I´m probably one of the only basketball journalists in Europe and for that matter anywhere on earth that doesn´t really know what a post game press conference room looks like. Going to a place where you have to glare at two totally drained 50 plus head coaches who looked like they have just been forced to run a marathon without getting water in between has never been my cup of tea. Plus what you later read in the papers or online is usually the same post game quotes that are scattered in all articles. Instead I prefer to meet high class players from the opponent´s team that I have only watched play and read about and continue to nurse my special relationships that I have with the home team players. After the big 95-78 Eurocup win against Montenegran team KK Mornar Bar which put the Fraport Skyliners to 3-1 in Eurocup action, I as usual hounded the players on and off the court for interesting post game quotes, but this was a night where I would have liked to have been at the post game press conference. In the 90´s and even only 10 years ago, this press conference would have been one that one could only have heard about via chatter and the press articles, but in 2018 thank God for You Tube. I heard about the heated press conference a few hours after I had returned home and was able to view it again. OK so the post game press conference with coaches Gordon Herbert and Mihailo Pavicevic didn´t have the glitz and comical passages that Allen Iverson did when he gave the word practice a special new meaning, but it showed a side of head coach Gordon Herbert that one only sees when he is really mad. One could of suspected something was brewing in the mind of Pavicevic who is a five time Finish league champion and coached Herbert´s ex team Honka Playboys when he congratulated the Fraport Skyliners a few times instead of the usual one time. Pavicevic then went on to criticize the Fraport Skyliners organization for not being good hosts explaining his disappointment in not having been able to practice in the Fraport arena and having been put in a hotel 31 kilometers away from the arena. Without knowing the real details of why they were put in a hotel half way to German Siberia, Gordon Herbert was quickly to shoot back that his team hadn´t been able to practice in the Fraport arena for almost three weeks on account of activities being held there that didn´t allow court time. In a way both teams were handicapped in not having had had a feel of the court, but Pavicevic´s rude attack on the Skyliners organization was uncalled for. “I heard that our manager had told them before that they couldn´t use our gym to practice. We weren´t able to use it either. Both teams used it for the first time in shoot around right before the game. I know that the Skyliners didn´t intentionally have this done. I also know they wouldn´t treat the opponent bad. I hope that this whole thing will be resolved. Whatever happens when we return there to play them, we will act in a professional way and work hard to get the win”, warned Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark. Mihailovic threatened the Fraport Skyliners in the press conference that they will get the same service in Bar when they arrive for the return game. It will be interesting to see if the Fraport Skyliners suddenly find out after their bus ride to their hotel is actually in Shkodra Albania when they are asked for their passports at the boarder because it is about a 48 kilometer drive from Bar. “If something like that does happen and we found ourselves in Albania that would just be a bigger motivation to go out and win on their home court”, joked ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark. After the latest experience with KK Mornar Bar, the Fraport Skyliners will surely make their own hotel reservasions in Bar so they don´t end up somehwere else where they don´t necessarily want to be.
Whenever Fraport Skyliner teams under Gordon Herbert have had poor games, they mostly return and give a positive answer and did whipping the butts of KK Mornar Bar 95-78. Head coach Gordon Herbert was very disappointed after the bad loss against BG Goettingen last weekend saying it was one of those games where you want to give up coaching. Despite the bad loss the Fraport Skyliners found a good answer and struck the Montenegran team hard with 63 points in the first half. “We didn´t necessarily feel pressure going into this game. We knew that we hadn´t played well and needed a good reaction. We knew that if we showed effort and played hard that that would take care of itself and we would be successful. The biggest thing for us is just coming out and playing hard”, warned Jason Clark. That first half was a scoring fest not seen so often at any level in Europe where defense is still something that is played unlike over the pond. KK Mornar Bar forget what defense was on this night and one could see quickly that as Frankfurt poured in the points more and more in that first quarter the more they knew that it would be a long long night and the more they wanted to have the game end as soon as possible. “Scoring 63 points was a whole lot. I don´t know if I had ever experienced that many points before in one half. I just hope that we have many more games like that on offense and defense”, smiled Jason Clark. One thing that really stood out in the game was the refreshing way the club played offense and how nicely the ball was being moved around. There were some instances where the ball movement reminded one a bit of the stellar 2015-2016 season where the club won the Fiba Europe Cup. Back then guys like Jordan Theodore, Aaron Doornekamp, the German twin towers of Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel now both Euroleague players and Philip Scrubb practiced the beautiful ball movement with a passion and might even have got a brief smile from Spurs coach Gregg Popovic had he been in the arena who has attempted to bring the European flair to the NBA in recent years. “I wouldn´t know what to call our brand, but I think that we showed our identity against Mornar Bar something that we have showed only in spurts this season. Our indentity is too play basketball that is tough, relentless and where we show togetherness. We want to bring this on a more consistent basis. We continue to work on that”, said Jason Clark.
