A little more than 3 months ago the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and EPG Baskets Koblenz met in the first game of the season as on paper it looked like David and Goliath as Koblenz had players with 400 plus pro A games experience and 100 plus easyCredit BBL games while Frankfurt had a team with many NBBL (U-19) players. Frankfurt gave a spirted fight losing by 13 points and began the season off on the wrong foot losing it’s first 3 games, but since then have found their groove and won 8 of the last 10 games. The EPG Baskets Koblenz on the other hand have almost had a spotless season losing only to Hanau which was a real nail bitter loss. In the first months they were blowing teams away left and right, but in the last weeks have had to fight extra hard to grind out wins. Both teams met in Frankfurt and this time the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had more experienced guys and looked a lot better on paper than in Koblenz, but they couldn’t figure out to play well for 40 minutes. They hung with Koblenz in the first half, but got shell shocked in the second half 55-26 losing easily 85-62. ‘We were able to win the rebound battle in the first half and stop their fast break play something we then couldn’t do in the second half. They defended us a lot closer in the second half and we couldn’t rebound as well. Koblenz beat us with their individual class’, stated 2018 JBBL champion Nolan Adekunle. The EPG Baskets played a solid first half, but really stepped up their game in the second half and demonstrated just how lethal their offense can be. ‘We began slow and Frankfurt played very strong. They hit a lot of shots in the first half and our 1-1 defense wasn’t good. We showed our individual class in the second half and raised our defense. Our 1-1 play on offense was strong. We showed just how unpredictable we can be because everyone can contribute’, stressed EPG Baskets Koblenz forward Brian Butler.
Nolan Adekunle from outside
The EPG Baskets were missing Dominique Johnson and Moritz Huebner while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were without the 2 centers Jordan Samare Alex Richardson as well as Philipp Hadenfeldt, Justin Onyejiaka and Marco Voeller. The EPG Baskets Koblenz got on the board quickly with a basket inside from ex Bremerhaven center Moses Poelking, but that didn’t faze Frankfurt. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors waisted no time breaking out on a 8-0 run to lead 8-2. In the run, Frankfurt got 2 untypical dunks from sniper Felix Hecker who showed his athleticism as well as a lay in by reserve center Liam Oneil and a lay in by Adenkunle. But basketball will always be a game of runs as the EPG Baskets Koblenz responded with a brutal 13-3 run to lead 15-11. In the run the guests showed how versatile they can be as they shared the ball and got contribution from many. Poelking made a lay in, ex Weissenhorn player Brian Butler a 15 footer and Alani Moore and Leon Friederici (190-SG-1995) scored twice. The guests moved the ball well and got into a good rhythm while taking total advantage of the lax 1-1 defensive skills of Frankfurt. The Koblenz run wasn’t the last of the quarter as Frankfurt finished well with a 8-1 run getting 2 clutch three’s from Hecker and Adekunle to lead 19-16. It was no surprise that both took the bulk of the Frankfurt shots as they had little other offensive options on this night. ‘We slept at the start allowing open shots, but we then found our flow. I think that it was the best flow that we have had in the last 4 games. I thought we played good defense. We allowed contested shots’, stated EPG Baskets Koblenz manager Thomas Klein. Both teams shot over 40% from the field while Frankfurt shot 30% from outside and Koblenz shot 25%. Frankfurt had the 10-6 rebound edge.
