It is usually normal procedure in the easyCredit BBL for two teams to meet only twice in the regular season, but sometimes those extra games pop up when teams get the luck of the draw in other competitions as the Fraport Skyliners and ratiopharm Ulm witnessed this season. This should have been only the second meeting between the two clubs, but instead it was already the fifth as they faced off early in the season in a cup duel that Frankfurt won 78-74 thanks to a combined 39 points from now departed players Erik Murphy and Brady Heslip and met also twice in the Eurocup. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t have much luck with the Ulm as they came into the last regular season season game with a 1-3 record. Frankfurt lost on the road 70-63 and then got crushed 83-68 in their training facility which was the first ever professional game that the Fraport Skyliners had to carry out in their home away from home BCM gym. The Fraport Skyliners also lost the first regular season game on the road 82-72 as American Dwayne Evans was on fire netting 20 points in the win. The Fraport Skyliners entered this contest in 12th place and three wins away from the last playoff spot and had another do or die game while ratiopharm Ulm entered the game in sixth place only a win more than the eighth place team and also needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. On a beautiful Easter Monday spring day, both teams were hoping to have had their Easter Sunday meal digested and both were hungry for a victory, but only ratiopharm Ulm came to play destroying the Fraport Skyliners 91-63 for the fourth time this season. After a very convincing victory over Brose Bamberg three days ago, the 2000 BBL cup winner Fraport Skyliners stunk up the Fraport arena and left behind some rotten eggs for the fans as they couldn´t get anything going on both ends of the court. “We came out terrible. We didn´t have focus or intensity. Everything that we had against Bamberg we didn´t have against Ulm. When you dig a deep hole, it is always tough to come back no matter how talented you are, you will have a huge mountain to climb. We had way too many turnovers and no communication on defense. It seemed like they hit almost every shot. We weren’t there mentally or physically. You can have bad offensive days, but not bad defensive days”, stressed ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners have been a welcomed and favorite target of ratiopharm Ulm as they have won four of five games and after playing them so often, it makes it easier getting a good handle on their plays. “We were very aggressive on defense. We were able to bother their guards which led us to go on transition and get easy baskets. We did a good job getting open shots and finding the open man and our defense gave us easy opportunities for transition baskets”, added ex Radford(NCAA) guard Javonte Green.
The Easter weekend wasn´t over yet coupled with amazing early spring weather, only 2,680 fans ventured their way into the Fraport arena. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert had rising center Leon Kratzer back in the starting lineup, but left Jason Clark on the bench as a possible spark plug. On the first play the Fraport Skyliners seemingly did everything correct on the play except score as Leon Kratzer missed an easy give me lay up which served as a bad omen as scoring would be a big problem on the balmy afternoon. On the next play, Frankfurt defended tough and aggressively, but weren´t rewarded as German/Serbian center Bogdan Radosavljevic who was sporting a dark blond dew hit a desperation trey to give ratiopharm Ulm their first lead of the game 3-2. Frankfurt did a good job executing on offense on the next two plays as Tyler Larson scored in traffic and Kratzer made a hook shot, but Frankfurt trailed 5-4 due to ex Tennessee State guard Patrick Miller´s lay in in traffic. Then came the turning point of the game as ratiopharm Ulm upped their offense and defense crushing the Fraport Skyliners with a brutal 16-0 run to extend their lead to 21-4 which Frankfurt would never recover from. Ratiopharm Ulm did a fine job spreading the ball around getting good production from many heads. Ex Trier forward Dwayne Evans who fancies and knows how to draw fouls with the best of them nailed a trey, Radosavljevic hit a 20 footer, Green scored on a massive one handed dunk and ex Alba Berlin guard Ismet Akpinar made a lay in. ratiopharm Ulm´s offense was rolling and displaying great ball movement while their defense was giving Frankfurt big fits getting their guards of guard which led to turnovers. “They did a good job on ball screens and packing the paint. They are a very athletic team and guys have long arms that know how to get into passing lanes”, stressed Jason Clark. After almost six minutes played, Frankfurt finally got a field goal as Kratzer made an offensive rebound and put back. Ratiopharm Ulm closed out the first quarter in fine fashion and just continued to play aggressive defense which led to another dunk from Green, an Evans lay in and David Kramer trey from the corner. Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann who would foul out in 11 minutes played finished the first quarter with a lay in with two seconds remaining, but Frankfurt trailed big 30-9. “We had too many turnovers which led to easy Ulm points which helped their rhythm and self confidence. They also had good ball movement. When a team like that gets going, then it´s tough to stop them”, stressed Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm shot 73% form the field and 60% from outside and had 5 rebounds and 0 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 36% form the field and 0% from outside and had 6 rebounds and 9 turnovers.
