Just how much can a team endure after losing two games back to back in crunch-time and not totally lose one´s nerves? One has to wonder what kind of mind games Quantez Robertson was having on the brief two hour bus ride back to Frankfurt. Was he immersed in his head phones or did he attempt the short trek to the front of the bus to talk basketball with head coach Sebastian Gleim? The only things that counts are wins and the Fraport Skyliners need one badly quickly, but that may have to wait for a while. In the case of the Fraport Skyliners the tide could change very rapidly from bad to worse as their next two opponents are Euroleague clubs FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. After starting off the season at home against BG Goettingen with a tough 79-74 loss, a game they could have won, but not necessarily should have won, the 2000 BBL cup winner began the regular season in Bonn only 72 hours after the loss to Goettingen and lost a heartbreaker 77-76. I reach Fraport Skyliners captain and lifer Quantez Robertson on a Friday morning less than 48 hours after their turnover fest in Bonn and reach a good tempered ex Auburn(NCAA) player, but one could sense at times in his tone that the last hours hadn´t been easy for him as losing is a terrible thing, but sometimes how you lose can put one into a depressing state. It wasn´t a bad night at the office in terms of turnovers, but a lousy night for Frankfurt. They didn´t cough up the ball a pathetic 15 or 16 times, but an unacceptable 26 times. It didn´t take the American long to utter what annoyed him most about the loss. “It was mainly our team turnovers, but also the couple of turnovers that I had in the fourth quarter”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Quantez Robertson at the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup title parade in Frankfurt
Obviously the only thing that counts after 40 minutes is the win, but the Fraport Skyliners actually came out reborn and had a very strong first quarter scoring 27 points. For some Skyliner fans that potent first quarter quickly erased the bad loss against BG Goettingen, but that brief high was short as Frankfurt was unable to keep their consistency. They couldn´t keep their momentum going into the second quarter as The Telekom Baskets Bonn dug into the huge Frankfurt lead dropping four trey´s led by American Brandon Fraizer´s two. The Fraport Skyliners couldn´t defend quite as well as the first quarter and execute as well on offense, but still had the comfortable lead at the break with 42-34 something they also had against BG Goettingen. “We fought really hard in the first half. We were talking a lot on defense and were able to run the way we wanted to”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
The second half got worse and like against BG Goettingen where they suffered a 11-0 run, they couldn´t stop a 7-0 Bonn run to begin the third quarter. Soon after the Telekom Baskets Bonn got the lead through their best player of the contest with Brandon Frazier. Frankfurt came out of the break as if they had woken up on the wrong side of the bed as suddenly everything that had functioned in the first quarter on tight execution was a struggle in the second half. They coughed up the ball 10 times in the fourth quarter and could of won the game at the end even after two Leon Kratzer´s missed free throws, but a last second shot by Robertson that could have given him another added dose of legendary status in Frankfurt didn´t want to fall. “We missed many easy open shots in the fourth quarter. We were unable to execute our defensive plan at the end and couldn´t execute our offense the way we wanted to in the last 3-4 minutes”, warned Quantez Robertson.
Despite the loss there were some bright spots on the team. After his less than satisfactory game on Sunday against BG Goettingen, Leon Kratzer stormed back with a strong 20 points and 11 rebounds effort and found back to his range shooting 72% from the field. It was only bitter that his big weakness with shooting free throws let him down at the end. Lamont Jones was great again netting 16 points and showing he can be that playmaker and knowing when to score and create and dishing out 9 dimes. So the Fraport Skyliners finally found that second player with Kratzer to carry the team, but other than those two, there wasn´t enough support elsewhere. Quantez Robertson had another normal day at the office game in terms of filling the stat sheet, but his 5 turnovers really hurt and with a few less the club probably would have won the game. German Richard Freundenberg had a solid game of 7 points, 2 boards and a steal in 15 minutes, but why didn´t he play more in the second half? Matt Mcquaid continues to get very slowly out of his shell scoring 5 points getting 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. He was very effective on offense, but still hasn´t adjusted to the physical European play on defense. Frankfurt shot frequently again from downtown, but only at 31% another area of their game that has to get better. A plus point was that they worked tenaciously and hard on the boards and were rewarded with the 36-29 advantage and 10 offensive rebounds. They also dished out 23 assists. The club is looking for an additional point guard as Anthony Hickey will be out at least a month.
The Fraport Skyliners don´t have much time to prepare for the mighty FC Bayern Munich, but have a day extra than they did for the Telekom Baskets Bonn. They don´t have much time to regroup as FC Bayern Munich not only had a stellar off season as they found their form quickly, but also began their regular season with a bang. They destroyed new BBL team Hamburg Towers in their own living room by a massive 56 points and also won their Euroleague debut getting by Italian club Milan. The Munich side defend with a passion and it is no secret what Frankfurt are tweaking the most in the next days. “We are focusing mostly on taking care of the ball. We had a lot of turnovers in the last game. Munich like to force turnovers and get into the open floor. We have to take care of the basketball and also try to get into the open floor”, warned Quantez Robertson. In the past especially since Quantez Robertson has been on board, the Fraport Skyliners have often rebounded well after having their backs to the wall and been able to give out of the ordinary performances against top teams like FC Bayern Munich, Brose Bamberg and Alba Berlin and depart the floor after 40 minutes with victories. The question is will it happen this time again? The answer is probably not. But could FC Bayern Munich possibly underestimate Frankfurt? “It is the beginning of the season. They won´t underestimate us. They haven´t seen us play yet and don´t know us yet. I know that we will play hard and fight the way we did against Bonn and Goettingen. Our effort will have to be a lot higher than it was in Bonn for us to have a chance to win against Munich”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
FC Bayern Munich have without a doubt the strongest roster in their history. It personally wouldn´t surprise me bearing injuries for them to go undefeated in the BBL this season. They kept a lot of seasoned veterans upholding part of the team chemistry and added an amazing mix of four ex NBA players with Josh Huestis, Paul Zipser and Demarkus Nelson and NBA prospect Matthias Lessort. Obviously none of these fine new signings can compare to the signing of ex Georgetown center Greg Monroe who played nine seasons in the NBA and belonged to the top 10 best centers in the league. He has to be the best player the BBL has ever seen play in Germany. Despite having this huge name grace the Fraport arena on Sunday, it won´t have a big impact on Quaantez Robertson going any differently into the game in the game of the year for Frankfurt. “It will be just another game for me. We play the same sport. He was just able to play at a higher level than I have. For me it is always fun to play the game of basketball no matter who the player or team is. No matter who the team is or who the players are, I always have fun”, warned Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners will need a gigantic miracle on Sunday to get a win. It also wouldn´t hurt if Quantez Robertson wakes up Sunday morning with a magical cape on his back. Then we could see the real super Tez demonstrate unhuman like qualities. Or Frankfurt could get ex player Jason Clark back as a pre game consultant to undercover the unknown Greg Monroe weaknesses. Clark was teammates with Monroe at Georgetown and trains with him every summer and must know some kind of weakness. Either way fans will see amazing basketball on Sunday even if it most likely will only come from the Bavarian squad.