The one thing that every basketball team dreads is playing the first game on the final day during a tournament because that means they are playing for nothing, but pride as the two final teams can relax a bit more and rest their muscles while the two losing semi-finalists have to forgo a hearty lunch and play in the early afternoon. The Fraport Skyliners had a short recovery period after their disappointing 85-79 loss to s.Oliver Wurzburg as they had less than 24 hours to return to the court with a clash with Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf. It was obvious that Frankfurt was still very early in the pre season as they had some fine moments against Wurzburg, but that that feared defensive ensemble that head coach Gordon Herbert builds each season was still far away, but that is expected at this point of the pre season as the one on one defense and communication was a major work in progress. Their offense showed massive potential and Erik Murphy was a major bright spot that showed right away that he could do a lot more than shoot the ball and that his rebounding was efficient. So for the Fraport Skyliners meeting the weaker Dragons Rhondorf came just right for their team to continue to work on their offense, get some new added self confidence and also to work further on their shaky defense. For the Dragons Rhondorf meeting another easyCredit BBL team was another huge test that they most likely wouldn´t win, but just getting the experience to match against an ex NBA player, battle BBL legend Quantez Robertson and all the other talented players was like a gift where the young Germans and talented imports Raekwon Miller and Joe Mvoezolo could work on their game and match up against the best. Even if the Dragons Rhondorf made it a game for a quarter, they were unable to keep that consistent level as a nasty 24-0 run in the second quarter erupted the Fraport Skyliners in winning an immense lopsided game 99-36. After the big win head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t look happy or content, but the way he does after every game in that he knows that there is always room for improvement even after a 63 point drubbing of a Pro A team. “Our intensity was better on the defensive end and our team play was a lot better. It is hard for guys to find a rhythm when you play 12 guys so today we first played 10 guys and put in Vargas and Freudenberg in the second half. They gave us a lot of energy in the third quarter”, stated head coach Gordon Herbert. For the Dragons Rhondorf it was a worse performance than against Bonn where they lost by 42 points, but the club sees it as a learning experience and nothing else. “I thought we did many of the small things well, but we still have a lot of work to do. Important now is that we stay positive”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf head coach Thomas Adelt.
The Dragons Rhondorf came out focused while the Fraport Skyliners may still have had their pre game video session in their minds which Gordon Herbert had implied after the loss to Wurzburg and weren´t as focused on the court while the Pro B team rushed out to a 7-4 lead surprising the guests. Rhondorf spread the ball around getting baskets from Joe Mvuezolo, Alex Moeller and a trey from husky forward Yannick Kneesch, but the Frankfurt side didn´t let this minor shock effect their game as they got calm and started to move their offense which led to sound execution with a 20 footer from ex Chicago Bull Erik Murphy, a trey by ex Baylor(NCAA) sniper Brady Heslip and a lay in by Canadian rookie Trae Bell-Haynes as Frankfurt led 12-7 as their 8-0 run was only a preview of what would later happen.
