As the Pro B season is the stretch run, the battle for the playoffs continues as the Fraport Skyliners and the White Wings Hanau are two teams that want to make the promised land. Hanau came into the game with a 7-10 record and in ninth place and a win less than Bavarian team Oberaching. Hanau had been idle since February 6 where they last beat Oberaching and wanted to get some of that rust off their legs. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors on the other hand had just digested a tough 82-70 loss in Koblenz 48 hours earlier and were back on the mat ready to begin a new winning streak. The Frankfurt squad who were sporting a 9-9 record and were in sixth place wanted to find back to their winning ways of the last weeks where they had successfully upended Karlsruhe and Speyer and did surviving crunch-time as versatile German Matthew Meredith (200-SG-2000, agency: LUMANI 10.7) led the charge with 27 points and key free throws in the last minute to squeak home the crucial 82-77 victory. ‘We have proven this season that in close games we stick together and have the gas to make the right plays. Our team chemistry is just very good. When we play like that, we are a different team. Even if Tisdale scored 25, we still did make it tough for him’, stated ex Nurnberg guard Matthew Meredith. Hanau had been idle for many weeks and just didn’t have enough strength and execution at both ends of the court for 40 minutes. ‘We were up and down. We had dealt with Corona and were sluggish at the start. We didn’t get our energy until the second half. Our defense was good, but we didn’t execute our offense the right way’, stressed ex Bowling Green (NCAA) guard JD Tisdale.
The first quarter was a tale of two stories as Frankfurt jumped all over Hanau only then to see the guests rally back and then potent scoring accompanied both teams until the end of 10 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors broke out on a swift 9-0 run and stopped Hanau’s first 4 possessions. In the Frankfurt run, they came out with high intensity and executed well as they got baskets from ex Trier forward Nils Leonhardt and an offensive rebound and put back by big man Jordan Samare and Matthew Meredith wasted no time driving home 5 points. Hanau was still asleep as they couldn’t match Frankfurt’s intensity or work on the boards. But Hanau slowly began to find their game and got a pair of three’s from Germans Stefan Vasovic and Philipp Walz and four points from Tisdale and suddenly trailed only 15-10. Their offensive rampage continued with Daniel Loh and Tisdale baskets as Frankfurt suddenly was staring at a 15-15 contest. Frankfurt lost offensive rhythm as Hanau matched their intensity and began to see results as they attacked the rim with success. Down the stretch, both clubs gained added confidence as their shots began to fall better as Meredith hit two three’s as did German Dion Braimoh. Walz added a trey also, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had the narrow 27-26 advantage after one quarter. ‘Hanau had missed many games and couldn’t find their rhythm. It was good that we had a good start. We just couldn’t keep it as they came back’, commented Matthew Meredith. Both teams were shooting over 60% from outside while Frankfurt landed at 59% from the field and Hanau at 47% and Frankfurt had the close 10-8 rebound edge.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors did a great job continuing to execute at a high rate on offense and also kept Hanau at bay allowing only 9 points in the second quarter and led 47-35 at the break. Hanau once again had a bad start not executing on their first three possessions, but Frankfurt couldn’t take total advantage getting only three points as German Leander Schwalm made a big offensive rebound and put back and free throw for the 30-26 advantage. Frankfurt continued to keep the pressure up and went on a 8-3 run to lead 38-29. Meredith took responsibility hitting a catch and pop jumper and free throws while two time ANGT participant Alvin Onyia also scored on a lay in where he displayed his speed getting by two defenders. Frankfurt defended very smart forcing the guests to hurried shots as their pressure was spot on. German Philipp Hecker then nailed a trey to cut Frankfurt’s lead down to 38-32. But that didn’t rattle Frankfurt as they held their momentum going on a 9-2 run to lead comfortably at half-time. Frankfurt continued to be very potent on the offensive boards as their bigs were very active. Jordan Samare added five points with a three pointer and lay in. Marco Voeller also contributed with an offensive rebound and put back and Leonhardt scored on transition. ‘My teammates gave me good shots and I just played my game. We played good as a team and was consistent on defense’, stated Matthew Meredith. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to shoot over 40% from the field and outside while Hanau shot 50% from outside. Frankfurt also began to dominate the boards 25-15.
