skyliners rolled into the break with the slight lead as Science City Jena continued to battle getting key baskets from ex Ehingen forward Julius Wolf and free throws from Mackeldanz and Bowlin. Frankfurt got crucial support from ex Giessen center Marco Voeller who somehow fished out an offensive rebound in traffic and finished with the put back and Webster made the lay in as Frankfurt had the slight 38-35 advantage at the break. “Our offense had more motion in the second quarter. We relaxed more and were able to paly our game more which led to more open looks”, added Philip Scrubb.
The third quarter was a back and forth battle as fans saw four lead changes, but after 30 minutes the Fraport Skyliners till had their noses ahead even if only slightly. Science City Jena stepped up their zone defense which really stifled the Fraport Skyliners as they were stopped on their first four possessions. Science City Jena stole back the lead as Bowlin did a great job with a stutter step and mastering his change of speed scoring in the lane and Mazeika made free throws as Frankfurt trailed 39-38. Both teams then traded leads, until Webster got Frankfurt the lead back at 43-41 with a smooth trey. Frankfurt´s offense wasn´t working that well as with Scrubb being limited very well by Jena, Frankfurt needed a scoring hero and found it in ex George Mason(NCAA) center Mike Morrison who hit 8 points in a row. Even if the big man dropped 35 points in a Basketball Champions League game last season, he isn´t necessarily the guy one would think of first when the team is in scoring need. But the big man was a beast and just executed incredibly. The big man made a sweet 20 footer, hit two free throws, made a lay in and made an offensive rebound and put back as Frankfurt was able to somewhat heighten their lead to 51-46. Science City Jena remained on Frankfurt´s heels with Weaver and Wolf baskets. Down the stretch Frankfurt got valuable free throws from Scrubb and a lay in from Webster, but the story in the last two minutes was Julius Wolf who made an offensive rebound and put back and then dropped a nasty trey from about eight and a half meters to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 55-53. After the amazing trey, Wolf turned around and saluted the two lonely Jena fans in the stands while NBA player Paul Zipser saluted Wolf from the stands like an army general. “We can always rely on Morrison on giving us energy. He can always score when he finds his spots. He kept us in the game. It is always nice having a veteran guy picking us up”, stressed Philip Scrubb. “Morrison made some tough buckets and did a good job in the paint. Frankfurt made shots and got the stops when they needed to”, added ex Washington State guard Kyle Weaver. The Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 23% from the three point line and hauled down 28 rebounds and had 13 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 38% from the field and 24% from the three point line and hauled down 24 rebounds and had 9 turnovers.
In the fourth quarte the Fraport Skyliners would struggle and relinquish the lead twice, but recover and win the game in ugly fashion. After ex Braunschweig forward Derrick Allen hit one free throw, the Fraport Skyliners marched out on a 5-0 run to take the 60-54 lead as their guard power struck as Bonga who was under the watchful eyes of numerous NBA scouts including the Los Angeles Lakers made a runner and Sibert dropped a long trey from way downtown as his efficiency was spot on again as he finished with 8 points, 5 boards and a steal in 13 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners had the lead, but the game would get more ugly as Frankfurt couldn´t keep a rhythm on offense as the Jena zone continued to shred their offense as Science City Jena slowly clawed their way back as Maxi Ugrai again showed his valuable bench support getting a lay in and dropping a three as Frankfurt had their lead cut to 60-59. On the lay in ex Frankfurt fan favorite Derrick Allen made a beautiful shovel pass. After the game the 37 year old who will turn 38 in August smiled when confronted with the question if he will be the last standing among his two teammates Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy as to who will retire last, but rather commentated on his artsy pass to Ugrai. “There was a switch and Scrubb was on me so I drove and made the shovel pass to Ugrai. We knew that Frankfurt plays good defense”, stressed Derrick Allen. Science City Jena did a great job all game getting good support from many guys as each player understood his role and stepped up when they had too as Ugrai showed on various accounts in the game. Science City Jena got the lead back at 61-60 as Weaver nailed a step back shot over Robertson, but that was quickly erased as Scrubb dropped a trey as Frankfurt led again 63-61. With 3.13 left in the game, Reyes-Napoles would give Science City Jena their last lead of the game 64-63 as he made a tough shot in traffic and made the free throw. Then came some Frankfurt misfortune as it seemed like a curse had been set upon Frankfurt, but Science City Jena
couldn´t capitalize and heighten their lead. Huff finally hit a shot giving Frankfurt the 65-64 advantage with a little more than a minute to go. Morrison and Allen traded free throws with less than a minute to go as Frankfurt led 66-65. Huff executed only on one free throw as Frankfurt led 67-65. Science City Jena had one more chance, but a wild Wolf shot sailed wide as the Fraport Skyliners escaped with a hard fought victory. “We forced them to tough shots and rebounded the ball well. We did a good job relying on defensive stops when we weren´t scoring”, stressed Philip Scrubb. “We rushed too much at the end and weren´t patient and couldn´t execute”, added Kyle Weaver. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Mike Morrison with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Tai Webster added 11 points. Philip Scrubb contributed 8 points and 8 assists. Science City Jena was led by Derrick Allen with 11 points. Kyle Weaver and Maxi Ugrai added 10 points apiece. The Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 27% from the parking lot and got 38 rebounds and had 18 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 37% from the field and 20% from the parking lot and got 30 rebounds and coughed up the ball 13 times.