In past years the basketball Hessen derby has always been an exciting and emotional battle between Frankfurt and Giessen where usually both teams were at totally different spots in the standings. But this time around it was the door mat of the BBL Giessen 46ers and number 16th team Fraport Skyliners that were squaring off for bragging rights before their long summer starts. The Fraport Skyliners won’t forget their 90-79 win in Giessen, because they began 2022 off so great, but after that is when their season totally turned around as they made a 180 degree turn downwards as they lost their next 8 games in a row and 14 of 15 which sealed their fate into the second division which most likely will occur if they don’t somehow magically get a wild card to remain in the easyCredit BBL. Losing a Hessen derby at home is always tough as the guests fans seem to live in the arena after the final buzzer and don’t want to leave chanting as they just won a title as that was the case after 40 minutes as the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers pulled out a squeaker 76-75 win that the Fraport Skyliners could have won had Rasheed Moore’s last second shot fell. That has been the story of the Skyliners poor season as catching breaks has been something they haven’t had much of. ‘We didn’t have a good first half. We played better defense in the second half, but simply fell one point short at the end’, said Fraport Skyliners forward Rasheed Moore. Giessen controlled the game from the start, but lost some defensive intensity in the fourth quarter allowing the Fraport Skyliners to threaten but ex Paderborn guard Kendale Mccullum had total control leading his team to the win. ‘Our goal was to come in and have fun and stay loose and enjoy the opportunity. I felt we moved the ball well, got important stops and were able to finish plays when we needed too. We also trusted each other’, stated Giessen guard Kendale McCullum (194-G-1996, college: Lewis, agency: Octagon Europe)
The first quarter was a very tight affair as both teams couldn’t get away from each other and both created an identity in the paint. Giessen got the rapid 6-3 lead as they got key energy from ex Texas Christian University (NCAA) JD Miller getting a massive two handed dunk and tip in. Frankfurt stayed close getting baskets in the paint from Polish national player Marcel Ponitka and 221cm rookie giant Matt Haarms, but Giessen kept the lead. Athletic forward Nuni Omut who balled at Baylor (NCAA) hit a trey and also escaped inside as the Frankfurt help was non existent for a two handed stuff and 11-7 Giessen advantage. Frankfurt kept executing and even took the lead 12-11 with a Rasheed Moore offensive rebound and put back and Haarms left handed lay in. But Giessen took control of the game and lead again with a 6-2 run to close out the first quarter leading 17-14. In the run it was Omot again who kept up his aggressive play and knack of knowing where the rim was. He made another thunderous dunk and connected on a 20 footer. Ex Jena German Dennis Nawrocki also scored inside as Muccullm served up the dime. Ex Auburn (NCAA) guard Quantez Roberson also added a runner. Frankfurt shot very poorly from outside but had 8 offensive rebounds and Haarms had 6 rebounds. ‘Our shots weren’t falling so well so we tried to get easy lay ups inside’, stated Kendale McCullum ‘We had good ball movement early on and tried to use the mismatches as well as we could’, stressed Quantez Robertson.
In the second quarter the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers were able to get away from the Fraport Skyliners and lead by as much as 10 points. They were more versatile on offense being able to use their three game more. Giessen got out cooking going on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 27-16. In the run ex Lewis (NCAA2) guard Kendale Mccullum demonstrated that he can score with ease inside like the other BBL candidates Cartwright-Jackson and Shorts as he made a beautiful floater that looked so easy and an off balance lay in. Omot continued to be on fire nailing a trey and MIller did the same. Frankfurt rallied after the run shock getting two easy lay ins from German national player Lukas Wank and Ponitka to trail Giessen 27-20. The one on one defense of both teams was miserable, but Giessen still had the better execution rate as a whole and the lead. Frankfurt got two vital back to back three’s from 2017 JBBL finalist Len Schoorman, but Frankfurt couldn’t make any ground as Giessen continued to execute well getting a Omot trey, Miller dunk and a trey from Latvian forward Martins Laksa and the commanding 38-28 advantage. Frankfurt got a last minute energy boost getting a steal and lay in from Ponitka and a lay in by Rasheed Moore to trail 38-32 at half-time. ‘Omot had a tough game against Braunschweig. His mind set was to bounce back. He got hot early and helped us get momentum. We fed off him. He is a big reason why we won’, stated Kendale McCullum ‘Schoormann came off the bench and gave us a big spark. It was good for him to get shots and more minutes again’, added Quantez Robertson. Giessen was shooting very well over 40% from the field and outside while Frankfurt continued to be cold from outside at 18%. Both teams were even on the boards with 22 rebounds apiece.
