After having a two week break on account of the Fiba Windows, the Fraport Skyliners were seeking to continue their winning streak after having defeated s.Oliver Wurzburg on the road as Will Cherry and Brancou Badu led the attack. They welcomed the potent Hakro Merlins Crailsheim and ex head coach Sebastian Gleim who came into the game with a solid 5-3 record. Crailsheim had been playing exceptional basketball having a five game winning streak in the easyCredit BBL and had won eight of the last nine games showcasing a consistent scoring attack as their chemistry has continued to grow. However against the Fraport Skyliners, they were unable to get their offensive flow and were crushed on the boards as the home team won their second game in row despite being without new player Jamel Mclean and Brancou Badio who was injured. After 40 minutes the Fraport Skyliners who had identity figure Quantez Robertson back from injury had won the rebounding duel easily 50-27 and had secured an incredible 16 rebounds and were so well prepared under the boards that they wouldn’t of even needed a Shaq in his prime. ‘Key for the win was rebounding and not letting their shooters to get going. Their shooters weren’t as dominant as they usually are. Shorts was able to play his game, but we did a good job and kept the rest in check. On offense we spread the scoring and had 5 guys in double figures. Our unsung hero’s were our bigs who made great decisions’, stressed ex NBA player Will Cherry. The Hakro Merlins were never out of the game, but relied too much on their star player TJ Shorts who came up big time in and time out, but then again wasn’t superman on this day either. The club had too many other deficiencies that they couldn’t correct during the game. ‘We didn’t play defense the way we usually do . We were killed on transition and on the boards. We didn’t do a good job boxing out and allowed way too many offensive rebounds’, stated Crailsheim guard Terrell Harris. It wasn’t a happy return for ex Fraport Skyliner head coach Sebastian Gleim who was without his sharp shooter Maurice Stuckey. ‘Congrats to Frankfurt. The way they were physical and rebounded, they deserved the win. Our health was the main focus last week and basketball was second. We didn’t have our flow and shooting the way we have had during the last 12 games where we won 90% of the games’, warned Crailsheim head coach Sebastian Gleim.
The Fraport Skyliners got out on a lightening start as they received back to back buckets from rookie Matt Haarms and German national player Lukas Wank, but that didn’t irritate Crailsheim, but motivated them to get going and did going on a lethal 16-2 run to lead 16-6. In the run, they demonstrated just how dangerous their offense can be as 5 different players executed. Ex FC Bayern Munich center Bogdan Radosavljevic dropped a trey while the rest were all baskets in the paint. Crailsheim used their quickness and athleticism as Shorts, Belgium national player Elias Lasisi, ex Chemnitz guard Terrell Harris and ex wiha Panther Jaron Lewis all scored. Frankfurt were unable to stay in front of their man as they continued to get beat on 1-1 situations. Frankfurt got some good energy form 2017 JBBL finalist Len Schoormann (192-PG-02, agency: BeoBasket) who drilled home a trey and scored a lay in to cut the Crailsheim advantage to 19-11. 3 Quantez Robertson free throws also helped in the last seconds as the Fraport Skyliners trailed 21-14 after 10 minutes. ‘We were sluggish at the start and let them beat us on 1-1 plays. At the end of the first Tez and I looked at each other and said let’s kick it into gear’, said Will Cherry. The rebounding was pretty even after 10 minutes, while Frankfurt had poor shooting percentages and 4 turnovers.
