In the stretch run of the NBBL season Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners had put together a solid run having beaten Hessen clubs Sud Hessen and Giessen, but now had a real test against Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg. The guests came onto the floor in Frankfurt as the heavy favorite as they were sporting a 8-2 record and a crate full of players that had Regionalliga experience. On a mild Sunday afternoon the 5-5 Frankfurt club met Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg who destroyed Frankfurt in the their first meeting 85-57 and gave the word board domination a new meaning hauling down 31 offensive rebounds. Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners had to find a way to give better resistance on the rebound and for some phases did a great job against the bigger Ludwigsburg big men, but in the end were unable to get over the hump as they cut the deficit to 4 points with a few minutes left but lost 65-55. After the contest Frankfurt head coach Miran Cumurija was as usual composed and a bit disappointed, but really proud of the effort of his players. ‘This was our best game of the season. We fought the whole game and showed how much we wanted to win. We were able to execute our game plan at both ends of the court and that is why we stayed in the game. Ludwigsburg is a physical and great team. We got tired at end, but I tried to help by calling timeouts’, stressed Miran Cumurija. Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg didn’t play up too standard, but at the end it was enough to beat a Frankfurt team that only had a eight man rotation. Head coach David Mccray wasn’t amused with his team’s effort. ‘Congrats to Frankfurt. They played hard and made it very challenging for us. We had a game plan that we couldn’t execute on offense or defense. Our point guards struggled and we couldn’t establish a post presence. We only had 66 possessions which is way too little for us. Our defense wasn’t aggressive and our rotations weren’t solid’, said Porsche BBA assistant coach Brent Tipton.
Despite only having a eight man rotation and not having captain Bennet Schubert on board, Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners showed right away that they wouldn’t play lax, but play hard. That toughness was rewarded with a rapid 8-2 run as they caught the guests totally off guard. In the run Frankfurt got super support from Dusan Nikolic who scored in the paint, got a lay in from Joschua Zentgraf who had his NBBL breakout game with 21 points and 12 rebounds and Alexander Lagerman scored on transition. Frankfurt played aggressive defense as Ludwigsburg took hurried shots and just didn’t have the needed calmness and were passive. Frankfurt also controlled top NBBL player Paul Minjoth (197-SG-03) limiting his touches and attacked the rim on offense. But the guests rut didn’t hold on forever as they crawled out of their hole going on a ruthless 12-0 run to lead 14-8 after 10 minutes. In the run, Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg got big support from German Leonardo Kraetzer who produced 6 points. Minjoth also finally got on the board with a lay in and big man ex Jena German Eduardo Roschnafsky got to the free throw line twice. The guests stepped up their aggressiveness on defense and whipped out a press that forced Frankfurt to turnovers as they had eight. Both teams shot under 30% from the field while Frankfurt had the slim 13-10 rebound edge.
In the second quarter Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg couldn’t execute the way they wanted to on offense and allowed Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners back into the game. German Luis Nonfon got the first Ludwigsburg basket to extend their lead to 16-8, but that didn’t faze Frankfurt as they never let up. Frankfurt continued to chip away and play strong defense and closed out Paul Minjoth completely not allowing him a field goal. They went on a 8-2 run to cut the guests lead down to 18-16. In the run, they got impressive support from their work horse for the day Joscha Zentgraf who battled against guys a lot stronger, but was able to get into the paint and score twice. German Julian Haskins also made a lay in. Frankfurt stepped up their defensive intensity and forced Ludwigsburg to 9 turnovers which allowed them to stay close to them. Here and there, Frankfurt had slip ups, but that was expected especially down low where the guests had the massive height and strength advantage. Roschnafsky made a bucket on the third chance, but Frankfurt stole the lead back. German Alexander Lagerman made a steal and transition basket and Barnabas Bode made a huge three pointer for the 21-19 lead. But Frankfurt wasn’t able to hold the lead as they gave up an untimely 7-0 run in the last minutes to trail 26-21 at half-time. In the run Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg got free throws from Roschnafsky, a big trey from German Edonis Paqarada and a lay in from Luis Nonfon. Both teams continued to struggle shooting while the guests had the 23-22 rebound edge. Frankfurt had 15 turnovers as well.
