The Fraport Skyliners have played a whirlwindof a season so far as their results and play in the Eurocup and easyCredit BBLhave been like day and night. Injuries as usual has been a huge factor whilethe chemistry has stalled in it´s growing, but that isn´t any different withother teams like an Alba Berlin who lost three guards, but continue to keepwinning. The Fraport Skyliners lone bright spot this season has been theirstellar play in the Eurocup as with two games remaining, the club has alreadyqualified for the next round having a record of 5-3. Even if they have playedunsatisfactory at times, the difference to the BBL has been that they havefound ways to win. In the easyCredit BBL that hasn´t been the fact as they cameinto the Braunschweig game in 14th place with a record of 2-5 anddesperately need some kind of success to get them out of their current rut.After starting 1-1, they lost four of their last five games and lost their lasttwo homes games in crunch-time games they most likely would have won underother Gordon Herbert teams. The team at times have lacked the needed intensityand passion at both ends of the court. The Basketball Lowen Braunschweig areplaying a solid season and have a record of 3-5 considering that for them it isalways an uphill battle with their limited budget. They like the FraportSkyliners have been like night and day as they began the season in the cellarlosing their first five games, but recently found an uphill trend having wontheir last three games. That winning streak was started by something teamshaven´t done in years which is beat top team Brose Bamberg. They then finishedoff Wurzburg and MBC and arrived in Frankfurt with a lot of confidence andmotivation led by top BBL center Scott Eatherton. The Basketball LowenBraunschweig almost made it four wins in a row, but were unable to handle theolder Gents of the Fraport Skyliners suffering a tough, but hard fought 81-77loss. It was another game where Frankfurt didn´t play well for 40 minutes, butfound a way to win. Canadian rookie Trae Bell Haynes carried the FraportSkyliners in the first half to a 49-30 lead as his penetration effectivenesstore apart Braunschweig, but a weak third quarter of scoring only 12 points andallowing 31 points in the fourth quarter almost cost them the contest. “We arestill waiting for playing a full game well. We started hot, but became cold inthe third and fourth quarters. We stayed together at the end despite themmaking seemingly every shot. We did a good job on defense for the most partletting them take only one shot and rebounding well and getting out ontransition. We didn´t do a good job guarding the three point line in the fourthquarter and I had bad turnovers. We have to take better care of the ball”,warned Trae Bell Haynes. The Basketball Lowen Braunschweig played with a lot ofheart and made an amazing comeback in the fourth quarter only to drive homewith the loss as they couldn´t make key stops at the end. “The first quarterwas close back and forth. In the second quarter Bell Haynes carried them and wealways seemed a step to slow and weren´t physical enough getting beat by lay upafter lay up. We knew coming into the third that we were a well rounded teamand never believed that the game was over. We fought until the end, but at theend just couldn´t pull out the win”, stressed ex Hamburg Tower DeandreLansdowne.
4,860 fans came on a rainy Saturday night andwere greeted by Jason Clark sitting at the end of the bench in street clothesas he was out with an injury. The Fraport Skyliners defense was strengthedagain as Akeem Vargas was back in action after injury. The Fraport Skylinersgot off to a horrible start as the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig hit them witha brutal 13-4 run. In the run, they were ignited by hot shooting rookie BrayonBlake out of Idaho(NCAA) who hit a trey and pull up jumper. Braunschweig reliedon their outside shooting early and had success as ex BG Goettingen center ScotEatherton was successful as was ex Boston College(NCAA) guard Joe Rahon. TheFrankfurt offense was sputtering and was missing the keen 1-1 play of a JasonClark who was out with an injury. Basketball is a game of runs as is always thecase and after Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert made somesubstitutions with the old gents, some life was added to the bleak atmospherefrom the first few minutes. Frankfurt went on a 14-2 run to grab their firstlead of the game to lead 18-15. In the run it was the older gents who came tolife as Erik Murphy for once didn´t rely and showcase his outside shot, butscored three easy buckets in the paint. The run was further fortified by athree by ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas and a three by ex Baylor(NCAA) guardBrady Heslip. Frankfurt was playing smarter, moving the ball around gettingmore guys involved in the offense and communicating better on the defensive end.Heslip buried his second trey within minutes taking that momentum form theRytas Vilnius game as the Fraport Skyliners led 21-16 after ten minutes. “I have to credit coach for making the rightsubstitutions and changing the flow of the game. Our ball movement was betterand getting Murphy involved inside changed the game”, added Trae Bell Haynes.