The Jobstairs Giessen 46ers kept their lead in the third quarter as the Fraport Skyliners were close a few times to climb over the hump but were denied. Matt Haarms began by nailing a 20 footer which was followed by an in your face three by Omot and Mccullum free throws for the 43-34 Giessen advantage. Frankfurt had difficulty playing their strength of transition. But every now and then Frankfurt had solid spurts on the offensive end as they went on a 7-0 run and suddenly were trailing only 43-41. Ex NBA player Will Cherry began with a lay in which was followed by a lay in by Ponitka. Ex Alba Berlin center Jamel Mclean then served up a sweet desert on a platter to the corner where Moore answered with a clutch trey. But Frankfurt just couldn’t find an identity on defense which has been a big problem this season as they again allowed a big run of 9-2 to trail 52-43. Giessen got support from Miller who scored inside, a tap in alley op from Miller to Omot, a Mccullum floater and a Nawrocki three pointer. Any little mistake Frankfurt allowed on defense like a switch or a helper was punished by Giessen. Frankfurt got some needed energy at the end as Cherry got a transition basket and Mclean a tip in dunk. But Omot continued to really hurt Frankfurt as anytime he touched the ball, he was able to make good things happen as he made a 20 footer and three pointer for the 57-49 lead after 30 minutes. ‘We continued to play fast and stuck to the same play and just played free’, said Kendale McCullum ‘Omot made tough shots the whole game. That got them going. It helped him when he saw his shot go in. We didn’t help well enough or close out’, stressed Quantez Robertson.
The fourth quarter remained tight and even if the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers led for the most part, the Fraport Skyliners were only a shot away from winning the contest. Frankfurt didn’t waste anytime getting going as they rushed out on a 7-2 run to trail Giessen 59-57. In the run Jamel Mclean was aggressive nailing a turn around shot and catching Giessen napping on transition making a hard two handed dunk. Cherry also added a trey. Frankfurt finally got their transition game active again and exposed more energy on defense getting in passing lanes better and packing the paint. But Giessen found some rhythm again on offense getting a Miller lay in and runner from Mccullum for the 66-59 advantage. Even if Frankfurt had a miserable season, they never gave up and were always fighting until the last second. They attempted another run of 5-0 getting a Haarms basket and free throws from Tez and Moore to trail only 66-64. After Laksa free throws, the energy of Haarms remained as he scored back to back buckets including a monster tip in dunk to dead lock the contest at 68-68 with a little under three minutes to play. But with 2,17 to play Kendale Mccullum who was close to a triple double nailed a massive three pointer for the 71-68 Giessen lead. Frankfurt was hungry and in crunch-time seemed reborn as Cherry responded with a three pointer and Haarms added another dunk for the 73-71 lead. But as much as Frankfurt got clutch baskets, they couldn’t get clutch stops. Omot added a tip in and Mccullum scored a crazy off balance submarine lay in in traffic for the 76-73 Giessen advantage with 39 seconds to play. ‘I work on that shot all the time finishing over big men with contact. It’s no surprise to me that it went in. I’m really happy that my team trusts me to take that shot’, stated Kendale McCullum Cherry then added a quick lay in to trail Giessen 76-75 with 33 seconds to play. Nawrocki then missed two free throws keeping Frankfurt alive. Frankfurt had one more chance to win the game. Rasheed Moore had a great look, but the shot missed ‘We wanted a back door at the end, but that was taken away. I got a good look, but it just didn’t want to fall’, stated Rasheed Moore. ‘I was in the paint on the other side. I thought it was going to go in. My first thought was this can’t be happening. Luckly it didn’t fall. Moore is a great player. I was really nervous’, added Kendale McCullum ‘It was a good look. It went down and came out. That is his shot. He can make it right or left handed. I would want him to take that shot every time’, warned Quantez Robertson. The Jobstairs Giessen 46ers were led by Nuni Omot with 27 points. Kendale Muccullum added 21 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists and JD Miller added 13 points while the Fraport Skyliners were led by Will Cherry with 16 points. Matt Haarms added 14 points and Jamel Mclean 11 points. The Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 44% from the field and 31% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 19% form outside and had 45 rebounds and 8 turnovers.