EasyCredit BBL team Fraport Skyliners are in their 20th anniversary season while their farm team Fraport Skyliners Juniors that have stood for top youth development since years bringing up top players like Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Isaac Bonga and making them to Euroleague and NBA players. The farm club was started in 2009 and they are also celebrating an anniversary with their 10th season in the German Pro B league. Over the years besides helping young and dedicated German talents develop, they also have had success as they reached the Pro B final in 2016. A big problem with the success rate of this club is simply that they don´t always have all their players to choose from in any given game simply because there are a handful of double license players on board that often are with the easyCredit BBL team. So far their anniversary 10th season has began quite well as in the first time in their history the club has started perfect and have a 2-0 record. They began the season with a hard fought victory in Rhondorf 75-68 where their three point precision stood out with 11 three´s and a week later they returned home for a duel against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg and ex Frankfurt Pro B head coach Erik Detlev that also was a difficult win to achieve as they pulled out a 74-68 victory against their ex coach. They didn´t shoot as well as in Rhondorf, bit rebounded better and especially picked up their defense forcing Wurzburg to 25 turnovers, but in a way were also lucky despite 13 turnovers less and over 20 more shots eked out the win. Also a new shooting star from Sweden was born with Elijah Clarance who is averaging 19,0ppg and now they were up for the next battle against neighbor Giessen Rackelos that is the farm team of easyCredit BBL team Giessen 46ers. The Hessen neighbor started came into the contest with a 1-1 record with a tough 87-71 loss on the road against very ambitious new team Schwenningen and then returned home last weekend and let out all their frustration crushing the Dragons Rhondorf 102-56 nailing 12 three´s, controlling the boards and forcing the opponent to 21 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors wanted to keep the 0 in the loss column and did getting by Giessen Rackelos 80-72 and moving their record to 3-0. It wasn´t a perfect game from Frankfurt, but as usual they had the right answers from their deep roster and certain moments in the game. “We didn´t start well giving up easy baskets. We got a good lead in the second quarter with good ball movement and fast break points. In the second half we did a good job with defensive rebounds and keeping up defensive pressure not letting them get into their sets”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Konstantin Schubert. Giessen was undermanned and played a good game, but just couldn´t get the big stops in big situations. “We started well, but then let them push us around which we couldn´t recover from. We weren´t as aggressive or as confident as we needed to be to be able to win. When things got rough, we tried to do too much and didn´t stay within our system. We were too disorganized and didn´t have the juice to beat a deep team on the road”, stressed ex Cal-San Diego (NCAA2) guard Adam Klie.
Giessen Rackelos got off to a very good start taking a quick 6-0 lead getting to the free throw line and getting a trey from ex MHP Riesen forward Johannes Lischka. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were rushing things too much as if it was 10 to midnight and they had to reach the Frankfurt train station by then on foot. Swede shooting star Elijah Claranace who had hit for 22 and 17 points in his first two Pro B games was more of a one man show and forget a bit to get others involved which Giessen took advantage of. Frankfurt got it´s first field goal at the 6,34 minute mark as big man Armin Trtovac scored. Clarance then sunk a trey as it would be his only points of a long night for him as Frankfurt trailed 8-5. Frankfurt was better in the game and slowly began to claw their way back. It really doesn´t matter what option they pick, but they can always get back into a contest quickly be it getting their big men involved or letting their outside shooting shine. With Giessen up 12-7, Frankfurt laid down an impressive 8-0 run to gain their first lead of the game at 15-14. In the run they got explosive support from ex Freiburg forward Cosmo Gruehn who dropped a trey and then made a fancy turn around shot while California native JT Roach dropped a trey. Frankfurt had finally settled down and didn´t rush their plays and got a lot of contribution from many faces. Giessen and Frankfurt would trade leads once, but the precision shooting from Zeeb and Roach from outside gave Frankfurt the 21-18 advantage after 10 minutes. “Once Frankfurt settled down, they got any shot they wanted, but fouls hurt them. Giessen did a good job attacking the basket”, stressed EVL Limburg guard Kellon Thomas.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners found a nice groove and dominated leading by as many as 15 points and still led in double digits by halftime. The first 6-7 minutes were a real horror show for Giessen as they were unable to get anything going on offense as Frankfurt stopped 14 possessions and on offense produced a 16-1 run to extend their lead to 37-22, In the run the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got very good support from their two big men Trtovac and new player Aaron Kayser who came from Chemnitz as they combined for 9 points. It was the break through for Kayser in Frankfurt who finished with 9 points and 3 rebounds and was perfect from the field 4/4. “I came to Frankfurt injured and missed 2 months last summer. I couldn´t play in Rhondorf and last weekend got 8 minutes. I feel good and feel like I´m slowly finding a rhythm”, added Aaron Kayser. Frankfurt also got another three from Cosmo Griehn and ex St Johns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg got a two handed dunk on transition. Ex Rhein Stars Koeln (ProA) swing man Leon Okpara finally got Giessen out of their misery hitting a trey. Giessen also got free throws from Alen Pjanic and Johannes Lischka while Frankfurt got a jumper from 17 year old Maxi Begue shortly before the break as Frankfurt led 39-29. “I thought the game of Giessen really suffered when Klie and Okpara were out. The defensive pressure by Frankfurt was huge for shutting down Giessen”, stated EVL Limburg guard Kellon Thomas. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 45% from the field and 40% from outside and had 16 rebounds and 8 turnovers while Giessen Rackelos shot 24% from the field and 33% from outside and had 20 boards and 12 turnovers.
