It was a balmy late afternoon day in early September when I departed for Cologne. The Euro 2022 had been going on for some days and I wanted to see some high class players up close. For once not necessarily on the court but off the court. I guess I will always be a kid at heart. I was an avid autograph hound in the 80’s and there wasn’t a hotel in Boston that I didn’t know as I loved getting Baseball, basketball and Ice Hockey autographs of professional athletes. After a long retirement session, I continued again about a decade ago trying my luck in Boston when I was home for short winter vacations, but with less luck now because the NBA shields it’s players a lot more from the public now then 40 years ago. I had found out where all the 6 teams were staying in Cologne only a few 100 meters from the Rhein river in a nice but not necessarily posh hotel. I really didn’t care if a Dennis Schroeder or a Evan Fournier or a Domantas Sabonis declined me for an autograph. I was there for one man, the man Mr magic Luka Doncic. I arrived right before Team Germany left for their game against Hungry and saw some guys I had known since many years like Johannes Voigtmann and Niels Giffey and made a few selfies while the 2 stars Dennis Schroeder snuck onto the bus as Daniel Theis’s body was shielding the door and was signing autographs while new star Franz Wagner had his head phones on and had the typical NBA excuse for not hearing and getting on the bus. I even made contact with ex Georgetown big man Mikael Hopkins who played for Hungry and still owed me an interview. Around 10-15 people had waited for Germany and as Germany left, it got very quiet in front of the hotel. I got a selfie with Lithuanian NBA player Jonas Valanciunas while waiting. Now it was the calm before the storm. It was 7.00pm and in 2,15 hours, the biggest player on the planet Luka Doncic at least in my eyes would return back to the hotel. Doncic and Slovenia battled France and it was an epic game as Doncic went ballistic on France scoring 47 points which was the most points in Euro play 65 years. I had spoken to fans there who had reassured me that the Slovenian basketball God is very friendly and signs many autographs. Apparently early in his Dallas career, he wasn’t as friendly as he is now, but saw how legend Dirk Nowitzki handled the fan appreciation and took that kind of approach from him. After the game ended, fans began gathering in front of the hotel. Team France arrived first and I was able to get a selfie with NBA player Rudy Gobert. He gave me that angry pose possibly still unnerved by being beaten by Doncic on so many 1-1 plays in the game. Finally Slovenia arrived and it was a total zoo. I was positioned perfectly by the middle door on the bus. Many players popped out and near the end, magic came out and signed for many. I was lucky to get an autograph and even a semi selfie. It isn’t surprising that Robertson’s most prized autograph is of Germany’s greatest player ever. ‘I have a signed Dirk card. Our trainer then Dennis Welm had an extra card and gave me one. Luka is just a joy to be around. He is always smiling and making kids happy. Guys are gravitating to his style on the court’, said Quantez Robertson (188-SG-1984, college: Auburn, agency: Interperformances). I was also fortunate to get an autograph with NBA veteran Goran Dragic and a selfie. My 5 hour trip to Cologne had been more than worth it. I was in basketball heaven.
I reach Fraport Skyliner lifer and easyCredit BBL legend Quantez Robertson on a Monday afternoon as he is in the dog days of pre-season. After 2 tough loses to Bonn and Giessen, I wasn’t going to discuss the current state of the Fraport Skyliners, but moreover the Euro 2022. Even if he has been focused on preparing for the new season, he has been keeping tabs on the Euro 2022. He did watch the game against Lithuania on TV, but missed the game against Slovenia as some of his teammates saw it Live in Cologne. There have been quite a bunch of Americans over the years who have suited up for other countries and it isn’t any different this time as players like Mike Tobey, Mikael Hopkins, Kendrick Pery and Jalen Smith have strapped on the jersey for other countries. He would love to do the same if given the opportunity. ‘Guys getting the opportunity to play for other countries shows just how talented they are. It also shows how much talent there is in the world. I know those guys are honored to represent another country. If I ever had the choice, I would love to play for Germany’, smiled Quantez Robertson. Germany has had an incredible Euro 2022 going 4-1 in group play including upsets of France and Lithuania and beating a tough Bosnia squad. Tez also knows what his ex coach Gordon Herbert’s biggest strength is to attaining this success. ‘He did a great job with the ego’s of the NBA players who came back to play. That was a huge reason why the team could play the way it has’, stated Quantez Robertson. Back in the day Gorden Herbert had the support and expertise of assistant coach Klaus Perwas and has him by his side once again. They both do a super job to compliment each other in sharing the duties of running the team. ‘Klaus was always in charge of the defensive breakdowns while Gordie took care of the breakdown of the players and how we should guard them’, added Quantez Robertson.
