There are countless season highlights each season for the Fraport Skyliners with teams like FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin visiting them, and then of course other kind of random highlights that pop up during the season. A huge highlight this season was early in the season as Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert dueled and beat coaching legend and NBA and NCAA champion Larry Brown in a Eurocup match that he will never forget or the fans that were able to see this coaching dinosaur before he steps away form the game at age 78. Another massive highlight recently was the magical buzzer beater by Fraport Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson who sent home Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding who most likely had revenge on his mind and another reason to hang on another season in the BBL. The highlights didn´t stop there as another one emerged with the arrival of Science City Jena who continue to present countless BBL legends the last seasons as the guys don´t get any younger, but older and continue to age like fine win with 38 year olds Immanuel Mcelroy, Derrick Allen and Julius Jenkins who combined have 114 years of age. Not to mention 34 year olds Dru Joyce and Martynas Mazeika and 32 year old ex NBA player Reggie Williams round out the fabulous old man wrecking crew of Science City Jena. Old school BBL fans should thank head coach Bjoern Harmsen every day for keeping these legends playing in the easyCredit BBL. The old heads combined for 49 points and had Jason Clark impressed after the contest. “It´s crazy seeing them play like that. They are all in incredible shape and move well. They all still have it and probably will play until they can´t walk anymore”, smiled ex Georgetown(NCAA) native Jason Clark, The Fraport Skyliners came into the contest with a big win in Goetingen and a record of 8-12 and resting in 13th place and with big hopes of a big stretch run while Science City Jena were reeling off a bitter 76-74 loss in Bremerhaven and were in a fight to stay in the league having a 5-17 record and resting uncomfortably in 16th place. After 40 minutes Gordon Herbert strolled by me and just said, It wasn´t a pretty game”. And I replied “yes, but a win is a win”. The Fraport Skyliners played a hard game, defended well, controlled the offensive boards, hit the big three´s when they had to and got many of the loose balls while Science City Jena played with a lot of heart and effort, but just couldn´t get over the hump and that dreaded 10 point cushion in the second half. “This was a huge win for us. With two wins in a row, this will continue to boost our confidence. We had to fight until the end. They had a lot of experience and never gave up. We didn´t shoot the ball well in the first half, but we defended well. Huge tonight was getting many offensive rebounds and the loose balls as well”, stressed Jason Clark. After the loss Lebron James friend Dru Joyce reflected about the loss shortly before stretching. “Frankfurt did a good job attacking us on the offensive boards early. We defended well, but didn´t finish the possessions well. We have to do a better job of that. We continued to fight, but Frankfurt outplayed us”, stressed ex ratiopharm Ulm guard Dru Joyce.
The Fraport arena looked like an international club game as not too many fans made the trip into the arena on a rare Wednesday night easyCredit BBL game, but nobody missed anything in the first few minutes. Both teams had massive problems on offense as shots weren´t falling. The Fraport Skyliners displayed their aggressive defense right away taking a quick 5-0 lead and stopped Science City Jena on their first six possessions. Ex Telekom Baskets Bonn center Johannes Wolfarth-Bottermann got aggressive right away getting Frankfurt´s first five points in the paint. Science City Jena finally got on the board for the first time at the 6,19 minute mark of the first quarter as ex Skyliner Derrick Allen snuck inside back door scoring a reverse lay up as they trailed 5-2. The Fraport Skyliners continued to have the momentum as ex South Dakota(NCAA) guard Tyler Larson stroked home a three for the 8-2 advantage for Frankfurt. However one can only slow down a team like Science City Jena for so long, because sooner or later, they will get going and did. They stepped up their defense and surprised Frankfurt with an annoying 9-0 run to get their first lead of the game at 11-8. In the run, they played sound team basketball getting a lay in from ex Vechta big man Oliver Mackeldanz as Derrick Allen gave him the shovel pass, a Julius Jenkins fast break jumper, and five points form ex Alba Berlin guard Immanuel Mcelroy. The guests were playing smart basketball and finding the open man better and getting better shots than Frankfurt. Frankfurt then got some needed energy from German big man Leon Kratzer with a basket and offensive rebound as he would carry that energy into the second half as Frankfurt led 14-13. “Both teams had problems with shots falling. Both teams defended well. We had a problem with their match up zone, but we got a better feel for it as the game went on”, stressed Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners shot 24% from the field and 13% from outside and had 13 rebounds and 2 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 40% from the field and 50% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 3 turnovers.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber has been covering BBL dinosaur Derrick Allen for 15 years
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners started to pull away and lead in double digits and the guests would never get back into the game until partially in the fourth quarter. The Fraport Skyliners got going quickly going on a 12-2 run to extend their lead to 28-15. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners received massive production from ex Baunach big man Leon Kratzer. He totally dominated the paint area and was simply all over the place. He scored six points and also swiped down a few of his 8 offensive rebounds on the evening. It also didn´t hurt that ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas dropped two three´s. Frankfurt also showed on a few occasions their special knack of being able to escape from precarious situations and recover well and get buckets. This was an ability that very much helped their game on this night. Here and there the guests showed some flashes of brilliance as ex Braunschweig big man Sid Marlon Theis made an offensive rebound and hook shot and ex Bonn guard Martynas Mazeika scored a lay in to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 28-21. But Frankfurt didn´t let these small flashes deter their game as here and there they were rewarded with Jena mistakes including a technical by head coach Bjoern Harmsen which ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson used to his advantage scoring three free throws. Down the stretch, the Fraport Skyliners closed out the second quarter going on a 9-4 run to lead comfortably 37-25 at the break. Frankfurt got a pull up jumper from Jason Clalrk and a lay in from Wolfarth-Bottermann while Science City Jena received two clutch baskets from ex Akron(NCAA) guard Dru Joyce. “Leon Kratzer was huge for us. He is a big difference maker with his size, length and natural rebounding skills. He helped us get a lot of extra possessions with his offensive rebounds. We continued to defend well even if our shots weren´t always falling”, stressed Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners shot 32% from the field and 28% from the three point line and grabbed 25 rebounds and had 5 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 35% from the field and 20% from the three point line and got 20 rebounds and had 7 turnovers.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewed Immanuel Mcelroy for the first time after he helped lead the Rhein Stars Cologne to the BBL cup win in 2005.
