It´s March and it´s time again for the NBBL playoffs as many teams battle for the ticket to the 2019 NBBL Top 4 tournament in Jena. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had a very strong season clinching the group 2 regular season title with a record of 14-2 losing only to Giessen and Hagen. They arrived into the playoffs sporting a potent four game winning streak as they had their defense on track as they stifled their opponents and averaged giving up only 60 points per game with their aggressive press and stingy zone. They came into the playoffs having one of the better starting five´s in the league and a very solid second unit. Their opponent were the Piraten Hamburg who also had a solid season finishing in fourth place in group one with a 9-7 record. They started the season off slow losing their first three games, but then found their rhythm winning nine of 11 games. Hamburg is a very good offensive team, know when to defend well when they have to and are the sixth best rebounding team in the NBBL averaging 40 boards per game. They don´t have that massive dominating big man that will clean up in the paint, but benefit from the hustle and athleticism from their wings Linus Hoffmann and Alexander Postic. The Piraten Hamburg came into the playoffs having lost their last two regular season games where their offense stalled averaging only 60 points per game while Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners wanted to defend their home court advantage and get off on the right track in game one. The Piraten Hamburg had big misfortune that three of their top players Alexsander Postic, Emil Marschall and Leevi Erkkilae were missing because of injuries and sickness and thus the club was without 40 points that they usually average per game. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners took advantage of this by annoying them with their trap defense and strong offense securing game one 93-45. After the win 2017 JBBL finalist Calvin Schaum who was the game´s second top scorer with 16 points reflected on the win. “We defended very well and our trap worked well. Despite them being without three players, we didn´t want to give them any hope of having any chance of winning here. This was a good first step for us. We played sloppy at times and had too many turnovers, but overall we had good ball movement and got good pressure from the bench. We will see a different game in Hamburg. They won´t let themselves loose by 40 points again. I´m sure that they will make adjustments”, stressed Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners forward Calvin Schaum. It was a disappointing loss for the Piraten Hamburg and head coach Torben Haase was not amused about the 37 team turnovers. “We were without three players so we knew it would be difficult. We did not come to terms with their intensity and pressure. We had way too many turnovers which didn´t give us any chance of getting back into the game. We allowed too many points inside. We have to be tougher”, warned Piraten Hamburg head coach Torben Haase.
The Piraten Hamburg got off to a quick 4-2 lead 1as 6 year old Nikola Sredojevic and 16 year old Moritz Kroeger got aggressive and scored inside. But the Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners trap defense was aggressive and tough and quickly led to two steals from captain Alvin Oniya and Len Schoorman which led to a hard one handed dunk by Schaum and a lay in by ex BC Darmstadt guard Maxi Begue and suddenly Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 8-5. Despite the good defense that Frankfurt was playing, Hamburg was able on occasion to break the trap and regain the lead again. Kroeger scored again and 17 year old 186cm point guard Semjon Weilguny who began his career with the SC Itzehoe youth teams hit a trey and Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners trailed 10-8. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners offense was still trying to find it´s self and slowly did they were able to break free somewhat going on a 9-1 run to lead 17-11. In the run Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners got vital support from ex BC Darmstadt guard Maxi Begue who inserted his floater, ex BC Darmstadt forward Risto Vasiljevic dropped a trey and Schaum and Oniya dropped free throws. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 21-13 after 10 minutes. “We started slow because we had never played against them before and had prepared for the whole team. It took some time to get used to them, but we did find ourselves near the end. We discovered their strengths and weaknesses”, stated Calvin Schaum. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 14% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Piraten Hamburg shot 42% from the field and 14% from outside and had 5 rebounds and 9 turnovers.
