With the Dog days of pre season in full swing, fans and players of the easyCredit BBL are still two weeks away from the start of the 2021-2022 season. The last two seasons haven´t been easy as COVID has performed havoc so badly and the fans seem to have suffered the most. But after a long wait, fans were finally allowed back into the Fraport arena. Usually the pre season games of the Fraport Skyliners are played in their training facility Basketball City Mainhatten, but the club made an exception with the game against PS Karlsruhe. The organization decided that playing a pre season game in the Fraport arena would be a great opportunity to test their covid game precautions. For the Fraport Skyliners it was nice to play as a team for the first time in their home arena after coming off reaching the final in the REWE Cup in Hagen. But it wasn´t a cake walk for them, but 40 minutes of having to fight for every possession. PS Karlsruhe who only had a 8 man rotation and had top players Maurice Pluskota and Leo Behrend out led for most parts of the game, but couldn´t close the lid on the Fraport Skyliners as key Quantez Robertson three´s, A Lorenz Brenneke bucket and Lukas Wank free throws sealed the pre season victory of the Fraport Skyliners 77-74. “This was an ugly win against a team who fought from the start. We rebounded very well and got good offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds that led to transition baskets. Our defense wasn´t where it has been in practice. We need to communicate and help better”, stressed Quantez Robertson. PS Karlsruhe who were undermanned and aren´t seen as being a Pro A playoff team gave all they had and gave a very spirited defensive effort and with a little more luck on a few possessions could have walked away with the win. “I felt we played good on the defensive end. We stood by our principles. I felt that they helped us out as well with missed shots. I thought we also played well on offense, but need to do a better job getting open”, stressed PS Karlsruhe guard Stanley Whittaker.
The Fraport Skyliners were without four players Reggie Hearn, Bruno Vrcic, Brooks DeBisshop and Len Schoormann. It wasn´t the Fraport Skyliners that’ set the tone in the first five minutes of the contest, but moreover PS Karlsruhe who jumped out on a 11-0 lead. Frankfurt didn´t look like a BBL or Pro A team, but more like a Pro B team where easy mistakes dominated their play. PS Karlsruhe did a fine job getting their offense going and getting many involved. Stanley Whittaker did a fine job with the playmaking while also getting his teammates involved. He opened up the game with a 15 footer on transition, ex Citadel(NCAA) guard Kaelon Harris dropped a trey, ex ratiopharm player Tom Alte scored inside and ex BBL player Ferdinand Zylka who has 76 BBL games on his resume hit a 20 footer. Frankfurt couldn´t establish a good rhythm on offense mainly because they coughed up the ball too much. There was zero aggressiveness and no communication on defense. When things aren´t going well, you should bring in Rasheed Moore. He displayed his ruthless energy and consistency time in and time out last season and against Heidelberg recently getting his team going with buckets and big plays. He connected on free throws and 2021 German Olympian Lukas Wank made a lay in showing his unstoppable athleticism as Frankfurt trailed 11-4. PS Karlsruhe kept on the pressure and lead, but the Fraport Skyliners began to execute better on offense and inch closer. Especially practice player Zaccheus Darko-Kelly who is a rookie and played at Providence(NCAA) brought fire from the bench scoring 5 points. PS Karlsruhe got some key buckets from Tom Alte and a difficult one from Harris who muscled the ball home between two Skyliners. PS Karlsruhe maintained the lead after 10 minutes 21-16. “We played very good defense. We were aggressive, helped well and got some loose balls. That helped us run. They also missed some bunnies”, stated Stanley Whittaker. “We didn´t execute on defense allowing them to get a lot of open looks. They were also more aggressive than us”, stated Quantez Robertson.
In the second quarter The Fraport Skyliners heightened their game, but still had way too many inconsistent phases where they gave up easy baskets and couldn´t execute solidly on offense. The Fraport Skyliners began very well going on a quick 6-0 run and grabbed their first lead of the game 22-21. The savior as usual when they needed it most was ex wiha Panther Rasheed Moore who hit a trey and scored on transition adding a free throw. Frankfurt defended a lot more aggressively not allowing the opponent into their offensive sets and forced them too bad shots. PS Karlsruhe also opted for more 1-1 play instead of trying to play team ball. Frankfurt then had a down allowing PS Karlsruhe to get the lead back going on a 9-0 run to lead 30-22. Whittaker made a very tough lay in over 221cm center Matt Haarms. “It is normal for me too up against guys like Haarms. I train with a lot of NBA guys. I normally attack the rim, but it was definitely challenging going up against his length”, said Stanley Whittaker. German shooting guard Niels Schmitz also scored as did Zylka. Frankfurt was really missing easy lay ups as Matt Haarms did. You have to wonder what a Quantez Robertson was thinking and when he last saw a bad movie. One thing Frankfurt did well was work in the paint and get rebounds. They got spirited play from Brenneke and young 18 year old Alex Richardson who should become a key player for the farm team in the Pro B, but could get BBL minutes. Both worked hard down low getting rebounds and getting to the free throw line. Their stellar play helped Frankfurt go on a 13-3 run to close out the second quarter and 35-33 lead for Frankfurt having the 26-17 rebound edge. Moore added a lay in and ex Hanau guard Felix Hecker scored on transition. “We were more aggressive and we calmed down and executed a lot better on offense”, added Quantez Robertson.