The second quarter was a game of runs as a 10-2 and 7-0 Frankfurt run occurred as did a 6-0 Crailsheim run which tied the score at 30-30. No team could totally break away from the other as it was 35-35 at half-time. Frankfurt came out hot and went on a 10-2 run getting continued good support from Len Schoormann who kept his aggressive play up scoring inside and getting a trey while Cherry hit a tough fade away shot and Rasheed Moore scored a three pointer for the 24-23 Frankfurt lead. Frankfurt was slowly clawing their way back, but some turnovers and a lack of concentration allowed the guests to go on a 7-0 run to recapture the lead 30-24. Jaron Lewis who had missed some shots in the first quarter, now found his form connecting on a trey and on a turn around shot and TJ Shorts perfected his mid range game as always with a 15 footer. The Hakro Merlins were led once again by TJ Shorts invincible game as he ended the game with 25/4/6/5 stats and just did come up a little short of powering his team to a win again. ‘He does a great job drawing fouls. He pressured us all game long. He got a lot of 50/50 calls. That is why he is leading the BBL in points. He is the head of the snake. When he plays well, his team plays well’, added Will Cherry. The runs continued to surface as Frankfurt also found their range better from the parking lot getting consecutive three’s from Cherry and Wank to dead lock the contest at 30-30. Down the stretch, Will Cherry continued to have his good shooting touch nailing a three pointer and little used 3 and D player Jared Savage from Western Kentucky (NCAA) dropped a trey. ‘Donaldson’s unit did a great job giving us a push. He found me on a three and we locked down on defense’, said Will Cherry. Frankfurt upped their shooting in the second quarter and especially their board work having the 26-14 rebound edge and 9 offensive rebounds, but also had the ugly 8-3 turnover advantage.
The third quarter continued to be a dog fight as there were a few lead changes, but the Fraport Skyliners mostly had the upper hand, but couldn’t shake the Hakro Merlins as they were able to stick around. Frankfurt jumped out to the 43-39 lead as they nailed big shots from outside as Moore and Quantez Robertson drained three’s. Even if it wasn’t a potent offensive day for Crailsheim, they did have answers here and there and were able to regain the lead 44-43 as they got baskets from German Fabian Bleck who hit a tough shot from the corner and Terrell Harris went coast to coast for the lay in. It was a game of little runs as the Fraport Skyliners now put their foot on the pedal going on a 7-1 run to extend their lead to 50-45. In the run, they got a trey from Tez Robertson and two vital baskets from big men Matt Haarms and Lorenz Brenneke who combined for 28 minutes and 10 points and 11 rebounds and continue to harmonize better and better in each new game. ‘Their confidence is growing. Key was letting them also be playmakers and they made great plays. They feed off each other. Their IQ’s are very high. Haarm’s plays great defense and Brenneke is always crashing the boards’, stressed Will Cherry. But Crailsheim continued to chip away and now went on a 6-2 run to trail only 52-51. In the run the guests got good aid from Shorts, Bleck and Harris who all scored in the paint continuing to exploit Frankfurt’s weakness of stopping the drive. There were 4 lead changes in the third quarter and German national player Lukas Wank ended the quarter with a trey as Frankfurt had the 55-53 advantage after 30 minutes. ‘We had some bone head turnovers. It wasn’t anything they did, but moreover us playing to fast or being selfish. We were simply too indecisive’, stated Will Cherry. ‘We continued to defend well and got in transition. We also rotated well and hit big shots to keep the lead’, added Terrell Harris. Frankfurt continued to shoot under 40% from the field and outside, but they were kings on the boards having the overwhelming 37-20 edge and 13-3 offensive rebound advantage. They were coughing up the ball too much with 11-4 in turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners kept the lead in the fourth and despite TJ Shorts doing all he could to help his team get over the hump, they were denied by the Frankfurt’s consistent execution at both ends of the court. The Fraport Skyliners didn’t waist any time quickly hitting Crailsheim for a 7-0 run to lead 60-55 and they would never look back. In the run, Frankfurt got a three from Wank and lay in’s from Brennecke and Cherry. Crailsheim got added baskets from Bleck and Shorts, but Frankfurt continued to get the needed punch from big man Matt Haarms who scored twice for the 71-59 Frankfurt lead. In crunch-time, Frankfurt kept their nose in front despite a desperate come back from TJ Shorts who scored 11 points, but he wasn’t rewarded. Frankfurt continued to execute on offense getting to the free throw line. Schoorman, Robertson and Wank scored securing the win. ‘Shorts put his head down and did all he could to keep it close. He was a 1 man show and we made it tough on the rest. We contested shots and made it as difficult as possible for the rest’, stated Will Cherry. ‘We couldn’t get stops. They hit big shots and rebounds and second chances’, commented Terrell Harris. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Len Schoormann with 17 points. Lukas Wank added 13 points and Quantez Robertson 11 points while the Hakro Melrins were led by TJ Shorts with 25 points while Terrell Harris added 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 33% from outside and had 50 rebounds and 15 turnovers while the Hakro Merlins shot 44% from the field and 25% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 8 turnovers.