With the latter end of the Pro B regular season slowly winding down, some teams are battling for good playoff spots while other teams are fighting for good starting spots in the playdowns hoping for some late season wins. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors who have had a solid Pro B season came into the home game duel against the Basketball Lowen having lost three of their last four games as the continuing fluctuating line ups took a toll on the club performance. The Basketball Lowen have had an up and down season starting with a five game losing streak, but then found fire winning eight of nine games, but in 2019 have gotten off the wrong side of the bed having lost four of five games. Frankfurt was on a good way down the playoff road while the guests were in a massive fight with three other teams with identical 9-10 records for the last playoff spots. In the first encounter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors surprised the Basketball Lowen in their living room with a 71-61 victory shooting 50% from down town nailing 11 trey´s and winning the rebounding battle. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors with the second best defense in the Pro B allowing 72 points per game welcomed the third best rebounding team Basketball Lowen who haul down on average 35 per game and kept their opponent to under their season average, but had difficulty mustering up consistent offense and suffered a disappointing 69-59 loss. The Fraport Skyliners had a lot of difficulty with free throws and turnovers in the second half which disallowed them to get over the hump. After the loss a disappointed Tobias Jahn reflected about another loss which was their third in the last four games. “We didn´t play as a team tonight. We had difficulty stopping their three star players and they infected the rest. We had a bad start. We were missing that one moment where you got that important 50/50 ball which led to consistent stops. It has been like that for weeks”, added ex Cal Poly(NCAA2) center Tobias Jahn. Even if the Basketball Lowen did lose the first meeting, they didn´t go to Frankfurt with revenge on their minds. “It wasn´t too much for revenge, but moreover trying to get another win that would help us for the playoffs. Key to the win today was trying to contain Clarance and Mavin. We wanted to make it hard for them. We wanted them to take contested shots and not get in the lane”, stressed Basketball Lowen 38 year old forward Robert Franklin. Frankfurt shot 10/21 from the free throw line which was a factor even if not the total reason for the loss. “When two teams are close, then it is always the little things that decide games. Missed free throws, charges, or lay ups can decide the outcome”, added Robert Franklin.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors got off to a horrible start allowing the Basketball Lowen to grab a 9-0 lead. The Basketball Lowen played a stifling zone which Frankfurt didn´t come to terms with getting shut down on their first seven possessions. The Basketball Lowen did a good job spreading around their offense as 25 year old center Tobias Bode got inside and hit a runner while German Maxi Kuhle who has 107 pro A games on his basketball resume and the workhorse Robert Franklin drained trey´s. Frankfurt finally got on the board at the 5,29 minute mark when BBL license player Armin Trtovac nailed a 20 footer. Trtovac wasn´t present for then 15 year old Len Schoorman´s amazing garbage time 10 consecutive points against NBBL power house Alba Berlin last year, but he didn´t need any pointers as he would continue to be aggressive and be a one man offensive wrecking machine scoring the next 10 points in a row leading the Frankfurt comeback to trailing only 14-12. The German big man did a marvelous job getting offensive rebounds and twice using the mismatch against 196cm forward Robert Franklin and scoring easily. Frankfurt defended with more passion as the Basketball Lowen lost their rhythm and made more hasty decisions which led to bricks. Frankfurt couldn´t get over the hump allowing a 5-2 run at the end to trail 19-14 Ex Kronberg guard Felix Hecker made a jumper, but Kuhle answered again with a trey and David Taylor hit free throws. Fraport Skyliner center Leon Kratzer who grew up in Bayreuth and knew Derrick Taylor when he was a kid was watching the game with him the father of David and reflected on the first quarter. “The zone was a problem for Frankfurt as they missed open shots and they had problems moving the ball. The defense wasn´t awake and they couldn´t bring intensity. Armin Trtovac did a good job getting Frankfurt back into the game using the mis matches”, said ex Bamberg center Leon Kratzer.