Quantez Robertson has played with and against everyone on team Germany 2022 and also has his personal memories of each player over the years. He already played against NBA veteran Dennis Schroeder before he reached the NBA in 2011. He helped beat Schroeder’s former team Braunschweig in the 2011-2012 81-80 as Schroeder already rose eyebrows then scoring 12 points as a young prospect still relatively unknown and almost beating Frankfurt in the last seconds. A season later and 6 months before he was drafted, Schroeder helped his team defeat Tez and the Skyliners scoring 18 points and turning the game around scoring in bunches and securing the win on his own.’ I remember Schroeder being very fast with that quick first step and was also crafty. He also could create for others and himself. I remember not guarding him then as I had other assignments’, remembered Quantez Robertson. His ex teammate Johannes Voigtmann with whom he won the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup is a guy who took only 25 shots in the first 5 games and seems not to have a big role on offense. Germany have so many offensive weapons that they can allow not having to need that big offensive input from him. ‘He may not be one of the main options but he brings a lot to the table at both ends of the court. When he can get the rebound or play the pick and pop, he is very effective’, stated Quantez Robertson. Ex teammate Jonas Wolfahrt-Botterman may have a very minimal role on the team, but Tez is very proud that he is one of Germany’s 12 best players. ‘He is really a great guy to play with. He can be very emotional on the court. You don’t need much scoring from him to be effective. He is a defensive presence and does a lot of the dirty work’, warned Quantez Robertson. Two other players that he battled against the last years have been current NBA player Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic and sharp shooter Andreas Obst of FC Bayern Munich. He remembers the latter better than the ex Alba Berlin German. ‘I honestly don’t remember playing against Wagner. I didn’t know much about him then. But he has shown how good he is in the last years. He is one of the best scorers on the German team. He has proven that he can hit the three pointer consistently. Obst is a heck of a shooter. He doesn’t need much room and has such a quick release. He plays very hard and when he is open, he doesn’t miss much’, expressed Quantez Robertson.
On Tuesday Germany clash against Greece which should be an epic battle of Giannis and his supporting cast against Dennis Schroeder and his special role players. Both teams didn’t reach the quarterfinals on a cake walk. Germany mostly dominated Montenegro and led by as much as 27 points, but let up in the fourth and allowed their opponent to cut the lead down to a few points, but in the end pulled it out. Greece had massive problems with the Czech Republic, but a late run secured the win as the starting 5 combined for 72 of the 94 points. The ex Auburn freak athlete is sure that Germany will win, if they can stick to a certain principle, but didn’t want to predict a score. ‘Gianis will surely have a big game. Germany has to concentrate on their role players and not allow them to make shots or plays. They have to make it tougher for them. Giannis will probably get his 30 points, so they can’t let the role players get 10-15 points, but play them very aggressive’, warned Quantez Robertson. He also needed a few seconds before giving the perfect advice for ex teammate Joe Voigtmann on how he should act with the unthankful task of having to stop Giannis should he get the assignment. ‘Joe has to keep Giannis in front of him and let him shoot over the top and just make everything tough for him’, smiled Quantez Robertson. The ex Cincinnati native who sees Germany playing Finland in the semi-finals and France battling Slovenia in the other semi-finals also has his 2 cents on Luka Donic. If he had to use one word to describe Luka Magic it would be incredible. Seeing incredible Doncic highlights at the 2022 Euro has been nothing new as he has been doing it since his Real Madrid days. Alone against Germany and Slovenia, he combined for 83 points doing whatever he wanted to with the ball. Everything looks so automatic and effortless when he plays. Why can’t opponents defenses find a way to stop him? ‘He is a great player. Great players take tough shots and make them. He is a big point guard that is strong and agile. He knows how to play to his abilities. He shoots over smaller guards and goes around bigger players. You just have to pick your poison with him and live with the shots he makes. Teams play tough defense on him and he just knows how to make tough shots’, warned Quantez Robertson. Tez never played Euroleague or NBA, but in his prime was a top defender in the easyCredit BBL. It would be interesting to see how Tez would do guarding a Doncic now if he was in his prime and not 37 years old. ‘I think Luka would score something like 12-14 points on me. I might not be totally happy with that, but at least I would know that I made it really tough for him to have to take long range shots. I would just have to live with it’, stated Quantez Robertson. In terms of where we both see Luka Doncic right now with the best in the NBA, we would not come together. For me Luka Doncic is the greatest thing since Michael Jordan with much respect to a Kobe or Lebron, but that is just my opinion. ‘For me Luka is 7th or 8th best in the NBA right now and second best in Europe behind Giannis’, added Quantez Robertson. But at least there is one thing that Tez and I agree on. The Fraport Skyliners definitely have to get going now in pre-season, if they don’t want to be near the cellar after 1 month in the easyCredit BBL.
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