In the third quarter , The Fraport Skyliners continued to have that nice double digit cushion lead and led by as much as 16 points. Even if the Fraport Skyliners got on the board first with a coast to coast lay in from Larson, they knew that they could never coast for a few minutes and not get punished. Even at times when they defended ok, they still were beat by the guests as they went on a mini 4-0 run to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 39-29 as Derrick Allen who still has the ballerina moves like 10 years ago in Frankfurt hit a turnaround shot and Immanuel Mcelroy still displayed speed going coast to coast for the bucket. Every now and then Frankfurt would beat Jena with their youth as Clark went coast to coast making a hard dunk as 29 years of age beat 38 years of age. Even when Jena played their match up zone, Frankfurt found ways to beat it as Finish national player Shawn Huff and Jason Clark dropped trey´s for the 48-33 advantage. Then there came a span where the teams hit three consecutive three´s as Vargas connected as did Jenkins and Joyce, but Jena was unable to make much ground trailing 51-39. Both teams had certain bench contributors like ex Arizona State guard Tra Holder hit a three and Theis snuck into a passing lane made the steal and went coast to coast with a two handed jam. The Fraport Skyliners kept the healthy lead as down the stretch, and it was Larson making big shots to keep Frankfurt in double digits leading 65-50. “Jena made more mistakes which gave us added possessions. As our defense began to roll our confidence grew as did it when more shots began to fall”, stressed Jason Clark. “Frankfurt hit their three´s better. We lost too many balls and couldn´t recover the 50/50 balls. You can´t have kick balls on the road. We had to be more alert”, stressed Dru Joyce. The Fraport Skyliners shot 40% from the field and 32% from the parking lot and had 31 rebounds and 7 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 43% from the field and 38% from the parking lot and had 26 rebounds and 12 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, Science City Jena made a little run, but couldn´t get over the hump as the Fraport Skyliners closed out the game in style. Science City Jena found some offensive daylight early attacking the Frankfurt from outside going on a 11-3 run to cut Frankfurt´s advantage to 68-61. They got three three´s from Mcelroy, and two from Theis while Allen scored in the paint. Science City Jena relied on the three and were rewarded and in this run also played some scrappy trap defense which totally surprised Frankfurt and brought them out of their rhythm. After a Frankfurt time out, they calmed down and moved the ball better and went on a 5-0 run as Clark connected on a trey and Huff scored inside as suddenly the Fraport Skyliners led more comfortable 73-61. Science City Jena continued to fight as they knew every new loss would diminish their chances in the fight to stay in the league. Dru Joyce answered with a lay in to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 73-63. Then came the turning point of the game which poured an early dagger into the heart of Jena. On Frankfurt´s possession, they crashed the boards and seemingly felt like they had grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, but in reality it was something like 4-5 which kept the possession alive. In the end a loose ball got to Jason Clark in the corner and he fired away for the crushing three and 76-63 lead. Joyce did counter with a three to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 76-66, but a fierce 7-0 Frankfurt run dashed the hopes of Science City Jena. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners got consecutive steals from Huff and Larson which led to a Huff bucket and Robertson three pointer. Larson also scored. 29 year old 11 year Science City Jena German Ermen Reyes-Napoles hit a trey at the buzzer, but it was too little too late as the Fraport Skyliners had won their second game in a row and kept their playoff hopes alive. “They hit a lot of tough shots. My three pointer and the sequence of offensive rebounds hurt them. If we hadn´t got those rebounds and they had scored, it could have been a different game. We did a good job crashing the boards”, stressed Jason Clark. “We gave them too many offensive rebounds and couldn´t clean up our possessions. The more opportunities that you give them, the better chance they will have to convert. Their guards and big men played well”, stressed Dru Joyce. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Tyler Larson with 18 points. Jason Clark added 13 points, Shawn Huff had 11 points and Leon Kratzer produced 10 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes. Science City Jena was led by Dru Joyce with 17 points while Immanuel Mcelroy added 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 38% from outside and had 45 rebounds and 11 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 45% from the field and 50% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 16 turnovers.