All I could think the last days was nothing would be the same. As I was approaching Basketball City Mainhatten, the short phrase “nothing would be the same” got louder and stronger as I was in the building. I passed the restaurant and the entrance to the Titus Terme and then I reached the BCM. Instead of just walking in, I was greeted at the door and there was that COVID-19 mask once again something that has become a part of everyone´s life in 2020, the way us Bostonians love our Fenway Franks at Boston Redsox games. Those Franks and masks are a part of life. Seeing no fans was something I had to get used to, but the worst thing for me personally was the post game procedure something that I would have to get used to quickly this season. Having that special proximity to the players is very important, because I love getting those exclusive quotes to spice up my tell all articles and just going up to them and introducing myself was as normal for me now for more than a decade the same way it is for me to brush my teeth or do my 10 KM training each day on the roads. I didn´t want to think about the post game yet and just enjoy 40 minutes of basketball. One thing that hadn´t changed was that Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson was still there as each season. That will most likely not change until the Alabama native can´t run anymore. The only thing that really remained the same was that there were many new faces on each team. 2010 Eurochallnge winner BG Goettingen had many new faces and for me the 2 most interesting were ex NBA player Jorge Gutierrez and rookie Christian Vital who came from legendary NCAA school UConn and will handle the point guard duties this season. On the other side the Fraport Skyliners as usual weren´t complete yet as a few Americans were still missing, but also had many new interesting faces on the floor like Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Rasheed Moore, Michael Kessens and Matthew Meredith. An old known head was back with the versatile guard Konstantin Klein. Another thing, I had to get used to was the special seating arrangements. Each journalist had a certain place to seat which made me feel like I was not at a basketball game, but in the German cinema where seating arrangement has always been an option. Even If the Fraport Skyliners led after the first, second and third quarters, a game has 40 minutes and in crunch-time, the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup team let the game slip away and in the end lost 83-76. After the game Fraport Skyliners head coach Sebastian Gleim stood behind a plastic like window and answered the journalists questions. Despite the loss, he was upbeat since you can´t overrate the first test game. “Everyday we have 2 opponents with COVID-19 and our basketball opponent. Life right now is a big challenge for all. We were all happy today that we could play a game again. I thought it was a pretty good game to watch. I liked our energy on the court. At the end there was a difference in the physicality and we missed some things on defense and didn´t make shots. We had a lot of players not playing their natural position. But overall we reached more today than I expected”, expressed Fraport Skyliners head coach Sebastian Gleim. After the win a low beat Christian Vital expressed his thoughts about the win. “This was the first time that we played against a different team. We didn´t respond well in first half, but in the second half brought more energy, we started hitting more shots, rebounding and finishing better”, explained ex Uconn Huskie Christian Vital.
Both teams were without key players as the Fraport skyliners were without Konstantin Klein while BG Goettingen was without ex NBA player Jorge Gutierrez. Frankfurt also presented Belgium national player Emmanuel Lecomte who has been in Frankfurt just staying in shape. Sebastian Gleim called him up 10 days ago and asked him if he wanted to come to Frankfurt and he obliged and took a train from Brussels to Frankfurt to help the team. Also practice player Alex Herrera who had belonged to the best Pro A forwards the last years with Phoenix Hagen and Science City Jena had left after signing with a club in Austria. The Fraport Skyliners got up on the wrong side of the bed as BG Goettingen jumped all over Frankfurt in the first few minutes taking a swift 8-0 lead. BG Goettingen got huge support from young German Marvin Omuvwie who last played with the Hamburg Towers scoring twice, big man Tai Odiase who came from the Greensboro Swarm (NBA G League) and also played in Greece made a tap in and Aubrey Dawkins who is the son of ex NBA player Johnny Dawkins made free throws. BG Goettingen played aggressive at both ends of the court while Frankfurt were erratic in their set plays. The Fraport Skyliners finally got on the board at the 7,10 minute mark as ex wiha Panthers Schwenningen forward Rasheed Moore dropped a trey. Basketball is a game of runs and now it was the Fraport Skyliners turn and they produced with a 13-0 run to take the 16-10 advantage. Key in this run was Emmanuel Lecomte who didn´t start came off the bench scoring in bunches with a jumper and trey and young German talent Jordan Samare who wasn´t playing his natural position made a tap in and lay in and German veteran Marco Voeller also made a tap in. Lecomte gave Frankfurt instant offense and confidence while BG Goettingen let up on aggressiveness on defense. Down the stretch BG Goetingen got some crucial baskets from rookie and ex North Carolina A&T State University (NCAA) forward Ronald Jackson and Christian Vital nailed a tough three pointer while Frankfurt got baskets from new players Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Michael Kessens as Frankfurt led 22-18 after 10 minutes. Both teams shot over 40% from the field, but poorly from outside while the story of the game was the Frankfurt 14-6 rebound advantage where Michael Kessens had 7.