The last hurdle in the direction of reaching the 2019 NBBL Top 4 in Jena has arrived as usual a lot of the known big name teams are close to getting back to winning the title like powerhouse Alba Berlin who are defending champions, 2017 NBBL champion FC Bayern Munich as well as past winner Breitengussbach and the always dangerous IBAM that produced current Stanford(NCAA) standout Oscar Da Silva. Then there is also Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners that belong to the top youth programs having won the JBBL(U-16) title in 2016 and last reached the NBBL final in 2015 losing to FC Bayern Munich. This season they are stocked again with overwhelming talent like their two athletic wing players Len Schoormann and Maxi Begue that fly to the rim with ease the way birds do knowing when it´s time to fly south for the winter. But before they could book their ticket to the NBBL top 4 in Jena, they had to get past the always tough AB Baskets from Berlin. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had an easy time in the first round of the playoffs with the Piraten Hamburg sweeping them smoothly averaging 94 points in the series on the offensive end and allowing only 51 points on the defensive end improving their season average of 57 points. The AB Baskets came into the quarterfinal series having had a solid regular season where they swept defending champions Alba Berlin and in the first round of the playoffs disposed of the Metro Baskets Ruhr with little difficulty. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had home court advantage and came into game one confident, poised and ready for battle, but surely didn´t expect such a tough fight as the AB Baskets stole game one 87-81 and can wrap the series next weekend at home to reach the NBBL Top 4 in Jena. The AB Baskets played a spirited game with a lot of intensity and just never backed down in any situations against Frankfurt and exploded with emotions at the buzzer as if they had won the 2019 NBBL title. After the game AB Baskets top German player Max Stolzel who produced only 8 points, but made big plays in crunch-time was thrilled about the huge win and also comical. “One can classify this win as an upset. We have had these type of wins this season as we also beat Alba Berlin twice. Our coaches did a very good job scouting. Frankfurt gave us problems in the first half, but we played a lot better in the second half. At the end anyone could of won. There were two talented teams and we just had more luck hitting shots. I really like the Frankfurt team, but they have many young players and have two more years time. We have many guys leaving so please let us get to the top 4 this year”, smiled Max Stolzel. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners seemed shocked as the buzzer sounded as they surely never dreamed that they would lose this game, but they didn´t have a good day. Their defense wasn´t their old self as they gave up 30 points more than their season game average and their other strength press wasn´t used the way they would have liked. “We started well, but then let up. We didn´t play well against their offense. They wanted it more than we did”, warned Len Schoormann.
Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners started off well, but the AB Baskets found their rhythm in the latter part of the first quarter and trailed Frankfurt only by 6 points after 10 minutes. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners got going quickly hitting the AB Baskets for a 11-1 run. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners did a great job attacking the boards and beating the guests with their game as they were the fifth best rebounding team in the NBBL. Ex Cologne youth player Jordan Samare scored twice, 16 year old ex BC Darmstadt guard Len Schoormann dropped a trey and captain Alvin Onyia made a steal and went coast to coast for the basket. The rapid start by Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was nothing new for them as they had had leads like this all season long. Frankfurt had a good rhythm and played their usual aggressive defense and especially Leon Pullen played excellent defense on guys like Leonard Hampl who had some inches and kilos more. The AB Baskets finally got their first field goal at the 5,55 minute mark from 19 year old 187cm point guard Laszlo Cavalar. Frankfurt then struck as ex BC Darmstadt guard Maxi Begue scored with a lay in for the 13-3 advantage. But the AB Baskets finally got their ball movement going and hit some big shots as well as eluding their press. Cavalar nailed another trey as did 18 year old German Ben Post who prefers the mid distance shot, but hurt Frankfurt on this afternoon with his trey as Frankfurt suddenly led only 15-11. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners got some big three point production from Schoormann and from captain Alvin Onyia who isn´t known for his outside shooting coming in at 19%, but drilled one home. But the AB Baskets matched Frankfurt´s precision shooting as Post had the hot hand and nailed two more, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 25-19 after one quarter. “We played our game well at the start and gave gas, but then just let up”, stressed Len Schoormann. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 47% from the field and 57% from outside and had 12 rebounds and 2 turnovers while the AB Baskets shot 43% from the field and 50% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
The AB Baskets began the second quarter strong getting their first lead of the game, but gave it up in the latter part as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners erased their inconsistency and played a lot better at both ends of the floor stealing the lead back. The AB Baskets spanked Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners with a swift 8-0 run to gain their first lead of the game29-25. The AB Baskets mister everything Max Stolzel wasn´t a factor, but the club had other guys step up like Ben Post who refrained from his three in the run and scored twice in the paint. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to be punished with their lax one on one defense and coughed up the ball while the AB Baskets looked confident and were hitting shots. A three by Schoormann didn´t scare the AB Baskets as they continued to execute and get good contribution from their bench from the Friederici twins. Athletic shooting guard Marc Friederici hit a trey and made a steal and went coast to coast for the lay in and 34-28 advantage. Basketball will always be a game of runs and Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners then demonstrated it best going on a swift offensive frenzy going on a 11-0 run to retake the lead 39-34. In the run, they got vital production from Maxi Begue who used his biggest weapons his mid range and driving game scoring three baskets in a row. Schoormann dropped another trey and Pullen scored in the paint. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners kept the momentum down the stretch getting another bucket from Begue and Schoormann while the AB Baskets got another trey from Marc Friederici and Post lay in. Schoormann had his own heroics as he scored at the buzzer with a lay in as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 49-42. “Our offense was working better. We were playing quicker and getting out on transition better”, stressed Len Schoormann. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 50% from the field and 38% from the three point line and had 21 boards and 5 turnovers while the AB Baskets shot 45% from the field and 44% from the three point line and had 16 boards and 7 turnovers.