Frankfurt now had control of the game and would never trail again. Finish national player Shawn Huff hit a trey down the stretch as the Fraport Skyliners had the comfortable 18-11 lead after one quarter. The Dragons Rhondorf had done a good job taking care of the ball suffering only four turnovers, but were getting beat too many times on the boards as the physicality of Frankfurt was staggering. Rhondorf did a good job showing some of the intensity that they showed against the Telekom Baskets Bonn the day before where they were able to keep pace with them well. Akeem Vargas who is the minister of defense was on the bench and his presence not on the floor effected Frankfurt.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners broke open the game to big proportions as they went on a seemingly unending run that would seal the win already for them before halftime. Sam Horvath and ex Georgetown(NCAA) stand out Jason Clark traded three´s as Frankfurt led 21-14 and then they really took off on the offensive end going on a 7-0 run as ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson nailed a trey and Huff and Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann scored slowly starting to maim Rhondorf mentally as they trailed 28-14. Rhondorf was able to stop this run with a Mvuezolo lay in, but then came the gigantic turning point as the Fraport Skyliners unleashed a lethal and paralyzing offense as they stormed out on a nasty 24-0 run to up their lead to 52-17. The two main forces in the run were Brady Heslip and Swedish phenom Elijah Clarance combining for 22 points. Heslip just went totally berserk nailing five three´s including three in a row. “We did a better job finding him. I´m surprised when he misses”, stated Gordon Herbert. “I first tried to find my teammates, but when I feel the need to score I become more aggressive”, added Brady Heslip. While Clarance went for seven points as his versatility was obvious, but what caught the eye most was the 20 year old´s athleticism which was just incredible. He hit a three which always makes him happy, because his shooting is something he doesn´t get credit for, but his coast to coast sprint and finish couldn´t have been completed better by his legendary teammate Quantez Robertson. The ex Illinois State(NCAA) player also made a steal and mammoth one handed left handed dunk. The amazing play of Clarance should have opened the eyes of many asking who is that guy. “It is hard to say when we will see him in the BBL. He has a great attitude and work ethic. He has the chance to be a physical beast. “, warned Gordon Herbert. “Elijah is a very athletic player. Once he learns to pick and choose his spots he will be a very exciting player”, added Brady Heslip. The Fraport Skyliner rode into halftime with the dominating 54-19 advantage. Frankfurt continued to dominate the boards 22-10 and had six turnovers while Rhondorf had coughed up the ball 15 times. A crucial stat was the tree point shooting as Rhondorf had only connected on two trey´s while Brady Heslip already had six three´s and the team had 10 three´s.
The Fraport Skyliners would continue to heighten their game on both ends as their offense was like sweet clock work while on defense they clogged the center well and let their perimeter defense take control as Akeem Vargas was on the floor. The Fraport Skyliners erupted with a 11-0 run to extend their lead to 66-19 as Vargas showed that he can also get the job done on offense as he scored seven points including downing a trey. German U-20 Bronze winner at the 2018 European championships Richard Freudenberg also retained his shooting consistency from the day before as he launched two trey´s as Frankfurt´s lead climbed to 76-23. Rhondorf just couldn´t get much to work as they got little open shots as they got a good taste of how Frankfurt can operate on defense when all are on the same page. German David Falkenstein did drop a three, but that didn´t help much as the Fraport Skyliners had the commanding 80-29 lead after three quarters. There was a clear difference in basketball class as Frankfurt shot well over 50% while Rhondorf was around 30%. Frankfurt was owning the boards 35-15 and had forced the Dragons to 23 coughed up balls.
In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners offensive machine took no breaks continuing to find ways to score as they produced 19 points while on defense they were stifling the Dragons Rhondorf at will giving up only six points. The Swedish sensation Elijah Clarance continued to amaze everyone with his play on the floor as he nailed another trey and scored inside. He would finish with 14 points, five boards, five dimes and four steals in 20 minutes and felt good after showing his craft on the floor. “I didn´t want to force too much yesterday, but today I really wanted to be aggressive. I am an energy guy and thank God for my athletic abilities”, stressed Elijah Clarance. Everybody got into the scoring for Frankfurt as Garai Zeeb who is in his fourth year and will challenge as always at the guard position for minutes nailed two trey´s in the last minutes and did the best he could filling the stat sheet in 12 minutes with eight points, one board, two assists and three steals. German Philipp Gruber gave Rhondorf one last three and Frankfurt could have hit the 100 plus mark as they had the last possession, but Gordon Herbert opted to run out the clock leaving the floor with a classy 99-36 rout. “We didn´t communicate well on defense and our rotations weren´t good either. We didn´t do a good job getting out on their shooters either”, warned ex Montana State(NCAA) forward Joe Mvuezolo. “Today was better. We watched video of our loss before this game. We did three things well today. We played harder, our defensive rotations were better and we shared the ball better”, added Brady Heslip. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Brady Heslip with 18 points, Elijah Clarance supplied 14 points and Jason Clark had another sold game filling up the stat sheet with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Joe Mvuezolo and Igor Uzelac with eight points a piece. Frankfurt whipped out Rhondorf with 48 to 23 rebounds and forced them to 34 turnovers.