With the basketball dog days of summer over, now the basketball dog days of pre season have arrived as easyCredit BBL teams are getting ready for the upcoming season as best as possible. It isn´t any different for clubs Fraport Skyliners and new league team MLP Academics Heidelberg. Frankfurt was coming off an easy blow out win over Pro A team Astrostras Bochum while Heidelberg had clobbered the Pro A team wiha Panthers. Both teams faced each other for a pre season duel in Frankfurt with many new faces at both ends of the court. But one guy who never goes away and will be able to see his #23 jersey high above in the Fraport arena even in 20 years is Quantez Robertson. He is playing his 13th season while being one of the identity figures of the league with EWE Baskets legend Rickey Paulding. The identity figure of the MLP Academics is clearly their head coach Serbian Frenki Ignatovic who was still paying his dues in 2007 with TV Langen, but since then was six years with the Kirchheim Knights and now is in his eighth season with the MLP Academics and is clearly the biggest reason together with manager Matthias Lautenschlager why this organization has made such a massive rise in German basketball in the last years. The Fraport Skyliners seemed like they had a 30 man bench as head coach Diego Ocampo had enough players to chose from while the MLP Academics had only a nine man rotation as players Courtney Stockard and their new center were out while Frankfurt was without new American ex NBA player Reggie Heard. The Fraport Skyliners had a great start and held the lead in the first half, but let up severely in the third quarter allowing the guests to get a 10 point lead and then eke out the 63-60 victory. “The effort was very good. We started very well. As soon as we missed shots, our defensive level went down. We began to think too much which hurt our defense. We need to improve our mental strength”, stressed Fraport Skyliner head coach Diego Ocampo. The guests fought until the end and got spirited play from their scoring guards Jordan Geist and Shy Ely who carried the team in tough times. “We played 30 minutes of solid basketball. Frankfurt is always tough and play very physical. We had problems with the physicality at the start. As soon as we settled in, we made it a defensive struggle. We need to cut down on turnovers, but I thought that we did a good job sticking to our defensive principles”, stressed Heidelberg guard Shy Ely.
The Fraport Skyliners Jumped out all over the MLP Academics taking a rapid 13-2 lead. Frankfurt got on a groove and the offense just continued clicking. Second year forward Rasheed Moore was instrumental netting 7 points showing he can score in bunches and has a fine inside out game. Frankfurt also got a basket from young German Len Schoorman who is continuing to want to make a new step this season. Ex Alba Berlin forward Lorenz Brenneke made a dunk and new Skyliner Donovan Donaldson made a lay in on transition. This was probably Donaldson´s strongest part of the game as he was a true floor general organizing the offense well and always pushing the ball in transition. Frankfurt was able to keep controlling the game and closed out the first quarter strong getting a bucket from 221cm Dutch man Matt Haarms and a trey from Frankfurt identity figure Quantez Robertson who is in his 13th season with the club. Heidelberg got a basket from German forward Maxi Ugrai and free throws form ex Missouri guard Jordan Geist who couldn´t buy a basket in the first quarter. The MLP Academics had their problems sustaining consistent playmaking and had problems on the boards as they were missing length and physicality down low. The Fraport Skyliners had the comfortable 20-9 advantage after 10 minutes.
The Fraport Skyliners held the good lead, but it slowly waned away as the guests were able to cut it down to 36-34 at the break. Heidelberg began with a swift 4-0 run as Pro A veteran Albert Kuppe scored on a lay in and flashy Rob Lowery who played with Alba Berlin in 2015-2016 made a lay in on transition cutting Frankfurt´s advantage to 20-14. But Frankfurt then got a burst of offensive production from ex Auburn(NCAA) great Quantez Robertson who scored 5 points to up Frankfurt´s lead to 25-14. Heidelberg picked up their offense in the second quarter and began to execute a lot better. They surprised Frankfurt going on a 8-0 run to trail only 25-22. In the run the club got vital force from rugged physical 32 year old German Philip Heyden who played his first BBL game in the 2007-2008 season with Alba Berlin. He scored twice in the paint showing he can score with his back to the basket and Shy Ely showed his shooting abilities netting two 20 footers. Frankfurt kept the lead, but just couldn´t shake the MLP Academics as they always had an answer. Frankfurt got good production from new American Brooks DeBisshop who made a runner and Brenneke who scored. But Heidelberg countered with the then usual suspects Heyden connected on a pretty hook shot and Ely dropped a three pointer. Ex Wurzburg forward Brekkot Chapman sunk a three to dead lock the game at 31-31. Frankfurt wasn´t as aggressive anymore and gave the guests more open looks. Heidelberg made wiser decisions and finally hit crucial shots something they couldn´t in the first quarter. Frankfurt tried to close out the second quarter with a swift kick and 5-0 run as Haarms made a dunk and Moore hit a trey, but Quantez Robertson made a bad foul allowing Jordan Geist to sink three free throws with three seconds to go. Frankfurt had the slim 36-34 lead after 20 minutes. “This was a typical pre season game. Both coaches were trying things and both teams had good and bad phases. Frankfurt played well, but couldn´t always use their advantage on the boards”, stated ex Science City Jena assistant coach Steven Claus.
