The last weeks have been extremely painful for the Fraport Skyliners and fans as the team has been losing and losing so much that it´s almost February 2019 and they were still seeking their first victory in the new year. Currently the club was hiding behind an embarrassing 8 game losing streak and desperately looking to crawl out of their always growing hole, but the opponents didn´t get any easier as they had to battle 2015 easyCredit BBL cup champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg. They have witnessed an amazing season as withdrawing from international club duty this season has done wonders as they have been able to concentrate on the BBL and came into Frankfurt with a 13-3 record and sitting in second place behind FC Bayern Munich with the second best offense and defense in the league. For some Skyliner fans coming to see their team may not have been high on many wish lists, but to see Rickey Paulding step on the Fraport arena floor again and do his magic was definitely worth the ticket. Time continues to fly even on the basketball court and the Detroit native isn´t 30 anymore, but 36 and still playing like a 28 year old as he is in his 12th season with the club. A few days ago the seven time BBL allstar who had many battles in Frankfurt with his friend Jimmy Mckinney in the last years was rewarded with a contract extension and handed a loyalty ring for his faithfulness and loyalty to the EWE Baskets for never leaving the club. The American BBL identity figure came to Frankfurt having played 460 BBL games and amassed a total of 6,242 BBL points and was ready to not only battle the Fraport Skyliners again, but also against their identity figure Quantez Robertson who is in his 10th season with Frankfurt and both combined for 29 points and dropped some amazing shots over each other, but the guy standing tall and having the biggest smile after 40 minutes was Quantez Robertson who led a comeback and slapped the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the face with a buzzer beater 75-74 win. After the big win Robertson was content and not eagerly emotional since he had left all his energy on the court after the buzzer beater, but he still had enough gusto to talk and smile about his duel with Rickey Paulding. “We battled all day long. I made a couple tough shots over him and he did the same against me. It´s always fun battling a guy like that”, stated ex Auburn(NCAA) standout Quantez Robertson. After the loss, EWE Baskets Oldenburg legend Rickey Paulding hid out in the dressing room together with teammate Franz Massenat and one could of thought they might never come out, but actually they were waiting for teammate Karsten Tadda who had been occupied with doping controls. As always Paulding was very professional the way one should be after such a bitter loss. “I know what Tez brings to the table. I am happy for his career in Frankfurt. I hope he can play longer with Frankfurt than I did with Oldenburg. The people in Frankfurt really like him”, stressed Rickey Paulding. “I could really feel those two guys going at it. There is a reason why Paulding has played so long and we see Tez make those shots every day”, warned Trae Holder.
The game had it´s highs and lows for both teams, but the EWE Baskets Oldenburg upped their play in the second half and always had an upper hand over the Fraport Skyliners and half way through the fourth quarter were able to achieve their highest lead of 10 points and the game seemed like it was in the books, but the Fraport Skyliners fought very hard and never gave up and weaseled their way back into the game and with Quantez Robertson nailing the last shot, the 8 game losing streak of the club that is in their 20th season was put to rest. After the big win, Frankfurt rookie Trae Holder who finished with 11 points and 4 boards in 20 minutes had to make the rounds first giving a post game interview with the MOC of the Fraport arena and then spoke to two Frankfurt journalists and then spent a few minutes with me explaining how he felt giving his debut and then witnessing such an amazing ending. “This was an amazing ending to the game. I couldn´t ask for a better outcome in my home debut. This kind of a win can turn the season around. We beat the second best team in the league and it feels great. We did a good job sticking to the game plan. We played good defense and did a good job on their shooters and were just very scrappy. You can´t get back into a game if you don´t play defense”, stressed ex Arizona State guard Trae Holder. One could see that Rickey Paulding was very disappointed with letting the game slip away despite playing better defense in the second half. “This was a very tough game to lose. We did a lot to allow to be put in the position to lose. They fought more and came out with the win”, warned ex Missouri(NCAA) guard Rickey Paulding.
