Just a few weeks ago, there was a lot of talk about the Fraport Skyliners Juniors returning back to the playoffs a place that they have been a part of the last few years, but on the last game day, the club suddenly was in 10th place team and needed a win and some help from BBC Coburg. On the last game day there were four clubs with 9 wins with Speyer, Orange Academy; FC Bayern Munich and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. The Fraport Skyliners didn´t actually make it easy for reaching the playoffs the last weeks as after a strong three game winning streak, the club lost the last two games against Oberaching and FC Bayern Munich which put them in this precarious situation. To make matters worse, they had to face Orange Academy, a very young but deep and talented team that they had gotten creamed by on the road in the first meeting 87-58. In that game Orange Academy had a good shooting day showcasing 5 players in double figures and cleaning up on the boards winning the rebound duel 36-19 as their length advantage really hurt the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. Orange Academy entered the BCM and fans saw two different halfes as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were the better team in the first half, but in the second half Orange Academy shifted up a few gears on the defensive end and start hitting more shots stifling the home team 92-84. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors needed a win and a loss for FC Bayern Munich in Coburg and in the end a win at home didn´t matter because Coburg lost 75-73 at home. The contest didn´t only have the drama of a do or die situation for Frankfurt, but also showcased two young players that were very close to triple doubles as Frankfurt captain Cosmo Gruehn finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists and 18 year old Orange Academy guard Zach Ensminger who is the son of BBL legend Chris Ensminger had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. After the big Orange Academy win St Paul Minnesota native Joe Rosga explained why the guests pulled out the win. “We stuck together the whole game. We were down 7 points at the half and we knew that we had to come back and make plays. We picked up our defense in the second half and held them to 34 points. Our defense led to good offense. We made more stops and made big plays. It was a huge win for the club and I´m happy to have been a part of it”, stated Orange Academy guard Joe Rosga. Once again the Fraport Skyliners Juniors couldn´t put together a full game effort as Croatian guard Bruno Peric explained what went wrong. “We played good offense in the first half, but not so good in the second half. We had less energy in the second half and were out-energized. Our main problem was that we got outrebounded. We outhustled them in the first half and they outhustled us in the second half”, warned Fraport Skyliner Juniors guard Bruno Peric.
The first quarter was a real battle as no team could get away from the other and there were 5 lead changes. Orange Academy had the better start finding their rhythm right away taking a rapid 7-2 lead. In the run they moved the ball very well and got everyone involved. 40 year old German Nils Mittman began the run with a fadeaway jumper, German talent Christoph Phillipps hit a trey and 18 year old Zach Ensminger who most likely will play in the NCAA next season scored showing the self confidence of a 30 year old. But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors weren´t shocked and got some of their own offense going getting a key three pointer from ex Freiburg forward Cosmo Gruehn and a lay in from Bruno Peric for the 8-7 advantage. The lead would go back and forth in the next minutes as Mittman dropped a 20 footer for the 9-8 Orange Academy lead and then Knoxville Tennesse native Nigel Pruitt nailed his bread and butter the trey to steal the lead back at 11-9. Philipps continued to have his range from outside hitting another trey for the 14-13 lead. Another Ensminger bucket extended the Orange Academy lead to 16-13. Both teams were at eye level as Frankfurt shared the ball well while Orange Academy suffered too many turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors stepped up their defense in the last minutes cruising out on a 9-3 run to retake the lead at 22-19 after 10 minutes. Frankfurt remained aggressive and got to the free throw line getting points from ex BBC Coburg center Noah Kamdem and Bruno Peric and ex FC Bayern Munich guard Bruno Vrcic also scored in the paint. “We had good ball movement and energy. We also defended very well letting us have the lead”, added Bruno Peric. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 50% from the field and 29% form outside and had 6 rebounds and 3 turnovers while Orange Academy shot 67% form the field and 50% form outside and had 6 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
The second quarter also remained a dog fight and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to gain the 7 point lead at the break thanks to some real strong play from Bruno Vrcic on offense in the scoring department. Both teams offenses were executing very well which didn´t allow the other team to get away. Frankfurt got buckets from Vrcic and ex Chemnitz center Aaron Kayser while Phillips continued to be a menace from outside with a trey and Ensminger continued to be aggressive getting a left handed lay in. Joe Rosga who shot for 40% or more for three of four seasons at the University Of Denver tied the game at 28-28. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors held the tight lead 35-33 getting some more offensive production from Aaron Kayser who made an offensive rebound and put back and Pruitt basket while Orange Academy got baskets from Rosga and Mittman. Frankfurt then had two bitter defensive breakdowns with the first allowing big man Nicholas Bretzel get an easy lay up for the 36-35 Orange Academy lead. After a Peric trey, Orange Academy got their second easy basket in a row as Frankfurt had another defensive break down allowing Moritz Krimmer who has 1 BBL game on his resume to make an easy lay in cutting Frankfurt´s advantage to 40-38. Frankfurt did a good job on the offensive glass, but allowed too many easy baskets. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors was able to hold the lead due to a 10-5 run and explosiveness of Bruno Vrcic. Pruitt contributed a trey and Bruno Vrcic sunk 7 points with a in your face three over Kristof Krause, a lay in and off balance jumper for the 50-43 halftime lead. “We had a clear vision about what we wanted to do. We were all on the same page and executed well. The way we played on offense and defense in the second quarter is how we should always play”, stressed Bruno Peric. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 53% from the field and 50% from the three point line and had 14 rebounds and 5 turnovers while Orange Academy shot 57% form the field and 42% from the three point line and had 13 rebounds and 8 turnovers.