In the third quarter fans saw two clinics from Ferdinand Zylka and Donovan Donaldson, but no one had the lead as the contest was deadlocked at 55-55. Both teams began with three´s as Harris connected from way downtown and Lukas Wank also scored getting the extra pass from Hecker as this was the best ball movement that Frankfurt had shown the whole game up until that standpoint. The Fraport Skyliners led 38-36. PS Karlsruhe grabbed back the lead again going on a 14-7 run as Ferdinand Zylka scored 11 explosive points. He showed his hot shooting and one has to wonder why he didn´t stay in the BBL. Harris also drilled home a three for the 50-45 advantage. Frankfurt got good play from ex Purdue(NCAA) big man Matt Haarms who dished out a quick kick out pass to Donaldson for the trey and then also made a left handed shot. The Fraport Skyliner kept fighting and closed out the third quarter with a 10-5 run led by the 8 points from ex NCAA 2 player Donovan Donaldson. That he can be a productive scorer is nothing new as he showed his range from outside scoring twice and also scored on transition. Despite the two runs, the game was pretty even as neither club could escape away from the other. “Donaldson got us going pushing the fast break and got guys open looks. Zylka shot the ball really well and hit with hands in his face. Every shot he took felt good and went in”, added Quantez Robertson. “Feddy was hot. In the States that means cash money. He shot well, but we expect that from him. They remained in the game because they got offensive rebounds and got open looks”, said Stanley Whittaker.
The fourth quarter remained very tight as no team led by more than four points. Frankfurt began quickly going on a 4-0 run getting buckets from Moore and Brenneke for the 59-55 lead, but they just couldn´t slam the door on PS Karlsruhe as they just continued to chip away and get baskets. PS Karlsruhe got baskets from Whittaker who made his usual off balance shot in Kyrie Irving manner and Alte tied the game 59-59 with a transition hoop. Frankfurt got the lead back 61-59 with a Richardson lay in who left a lasting impression with 8 points and 7 boards on 75% shooting. But PS Karlsruhe then got the lead back until the last minutes when Tez flew in. The guests played with a lot of self confidence and executed as Zylka, Whittaker and Harris made big shots for the 67-63 advantage. Frankfurt stayed on the door step of PS Karlsruhe getting support and baskets from Wank and Robertson to cut Karlsruhe´s lead down to 69-68 with 2,48 to play. PS Karlsruhe continued to have stunning plays up their sleeve as Whittaker fed Alte for a beautiful left handed alley-oop dunk for the 71-68 lead with 2,17 to play. “Stan and I have good chemistry. He is a good playmaker and will be one of the best guards in the Pro A this season. He wasn´t totally fit today. When he is he will be trouble”, stated Tom Alte. “Tom is one of the best pick and roll bigs that I have played with in my career. He reads the defense so well and slips when they hedge”, stated Stanley Whittaker. Quantez Robertson saved his best for last drilling home a trey to tie the game at 71-71 with 1,30 to play as he had had the big goose egg after three quarters. Zylka and Wank then traded baskets, but PS Karlsruhe still led 74-73. Frankfurt then struck back retrieving the lead 75-74 with a Brenneke basket who had a solid performance with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. PS Karlsruhe had one last chance for the win, but Whittaker missed and Lukas Wank made two free throws to seal the 77-74 win. “Frankfurt hit big shots and we weren´t focused as much on defense. I had a good look and usually make 100 out of 100 shots. It´s my bread and butter shot. They had a big guard on me so credit to them”, added Stanley Whittaker. “We buckled down on defense and made the right plays. I had good looks at the end. Before that I was running back on defense too quickly. I always feel like all will go in and at the end that is what they were supposed to do”, smiled Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Lukas Wank with 19 points. Rasheed Moore added 12 points and Donovan Donaldson had 11 points while PS Karlsruhe were led by Ferdinand Zylka with 25 points while Kaelon Harris added 17 points and Stanley Whittaker had 14 points and 8 assists. The Fraport Skyliners shot 42% from the field and 27% from outside and had 51 rebounds and 20 turnovers while PS Karlsruhe shot 35% from the field and 38% from outside and had 34 rebounds and 10 turnovers.