The Miles Basketball Minute: The Fraport Skyliners Need More Than Lamont Jones To Carry The Team

Fraport Skyliner lifer legend Quantez Robertson´s presence isn´t only seen on the basketball court every day, but he is also seemingly always there watching the Skyliners farm team Juniors battle on Saturday nights in their practice facility instead of being out on the town in Frankfurt. He is a true passionate supporter of the club´s young talents and when I as usual visited him at halftime during the Pro B game against Baunach who were leading comfortably and were stifling the kids with their defense, I had the audacity to ask him in a way boldly, but also rudely “now Tez you guys aren´t going to play that bad tomorrow against BG Goettingen”. He gave me a slight glance and then returned back to his phone probably wanting to say “How dare you think that”. He had proclaimed recently that he saw the Fraport Skyliners as being able to win the BBL title in 2020 something they hadn´t done since 2004. Obviously there is nothing wrong in having massive stubborn self confidence and believing in his boys, but after the disappointing 79-74 cup loss to 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen, the club is as far away from winning the crown in June 2020 as German big man Marco Voeller is from joining the German national football team. But no team is totally prepared to win it all after only one game. That is why the regular season is long and gives each team enough time as Gordon Herbert always says to get better.

The game might have been different had the Fraport Skyliners had their starting point guard Anthony Hickey on board. But he had injured himself in the down stretch period of pre season and should be back in two weeks. But this injury could hurt the club immensely should they start off slow against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. The first games are very tough and with no Hickey, the club will have to make the best of it. But if they continue to play the way that they did against BG Goettingen then they will be 0-3 before it is even mid October. The loss against BG Goettingen ended the Fraport Skyliners cup season and what makes the loss so difficult to handle is that they could of won the game. The game had many ups and downs for both teams and especially in the first quarter experienced 8 lead changes. The second half seemed to be the turn around for the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner. They had began the third quarter with an 11-0 run and led after 30 minutes 62-56. Despite two bang bang three´s by Terry Allen and Kyan Anderson to dead lock the game at 62-62 in the first minutes of the fourth quarter, it then seemed like Frankfurt had made the turning point of the game as defensive specialist Akeem Vargas made back to back steals and coast to coast lay in´s, but once again BG Goettingen relied on their precision three point shooting which helped them go on a 10-2 run and get the momentum back. Frankfurt did have the lead one more time, but BG Goettingen just made the more crucial plays in crunch time and were the more clever team.

There were good things and bad things that the Fraport Skyliners displayed in their first real game of the season. A big problem was their work on the boards. They allowed way too many offensive rebounds. After 40 minutes, it was 13 in total. There were way too many extra possessions by BG Goettingen and more often than not, they were able to scold Frankfurt with that second and third opportunity and get points. The three bigs Kratzer, Waleskowski and Freudenberg played combined 47 minutes and grabbed combined only 6 rebounds. Quantez Robertson as usual played almost the whole game with 38 minutes and hauled down 8 rebounds. Obviously a Tez is always aggressive on the boards and is capable of leading his team in rebounds, but there has to come more support from the big men  Building consistency is something that grows as the team chemistry grows and one can´t expect it to be spot on in the first game. Frankfurt had it´s moments on defense, but the consistency was up and down. Too often they didn´t play proper man on man defense and weren´t close enough on the BG Goettingen snipers. Serbian forward Andric hit Frankfurt with 5 three´s and none were more bitter than his back to back three´s that started the 10-2 run mid-way through the fourth quarter. Offensively the team had it´s moments, but very seldom did one see the kind of ball movement that one has been used to in past years. The team was playing with no starting point guard and since there was little support from other players in the scoring department, Lamont Jones had to be that go to guy and take a back seat in the playmaking. It also didn´t help that they shot a pathetic 19% from outside. One won´t win any games shooting the ball like that.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Lamont Jones when he played his first season in Germany with MBC in 2018