In the second quarter came the first turningpoint of the game as the Fraport Skyliners offense went on fire and theirdefense produced consistent stops as they carried their lead into doubledigits. Braunschwieg got two quick baskets from Deandre Lansdowne who continuesto shine in the easyCredit BBL as only a few years ago, he was an unknown scorerin the Pro B who always believed that he could play in the BBL. Frankfurt gotanother trey from Heslip who was left open again and the question is when willhe attempt a shot blindfolded, because he probably would find nothing but netalso with the obstacle as Frankfurt still led 24-21. Then came the firstspectacular play of Elijah Clarance who made a massive dunk taking flightsomewhere near the free throw line as his acrobatics are continuing to takenotice in the BBL. Both teams were in their respective offensive flows as ex StJohns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg connected on a baby hook shot and Rahondropped another trey as Frankfurt still led 28-24. Clarance got added minutesbecause of the injury to Jason Clark and was in continuous attack mode as thedefense always had to be prepared to defend that lightening first step for thedunk. He held back on the dunk and this time made a beautifuldrive from the baseline and finished with an acrobatic reverse lay up that hehit high off the back board for the 30-24 advantage. Braunschweig continuedto grind away and create open shots as Lansdowne found ex UTPA (NCAA) forward Shaquille Hines for the three asFrankfurt led 30-27. Then came the second turning point of the game as theFraport Skyliners completely opened up the game going on a threatening 19-3 runto go into half-time with the 49-30 lead. In the run it was Trae Bell-Hayneswho carried the team with 10 points. He scored four buckets in the paint withhis unstoppable drives that has put him in the category with ex Skyliner greatsDashaun Wood and Jordan Theodore as guys that scored the most effective usingthis method. “My penetration is my all. I have worked and used it all my life.I am a small guard and always have to find ways to score. My game is made a loteasier when you have to respect guys like Murphy with the pick and pop andHeslip with the catch and shoot”, warned Trae Bell-Haynes. Frankfurt was alsoaided in the run by a timely Murphy trey, Freudenberg lay in and Quantez Robertsonlay in as his aggressiveness is always by 180%. “Everything was going our way.All our plays worked. We fed off the energy of Clarance at the start. I gotsome easy baskets. When all are scoring, we are all happy”, stressed TraeBell-Haynes.
The third quarter was the lowest in scoring inthe whole game for both teams combined and the Fraport Skyliners mustered only12 points, but because the Basketball Lowen were unable to get any offensegoing and go out on a run, Frankfurt still had a comfortable 14 point advantageafter 30 minutes of play. The Fraport Skyliners came out of half-time smokingscoring on their first possession as they whipped the ball around the horn andmade extra pass after extra pass and found Richard Freudenberg all alone in thecorner and he sunk the trey for the 52-30 lead their biggest of the game. Atthis point, it seemed like the Fraport Skyliners would ride into the sunsetwith an easy victory, but everything went downhill after that on offense as ifthe team had just begun the season in training camp. Frankfurt was fortunatethat Braunschweig was unable to take advantage of their desolate offense.Braunschweig could only get 5 points during the Skyliners offensive fall out asthey couldn´t produce points in six possessions. Braunschweig got Eathertonfree throws and a Hines trey to cut the Frankfurt lead to 52-35. The FraportSkyliners couldn´t find a rhythm on offense and just were careless taking careof the ball as they produced easy turnovers. Finish national player Shawn Hufffinally stroked home a trey, but Lansdowne reacted with a lay in and freethrow, but Frankfurt still had the commanding lead 55-38. What Frankfurt neededwas a major energy push and what better moment than for Elijah Clarance to stepback on his stage. He started on the right spun aroundhis man and made another flying left handed jam that sent some more new ooh´sspiraling through the arena as every new dunk seems a tad bit more spectacularthan the last. A few minutes after the win, Clarance passed me with a twinklein his eyes and just muttered “You like that one”? His dunks have been a topicof conversation in this young season and after the win the Swede shooting starexplained his three spectacular plays of the night. “I think the first dunk wasmy best because it was my first BBL points. On the reverse lay up, it felt goodwhen I let it go, but I wasn´t sure if it was good enough to go in”, smiledElijah Clarance. “He is a high flyer. He is an athletic physical guard. Hecould have a big future ahead of him”, warned Deandre Lansdowne. “Clarance ismy guy. I am so happy for his success. He is one of the hardest working guys Ihave seen. He plays with so much intensity at both ends of the court”, stressedTrae Bell-Haynes. Both teams hit somefree throws in the last minutes as both offenses continued to flounder badly.Shawn Huff put an exclamation mark on the bogus third quarter sinking a trey asFrankfurt still led nicely 61-46 despite stinking up the joint with their offense.“They changed their defense a little bit. We got complacent. When Freudenbergbegan wit that three, we thought it would continue like that, but they hit usin the mouth and we didn´t react”, stressed Trae Bell-Haynes. “We had a concept.We wanted to go under more, but that didn´t work as well. We played better pickand roll defense and were just tougher on defense. They fatigued a bit and wejust continued to fight”, added Deandre Lansdowne.