The third quarter was an exciting back and forth battle as there were 6 lead changes, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had the very slim 68-66 advantage after three quarters. The AB Baskets were wide awake and hit Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners with a quick 7-1 run to cut Frankfurt´s lead to only 50-49. The AB Baskets received two quick baskets from their only true big man 202cm German Leonard Hampl and also got a basket from 18 year old German 197cm forward Leonik Wadehn. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners continued to have no cure for their inside defensive woes as the AB Baskets got easy baskets. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had some fortune going on a mini 4-0 run as Begue made a quick steal at center court and made a hard one handed dunk. That was followed by a trey from 2017 JBBL finalist Calvin Schaum who began his career at TG Hanau lifting Frankfurt to the 57-49 lead. But the AB Baskets offense was flowing and executing as they let the long ball fly and got trey´s from Stolzl and Cavalar while Oniya hit another three, but Frankfurt still led 58-55. Both teams then played trading baskets and leads as Post hit a three which was followed by a Pullen lay in. Schoorman then answered with a massive block on Post which led to a Begue fast break basket and 62-59 Frankfurt lead. But the AB Baskets just continued to chip away and execute as the Friederici twins went on a 5-0 run as Vincent hit a trey and Marc made a floater recapturing the 64-63 lead. Onyia gave Frankfurt the lead back with a coast to coast sprint and lay in only to see that lead erased by a Stolzel off balance shot. Schoormann closed out the third quarter with another basket at the buzzer nailing another three as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led 68-66. “They hustled very well and we couldn´t come to terms with that. We were slow on transition and didn´t respect or get on their three point shooters”, added Len Schoormann. “We played good one on one defense and just continued to fight hard”, added Max Stolzel. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 52% from the field and 42% from the parking lot and had 27 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the AB Baskets shot 48% form the field and 46% from the parking lot and had 24 rebounds and 10 turnovers.
Both clubs gave it a great fight in the fourth quarter, but it was the AB Baskets that simply wanted it more and made the bigger plays and executed better at both ends of the court. It also didn´t help Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners cause getting out on a horrible start diming their confidence and heightening that of the AB Baskets. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners stopped the AB Baskets first two possessions until Wadehn scored to dead lock the game at 68-68, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was stomped on their first 8 possessions, but the AB Baskets couldn´t take better advantage of it except for two buckets. Vincent Friederici made an amazing circus shot for the 70-68 AB Baskets lead. In the first quarter Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was beating the AB Baskets at their game on the boards and in the first minutes of the fourth quarter the AB Baskets were playing the kind of aggressive consistent defense that Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners couldn´t play on this day. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners finally got their first field goal of the fourth quarter with a Jordan Samare offensive rebound and put back at the 5,18 minute mark. The AB Baskets rolled out on a quick 5-0 run to lead 75-70 as the Friederici twins did damage again as Vincent made free throws and Marc nailed a high rainbow trey. “At about the seven minute mark, we stressed that we wouldn´t loose this game. We left at 9am this morning and weren´t going to lose this game. This could have been the turning point had they made a few trey´s, but lucky for us we went on a run until the end”, stressed Max Stolzel. From this point on the AB Baskets played very smart and always had an answer when Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners threatened. Begue made a runner and Schoormann made three free throws to cut the AB baskets lead to 77-76. The AB Baskets stayed calm and executed their offense well. Hampl made a lay in getting a no look pass form Ben Post for the 80-76 advantage. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners didn´t give up getting a pretty turn around shot from Pullen and Onyia free throw to cut the AB Baskets lead to 80-79. Cavalar then nailed a huge three with 43 seconds remaining for the 83-79 AB Baskets advantage. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners couldn´t execute as the AB Baskets tightened up their defense and just made clutch stops. Schoormann free throws cut the AB Baskets lead to 84-81 with 21 seconds to go. Onyia then missed a trey and Stolzel closed out the game with free throws. “We never panicked. Cavalar made a huge three. We got stops and rebounded well. We were a bit more clever and made our free throws”, stressed Max Stolzel. “It was ok for Onyia to take that shot. Begue and I were closed down. “We didn´t communicate well and couldn´t close out the game. They wanted it more than we did”, stressed Len Schoormann. “I hope we shocked them a bit with the win. They will be very motivated in game two, but so will we. We want to go to Jena”, stressed Max Stolzel. The AB Baskets had 5 guys score in double figures and were led by Ben Post with 19 points. Laszlo Cavalar and Marc Friederici added 14 points a piece and Leonard Hampli, Vincent Freiderici and Max Stolzel added 11 points a piece. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners were led by Len Schoormann with 25 points. Maxi Begue added 19 points and Alvin Onyia contributed 14 points. The AB Baskets shot 45% from the field and 41% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 12 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners shot 43% from the field and 29% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 13 turnovers.