The Fraport Skyliners season continues to move on and people are still wondering when it will finally start as it has been 5 months to forget. It is March 1st, and the team is now heading into the stretch run and instead of fighting for a playoff spot, is battling not to get lost in the shuffle near the end of the standings. Currently the 2004 BBL champion is in 14th place with a miserable 5-14 record and have only two wins more than the last two teams Hamburg and MBC. Lucky for Frankfurt that only one team moves down. Just like in December 2019, the club had many weeks of rest as the schedule didn´t have a game on the program for them. The rest and extra practice did them good, because the next opponent MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg would be no cake walk. They have been one of the hottest teams this season. On account of not reaching the playoffs last season, only have been playing once a week in the BBL and have been able to curb all their focus and energy on the BBL play. Ludwigsburg came to Frankfurt in second place sporting a 14-4 record. They played their best basketball at the beginning winning 9 of 10 games and since then have had a 5-3 record, but are always dangerous as they were able to defeat top teams FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. But The Fraport Skyliners didn´t come to play as they performed one of their worst games in years at home getting crushed by the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg 79-54. At times they didn´t look like an easyCredit BBL team and probably would have had problems beating average Pro A teams on this afternoon. They couldn´t buy shots even if they were 75% off, had a free throw phobia, couldn´t secure easy offensive rebounds and just made dumb mistakes one after the other. After the poor showing a shattered Shaquille Hines reflected about the new season low point. “We try to follow the game plan and try to be perfect. But that just doesn´t happen for us in the game. We have to forget about trying to be perfect and just go out and play. We couldn´t get our pick and roll to work and they attacked us the whole game. We played an ok defensive game, but we also have to play good offense. We have to know how to read and react and make plays. We didn´t do that. We got no easy baskets, no transition baskets, missed too many free throws, and missed open shots despite having good weeks of practice and beating Bayreuth in a test game”, stressed ex Braunschweig forward Shaquille Hines. The MHP Resen Ludwigsburg didn´t play their best, but their defense was spot on. “We relied on our defense. We wore them down with our aggressive style. We did a good job with our pick and roll defense and getting offensive rebounds was big in helping us open up our lead”, stressed ex MLP Academics guard Jaleen Smith.
4540 fans turned out in the Fraport arena to witness if the Fraport Skyliners had improved any over the last weeks of game free time, but instead saw them get out on the wrong side of the bed as the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg hurried out on a swift 7-0 lead. The guests did damage in the near distance area as ex Seton Hall(NCAA) standout Kadeen Carrington hit a real tough contested shot over Joe Rahon, ex Fraport Skyliner Jonas Wolfahrt-Bottermann made a reverse lay up and ex Iowa State(NCAA) stand out Nick Weiler-Babb also scored in the paint. The Fraport Skyliners finally became awake as they used their inside presence of Leon Kratzer to make back to back baskets to cut the Ludwigsburg lead down to 7-4. After a Weiler-Babb dunk, the Fraport Skyliners were able to execute getting a trey from Hines and a lay in from ex Ludwigsburg guard Lamont Jones to dead lock the contest at 9-9. Despite the solid start by the guests, in between they would delve into one on one play instead of keeping their team basketball going. The first quarter stood for runs and inconsistency from both teams. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg recovered from the Frankfurt 5-0 run to unleash their own run of 6-0 as Marcos Knight who looks like a power forward in a guards body drove through the lane and scored and then hit a trey for the 15-9 advantage. The late signing of Knight could prove to be the difference come playoff time. The first quarter didn´t elapse with that run, but the Fraport Skyliners ended the first 10 minutes with a timely 4-0 run as ex Michigan State guard Matt Mcquaid nailed a jumper after getting a fine ball reversal pass from Jones from the another wing and Jones also made a pull up jumper as the guests led 15-13. “No team was able to find a steady rhythm. Frankfurt really had many open looks, but couldn´t hit. Kratzerr is still recovering from his long injury and was tired after a few minutes when he was on the floor”, stressed TV Lich guard Jermale Jones.