In the third quarter Orange Academy got the lead back began to control the game and would never look back until the buzzer sounded after 40 minutes. Len Schoormann got the Fraport Skyliners Juniors on the board first with a lay in for the 52-43 advantage. But Orange Academy started to slowly chip away at the Frankfurt lead going on a 6-1 run. In the run it was the rebirth of talented young German Nat Diallo who came from Vechta. He got his first basket of the game at the 8,19 minute mark with an alley-oop tap in after retrieving a perfect pass from Zach Ensminger. Dialo stepped it up on the next play making a one handed dunk. Phillpps as always was aggressive and also added a lay in to cut Frankfurt´s advantage to 53-49. Schoormann continued to execute well making a lay in in traffic, but then came the turning point of the contest as Orange Academy finally was able to break away with a 12-4 run to recapture the lead at 61-57. In the Orange Academy run, they began to let it rain trey´s with three from Rosga, Mate Fazekas and Krause. Rosga also added a lay in. Orange Academy was hit with their fifth team foul at the 5,55 minute mark, but that didn´t hurt their offensive execution. Frankfurt got good production from Noah Kamdem who made a lay in and two free throws to dead lock the game at 61-61. The game was close, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors just couldn´t get over the hump. Orange Academy continued to demonstrate their precision outside shooting getting atrey from Moritz Krimmer, Joe Rasga and Zach Ensminger for the 70-67 lead. Frankfurt had got a clutch trey from Cosmo Gruehn and lay in from Noah Kamdem. “Coach Gavel told us at the break that it would all come down to playing defense. We picked up our energy on defense and began to hit some shots. That gave us the momentum and also scoring on transition helped us get the lead”, stressed Joe Rosga. “We weren´t focused and couldn´t match their energy and they outrebounded us. They wanted it more than us”, added Bruno Peric. Orange Academy shot 58% from the field and 50% from the parking lot and had 19 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 485 from the field and 405 from the parking lot and 24 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
Orange Academy were able to pull away again and have a 10 point lead and didn´t allow the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to get over the hump. Orange Academy continued to execute well on offense as Frankfurt just didn´t have the extra energy to get stops. Philipps scored the guests first 4 points and Zach Ensminger made a nifty finger tip roll lay in for the 76-69 advanatge. “Zach has been great. He has control on the floor and gets everyone involved. He finds guys and gets them easy looks. He is a good kid. His dad brought me here. I love playing with him”, stated Joe Rosga. After a Gruehn lay in, it was Ensminger that scored again for the 80-71 lead for Orange Academy. The difference in the game at this point was just that Orange Academy was doing all the little things better with hustle plays, rebounding and drawing fouls. Bruno Vrcic picked it up in crunch-time with a trey and two lay ins to cut the guests lead to 86-78, but he couldn´t totally dig into the Orange Academy lead as Frankfurt couldn´t buy a stop as the guests got free throws from Krimmer and baskets from Krause and Mittmann. A Schoormann basket and Kamden free throws cut the Orange Academy lead down to 88-82, but a Ensminger offensive rebound and put back was the final straw as Frankfurt trailed 90-82. In the last 5 minutes Cosmo Gruen only needed an assist for the triple double, but couldn´t get it. “Cosmo played a really good game. He gave good impulses on offense and defense. He played the way a captain should play”, stressed Bruno Peric. Kamden and Krimmer traded free throws up until the buzzer sounded. “Everybody stepped up big time. Everybody played for each other and everyone wanted to win. The biggest difference was that everyone played for each other and there was no 1-1 play”, warned Joe Rosga. “They executed better than we did. They remained calm got self esteem and pushed the ball”, added Bruno Peric. Orange Academy was led by Christoph Philipps with 20 points. Zach Ensminger added 18 points and Joe Rosga 15 points while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Bruno Vrcic with 20 points. Noah Kamdem and Nigel Pruitt added 14 points a piece. Orange Academy shot 55% from the field and 37% from outside and had 36 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 46% from the field and 32% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 9 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors begin the Playdowns next weekend against FC Bayern Munich 2.