One thing Fraport Skyliner fans and basketball fans in general in Europe have enjoyed watching in the past 11 seasons is the remarkable and unending energy that ex Auburn(NCAA) great Quantez Robertson demonstrates on courts all over Europe. The American who all call Tez is the ultimate hustler and if he could would play 40 minutes each game if he chose and I´m sure if he had ever reached the NBA, he could of achieved playing a 48 minute game just as easily. He has such a passion for the game that the last few months must have been extremely tough, because not being able to set foot on a court must have been one of the more tougher things he has had to accept in his life. He loves to run and has been showing his speed and stamina for 11 years in Europe and when he was at home in Alabama at least could go wild on the track and keep in shape with sprints, but how his legs must have felt the last 2 weeks in Frankfurt, I don´t want to know. I reach Quantez Robertson at 9.00 pm on a mild spring night in late May and his mood is surprisingly good. The poor athlete has been holed up in his Frankfurt apartment since he arrived almost 2 weeks ago and is almost done with his 2 week quarantine session. There is only so much you can do when you are in quarantine. While Tez tries to keep busy in his apartment, his other teammates who weren´t in the States have been engaging in team practices. The biggest focus at the moment is getting the two new players integrated as best as possible with ex Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Yorman Polas Bartolo and Lithuanian big man Gytis Masiulis. It is vital that they get familiar with the plays. Robertson isn´t the only teammate that had to be holed up for 2weeks, but rookie Matt Mcquaid, and ex Braunschweig Americans Shaquille Hines and Joe Rahon also flew back from the States and are in Quarantine. “We have a group chat so I find out what happened in practice. Office workers go shopping for us and I stay in shape doing Zoom workouts and I received some weights and a jump rope”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
After the very fulfilling win in Giessen in March, Covid-19 hit the world like lightening and halted sports leagues all over the world. Many basketball professionals in Germany that ball in the BBL went home which was also the case with Quantez Robertson. He was able to stay in shape running the track and using weights that he had gotten from the Skyliners physio Dennis Wellm. The whole COVID-19 experience was one that Tez will never forget like everyone else in the world. “It was very weird being home so long so early in the season. The restrictions weren´t that severe in Alabama, bur there were time restrictions. We had to be in the house by 6.00PM”, stressed Quantez Robertson. The American also was able to take the long free time period to spend quality time with his family and relatives. He didn´t even communicate with so many other players during his 2 months in the States. Obviously catching up with his buddy Mike Morrison was a given, but he also was in contact with teammates Lamont Jones and Akeem Vargas. Besides having that extra special contact with family, he also had more time to reflect about a critical topic concerning the players in the BBL. In the whole COVID-19 time, there have been players that have expressed their disappointment in how they didn´t have a voice concerning the season being continued. It is obvious that clubs are concerned about their future and surviving, but all at the cost of possible injury or infection. There were many players that were in fear about playing. “I think that all leagues in Europe need a players union where we can discuss what is good and what isn´t. We deserve input and things shouldn´t only be decided by the league and teams. There is always a risk of getting injured no matter what, but now after the long break and coming back to play many games in a short time, the risk is high. I feel safe not contacting virus. I have been tested 3 times since I returned. I think that if we stick to the rules, we will be fine”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
The Fraport Skyliners will only have about a week as a whole team to prepare for the tournament which starts for them on June 7th against Alba Berlin. After that the games come like in a NBA tempo every 48 hours with Ludwigsburg, Vechta and Bamberg. The 2004 BBL champion has drawn a very tough group, but all teams are in the same boat with limited preparation time, new players on board and having had such a long rest. “We know that it won´t be a walk in the park. It will be tough for all teams. The most important thing is that guys can find a rhythm quickly”, warned Quantez Robertson. You would think after such a long break that the fans would be ecstatic about basketball returning, but it has actually been mixed. Some of the diehard fans are thrilled about play resuming while others aren´t happy that only 10 teams are playing for a title you can´t take too seriously. There may only be 10 teams competing and many question marks about how the winner will be declared, but for Quantez Robertson he knows how tough it is winning one. “Whoever wins the title will still be BBL champion 2020. It will be a crazy way of winning a title, but a title is a title in my eyes”, warned Quantez Robertson. Not only playing many games in a shortend period will be crazy, but also being quarantined again, but this time for 3 weeks. Players will be able to take walks, but still it will a tough and long 3 weeks for players who will be without their families. Robertson will be back in his element when he steps on the floor, but also knows that the quarantine time could have a positive effect on him and he definitely won´t be bored. “We are out battling players every week during the season, but you don´t really get to know many other players. In Munich I would like to get to know as many guys as possible and develop relationship out of basketball. That would be nice. I know that if Mike Morrison was there that it would be fun and comical, but since he won´t be there, I will still be all right with my XBox 1 playing Call of Duty”, laughed Quantez Robertson.
So where will the journey of the Fraport Skyliners end in Munich in June 2020? This past regular season the Fraport Skyliners could only win 5 games. Defense had always been their staple for most of the Gordon Herbert era, but it had gotten worse the last two seasons. Even if they had the 4th best defense in the BBL this season, they did allow 80 points which was far away from their seasons not long ago where they allowed in the high 60´s. The biggest problem this season was injuries and simply that they couldn´t score enough to be in good positions to win games. Frankfurt definitely wants to play better defensively in Munich and picked up one of the top BBL defenders from Bonn with Yorman Polas Bartolo. He and Tez have combined 69 years of age, but are no where over the hill yet. With the duo of Tez and Bartolo and other guys like Lamont Jones and Akeem Vargas helping out in addition to the rim protector Leon Kratzer, this squad could be very scary on defense. “Bartolo is a great defender. We have always been neck and neck with being the best defender in the BBL.. We both like to get the rebound and get out running to help the fast break. I played against him many times in the last years and always remember his aggressiveness and attacking the boards at both ends. He does a good job helping his team get extra possessions. It will be great playing with him”, warned Quantez Robertson. The American obviously will have a lot of extra work as soon as he gets out of the quarantine in Frankfurt and is as confident as always that his team will achieve success on the court. “I feel good. I will have to get in the gym as much as possible when the quarantine is over. I have to find my rhythm quickly. I think that we can go as far as we want. We have to come out and play hard and take it one game at a time. We have to leave it all on the floor no matter what happens”, warned Quantez Robertson. It will be interesting to see how far the Fraport Skyliners will go in the tournament in Munich. The favorites are clearly Alba Berlin and the MHP Riesen, but who knows, there may be some sleepers in this tournament. Frankfurt is always a team that opponents hate to play. If the Fraport Skyliners can find a defensive identity fast and get more consistent on offense and find a 2 and 3 consistent scorer behind Lamont Jones then they could make a run and find themselves in the quarterfinals. This whole tournament will be like a lottery as nobody really knows how each team will perform under the circumstances of the past few months. The club that can find that healthy team rhythm quickest will have the best chances of winning. Tez will have a lot of down time in Munich, something he was used to in Frankfurt for 2 weeks in his apartment and there is only so much call of duty one can play. There will be those moments where he will remember why he had to be in quarantine and play the tournament in Munich. He will know that COVID-19 made him very aware of one vital thing. “Having been able to spend so much time with family has showed me to really cherish those times, because you never know what might happen at the drop of a dime”, warned Quantez Robertson.