The Fraport Skyliners really struggled in the second quarter amassing only 8 points, but the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg couldn´t really take advantage of it as their offense was ok, but not great. The Fraport Skyliners suffered another very poor start in the second quarter as they were stopped on their first 5 possessions allowing the guests to go on a 5-0 run to extend their led to 20-13. The run was started by a pretty alley-oop feed from Knight to Weiler-Babb who finished with a nice dunk and then ex New Hampshire(NCAA) guard Jaleen Smith scored from way long range with a trey as Ludwigsburg led 20-13. Smith finished with 9 points and 6 rebounds and has made a fine transition from the Pro A to the easyCredit BBL this season. “My role is to be a defender and hit the open shot. This wasn´t one of my best games”, stressed Jaleen Smith after his 2/9 shooting day. The Fraport Skyliners finally escaped their offensive funk and in ability to execute on offense as Shaquille Hines was sparked by a huge defensive block and scooted up the court and drilled home a transition trey. This led to a 7-0 run as Frankfurt tied the game again as Jones made a lay in and Kratzer a tip in. Frankfurt had little fortune from outside so had to bang the ball inside more. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg didn´t always have luck with running their plays and finishing like a team, so they often resorted to 1-1 on play that didn´t always work. So many mental lapses and defensive break downs plagued the Fraport Skyliners the whole game. Instead of living on the momentum of a 7-0 run, they allowed the guests to close out the second half with a lethal 13-1 run to go into the break with the overwhelming 33-21 advantage. The run was began by a Carrington trey and followed by hard one handed dunk by Marcos Knight. Knight has such a strong body that one wouldn´t necessarily think that he had speed. “I played against him years ago. He has very good speed for his size. He has done a good job working on his game and developing. That helped him move up to the BBL from the Pro B”;added Alabama native Jermale Jones. What really put a dagger to Frankfurt´s throat in this run were the back to back three´s from Weiler-Babb at the end. “When Ludwigsburg´s plays weren´t working, they went to their 1-1 play. Many of Frankfurt´s three´s were short which is a sign for tired legs. Frankfurt was defending well, but just couldn´t hit shots”, stressed Jermale Jones. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg shot 42% form the field and 36% from outside and had 25 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 24% from the field and 11% from outside and had 23 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
In the third quarter the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg continued to execute well while being able to keep their double digit lead. Frankfurt continued to have ups and downs and were staring at a huge deficit. The Fraport Skyliners actually had a good start in the third quarter which has been a problem this season making three consecutive stops and getting a Hines lay in and Kratzer free throw to cut the guests lead to 33-24. After a Knight lay in, Lamont Jones countered with a runner to cut the Ludwigsburg advantage to 35-26. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg had some big plays on the defensive end with Weiler-Babb and Knight blocks which led to a Knight trey and 39-27 lead. The guests got good energy from ex Team Ehingen American Tanner Leissner who made a few free throws and also was very aggressive on the offensive glass which led to 8 points and 9 rebounds in only 17 minutes. Hines continued to be active on the offensive end as was Kratzer getting buckets, but Ludwigsburg still led 47-34. Frankfurt was playing good defense on the team, but couldn´t slow down their 1-1 play. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg closed out the third quarter with a vital 6-2 run to keep a healthy distance from Frankfurt leading 53-36. In the run Frankfurt got free throws from ex Alba Brlrin guard Akeem Vargas and the guests got another high energy play from Knight with a hard one handed dunk and Carrington added a late trey. “We took advantage of Frankfurt´s mistakes and pushed the ball ahead. We got more transition baskets which opened up the game for us”, added Jaleen Smith. “You can see it on many of the guys faces that they aren´t having fun. We have had good and fun practices, but the games are different. We prepare so much, but can´t make adjustments. We lose the ability to play our game. We continued to defend well, but just couldn´t hit anything”, added Shaquille Hines.
In the fourth quarter the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg made another step in their game upping their offense and execution rate while the Fraport Skyliners found some offensive consistency late in the game, but couldn´t get over the hump allowing the guests to score 26 points. Jones got Frankfurt on the board first in the fourth quarter, but the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg had seen enough and then annoyingly slammed the door shut on the Fraport Skyliners with a rude 14-1 run to extend their lead to 67-39. In the run, the guests got a couple of trey´s from Knight and Carrington while Leissner continued to be active on the offensive glass hauling down more rebounds and getting 4 points. At the 6,47 minute mark, Fraport Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson got his first point of the game with a free throw. He would end the day with 1 point, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on 0/7 shooting from the field. 17 year old 2017 JBBL finalist Len Schoormann broke the run with a three pointer to cut the Ludwigsburg lead to 67-42. Frankfurt then executed better on offense, but the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg had already done the most damage. Hines scored 5 points, Jones hit a runner and Mcquaid nailed a trey, but Frankfurt couldn´t get consistent stops as they still trailed 75-52. Little used young German Aaron Kayser made a pretty left handed lay in and the guests closed out the game with Konstantin Konga and Hans Brase free throws. “We played good defense for 35 minutes. They picked up their offense at the end. It wasn´t a pretty game, but we won the dog fight”, warned Jaleen Smith. “We finally got some good looks and made shots. We couldn´t get easy baskets and didn´t find Kratzer on the pick and roll. They did a good job closing in on our pick and roll. I can´t take anything positive out of our game. We had no energy. Even Tez wasn´t Tez today”, added Shaquille Hines. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were led by Marcos Knight with 20 points. Nick Weiler-Babb added 14 points and Khadeen Carrington produced 12 points while the Fraport Skyliners were led by Shaquille Hines with 16 points and Lamont Jones added 15 points. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg shot 40% from the field and 295 from outside and had 46 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 34% from the field and 19% from outside and had 38 rebounds and 14 turnovers.