In the third quarter Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg finally found their offensive rhythm and got Paul Minjoth going as he erupted for 13 points as Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners trailed 49-37 after three quarters. Frankfurt did a fine job not allowing the guests to totally run away with the game, but continued to hang around. The guests broke free right away going on a 7-0 run to lead 33-21. Paul Minjoth struck with a trey and steal and transition basket and Nonfon made a lay in. Ludwigsburg defended better and unleashed the press that Frankfurt couldn’t always get adjusted to which led to turnovers. Ludwigsburg kept feeding Minjoth the ball and he had better looks as he got free better and just executed better. He connected on two more three’s and made a lay in as Ludwigsburg led 41-27. Frankfurt remained in the game, because of their fighting qualities led by Joschua Zentgraf. He continued to be a beast and just got inside. He made free throws and two layin’s including getting an offensive rebound. It wasn’t only a MInjoth that gave support, but German Luka Stuebel also scored on a reverse layup for the 44-29 lead. Frankfurt continued to get great support from Joschua Zentgraf who made a lay in and allrounder Alexander Lageman who made a lay in and freethrows cut the guests lead down to 44-34. Down the stretch, Frankfurt got a clutch three pointer from German Leif Zentgraf, but the guests closed out the third quarter with buckets from Kratezer and Nonfon for the 49-37 advantage. ‘We had too much focus at the start going inside, because we had the advantage there. We made adjustments in the third and get Minjoth going and playing pick and roll. The first five minutes were good’, stated David Mccray. ‘We had our ups and downs. You can’t let a guy like Minjoth stand free. We had him in check for three quarters. In the third quarter we were a step away and he punished us’, warned Miran Cumurija. Both teams were shooting better at 37% and 35% and the rebound battle was deadlocked at 32-32, but Ludwigsburg had the offensive rebound lead 10-5 and had 8 turnovers less.
In the fourth quarter Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg kept the comfortable lead, but allowed Frankfurt to make a late comeback that wasn’t rewarded. The guests got some real energy from Emmanuel Ugbo who has BBL and BCL experience as he connected twice inside while Frankfurt received a clutch three pointer from Julian Haskins and a beautiful off balance runner from Alessio Santagati, but Frankfurt couldn’t make ground trailing 54-42. After Paqarara nailed a trey for the 57-42 lead, Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners staged one last hurrah slapping the guests with a rude 11-2 run to trail only 59-55 with a few minutes remaining. In the run, Frankfurt continued to get unending energy from Joschua Zentgraf who continued to be a monster inside going against bigger players and scored twice. While Haskins continued to showcase his pretty high rainbow connecting on two three pointers and Lagerman made a turn around shot. ‘I trust Haskins to shoot. He has really been working on his shot. He has a lot of confidence to shoot and knows that he should’, warned Miran Cumurija. Frankfurt continued to play aggressive defense and had Minjoth under control. But in crunch-time, the hero wasn’t Minjoth, but Luka Stuebel who made a massive three and steal to seal the win. ‘We didn’t have the right focus in that Frankfurt run. They played hard and played aggressive. It doesn’t always have to be a Minjoth to make a big basket. I trust a guy like Luka Stuebel. He is on a good way. The good only good thing about this win was that it was close. That helped the guys learn how to close out a game’, stated David Mccray. ‘I always know that we can come back. We have that fighting spirit. Experience and having the needed coolness was missing. But I’m so proud of them’, commented Miran Cumurija. Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg was led by Paul Minjoth with 19 points. Luis Nonfon added 12 points while Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners were led by Joscha Zentgraf with 21 points. Alexander Lagerman added 12 points and Julian Haskins 11 points. Porsche BBA Ludwigsburg shot 36% from the field and 26% from outside and had 41 rebound and 18 turnovers while Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners shot 36% from the field and 19% from outside and had 46 rebounds and 25 turnovers.