15 minutes after the massive Eurocup win against big favorite Fiat Torino Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark most likely didn´t have any real specific play of the 45 minute battle in his head anymore, but moreover was still in awe after waiting in line for the traditional handshake. He congratulated big time players like two time NBA champion James Michael Mcadoo or ex NBA players Jamil Wilson and Tyshawn Taylor and probably didn´t even notice that another ex NBA player and Olympic Gold medalist Carlos Delfino of Argentina didn´t even make the trip because of an injury, but it was only normal that the American was only focused on one person, the legend Larry Brown. When he finally reached the ex NBA and NCAA champion Brown with Detroit and Kansas which must have felt like an eternity waiting in line that one could have wished to just bowl down the line of players with a huge bowling ball to finally get to the basketball legend. Clark wasn´t disappointed as the head coach uttered the flattering words which Clark will never forget with “That was a great game and you’re a hell of a player”. After a big win like that and getting possibly the most amazing compliment in his life, how does one return 72 hours later and react in the next huge game against ratiopharm Ulm in a do or die cup game where there is no return game, but that win or go home result. After the disappointing opening season loss in Ludwigsburg, the Fraport Skyliners returned and gave an impressive showing against highly favorite Fiat Torino winning 88-85. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t have much time to let his players come down from that huge high over Brown and now they had to follow that up with a cup duel. The good news was that the Fraport Skyliners entered the game with a lot of momentum after the victory against Larry Brown while ratiopharm Ulm had lost their first Eurocup game against Crvena Zvezda 88-73. It is always a big battle when these two teams face off as who could forget the Frankfurt three OT win in 2012 in Ulm or the Ulm playoff series win in 2016. This cup dance was once again a vicious battle as it went to the wire and the Fraport Skyliners had numerous key figures executing like the duo of Heslip and Murphy who combined for 39 points and a rejuvenated Quantez Robertson who had been cold for three quarters and came alive down the stretch, but it was rookie Trae Bell-Haynes who gave the club incredible support in the last minute playing like a veteran and making key baskets to help Frankfurt reach the cup quarterfinals. After the big win a very content Jason Clark reflected on the 40 minute battle. “Both teams went at each other and it was a game of runs. We did a good job staying composed and staying solid on offense and defense. We had our ups and downs, but stuck together. Tez struggled, but came alive and Heslip and Bell-Haynes were huge. We did what we had to do as a team to get the win”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm fled slowly out of the locker room to the bus and ex Radford(NCAA) standout Javonte Green was upbeat despite the loss and saw positives. “I thought we played well despite this being our third loss in a row. We played more together as a team tonight. We just didn´t put it together at the end. We had mental lapses on defense that cost us the game”, said Javonte Green.
The Fraport Skyliners opted to keep Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann on the bench while for ratiopharm Ulm their identity figure Per Guenther has been coming from the bench as that is what his role has become this season. The Fraport Skyliners as usual in this season had difficulty getting started and saw the guests break out to a 8-4 advantage. Key in their lead was the 5 points by Dwayne Evans who started his career in the Pro A in Trier and has become a very good BBL player in the last years. Frankfurt mustered some offense thanks to Canadian Brady Heslip and ex NBA player Erik Murphy. Ratiopharm Ulm continued to get Evans involved and he didn´t disappoint scoring three buckets in a row as he was unstoppable scoring all three buckets in the paint as Ulm led 14-8. Ratiopharm Ulm relied on their inside play as their three´s were nonexistent and got on transition while Frankfurt was sloppy on one on one defense. This season Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert is trusting in Canadian fire power and in the waning minutes of the first sniper Brady Heslip didn´t let his team down as he nailed two three´s in a row giving the Fraport Skyliners their first lead 16-14. Ratiopharm Ulm did lead after one quarter 17-16 as ex Tennessee State standout Patrick Miller got active on the boards making the rebound and put back. “We started off slow and they were more aggressive. This is something that we have to correct. You can´t put yourself in a hole early against a good scoring team like Ulm”, stated Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm shot 40% from the field and 20% from outside and had 12 rebounds and 3 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 38% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 3 turnovers.