Despite the Fraport Skyliners having a 8 game losing streak, still 4,670 found their way into the Fraport arena on a rainy, but warm winter Sunday and the fans experienced two very offensive hungry teams as they combined for 44 points in the first 10 minutes. Both teams traded trey´s as ex Georgetown(NCAA) guard Jason Clark and ex ratiopharm guard Philipp Schwethelm connected. The score was 5-5 after only 1,22 minutes played and one could see that both teams were very motivated on the offensive end and it seemed like they both had something to prove. The Robertson-Paulding battle was heated and Tez hit the first shot over Paulding from the corner for the 7-5 advantage. One could have thought that Robertson was extra motivated to beat Paulding, because in a way the Frankfurt legend has been a little in his shadow over the years when it comes to the German media, but Robertson friend Jermale Jones who plays in the German second Regionalliga for Lich explained that he had a different motivation. “Tez is a leader and wants to always win. Tez wants to beat the veteran. On that first play he dragged Paulding into the post and scored”, stressed Alabama native Jermale Jones. Both teams were scoring at ease as Austrian national player Rasid Mahalbasic connected on a 20 footer and Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann scored in the paint. New Skyliner Tyler Larson hit a pull up jumper for the 11-9 advantage. Then it was time for Rickey Paulding to demonstrate why he can still fly at age 36. He was fed a perfect pass as he was cutting to the hoop and finished with a thunderous one handed dunk with sufficient air time to tie the game at 11-11. “He is 36, but can still get up there. He can still jump and looks really good. He still brings that physical presence”, stated Jermale Jones. “Dunking is part of the game. I wanted to make a statement there and let out some frustration”, added Rickey Paulding. Both teams kept being aggressive on the offensive end. Garai Zeeb unleased a trey and the guests also got good production from ex Temple(NCAA) guard Will Cummings who got 7 points in the down stretch. No team could get away as the contest was deadlocked at 22-22. “Both teams were playing with a sense of urgency. Both teams were playing good defense, but teams were knocking downtough shots. One could see that Frankfurt really wanted to win. They were playing with more energy and emotion. Both new guys Larson and Holder looked good”, added Jermale Jones. The Fraport Skyliners shot 56% from the field and shot 43% from outside and had 7 rebounds and one turnover while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 53% from the field and 40% form outside and had 10 rebounds and 2 turnover.
The second quarter remained a dog fight, but over the second half of the quarter, the Fraport Skyliners could pull a little away while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were having problems executing on offense. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg had the lead for a few minutes thanks to Will Cummings who remained aggressive in the paint finding his spots and scoring as he unleashed 5 points. The Fraport Skyliners stayed with the guests with the perfect combination of Quantez Robertson and back up center Marco Voeller as he scored twice. 6-7 years ago, Quantez Robertson boasted to me that he would love to play point guard and his dream has become more and more a reality over the last years as his creating has improved playing behind guards like Justin Cobbs or a Jordan Theodore. On Voeller´s second basket, Tez already had 5 assists. “Tez has been in the league a long time. He knows where the ball needs to be. He is very important for the young players. He helps them with everything. Tez is more of a leader than a point guard”, warned Jermale Jones. With the guests leading 27-26, Frankfurt got out on a 7-2 run to take The 33-29 lead. Frankfurt got vital production from Finish national player Shawn Huff who got 5 points including a trey and Wolfarth-Bottermann finished over Mahalbasic with his patented hook shot. Frankfurt was making tough shots while Oldenburg lost a little focus and rhythm on offense. Frankfurt kept their lead intact getting good consistency from it´s guards as ex South Dakota(NCAA) guard Tyler Larson hit a step back and Jason Clark nailed a running lay up as Frankfurt led 38-31. The Fraport Skyliners had the nice 4-5 point lead, but that was it as they couldn´t shake Oldenburg. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg got some big shots from ex MBC guard Franz Massenat and Schwethelm to stay in the game trailing 41-39. Even if the guests had had some mental lapses on offense, they had it together at the end as great ball movement rewarded Cummings for an open three that he drilled home and Paulding continued his legends battle with Tez dropping a step back from the corner over Tez but Frankfurt still led 48-44 at the break. “Frankfurt did a good job tightening up their defense and closing up angles making it tougher for Oldenburg to score. They made big shots off turnovers and got some offensive rebounds”, added Jermale Jones. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 55% form the field and 45% from the three point line and got 17 rebounds and had 6 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 54% form the field and 38% from the three point line and had 15 rebounds and 1 turnover.