The second quarter remained a game of runs as each time that the Basketball Lowen broke away, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors would find an answer back. Just like in the first quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got up off the wrong side of the bed and had another awful start to a quarter as they allowed a 7-1 run to trail 26-15. Once again the Basketball Lowen did a fine job spreading around the offense as 20 year old German Oliver Pahnke scored with a floater, Bode scored inside and Kuhle launched another trey that saw nothing but net. But this sudden burst of energy and scoring power by the Basketball Lowen didn´t alarm Frankfurt as they responded with a 8-2 run to cut the lead of the guests down to 28-23. 16 year Len Schoorman who describes his game to a Deaaron Fox rattled off two trey´s and the Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance got on transition and slammed down a massive left handed dunk. In the run Frankfurt defended better and did a good job on help side closing down the paint and getting some stops. The game of runs was rampant and kept going as now the sides changed and it was the Basketball Lowen that went on a quick 8-1 run to regain a comfortable lead again at 36-24. In the run it was their amazing 38 year old work horse Robert Franklin who hit a step back jumper with Cosmo Gruehn in his face and grabbed an offensive rebound and made the put back. David Taylor added a three pointer. Frankflin isn´t slowing down as he ended the game with 16 points, hauled down 16 rebounds, had 7 assists, 3 steals and two blocks. The guy just keeps chugging away as even at 38 he was flirting with a triple double something he has done in the past against Zwickau and Rosenheim. “For me the most important thing is taking care of my body and being awake for every game. The secret to my rebounding is having body position, energy and being active. When I´m jumping around and moving good things happen”, smiled Robert Franklin. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors rode into the break in high fashion going on a lightening 6-0 run to trail only 36-30. In the run, got another bucket form Armin Trtovac and got consecutive baskets from ex ScanPlus Baskets guard Dennis Mavin who connected on a runner and a pull up jumper. “The game was up and down with good and bad decisions happening. We fought better at the end and played with more intensity and hit a few open shots”, stressed Leon Kratzer.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to fight and crawl back, but couldn´t get in real striking distance of the Basketball Lowen who continued to keep the lead. Bode and Cosmo Gruehn traded buckets to start the third quarter and then it was Franklin again who used all his extensive experience and passion for the game to hit another trey in Gruehn´s face to give guests the 41-33 lead. “Robert motivates me. He continues to show that despite his age is able to play at a high level. I don´t know if I will still be playing at his age, but if the situation is there, why not”, smiled ex Pacific(NCAA) guard David Taylor. After Trtovac nailed a jumper at the shot clock buzzer, it was Taylor who executed on a pretty floater as Frankfurt trailed 43-35. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were doing a good job on the offensive boards getting rebounds and getting extra possessions, but not executing to dig into the guests lead. Both teams continued to go back and forth on offense, but Frankfurt was unable to really carve into the guests lead. Mavin and Kuhle exchanged trey´s but the Basketball Lowen still led 49-38. Franklin continued to be a pest on the offensive boards and getting an offensive rebound and put back as Frankfurt trailed 51-38. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn´t start the quarters well in this game, but finished them well. They closed out the third quarter with a 8-3 run to trail only 54-46. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were fortified by the three ball as Gruehn and Mavin connected. Mavin also scored on a beautiful reverse lay up as he was fed perfectly by a bounce pass from Felix Hecker. Frankfurt could have been even closer had German Aaron Kayser and Dennis Mavin not missed both free throws. “Our energy and defense held the lead for us. Maxi Kuhle hit some big three´s. He really stretches the floor well”, added Robert Franklin. “They hustled more and we were missing that one situation that would get us over the top. Tip outs and loose balls hurt us”, stressed Tobias Jahn.
In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors never gave up and even cut the lead down to seven points, but in crunch-time it was David Taylor who took charge and slammed the door on Frankfurt. Young German Lorenz Schiller got the guests on the board first with a jumper as Frankfurt trailed 56-46. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors just couldn´t get anything going in this game at the beginning of quarters as they coughed up the ball on their first three possessions which resulted in two steals by Tobias Bode and one by Franklin. Frankfurt finally got their first field goal on their fourth possession as Dennis Mavin made a steal at center court and scored. Despite a 20 footer from Trtovac, the Basketball Lowen kept up the offensive pressure and executed calmly as Kuhle nailed another trey and Bode made a lay in and free throw for the 62-50 advantage. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors saved up their last bit of energy now shortly before crunch-time breaking out on a 5-0 run to cut the guests lead to 62-55. In the run, they got production from Mavin and Trtovac in form of buckets. It looked like possibly the momentum was changing, but it was German David Taylor that stepped up and took charge. He began with a trey which was quickly matched by a Clarance trey as Frankfurt trailed 65-58. Taylor added on another nifty floater and a Mavin turnover led to further Taylor points in form of free throws as Frankfurt was staring at a 69-59 game with a minute to go. There would be no more points scored as David Taylor came up big at the end. “Dave stayed confident and aggressive at the end. Important was also that we stayed together for 40 minutes and brought the energy”, stated Robert Franklin. “It´s my duty to lead the team. We were struggling as a team at the end and I took responsibility. Franklin played a great game, but I think he was a bit tired at the end, so I took over”, smiled David Taylor. “He has found his poise. He has played well the last games and is leading the team into the playoffs. He did a good job controlling the tempo and Clarance”, stated Derrick Taylor. The basketball Lowen were led by Maxi Kuhle with 19 points. Robert Frankflin added 16 points and David Taylor had 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Armin Trtovac with 23 points and 12 boards and Dennis Mavin added 16 points. The Basketball Lowen shot 34% from the field and 35% from outside and had 41 rebounds and 15 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 35% form the field and 28% from outside and had 45 rebounds and 16 turnovers.