After the Fraport Skyliners convincing 76-68 victory over the Cailsheim Merlins on the road on December 7th, it seemed like the club may have caught themselves just in a nick of time before disappearing in quick sand, but instead fell in and their chances of recovering wasn´t an easy one as it was 10 before midnight. Since the win in Crailsheim, the club had suffered a very disappointing three game losing streak. They should of won the game at home against Braunschweig shortly before Christmas, but instead lost having had the win in their hands missing two makeable shots in the last seconds. Then came a miserable loss in Ludwigsburg and then a loss in their first game in 2020 on the road against 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen. It definitely wasn´t easy times for the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner. In Goettingen the team played OK until halftime, but then as usual collapsed in the third quarter and at the end had 20 turnovers and had given up 14 offensive rebounds. One can only wonder what Gordon Herbert is thinking at the moment. The Fraport Skyliners could use some serious basketball consultation from the Canadian. The club was still looking for their first win in 2020 and faced Hessen rival Giessen 46ers who are only a short ride up the high way from Frankfurt. Whenever these teams meet, it always promises to be a brutal battle not only on the court, but also in the stands as a few hundred Giessen fans had loud and often nasty chants, but in the end it didn´t help, because the Fraport Skyliners survived a Giessen comeback winning 81-65. The Fraport Skyliners gave a good team effort and played consistent defense and hit the big shots whenever they needed them, while the Giessen 46ers were missing that team spirit and couldn´t defend consistently all night long. After the huge win, ex BG Goettingen American Adam Waleskowski reflected on the game. ”This was a huge win for the fans. Before the game we got these motivational letters and we wanted to do it for the fans and were able to get on track again. The way we defended and played with physicality is the way I remember the Skyliners of old. ´This is how we should always play. We frustrated them with our physicality. We played together on the defensive end and had good communication something that was lacking the last weeks. We really focused on using the crowd energy and derby feeling. Our energy and hustle plays won us the game tonight”, stressed Adam Waleskowski. After the loss ex West Virginia(NCAA) guard Teyvon Myers exited the dressing disappointed that they didn´t give the needed energy. “We didn´t do our automatics and didn´t take the game like a derby game the way Frankfurt did. We had to play down from the start. We pressured the ball a lot, so we took off plays on defense to conserve energy, because we didn´t want to be dog tired”, stressed Teyvon Myers.
5002 fans found their way into the Fraport arena for the first home game of 2020 and weren´t disappointed as the Fraport Skyliners came out with the type of intensity that they should always have while Giessen couldn´t match it The Fraport Skyliners came out blazing going on a quick 6-0 lead. Ex Auburn(NCAA) standout Quantez Robertson gave Frankfurt it´s first two points after 5 seconds as he was the aggressor got the lose ball off the jump ball and scored. Ex St Johns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg grabbed an offensive rebound and made a put back while ex Braunschweig guard Joe Rathon also scored Frankfurt defended with passion from the get go something one hasn´t seen so often this season. They defended aggressively and forced Giessen to tough shots which made them hurry their offense. Ex ratiopharm Ulm center John Bryant finally got Giessen on the board with free throws, but Frankfurt continued to play strong at both ends of the court extending their lead to 10-2 with a Freudenberg trey on transition. The whole play started with a Freudenberg block on a Bryant hook shot. Giessen finally received their first field goal at the 5.54 minute mark with a Meyers transition bucket cutting the Frankfurt lead to 10-4. The Fraport Skyliners continued to execute on offense at a high rate going on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 16-4. Jones began the run with his bread and butter pull up jumper, German Leon Kratzer made a left handed hook shot over Bryant and then came the awakening of Richard Freudenberg. He made the play of the game scoring a ferocious two handed dunk barreling to the rim from the wing. His aggressiveness was refreshing. Why can´t he play like that all the time? “His dunk was an exciting moment. I thought holy cow when he dunked. He is so athletic. He needs to keep the level at which he is playing now. We all know that he has it. He has to keep bring this type of play and not let missed shots affect him”, stressed Adam Waleskowski. Frankfurt continued to execute with nice team play getting baskets from ex Braunschwieg forward Shaquille with a tap in, an Akeem Vargas pull up jumper, and Robertson lay in. Frankfurt couldn´t totally shake Giessen as they stayed in the game with difficult shots in the one on one as team play was absolutely absent. Ex Bucknell(NCAA) guard Stephon Brown hit two difficult baskets and ex Texas(NCAA) forward Jordan Barnett hit a runner as the Fraport Skyliners led 26-16. “We came out focused at both ends of the court. We moved the ball well on offense and were zones in on defense”, stressed Adam Waleskowski. The Fraport Skyliners shot 50% from the field and 20% from outside and had 14 rebounds and 2 turnovers while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 29% from the field and 0% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners continued to be in charge, but a loss in concentration allowed Giessen to squirm back into the game. Frankfurt gave up some easy baskets and couldn´t get the easy ones on offense. Ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas got Frankfurt on the board first with a lay in as he got a loose ball and made a transition bucket. Giessen then found some daylight on offense going on a 6-2 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 30-22. Ex University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (NCAA) forward Matt Tibby started the run with a 20 footer, Bryant followed with a lay getting the shovel pass from young German Bjarne Kraushaar. Brown used his expert one on one qualities scoring on a runner. But as was so often the case on this evening, whenever Giessen attempted to come back, Frankfurt had an answer. Little used Michigan State guard Matt Mcquaid gave the team some massive punch with a lightening 5-0 run with a catch and pop three and lay in while Jones made a lay in and Barnett a jumper as Frankfurt led 37-24. Frankfurt´s offense was fluid and even when they did make mistakes, they were able to make up for it on the defensive end with big plays. Frankfurt was in control, but lost control in the last minutes as the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers went into the break on a 7-2 run to trail Frankfurt only 39-31. Giessen profited from Frankfurt´s fifth team foul at the 3,45 minute mark and got free throws from ex Bayreuth center Kendall Gray and ex Braunschweig guard Brandon Thomas and got a clutch trey from Matt Tibby. Kratzer closed out the second quarter with a two handed stuff. “We relaxed a bit when we got the lead. Their two guards hit tough shots and overall the team got easy baskets”, stressed Adam Waleskowski. The Fraport Skyliners shot 45% from the field and 25% from the three point line and had 22 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Jobstairs Giessen shot 31% from the field and 10% from the three point line and had 20 rebounds and 9 turnovers.