In the second quarter Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners broke away from the Piraten Hamburg as their offense finally started to click as they hit the Piraten Hamburg with a lethal 12-0 run to extend their lead to 33-13. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners started to connect from downtown as Schaum nailed consecutive three´s and Len Schoorman also delivered a trey while Maxi Begue made a steal and coast to coast run and lay in. The Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners ball movement was exceptional which produced open look after open look while their trap defense continued to give the guests fits. The Piraten Hamburg continued to not be able to muster much offense against the Frankfurt press, but when they did beat it, they missed many open shots. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to play their game and run up the lead with their potent offense. It also helped Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners that they got good production from many players like Jordan Samare who as always was aggressive in the paint scoring twice while Begue continued to use his strength with the floater as did Vasuljevic who refrained from his lethal three for a moment and followed Begue with a floater also. 16 year old Fredrik Fischback made a steal off his aggressive defense and went coast to coast for the lay in and 41-17 Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners lead. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to get great support from everyone as they got buckets from 18 year old Leon Pullen and a deep three from Vincent Dietrich while the Hamburg got baskets from 16 year old 200cm 114 kilo German Fabien Kondo and a basket from Linus Hoffmann. “The score could have been a lot different had they made more open shots. We gambled at times going into the passing lanes which left guys open”, added Calvin Schaum. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 52% from the field and 36% from the three point line and got 20 rebounds and had 16 turnovers while the Piraten Hamburg shot 31% from the field and 13% from the three point line and got 14 rebounds and had 17 turnovers.
In the third quarter the Piraten Hamburg got off to a quick start, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners then totally went off on the guests with a scorching run that gave them the lead by 39 points. The Piraten Hamburg came out with some energy in the third quarter getting a lay in from Linus Hoffmann who began his career with the Bramfelder SV and another trey from Weilguny. Hoffmann belongs to the top players of Hamburg, but couldn´t take responsibility and lead his team the way he would have liked to with three players missing. Hoffmann finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds and reflected on his game after the game. “It was a tough game. I´m used to playing pick and roll with Justus Hollatz, but it was difficult today. I could have done more. I felt like I did a good job helping the guards against the Frankfurt press. I should have talked to coach to ask for some more plays for me”, added Linus Hoffmann. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners went on a run of 20-0 on 8 stops to extend their lead to 68-29. The club got good aid from Len Schoormann who contributed 7 points with two steals and two thunderous dunks while Vasiljevic dropped back to back three´s as the Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners ball movement was overwhelming the Hamburg weak defense. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners also got support from a Jordan Samare lay in and Begue lay in. 17 year old 178cm guard Kenned Vietz finally broke the massive Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners run with a trey, but Schoormann countered with a trey giving Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners the 71-32 lead. The Piraten Hamburg closed out the third quarter strong even if Frankfurt had done the damage with two baskets from 18 year old 210cm center Nicolas Aldag who even flashed a hook shot, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 73-36 after three quarters. “We have had problems starting well in the third quarter the whole season. We continued to play good defense so their 5-0 run wasn´t that bad. We then went on a big run and decided the game”, stressed Calvin Schaum. “We showed a lot of inexperience against their press defense and weren´t tough enough on defense”, added Linus Hoffmann. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 52% from the field and 45% from the parking lot and got 28 rebounds and had 21 turnovers while the Piraten Hamburg shot 34% from the field and 17% from the parking lot and got 21 rebounds and had 28 turnovers.
Nothing changed much in the fourth quarter as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to score well, while they gave up the least points of all quarters in the game with only 9 to win with ease. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners went out on a fast 6-1 run to extend their lead to 79-37. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners got buckets from athletic 16 year old Isaac Ibanor, Oniya and Samare all in the paint as there was little resistance form Hamburg closing up the paint. Aldag then countered with a trey. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners lost a little focus as unneeded turnovers popped up every so often, but still played good enough closing out the game well with a 14-5 run. In the run Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to play hard and aggressive at both ends. A Fischbach steal led to a hard Begue two handed dunk while Schoormann produced another three pointer. Vietz got Hamburg´s last points with a trey and Fischbach also added a trey ending the game. “They could have been a little tired in the fourth quarter. They played with a small rotation and at times with three bigs which we took advantage of with our agility”, stated Calvin Schaum. “We were tired at the end. Weilguny wasn´t totally fit either. We had many injuries, but we fought hard. We had a bad shooting day and had too many turnovers”, stressed Linus Hoffmann. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners were led by Len Schoormann with 18 points. Calvin Schaum added 16 points. Maxi Begue chipped in with 15 points, Risto Vasiljevic contributed 14 points and Jordan Samare had 10 points while the Piraten Hamburg were led by Semjon Weilguny with 10 points. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 49% form the field and 41% from outside and they got 40 rebounds and had 25 turnovers while the Piraten Hamburg shot 32% form the field and 19% from outside and they got 28 rebounds and had 37 turnovers.