The Fraport Skyliners let up a bit in the second half on the offensive end scoring only 35 points, but can you call it a let up, because scoring 63 points in one half doesn´t happen every day unless you’re the Golden State Warriors. Scoring 35 points is ok, but not great, but will still get you wins when your defense is working well. Even if the offense wasn´t totally consistent for 40 minutes, it wasn´t in any means weak. “When looking back at the second half, I don´t feel like we needed to correct anything. We were still getting good looks and shots off, but they just weren´t falling as regularly like in the first half. They changed their defense and switched up a lot between zone and man. Important is when you are struggling on offense, you need to continue to play together. Playing together and trying to stay consistent is key”, added Jason Clark. What really functioned well for 40 minutes was their defense. They played aggressive from the get go with a lot of intensity and hounded their guards well early in their sets totally disrupting their plays. The communication and switching was spot on again something that was totally lacking against BG Goettingen. Even if their Americans Carrington and Waller combined for 22 points, 70% of those shots at least were contested and one could only tip your cap to their individual effort. “It was a big challenge to stay consistent on defense. You will always have ups and downs in games. The important thing is that you remain consistent on defense. Even if you have an off night shooting, you should never let your offense dictate your defense”, warned Jason Clark. After the big win, Clark lauded the games of Brady Heslip and Richard Freudenberg and the day after lauded the games of Trae Bell-Haynes and Jonas Wolfarth-Botterman. Bell Haynes continues to play solid at the point guard position finding his spots well and even displaying a knack for making the trey. He finished with 11 points on 6/9 shooting including a three and dished out three dimes. Of course he sill makes rookie mistakes, but what really has stood out is his efficiency at executing at the rim. “He does a great job getting into the lane. He does a great job for a rookie being patient in the lane and not rushing. Once there he knows how to finish or get the ball to a teammate. I feel his finishing skills are really overlooked”, warned Jason Clark. Jonas Wolfarth Bottermann had another great game finishing with 16 points and six boards and three blocks. He continues to be a beast at both ends of the court. He had already struck hard in the first few minutes of the game making Frankfurt´s first three baskets. His teammate Clark doesn´t doubt that the German big man can be a consistent player in the BBL. “He is very good on the offensive and defensive rebound. He has nice size and a nice hook shot. I think that he could be a dominant big man in the BBL”, warned Jason Clark.
Jason Clark has been up and down this season on the offensive end, but currently is shooting at 44% from outside in the BBL while averaging 9,7ppg, 2,7rpg and 1,3apg. In the Eurocup he is shooting only 37% from the parking lot, but averaging 11,8ppg, 3,5rpg and 4,3apg. He had another solid game in the Eurocup against Mornar Bar finishing with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals and was perfect from downtown at 2/2. His teammate German Richard Freudenberg has also found his offensive game again and stressed he has let his energy, defense and rebounding spark his offense. Clark shares some of Freudenberg´s recipes for success. “I will continue to get into the game with my defensive intensity. Some guys like to get into the game with their offense which takes a bit longer for some guys. For me at the moment is too do it through my defense which allows my offense to flow better”, warned Jason Clark. The American can do it again this weekend when Frankfurt faces the 3-0 EWE Baskets Oldenburg. They have had interesting games so far in the BBL destroying Braunschweig, winning a shoot out against ratiopharm ulm and then surprisingly whipping struggling MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. They are currently second in points made with 96 and sixth at 82 points allowed. They boast a stellar roster with BBL legend Rickey Paulding, top point guard Will Cummings, versatile big man Rashid Mahalbasic and a core of nice role players with Nate Booth, Franz Massenat and Philip Schwethelm. Clark knows what will be the key to leaving Oldenburg with a happy bus ride home. “Defense will get us the win. If we can bring the defense we had in the first half against Mornar Bar then we will be in good shape. We need to play good defense and play together for 40 minutes”, stressed Jason Clark. The American is looking forward to battling Oldenburg lifer Rickey Paulding. “I know his game and have seen him play. He is similar to Tez in being a big figure in the BBL. It is always fun to go against guys like that”, added Jason Clark. The Oldenburg game will also be an added good opportunity for the American to improve his ranking with the coaching staff in that he can contain top point guard Will Cummings who is currently tearing up the BBL averaging 21,0ppf,2,7rpg and 5,7apg. But Clark has his game face on and won´t let any player in any league get in his head. “I look forward to every battle with every team and every player. I approach each game and each player I battle the same way. I want to come in with defensive intensity and let my offense flow naturally”, warned Jason Clark. One thing is for sure, Clark has the right mind set and has it down. Now all he needs to do is bring his game on a consistent basis which as the point guard will help the Fraport Skyliners to be that consistent team that they want to be at both ends of the court.