When I left the Fraport arena on March 1, 2020 after a 79-54 blowout win by the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg over the Fraport Skyliners, I never would have thought that would be my last visit there in the 2019-2020 season. COVID-19 was alive then, but I just figured that somehow the season would continue and basketball life would continue. Boy was I wrong. A little more than 8 months later, nothing was the same anymore as the players of the team Fraport Skyliners and FC Bayern Munich would experience a game that they had never witnessed before in the Fraport arena.. The main area in front of the Fraport arena was a ghost town with no fans and no smell of the yummy and delicious German food wasn´t present either. I The press couldn´t enter where they wanted to, but had to take one specific entrance. The quietness that was present only minutes before tip off must have been a shock for most. The presence of masks was nothing new as this has confronted most of the world since months and something most probably were able to endure, but the crushing lack of atmosphere had to have been the worst feeling ever. That is what COVID-19 has given sports in Germany as fans aren´t permitted at the moment. The Fraport Skyliners came into the contest with a 0-1 record having survived a brutal three quarters onslaught by Alba Berlin last weekend finishing strong with an unbelievable 25-0 run in the fourth while FC Bayern Munich their next opponent had beaten Rasta Vechta in their first game of the season. Many may have not had any confidence with the Fraport Skyliners knowing their tough track record and predicted a Munich victory by the break, but instead Frankfurt buckled down hard taking a smooth 34-28 lead after 20 minutes, but fell apart in the second quarter mustering only 18 points and losing 75-52. Some teams experienced the Munich bubble last summer so actually playing in front of no fans is starting to become a habit.” Even if it was the first time at home without fans, It still was the same type of feeling for me like when we were in Munich. Now I think that guys on my team are getting used to it”, stressed Quantez Robertson. With no fans screaming left and right, there is an obvious advantage for players to understand a coaches screaming words and sometimes even understand another player from the bench even if he has been absent for a few years now. “If I was in the other corner of the arena, I know that I would be able to hear Mike Morrison with his very vocal and animated way. Kamari Murphy has been doing a good job being vocal on the court helping his teammates”, added Quantez Robertson.
Despite not having starting point guard Manu Lecomte available for the game, the Fraport Skyliners came out reborn and brought some of that potent game ending vibe that they had from Berlin back to Frankfurt. They jumped on FC Bayern Munich quickly and got a comfortable lead on them. Frankfurt took a rapid 8-0 lead while FC Bayern Munich may still have had thoughts over their big Euroleague win over Valencia Basket and ex player Derrick Williams 48 hours earlier. Frankfurt stuck to intelligent basketball and not doing anything too tough and taking what the defense gave them. 4 baskets in the paint with 2 from ex Davidson(NCAA) standout Jon Axel Gudmundsson paved the way for early success. Quantez Robertson has played with many great rookies from the NCAA like Jon Leuer, Shavon Shields or Taj Webster and wasn´t ready to comment on Gudmundsson´s being their worth yet, but overall was very pleased with the rookie´s continued consistency. “He doesn´t necessarily have that leadership role yet, but he has been one of our main go to guys so far. He has been playing very well and has taken up the challenge well to being our starting shooting guard(point guard”, expressed Quantez Robertson. Almost 5 minutes had been played before ex NBA player Jajuan Johnson scored. Frankfurt played outstanding defense from the get go and were able to score key baskets down the stretch to lead 17-11 after 10 minutes. “We knew that we had to capitalize on our good fourth quarter in Berlin and did so for an extended time. We did a good joy playing aggressive defense and sticking to it. We did a good job not allowing them multiple chances at the rim and not allowing them to capitalize on offense rebounds”, said ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson. In the second quarter FC Bayern Munich got into a better offense rhythm while sharing the ball a lot better. The guests got stellar play from ex NBA player Paul Zipser who was aggressive and led the charge in the come back. A late Bruno Vrcic trey kept the Bavarian club at bay trailing 34-28. “They didn´t underestimate us at the start. We played a good first 10-15 minutes, but they then got on a run. Good teams like that are still able to pick at the lead. We did a good job holding them off”, warned Quantez Robertson.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the second half with a 6 point lead and were unable to recapture some of that second half magic from Alba Berlin. FC Bayern Munich showed their true class and outscored Frankfurt 47-18 which at the end looked like an easy blow out win. Paul Zipser came out showing that he can score in bunches leading Munich on a 9-0 run to retake the lead. Another three by Zipser and routine waltzes to the free throw line allowed FC Bayern Munich to lead 54-46 after 30 minutes. FC Bayern Munich had totally turned around the contest and slammed the door shut in the fourth quarter. A 21-6 offensive romp by the 2020 German champion sealed the win. Zipser continued to carve out his statistics with added points and little used young German Robin Amaize was able to add some self-confidence scoring 5 points in garbage time as he has to compete with some of Europe´s best players for minutes on a daily basis. Frankfurt´s two worst stat results was losing the rebound battle badly 45-31 and allowing 15 offensive rebounds and shooting a poor 21% from the parking lot. “We didn´t execute well enough in the second half. We didn´t hit the offensive boards well enough to get the second chances that we needed. They played aggressive defense and took us out of our rhythm”, stated Quantez Robertson. Another poor stat result were the only 6 team assists. Ok one can always point fingers and have excuses with starting point guard Manu Lecomte out, but then again other clubs are also faced with challenges like this and find ways to make adjustments. It is a blessing that Quantez Robertson has developed into the Skyliners secret extra point guard over the years, but it is still unacceptable to have him register 4 of the team 6 assists. “It hurt that Manu was out, but we have to do a better job of making open shots and not passing them up. That is what happened to us against Munich. We didn´t take advantage of our open opportunities on the pass. That was a big reason for the loss”, answered Quantez Robertson. The biggest question mark is when will the club finally play 40 minutes well? “To be able to do that, the starters have to come back in the third quarter and assert themselves better. We have to execute better and play more together. Key Is we have to want to stop someone even more when our offense isn´t working”, warned Quantez Robertson.
Even if so much was bad, Tez did find positives for the upcoming game in Oldenburg. “We came out and fought and never backed down. Even if we lost by 23 points, we came back after the loss in Berlin and played and fought hard. We need to bring that energy from the first half against Munich to Oldenburg”, stated Quantez Robertson. Roberston examined the season schedule when it came out and is fully aware of their difficult beginning program with ratiopharm Ulm following. “I don´t think about the games after Oldenburg. I always go game by game”, stressed Quantez Robertson. The tough beginning schedule of the Fraport Skyliners reminds the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup champion of the best sports moment of the year in early spring when March Madness rolls around. “Playing against these top teams so early has been tough, but it is similar to March Madness. All you can do is play hard and do all you can to win. You play against top competition and getting the 2 Euroleague teams has been a challenge, but also important being able to take that step up to the challenge. I think these games are good for us to see where we stand against top teams and how we can face and withstand the adversary”, warned Quantez Roberston. As usual one of the 2 big highlights of the season for any Frankfurt or Oldenburg fan is witnessing the continued battle between the leagues 2 identity figures Ricky Paulding who has been in the BBL since 2007 and Quanetz Robertson who has been in the league since 2009. “There won´t be any special pre game meetings. We will say our usual what´s up and ask how were feeling, but then we finish our warmups and battle each other in the game the same way it has been each season”, stressed Quantez Robertson. You need to cherish it 100%, because once these 2 BBL basketball Gods are finished, then Frankfurt-Oldenburg meetings will never be the same again.