The second quarter was tight for the first seven minutes as the Fraport Skyliners had their noses in front, but never led by more than 4 points. However they lost some concentration in the stretch run and gave up a bitter 10-0 run at the end to trail 42-34 at the break. Murphy got Frankfurt the lead back with a lay in getting the pass from Robertson, but ratiopharm Ulm quickly stole the lead back as young German David Kramer made a pretty acrobatic lay in as they had to rely on individual plays than on set and team play. Frankfurt continued to be aggressive on offense as Quantez Robertson dropped a trey and ex St Johns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg who´was told this season to not to worry about his good shot, but help out more on the boards and did handling an offensive rebound and getting the put back as Frankfurt led 25-21. The Fraport Skyliners continued to always get out on transition and controlled the boards at that point. After ex German national player Per Guenther waltzed to the rim and scored with a nifty lay in, it was Jason Clark who came back on the next possession and posted up against Gunther giving him the mis match and made a pretty shot. He may not have had the length of ex NBA players Henry Sims or Greg Monroe who were his Georgetown big men teammates back in the day, but he definitely picked something up from them over the years. “Georgetown has been known for having good big men. I have added the post up to my game and try to use it when I can. I just bump, get my spot and rise over my defender. I work over the summer with Monroe and Sims. They destroy me in the post, but I tend to take a couple of their moves just in case I get the chance in the post”, smiled Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm tied the score at 27-27 getting free throws from ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Ryan Thompson and a pull up jumper from Dwayne Evans. Frankfurt then got a spectacular three from Finish national player Shawn Huff and a hook shot from Wolfarth-Bottermann as Frankfurt led 32-29. The Huff three was a sweet bank shot from the corner and as it sailed through the net, the ex Ludwigsburg forward let out a big roar getting back on defense as he knew that that wasn´t exactly programed from him. “That´s basketball. We all know that he can make that shot. It was a lucky shot, but we´ll take it”, smiled Jason Clark. Ex USC(NCAA) guard Katin Reinhardt then drilled a trey tying the score at 32-32. Heslip then made a beautiful lay in in traffic as the game remained tight as Frankfurt led 34-32. Ratiopharm Ulm then heightened their defense getting a big block and forcing a turnover while getting buckets inside from young German Nicolas Breitzel and Dwayne Evans and Miller nailed a buzzer beater trey as Frankfurt trailed 42-34. “We struggled in that run and didn´t help each other on defense. We did a good job not letting that run kill us as we were able to come back”, stressed Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm shot 52% from the field and 30% from the three point line and grabbed 18 rebounds and had 4 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 33% from the three point line and grabbed 18 rebounds and six turnovers.
Ratiopharm Ulm kept up the pressure keeping the lead in the third quarter, but the Fraport Skyliners never wilted, but clawed their way back and trailed only by three points after 30 minutes. Frankfurt got some solid offense from Wolfarth-Bottermann with a tap in and another three from Heslip cutting the Ulm lead to 45-39. When Heslip is totally open and even when there is a hand in his face, his ability to stroke the ball home is about as realistic and safe as Fort Knox. Ratiopharm Ulm wasn´t doing anything special on offense as they got to the free throw line and got some deflections that led to transition baskets. A steal and basket from Green and a 20 footer from ex University of Hawaii (NCAA) forward Isaac Fotu kept Frankfurt at bay as they trailed 49-39. Nobody should dare to say that Heslip is one dimensional and only a three point shooter as he displayed his ability to score in the paint netting two buckets keeping Frankfurt close at 49-43. “I needed to be more aggressive after the first game. I am happy that I got back to my old self in the last game. It was good to get that first game out of my system”, warned Brady Heslip. However Frankfurt was too inconsistent on defense as they allowed Ulm to keep a nice lead of 52-43 with a Evans lay in and free throw. Then came the turning point of the third quarter as Erik Murphy led Frankfurt closer on a 12-6 run to trail only 58-55 after three quarters. The ex Florida Gator made a trey and then a monster block on Fotu and Bell Haynes scored in the paint as Frankfurt trailed 52-49. However ratiopharm Ulm kept the pressure on as Evans continued to be an offensive work horse getting a hook shot and Thompson stroked home a three as Ulm led 56-49. Murphy scored inside and Thompson hit from the corner with a few seconds remaining as the guest led 58-55. “Frankfurt played more physical and aggressive and we couldn´t figure out how to play against that”, added Javonte Green. “We have great and smart players. We made good plays on offense and defense and Murphy was huge for us who always presents mismatches”, stressed Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm shot 43% from the field and 21% from the parking lot and had 31 rebounds and 9 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 42% from the field and 30% from the parking lot and got 29 rebounds and had 9 turnovers.