In the second quarter ratiopharm Ulm wasn´t as potent as in the first quarter, but due to their big lead were able to manage it well, while the Fraport Skyliners were up and down and had no real offense except from ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson who got hot. Ratiopharm Ulm got on the board first with a David Kramer lay in, but the Fraport Skyliners then really poured it on going on a 13-2 run to cut the ratiopharm Ulm lead down to 34-22. Quantez Robertson became aggressive and hot scoring 11 points including three three´s. Leon Kratzer also scored a hook shot over two Ulm Players. Ratiopharm Ulm relied to much on their big healthy lead which led to some dumb mistakes which allowed Frankfurt to cut into the big Ulm lead. But Frankfurt would show just how up and down their season has been as their beautiful Tez run was tortured with a ratiopharm Ulm 11-0 run as suddenly Frankfurt was thrown back down into a deep hole as they trailed 45-22. In the run ratiopharm Ulm tore apart the paint area doing whatever they wanted scoring easy buckets from Miller, ex Marquette(NCAA) guard Katin Reinhart, Evans and Radosavoljevic. Jason Clark continued to have misfortune missing shots and when their shooting guard sniper has an off day then the Fraport Skyliners look like an ugly mess. Ratiopharm Ulm just didn´t let up executing well and establishing fine inside play with cutters and crisp passes that Frankfurt couldn´t stop. Down the stretch Jason Clark scored twice, but it didn´t help much in the Frankfurt comeback attempt as ratiopharm Ulm also executed well getting lay ins from ex Hawaii(NCAA) forward Isaac Fotu and from ex Michigan State (NCAA) center Gavin Schilling to lead 50-27 at the break. “My shot wasn´t falling, but I know that I can shoot the ball. There are always nights like that where the shot isn´t falling. Tez as always gave us a spark on offense and defense. We need to play off his emotions, but we didn´t”, stated Jason Clark. Rtaiopharm Ulm shot 64% from the field and 44% form the three point line and had 13 rebounds and 5 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 42% from the field and 27% from the three point line and had 15 rebounds and 13 turnovers.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners couldn´t get over the hump as ratiopharm Ulm always had that 20 point lead cushion. The Fraport Skyliners tried to go inside again to Leon Kratzer which worked again as he connected on a hook shot and lay. Kratzer had another solid game with 11 points and 9 rebounds on 56% shooting. At times he makes wrong decisions, but that is something common for a young player. For example in the first half, he was triple teamed and instead of kicking out the ball tried a desperation shot through the three man wall and failed. “He needs to understand that the way he is playing now and dominating that teams will throw more bodies at him. The next step in his development is being able to find the open guy on a consistent level. Once he can do that he will be a great player”, warned Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners couldn´t take advantage of the Kratzer buckets as their defense failed time in and time out allowing a trey to Evans and a Green jumper as Ulm still led 55-34. Frankfurt´s defense had taken a break the whole game, but so did ratiopharm Ulm´s as Frankfurt scored a lot easier, but couldn´t make any ground because of their unstable defense. In the past ratiopharm Ulm had let some teams like Crailsheim come back after leading big especially when their bench was in, but this didn´t happen in Frankfurt. The bench came up big and Ulm´s starters like Miller and Green had consistent games. Highly talented German national players Akpinar and Kramer combined for 20 points in the game. In the third quarter Kramer did a good job picking his spots and scoring twice while Akpinar scored in the paint. The Fraport Skyliners also got better offensive production as guards Clark and Larson hit runners, Zeeb went on his own personal Easter Monday stroll through the Ulm zone for an untouched lay in and Robertson continued to nail three´s left and right connecting twice, but ratiopharm Ulm still owned the commanding 70-48 advantage. “We knew that basketball is a game of runs and didn´t want to letup and just continued to do what we did in the first half”, stressed Javonte Green. “Coach Herbert told us the story of when his team was down 25 points to a Russian team in the Fiba Europe Cup and were able to come back. Everything is possible in the game of basketball and you just need to believe it. We all have to believe it. We can´t come out as individuals, but play as a team”, warned Jason Clark.
In the fourth quarter ratiopharm Ulm had their fourth consecutive 20 plus points quarter in the game while the Fraport Skyliners mustered only 15 points. Frankfurt did a good job executing their offense, but had no defensive stops. Frankfurt got good production from Kiel and Kratzer with baskets in the paint and Clark dropped a trey, but ratiopharm Ulm also showcased their amazing deep roster as Fotu scored three times displaying his knack for scoring in bunches. Ratiopharm Ulm also got a basket from Gavin Schilling as Dwayne Evans showed his unselfish play making the extra pass for the 78-55 Ulm lead. Down the stretch, ratiopharm Ulm never let up on defense continuing to force Frankfurt to costly turnovers while on offense their next weapon was ready to explode as Reinhardt hit for three three´s. The Fraport Skyliners couldn´t take that “team basketball” label form ratiopharm Ulm for their play as they opted for more one on one play. Finish national player Shawn Huff connected for two trey´s, but that was about all Frankfurt could muster in the last minutes. The German bachelor Andrej Mangold once again sat, sat and sat for the 40 minutes wondering when his time will come. 48 hours earlier he had had another Bachelor engagement in Vienna, Austria and missed a practice. His missed practices are obviously not going to help him get on the court any quicker. “We are a very deep team and when we play the way we do tonight then we can play with the top teams of the league. It was good to see Reinhardt knock down three´s. He was injured this season and for him to come back like that is huge. He is the type of player that when he hits one, then there is a good chance that the second and third will also fall”, stressed Javonte Green. “It continued to be tough seeing the way Miller and Akpinar moved the ball. They play very well together. Ulm is the type of team that when one guy isn´t hitting shots, then they have another guy that will. They were rolling the whole game and did a good job keeping the energy the whole game”, stressed Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm had five players in double figures and were led by Katin Reinhardt with 13 points. Dwayne Evans added 12 points, 7 boards, 4 dimes and 3 steals, while Isaac Fotu and Ismet Akpinar had 11 points a piece and Patrick Miller added 10 points while the Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 17 points and Leon Kratzer had 11 points. Ratiopharm Ulm shot 54% from the field and 38% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 41% from the field and 29% from outside and had 34 rebounds and 19 turnovers.