Positives for the Fraport Skyliners was their effort. One could see that the game meant a lot to them. Often in bad phases of the game, the club never let their heads sink, but they always stuck together and that is definitely a good sign especially with some tough games coming up in the next two weeks. One saw that passion on defense even if it didn´t always want to work the way the players had envisioned it and hustle plays were on the influx. Another positive sign was the discovery of that next genuine go to guy. Not just a go to guy, but a guy who can take a game to the next level and be that game changer whenever he wants to. The Fraport Skyliners have that most definitely in Lamont Jones. It doesn´t matter where he has played in his career, he has always lit up the scoreboard. It didn´t matter if it was at Iona(NCAA) where he was the third best scorer in the NCAA in 2013, or the second best scorer in the NBL league in Japan in 2014 or fourth best scorer in the BBL in 2018 with MBC, he has shown that scoring consistency and ways of keeping his team alive in many different situations. He demonstrated in pre-season that he could be that player and against BG Goettingen had 28 points. In the past the Fraport Skyliners have had very dominant players like Dashaun Wood in 2010-2011 or Jordan Theodore in 2015-2016 who had had those very rare qualities to be able to take over a game at the blink of the eye.

However there is only one difference to this season with Lamont Jones and to those seasons with Wood and Theodore. The guys in the past had had suitable support from guys like Roger Powell or Jimmy Mckinney or from the twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel. Against BG Goettingen that second and third consistent scorer was missing. Obviously Hickey can and has to be that second reliable scorer, but when a guy like that is injured, the team needs support from the others. But there are question marks with the other players. Can a Leon Kratzer make the next step this season? He made a huge jump last season going from 3,4ppg to 9.4pg and the expectations are huge this season. He did score 10 points, but missed some easy shots and fouled out mid way through the fourth quarter which put a big void under the basket. His decision making was a bit off at times as well. Kratzer will have his dominant games, but he needs to find consistency. Other question marks. Can Matt Mcquaid make the jump from the NCAA to the BBL and be successful after a great career at Michigan State? So far the kid has shown flashes, but he still is allowed time. Despite his defensive and rebounding duties, can a Shaq Hines be a scoring support? Can a Adam Waleskowski shine with points and rebounds on a consistent level? He definitely will be an influence on the young kids with his experience. He also told me that he would definitely help Kratzer with some soul searching in the few days leading up to the first regular season game in Bonn. Can Richard Freudenberg finally make his break through and be a vital factor for this team?. He did play 13 minutes, but attempted only two shots. He needs to finally get the full trust from the coaching staff and get more minutes. He also has to finally produce and not be up and down. Daniel Schmidt showed good play, but didn´t do anything out of the ordinary to impact the game and could show a bit more emotion on the court. Marco Voeller did the most that he could in the 4.39 minutes that he played with a basket and block. How many more DNP´s will Bruno Vrcic see before he gets his first BBL minutes? The kid needs to be thrown into cold water sooner or later.

Quantez Robertson who is the heart and soul of the team now is n his 11th season and as usual belonged to the best players on the team. He filled the stat sheet like always with 9 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, had 6 dimes and 1 steal. Early in his career, he once told me that he would love to play point guard. Well he has been something like that secret point guard for years, but many just haven´t noticed or appreciated his effort as a playmaker. How badly would the Fraport Skyliners have lost had he not had to have been that playmaker in the game. When a Tez leads the team in assists and you register only 12, then you know that something is dearly missing on the offensive end. It will be some tough weeks for Frankfurt without Hickey as they will have to find ways to generate offense. The team also needs more than just a Lamont jones to carry the team. The club definitely have those scorers on paper, but they just have to present themselves during games. Best would be to begin the season with stealing a win in Bonn. A loss in Bonn will hurt their self confidence as they head into the brutal contests against FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. Being 0-3 before Anthony Hickey has even set foot on the floor could be demoralizing as he will have even more pressure on himself. Possibly he will be back for the tough game in Berlin, but the road to success doesn´t get any easier after that as ambitious new team Hamburg Towers come to Frankfurt and then they have a difficult road game against dark horse team ratiopharm Ulm. The next weeks will be an eye opener for how the season might go for the Fraport Skyliners, but one thing definitely won´t change for the Fraport Skyliners. They will continue to have the chance to get better each day and Quantez Robertson will remain 100% behind his team as always. Some wins somehow would be nice, but if they don´t come, the team will have to stick together something they already proved against BG Goettingen.

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