The fourth quarter remained a very tight affair and ratiopharm Ulm never led by more than 5 points as they allowed Frankfurt to hang around. Bell-Haynes had been quiet offensively in the first three quarters, but came alive in the fourth quarter and got things rolling with a trey dead locking the game at 58-58. Two guys that Frankfurt had problems controlling all night long were Green and Evans. When they weren´t on the court, then the Ulm play suffered, but when they were on the court usually good things happened. Green was all over the court making a tip in dunk and making a three as he harmonized beautifully with Patrick Miller all night long. “Coach wants me to get offensive rebounds and steals. I just try to do what coach wants so we can be successful”, added Javonte Green. Evans also scored, but as usual when you need a bucket in need call Brady Heslip as he responded with two three as Frankfurt trailed 65-64. Every time Frankfurt countered, ratiopharm Ulm struck back on offense as Thompson and Green scored inside as Ulm led 69-64. The mini runs continued as Murphy and Bell-Haynes scored in the paint cutting the Um lead to 70-69. After the Murphy bucket, ratiopharm Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath was hit with two technicals. “The technical didn´t hurt us as we had a game plan. We wanted to take this as motivation and not dwell on it”, added Javonte Green. After being 1/6 from outside, Quantez Robertson found his touch just in time nailing a three and pull up jumper giving Frankfurt the 74-73 lead with less than a minute to play. “Tez never gives up. He knows that he is our leader and that we follow him. When he gets steals or hits shots then he lights our fires and we follow him. He always knows the next shot that he takes will go in”, warned Jason Clark. “I always think that the next one is going in. I never get discouraged and just keep shooting”, smiled Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt then got a stop on Miler and with 7,9 seconds to play, Trae Bell Haynes put icing on the cake with a lay in. “He knows the game since day one. It is so rare to see a guy come from college and learn the speed of the game so well. He may be a pass first guard, but he knows exactly when it´s time to score. He was so huge for us. He is a winner”, warned Jason Clark. “I have to give a lot of credit to my time in college. I have learned it´s important to be poised down the stretch. Pressure is a priviledge. It is a lot of fun and these are the games we live for”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. Huff put an exclamation mark on the game with free throws. “Heslip and Bell_Haynes are good players and guys that will make plays. We scouted them well and knew what they were going to do, but we had mental breaks”, added Javonte Green”. “We started to get stops and rebounds. We are coming together fast now after two games. We are figuring out how to win games now”, added Brady Heslip. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Brady Heslip with 24 points. Erik Murohy added 15 points and Trae Bell-Haynes 11 points and six assists. Quantez Robertson added 10 points. Ratiopharm Ulm were led by Dwayne Evans with 25 points. Javonte Green added 13 points and Patrick Miller had 12 points and 9 dimes. The Fraport Skyliners shot 44% from the field and 34% from outside and got 37 boards and coughed up the ball 11 times while ratiopharm Ulm shot 43% from the field and 22% from outside and got 41 boards and coughed up the ball 13 times.