In the third quarter stronger defenses and more bricks were on the menu as the game remained close, but after 30 minutes, the EWE baskets Oldenburg were still in front. Both teams couldn´t find an offensive rhythm in the first minutes as the EWE baskets Oldenburg were stopped on their first 5 possessions, while Frankfurt couldn´t execute on their first six possession. Cummings nailed a trey to get Oldenburg close trailing only 48-47, but Larson who finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 5 dimes in 32 minutes made a pull up jumper on transition. But Oldenburg kept up the come back pressure as Paulding came free and nailed a three dead locking the game at 50-50. Oldenburg had some momentum and made some defensive stops and got free throws from Cummings and Mahalbasic for the 54-50 lead. The Fraport Skyliners kept battling, but couldn´t get over the hump. Quantez Robertson continued to always push the ball forward and scored two baskets, but the EWE Baskets Oldenburg had a steady offense in this phase as Cummings free throws and a tough shot from ex Toledo(NCAA) forward Nathan Boothe secured the guests the 59-56 advantage after 30 minutes. “We got a little complacent. We had a 4 point lead at the break, but didn´t have the same hunger going into the third quarter. We have to come out the same way if we want to keep the lead”, stressed Trae Holder. “Frankfurt played good defense. We had good looks, but shots didn´t go our way”, added Rickey Paulding. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 49% form the field and 50% from the parking lot and hauled down 27 rebounds and 12 turnovers and the Fraport Skyliners shot 46% from the field and 24% from the parking lot and hauled down 22 rebounds and had 7 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the EWE Baskets Oldenburg heightened their game at both ends of the court and were able to up their lead to 10 points, but no lead is too big in the Fraport arena as the Frankfurt side clawed and clawed until the buzzer. EWE Baskets Oldenburg came out roaring as the legends battle continued as now Paulding made a tough running lay in over Tez for the 61-56 advantage. Frankfurt kept battling and got some key baskets from American Larson and German Marco Voeller to cut the guests lead to 63-62. Then seemed to come the turning point of the game as the EWE baskets Oldenburg broke out on an annoying 9-0 run to extend their lead to 72-62. They got a huge three from Schwethelm, got 4 clutch points form ex Alba Berlin forward Voydan Stojanovski and another difficult shot from Paulding in the corner that beat the outstretched hand of Tez. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were getting huge support from Mahalbasic who was controlling the paint area, getting offensive rebounds and loose balls while the Fraport Skyliners were making hasty decisions on offense and got away from team play. “We got stagnant as the momentum shifted. We didn´t stay strong and let them get away”, stressed Trae Holder. A Tez airball and missed coast to coast lay up by Tyler Larson the second of the game from Frankfurt seemed to seal their fate for a ninth consecutive loss, but not this time for the basketball God was awake and on the side of Frankfurt this time. Frankfurt then got a few breaks that seemed to up their self-confidence. After Holder free throws, a Mahalbasic flagrant foul and Holder shot clock buzzer beater suddenly made Frankfurt alive again trailing only 72-68 with 1,34 minutes to play. “We stayed together as a team. We could of fell apart, but just had to win”, warned Trae Holder. “They never quit. We didn´t execute well, lost the ball too much and got that flagrant foul”, stressed Rickey Paulding. After a Frankfurt stop, Holder made free throws to cut the Oldenburg lead to 72-70 with 22 seconds to play. Schwethelm made one free throw for the 73-70 lead. With 10,5 seconds to play, Frankfurt got a fast two handed dunk from Huff to cut the Oldenburg lead to 73-72. Frankfurt then fouled Stojanovski, but he made only one of two free throws for the 74-72 lead with 7 seconds to play. The Fraport Skyliners inbounded the ball to Tyler Larson who brought the ball up and let Quantez Robertson do the heroics as he unleashed a trey with time expiring and saw nothing but net as the Fraport arena eruped into a frenzy. “I just wanted a good look and set my feet. It felt good when it left my hand”, stressed Quantez Robertson. “He is a leader. He had a good look and made it. If I was in that position, I would also expect to make it”, stressed Rickey Paulding. “ It looked like it would go in. I fell to the ground when he took it and was so happy he made it”, stated Trae Holder.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Shawn Huff added 11 points. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were led by Will Cummings with 22 points. Rickey Paulding added 13 points and Rasid Mahalbasic 12 points, 14 boards and 5 assists. The Fraport Skyliners shot 43% from the field and 26% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 46% from the field and 40% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 15 turnovers.