The third quarter has been the sore point of the Fraport Skyliners this season, but against the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers, the home team came out with a strong 10 minutes and led by as much as 19 points to lead 62-47 after 30 minutes. Both teams got on the board quickly to begin the third quarter as Lamont Jones and Meyers scored as Frankfurt led 41-33. The Fraport Skyliners then really broke open the game with a 11-0 run powered by Richard Freudenberg who made a monster block and hit two three´s while Jones made a lay in and Robertson a deep trey for the overwhelming 52-33 lead. Frankfurt continued to play with a lot of physicality forcing Giessen to try to execute on one on one plays. Giessen stopped the Frankfurt run with three´s from Brown and Brandon Thomas to cut the Frankfurt lead to 54-39. Frankfurt continued to execute well keeping their lead as their best scorer Lamont Jones was scoring from all over while Giessen got key baskets from Tibby. Giessen closed out the third quarter 5-0 run as Meyers hit a trey and made a lay in trailing Frankfurt 62-49 after three quarters. Meyers showed time in and time out that he can play the game, but the team aspect was missing a bit something he isn´t used to playing. “I never learned to play basketball the right way. I was used more as a defender at West Virginia(NCAA). When teams switch it forces us to go 1-1. I´m in my third year in Europe and don´t run the pick and role, but just fill it out”, stressed Teyvon Meyers. “We were playing Skyliner basketball. That is how we always want to come out setting the tone and intensity. Giessen did do a good job getting to the free throw line to stay in the game”, added Adam Waleskowski. “I felt that we came back from halftime fired up, but they started hitting three´s which changed the game. They punched us in the mouth and did a good job weathering the storm”, added Teyvon Myers.
In the fourth quarter the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers made a furious come back to cut the Frankfurt lead to 4 points, but the Fraport Skyliners closed out the game with big shots and stops. The Jobstairs Giessen 46ers came out on fire as they played their best defense in the first 3- minutes and went on a 9-0 run to suddenly trail only 62-58 as Frankfurt were in danger of giving up the lead for the first time. Giessen continued to rely on their strong one on one abilities as ex University of Texas forward Jordan Barnett made a lay in and trey on transition, Meyers made a pretty bucket with a left handed lay in high off the glass and free throws from Kendall Gray. Frankfurt couldn´t hit the ocean, but also had misfortune missing a few easy lay ins while Leon Kratzer missed two free throws. “We got stagnant on offense and had some bad turnovers while they hit shots”, stated Adam Waleskowski. “We upped our intensity on defense. It helps when Kendall Gray in on the court”, added Teyvon Myers. The Fraport Skyliners finally made their first field goal of the fourth quarter as Adam Waleskowski hit a huge three pointer for the 65-58 advantage. “They had us bleeding. They thought we were going with the lob pass, but my guy dropped off me so I let it fly and was lucky I hit it after missing so much in the first half”, added Adam Waleskowski. After Barnett made a step back jumper, the Fraport Skyliners continued to execute on offense getting a trey from Jones and a lay in from Vargas for the 69-60 Frankfurt lead. Giessen didn´t let up getting a three pointer from Brown, but Frankfurt just continued weathering the storm and getting big shots as Shaquille Hines made a three from the corner for the 72-63 lead. “Hines made a big shot. There were so many games this season where we gave up the lead, but this time we were able to close the door on them”, expressed Adam Waleskowski. “They hit the big shots at the end when they needed them most”, stressed Teyvon Myers. Frankfurt then cruised to the victory with a 11-2 run closing out the game. Jones and Joe Rahon made lay ins and Quantez Robertson hit an acrobatic three after getting Thomas in the air and then moving to his left and letting it fly. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Lamont Joes with 16 points. Quantez Robertson added 15 points, 8 rebounds and 7 dimes. Richard Freudenberg produced 13 points and Shaquille Hines 10 points while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers were led by Stephen Brown with 17 points while Teyvon Myers added 15 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 49% from the field and 36% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 14 turnovers while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 34% from the field and 24% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 16 turnovers.