The third quarter became a real tight dogfight as Hanau’s offense got jumpstarted as they scored 23 points, but couldn’t get over the hump as Frankfurt led 64-60 after 30 minutes. After having two weak starts in the first two quarters, the White Wings Hanau came out more focused in the third quarter hitting Frankfurt right away with a lethal 8-0 run to cut Frankfurt’s lead down to 47-43. Hanau let the three ball fly as ex Coburg forward Matthias Fichter scored as did Braimoh again. Vasovic also added a lay in. Frankfurt was hit with the turnover bug and couldn’t find a way to control Hanau’s nice inside out game. The game remained tight as when Frankfurt hit, Hanau was able to match their blow. Meredith and Braimoh traded three’s and Frankfurt led only 50-47. After Leonhardt brought some life into the BCM gym with a two handed dunk after getting the touch down pass from Hadenfeldt, Fichtner responded with clutch five points to dead lock the contest at 52-52. Frankfurt always had an answer and then found some new burst of energy on offense going on a 8-0 run to lead 60-54 s Hadenfeldt and Voeller connected back to back with three’s. Voeller also added a lay in. Tisdale did all he could trying to keep Hanau close as he scored three points to cut Frankfurt’s lead to 61-57. But Frankfurt always had an answer as Meredith hit a trey. But Tisdale saved his best for last as with four seconds to go went coast to coast finishing with a hard left handed dunk, but Frankfurt still led 64-60. ‘At the end I pushed down the lane and I think that they were expecting me to kick, but I was able to finish well. We brought more energy and got stops. We had good rotations, but still couldn’t get over the hump’, stressed JD Tisdale. ‘We stepped up our defense after they had their run. We made the right steps on defense and Voeller carried us’, said Matthew Meredith. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to shoot over 40% from the field and outside while Hanau shot 59% from outside. Frankfurt still had the massive overwhelming 34-21 rebound edge and led the offensive rebound battle 13-5.
In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors did a good job taming Hanau as they couldn’t get over the hump. Tisdale got Hanau on the board first with a lay in to cut the Frankfurt lead down to 66-62, but whenever it seemed like Hanau was threatening, Frankfurt always had an answer. Samare scored back to back baskets as he was fed each time by the underrated passer Nils Leonhardt. Frankfurt continued to be aggressive on defense and get easy baskets. Both teams really stepped up their defensive focus, but Hanau just couldn’t execute consistently. After Brazilian Victor Demetrio scored to cut Frankfurt’s lead down to 70-66, Meredith answered with free throws. Frankfurt got a big basket from Leonhardt with 1,33 to play as Frankfurt led 74-67. Philipp Hecker then hit a three pointer to cut Frankfurt’s lead down to 74-70 with a minute to go. Then came the free throw marathon as Frankfurt kept up their poise and execution rate as Hanau couldn’t get over the hump. Frankfurt got vital free throws from Meredith, Schaum and Hadenfeldt to clinch their 10th win of the season and keep their playoff hopes alive. ‘We showed our will at the end. We wanted to win very badly. We stayed concentrated and made the right plays and were rewarded’, stressed Matthew Meredith. ‘Both teams wanted it badly, but Frankfurt had the better end of the stick. We lost too many 50/50 balls and had too many turnovers’, stated JD Tisdale. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had five guys score in double figures led by Matthew Meredith with 27 points. Marco Voeller added 12 points and Jordan Samare had 11 points while The White Wings Hanau were led by JD Tisdale with 25 points. Dion Braimoh chipped in with 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 43% from the field and 34% from the three point line and had 44 rebounds and 15 turnovers while the White Wings Hanau shot 42% from the field and 46% from outside and had 35 rebounds and 17 turnovers.