In the third quarter, it looked like the Fraport Skyliners had just got out of bed. They couldn´t muster any kind of productive offense allowing the MLP Academics to shoot out on a 12-0 run to grab the lead back and have the 46-36 advantage. In the run the guests got important contribution form Jordan Geist who finally got his offense going scoring seven points. The club also got a trey from Shy Ely and Chapman. Frankfurt had massive problems stopping the quick Heidelberg guards on the penetration and were unable to get baskets in the paint. Frankfurt were unsuccessful in their first 9 possessions which allowed Heidelberg to run away with the lead and hold the home team to no points in the first 6 minutes and 45 seconds of the third quarter. Often last season it was Rasheed Moore that would come off the bench and be that spark plug and this time it was the same deal. He came on the court was aggressive and executed on offense with 7 points leading a 12-3 run to tie the game at 49-49. Donaldson also scored as did young German Jordan Samare who gave 4 points and 2 rebounds in 4 minutes. It was apparent to observe that the MLP Academics were getting tired as boasting a 9 man rotation wasn´t easy. Frankfurt couldn´t get the lead back as Shy Ely scored inside giving the guests the 51-49 lead after three quarters. “We played great defense and finished each possession with a rebound. We forced them to turnovers and got out running”, added Shy Ely. “We had too many turnovers and didn´t finish the plays the way we wanted to “, stressed Fraport Skyliner Lukas Wank.
The Fraport Skyliners got off to another slow start in the fourth quarter, but rallied again to come back and make the game exciting again. The MLP Academics got out on a quick 8-2 run to extend their lead to 59-51. They got buckets from Heyden who made an easy tap in with no resistance form the Frankfurt bigs, a acrobatic Geist lay in, free throws from Chapman and a 25 footer from Ely while Quantez Robertson used the mismatch and scored inside. The Fraport Skyliners then made a furious come back going on a 9-2 run to cut Heidelberg´s lead to only 61-60. In the run, Frankfurt got back to back crushing two handed dunks from Matt Haarms who was fed each time from German Matthew Meredith who was sporting a new hair dew that had me fooled, because I had to ask a quite surprised Marco Voeller who #77 was . Donaldson who had a slow shooting day going 3/11 took a no look pass from Tez and sunk a three in the corner. Lorenz Brenneke then made a lay in. Frankfurt took advantage of the Heidelberg playing to much hero ball on three consecutive possessions to creep back. German Niklas Wuerzner then made the play of the game tipping a ball away from Donaldson at mid court and getting the lay in and 63-60 lead with 44 seconds to go. Frankfurt then didn´t get the right shot that they wanted as Matt Haarms missed a three. Ely then missed and Frankfurt took advantage of Heidelberg not fouling and had one more chance to take the game into OT, but Moore´s three point attempt went in and out and that was the ball game. “Frankfurt came back and took advantage of mis matches. But we were able to weather the storm and got needed stops and baskets. We should of fouled at the end. They had a good look. We take that as a learning experience”, stated Shy Ely. “We didn´t get the shot we wanted at the end. Moore had a great look. It was so close between going in and out”, stressed Lukas Wank. The MLP Academics were led by Jordan Giest, Shy Ely and Philipp Heyden who had 14 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Rasheed Moore with 17 points while Quantez Robertson added 10 points. The MLP Academics shot 41% from the field and 29% form outside and had 34 rebounds and 18 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 40% form the field and 24% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 19 turnovers.