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners were able to keep their lead upping their defense and holding BG Goettingen to 13 points. Tai Odiase got BG Goettingen on the board first, but their inconsistency in execution allowed Frankfurt to go on a 5-0 tun to extend their lead to 27-20 getting a tip in from Moore and free throws from Lecomte and Len Schoorman. Both teams were sloppy, but that is expected in the first preseason game, but Frankfurt kept their lead and got valuable baskets from Gudmundsson and Moore for the 32-24 lead. One interesting stat in the second quarter was the team fouls. Frankfurt had got 4 early, but BG Goettingen could take advantage of it and later were hit with their 5th as Frankfurt still had 4. Every once in a while, BG Goettingen got some points as Dawkins and Jackson scored, but at the break, the Fraport Skyliners still had the 37-31 lead. Frankfurt had a bad shooting quarter from the field while BG Goettingen was still over 40%, but both teams shot 25% from outside. Frankfurt continued to dominate the boards 24-16 and had 11 offensive rebounds, while BG Goettingen couldn´t take care of the ball having 8 turnovers in the quarter.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners were able to keep the lead, but had problems generating sufficient offense as BG Goettingen defended better and held Frankfurt without a field goal for almost 7 minutes. Despite defending so well, BG Goettingen had massive problems scoring and could compensate holding Frankfurt 7 minutes without a field goal. Despite Kessens controlling the boards, BG Goettingen big man Odiase continued to be a work horse as well on the boards made a put back while the German combination of Omuvwie and Nelson Weidemann who was 2017 NBBL champion with FC Bayern Munich combined for a bucket. Omuvwie made a block and Weidemann went coast to coast for the basket, but Frankfurt led 38-37. BG Goettingen was close to taking the lead on a British national player Luke Nelson´s three to tie the score at 40-40, but Frankfurt was able to find ways to get to the free throw line while still waiting to get that first field goal of the quarter. Frankfurt then went on a crushing 8-0 run getting free throws from Moore and Lecomte and Kessens then scored twice giving Frankfurt it´s first goal of the quarter at the 3,30 minute mark. Frankfurt has Lecomte for scoring in buckets while BG Goettingen countered with Dawkins who scored 6 unanswered points to get his team back close to 48-46. Vital scored and Dawkins then gave BG Goettingen the 51-50 lead, but Lecomte had the last laugh getting a lay in for the 52-51 Frankfurt lead after three quarters. “We picked up our defense and just continued to stay poised”, stressed Christian Vital. The Fraport Skyliners continued to shoot poorly from the field at 33% and only 16% from outside While BG Goettingen was still above 40% from the field and at 20% from outside. Frankfurt continued to control the boards at 34-28 and had an amazing 15 offensive rebounds. BG Goettingen continued to be careless with the ball getting 8 turnovers in the quarter totaling 18.
The fourth quarter was a dog fight, but in crunch-time, it was BG Goettingen that executed better. BG Goettingen also began the fourth quarter better going on a quick 6-0 run to retake the lead at 57-52. The run was started by Vital making a pull up jumper which was followed by a three pointer and free throws by 25 year old German Andrew Onwuegbuzie. Frankfurt had no rhythm on offense and made bad turnover´s including a missed dunk. Frankfurt found some daylight with a Rasheed Moore offense rebound and put back to cut the BG Goettingen lead to 57-55. But Vital quickly silenced Frankfurt with a big trey for the 60-55 lead. “I always try to help my team. I made a good read and made the shot”, stressed Christian Vital. “Vital is a good shooter. We had to have done a better job taking that away from him”, added Frankfurt head coach Sebastian Gleim. Frankfurt suddenly executed well getting 3 consecutive baskets to tie the score at 62-62. Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson scored inside, Marco Voeller scored in the lane and Moore nailed a three pointer. Both teams were high on adrenaline and were trading baskets and runs. BG Goettingen took the lead back with a Weidemann trey and Vital free throws to lead 67-62, but Frankfurt responded right away with a Kessens bucket and three free throws from Lecomte to dead lock the game at 67-67. After Dawkins and Kessens traded buckets, it was Odiase who made a exciting and spectacular hard two handed alley op dunk for the 71-69 lead. But Frankfurt had an answer again as Quantez Robertson stroked home a clutch trey for the 72-71 advantage. But Frankfurt then would have no more answers as BG Goettingen rattled off a 9-0 run to secure the win. In the run, BG Goettingen got clutch baskets from ex MBC player Benedikt Turoic, Dawkins and Weidemann for the 80-72 advantage. Len Schoorman made 1/3 free throws and Vital and Robertson traded three pointers to end the game. “Basketball is a game of runs. After we took the lead, we took control late getting the win”, said Christian Vital. “We weren´t tired. They hit some tough shots. If they make 2 less three´s then it´s a different ball game”, stated Marco Voeller. BG Goettingen was led by Aubrey Dawkins with 21 points. Christian Vital produced 21 points and Tai Odiase added 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Emmanuel Lecomte with 16 points, Rasheed Moore added 14 points and Michael Kessen had 13 points and 14 boards. BG Goettingen shot 50% form the field and 32% from outside and had 36 rebounds and 23 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 36% from the field and 25% from outside and had 43 rebounds and 16 turnovers.