Alani Moore at the FT line
The second quarter remained a tight battle as no team could break away from the other. Moore began the second quarter with a trey from the corner. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors also executed quickly getting a lay in from ex Ehingen forward Nils Leonhardt and a lay in by Drago Crnjac for the 23-19 advantage. But then came another explosive faze by the guests as they went on a 14-6 run to gain the lead 35-29. Heckel was aggressive and scored 7 points while Brian Butler scored 3 baskets in a row including 2 dunks. The EPG Baskets defense sparked their offense as they played their game of transition. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had problems stopping the drive as the guests guards always found the holes finishing themselves or creating for others. But Frankfurt did a good job halting the momentum of Koblenz as they went on a 7-0 run to gain the 36-35 advantage. Adekunle remained aggressive scoring 5 points while reserve and junior player Dusan Nikolic also scored. Nikolic had his Pro B break out game finishing with 10 points in 17 minutes shooting 71% from the field. ‘Dusan got a chance with many injuries. He used the trust form the coaches and his teammates to show how good of a player he can be’, stated Nolan Adekunle. The game of runs continued as the guests went into the break with a 5-0 run to lead 40-36. Friederici hit a trey and Heckel a lay in. ‘Key for our play was the back court as Moore and Heckel made big plays. Frankfurt had problems with our zone. Frankfurt rebounded well and took advantage of their second chance points’, stated Thomas Klein. Adekunle and Hecker took 24 of the team 35 shots in the first half. Both teams continued to shoot over 40% from the field and were at 30% from outside. Frankfurt continued to have the rebound lead at 20-15.
Leon Friederici from downtown
The EPG Baskets Koblenz came out focused and picked up their game at both ends and broke the game open and would never look back in the third quarter. Both teams had problems executing in the first 3 minutes as their were combined 9 possessions and no points. The EPG Baskets Koblenz again proved that basketball will always be a game of runs as they scored 8 unanswered points to lead 48-36. The guests continued to move the ball well and had many options as Poelking continued to take advantage of his height advantage in the paint making an offensive rebound and putback while Heckel continued to break loose in the lane and score and Friederici nailed a trey. The guests picked up the intensity on defense and allowed less open shots which disallowed Frankfurt of finding a rhythm on offense. German NBBL player Joscha Zentgraf finally got Frankfurt’s first field goal at the 5,30 minute mark to trail 48-38. The dominating play of the EPG Baskets continued as they went on the next run of 10-2 to get their biggest lead of the game at 58-40. In this phase, the EPG Baskets Koblenz totally crushed Frankfurt on the drive scoring 5 baskets. The most damage was done by ex Coburg guard Yassin Turan who scored three times while Friederici and Heckel also scored. The zone of Koblenz functioned well and when Frankfurt was without Hecker and Adekunle, there was no execution. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors got some energy down the stretch getting three’s from Hecker and Bennet Schubert but still trailed 62-47. ‘Our 1-1 defense was better as was our help defense. Our rotations were better which we didn’t have in the first half. Our pick and roll defense was better. Our offense was parked by our defense’, stressed Brian Butler. ‘We had problems rebounding. We had problems with the 1-1 defense as their individual class was too much for us’, expressed Nolan Adekunle. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 53% from the field and 24% from outside and had 26 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 40% from t6he field and 30% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 13 turnovers.
Nils Leonhardt at the FT line
In the fourth quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz kept up their dominating play and closed out the game well. The Fraport Skyliners began the fourth quarter well with a 4-0 run as Leonhardt and Nikolic scored to cut Koblenz’s lead down to 62-51. But the guests then executed the final blow going on a brutal 13-0 run to extend their lead to 76-51. In the run the guests got the most damage from Friederici who had 8 points including 2 three’s while Moore had a trey and 20 footer. The basket obviously looked bigger and bigger for Friederici who was hitting from anywhere he wanted to shoot from. The EPG Baskets Koblenz did a good job despite the game winding down keeping up their intensity on defense and aggressiveness on offense. With the game decided, Koblenz head coach Pat Elzie elected to put in his 3 kids Milton Heckel, Tevin Schnabel and Dami. Down the stretch both teams scored 9 points as Leonhardt added 5 points while the guests got another three from Moore and 5 points form Moses Poelking to close out the contest. ‘We relaxed a bit in the last minutes. We still have to work on closing out games better’, warned Brian Butler. ‘We were a bit tired at the end. You have to always be awake against a team like them. We tried to execute as best we could’, stressed Nolan Adekunle. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were led by Leon Friederici with 26 points while Alani Moore added 22 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Felix Hecker with1 6 points and Nolan Adekunle had 13 points. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 49% from the field and 35% from outside and had 38 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 40% from the field and 28% from outside and had 37 rebound and 18 turnovers.