Both teams played role reversal as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had a horrible start to the third quarter, but not quite as bad as Giessen did in the second quarter. Giessen cut the Frankfurt lead down to 4 points, but Frankfurt would recover again and lead by double figures again. Frankfurt actually got on the board first with a 15 footer by Armin Trtovac who was set up nicely from Clarance. But Giessen then broke away going on a 8-0 run to trail only 41-37 as they stopped four consecutive possessions by Frankfurt. In the Giessen run, they got vital help from three different players as Okpara, Klie and Pjanic all got buckets. Frankfurt got back to bad old habits of forcing and rushing too much while Giessen attacked the rim well and played with more intensity. Frankfurt responded well by getting two trey´s by Zeeb and Roach as suddenly Frankfurt led comfortably again 51-40. Even though Giessen got two buckets a piece from Klie and ex Angelo St. (NCAA2) French man Thomas Tshikayer, but they were unable to heighten their defense as Frankfurt was always able to answer as Schubert and Kayser got baskets. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors led 57-49 after thee quarters, but Giessen was still very much in striking distance. “Giessen got back by aggressively attacking the rim while Frankfurt did a good job on the boards and getting some put backs”, added ex Kent State(NCAA) guard Kellon Thomas. “This might be the strongest team we have ever had since I have been here. We play with a lot of self confidence. We didn´t do a good job playing with confidence and getting a bigger lead. That is something we need to work on”stressed Konstantin Schubert. “They kept hitting shots and we weren´t doing enough on defense to get stops and close the gap”, added Giessen guard Adam Klie.
In the fourth quarter Giessen continued to fight and claw, but they just couldn´t get over the hump and really be able to challenge Frankfurt for the win never getting closer than 7 points. Giessen got off to a quick hot start going on a 5-0 run to cut Frankfurt´s advantage to 59-52. In the run, they got a three from Pjanic and a sweet hook shot from ex San Jose State(NCAA) big man Leon Bahner. But Konstantin Schubert then made a huge play that really lifted Frankfurt again. A stop by Giessen and basket would have cut Frankfurt´s lead to 5 points, but instead the German made a beautiful floater at the shot clock buzzer breaking the back of Giessen. “I play my own style and it doesn´t always look pretty. The spin move helped so I got by my man. I have confidence in my floater and that shot gave us momentum”, stressed Konstantin Schubert. He finished with 5 points and 5 boards in 14 minutes and would play more with every other Pro B team. He has improved his scoring each season since he got here in 2014 and with the deeper team this season has seen his minutes suffer. “I just want to win. I don´t care about how many minutes I get. I know that if I play well then I will get my minutes”, added Konstantin Schubert. Frankfurt then continued to execute well getting buckets from Roach, Trtovac, Freudenberg and Zeeb to lead 69-56. Giessen gave up too many offensive rebounds and had bad shot selection on offense. Giessen then saw some more daylight going on a quick 6-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 69-62 as Okpara, Pjanic and klie scored. Giessen then went to zone and got burned twice as Zeeb made two deep three´s from the corner and once again Frankfurt trailed by double digits 75-64. “We have practiced zone a bit. Those two baskets were my fault. I was too late. I will learn from this game”, warned Adam Klie. “Zeeb is our leader and carried us. He may not have had his best game, but we know that when we need him, he will produce. We have so many good players this season that anyone can step up”, warned Konstantin Schubert. Frankfurt continued to pour it on offensively as Trtovac scored two more times inside. Pjanic made a tap in with 58 seconds to play, but Frankfurt led 79-70 and would never look back. “The Frankfurt execution and defensive pressure won them the game”, stressed EVL Limburg guard Kellon Thomas. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Garai Zeeb and Armin Trtovac with 14 points a piece. JT Roach added 13 points and Richard Freudenberg had 11 points, 8 boards and three assists. Giessen Rackelos were led by Alen Pjanic with 18 points. Leon Okpara had 16 points while Adam Klie had 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 47% from the field and 41% from outside and had 35 rebounds and 14 turnovers while Giessen Rackelos shot 39% from the field and outside and got 37 rebounds and had 17 turnovers. Fraport Skyliners Juniors head coach Sebastian Gleim didn´t know that the 3-0 start was the best in their history, but you could see by his expression that he sees a lot of good in this team. “We have a lot of quality this season. We have more experience and the guys worked very hard on their weaknesses over the summer. We played very aggressive against Giessen, but need to defend the three point line better. We have many weapons this season. Clarance and Akodo combined for only 5 points and we still won easily”, stressed Sebastian Gleim.