In the fourth quarter the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig demonstrated just how dangerous a team they can be when they seem to be down and out. They saved their best for last pouring in a massive 31 points to get back into the game and had chances to win the game. Braunschweig rattled off a huge 20-5 run as if it was nothing dead locking the game at 66-66 and angering those fans that left early thinking the game had been decided. Blake and Murphy traded three´s as Frankfurt still had the comfortable lead 64-51 as no one in the arena except for the Braunschweig team thought there could ever be a dramatic comeback, but there was. Braunschweig now went on a brutal 17-2 run as Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert had another quarter of unwanted thoughts about how his team can give away big lead after big lead game after game. Braunschweig started grinding away and just executing on offense. They were supported by many faces as Eatherton made a lay in, Hines dropped a trey, Lansdowne made the extra second effort tapping in his own miss and Rathon scored in traffic. Brayon Blake also made big shots and really helped carry the team in the fourth quarter making key buckets with a lay in and three pointer. “He is a guy that can make a shot in a fury. He plays with so much emotion and energy. He is the first true rookie that I have ever played with. It hasn´t been easy for him learning a new position as he has primarily played the three while he played the four in college. He works so hard every day”, warned Deandre Lansdowne. Eatherton connected on free throws and all of the sudden the score was tied 66-66. “We kept feeling that we could come back more the closer we got. We just believed that we could win the game”, warned Deandre Lansdowne in their comeback. “They all seemed to get hot at the same time and make shots”, added Trae Bell Haynes. Heslip broke the tie connecting on this fourth three pointer, but Lansdowne retaliated with a left hand lay in to cut the Frankfurt advantage to only 69-68. Frankfurt now started to drill home more shots effectively as Huff dropped a three pointer and Frankfurt was up by four. Gordon Herbert put Quantez Robertson on Lansdowne, but even that didn´t help as he scored again cutting the Frankfurt lead to 72-71. After a Heslip lay in, Blake connected on another trey evening the score at 74-74. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert was wondering when his troops would finally slam the door shut on Braunschweig as they just didn´t go away. Lansdowne would give Braunschweig their last three with a deep three 77-76. But then it was the older gents who powered the Fraport Skyliners to the win as Murphy nailed a three and Huff hit a jumper as Frankfurt led 81-77 with 25 seconds remaining. Robertson made one more free throw as Braunschweig couldn´t get any more points. “We got big shots from Murphy and Huff and did a good job getting those shots near the end of the shot clock”, added Trae Bell-Haynes. “Robertson did a good job running the team and they got big shots from Heslip, Murphy and Huff”, stressed Deandre Lansdowne. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Erik Murphy with 18 points. Trae Bell-Haynes added 17 points while Brady Heslip produced 14 points and Shawn Huff added 11 points. The Basketball Lowen Braunschweig were led by Deandre Lansdowne with 21 points. Brayon Blake added 18 points and Scott Eatherton had 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 56% form the field and 55% from outside and had 34 rebounds and 18 turnovers while the Basketball Lowen Braunschweih shot 39% from the field and 45% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 14 turnovers.