The Fraport Skyliners Show Heart With Inspiring Must Win Over The Niners Chemnitz 89-84

With every new loss, the reality of the Fraport Skyliners returning back to the easyCredit BBL next season sinks a bit more like a Boeing 747 in the approach to Frankfurt airport, but on the other hand the 200o BBL cup winner was only 1 win away from the 16th placed team. But their current 6 game losing streak didn’t give much hope of a turnaround simply because they continue not being able to put up a solid game for 40 minutes and just physically and mentally fall apart in the second half of games. As midnight wascreeping closer each week, their chances didn’t any better against the always pesky Niners Chemnitz who continue to be a nasty opponent for any team as head coach Rodrigo Pastore continues to do incredible things with his roster each season. Currently Chemnitz was in 1oth place and still with every chance of reaching the playoffs with a 10-11 record, but they also had some soul searching to do as they came to Frankfurt riding a 4 game losing streak, but with more time to prepare as their Fiba Europe Cup season had ended early. The Fraport Skyliners had added drama as Geert Hammink had been let go 48 hours earlier. ‘We had to change our mind set and refocus and execute coach Klaus’s game plan’, said Quantez Robertson. On a mild late winter day the Fraport Skyliners welcomed the Niners Chemnitz and had to put up with a frenzy of three’s, but in the second half they controlled the three point line allowing only 5 three’s and on offense executed well sharing the ball and allowing their brilliant 1-1 qualities shine through as they received a 89-84 must win. ‘We knew that this was a huge game as we wanted to keep pace with the league. We were put off guard a little when the coaching change came, but Coach Klaus Perwas allowed us to play off our strengths. We got the needed confidence from him and trusted each other more and more in the second half. We saw more open three’s and executed very well. Coach Klaus simplified the offensive and defensive schemes and we used our talent. He put us in position to be ourselves’, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard JJ Frazier. The NIners Chemnitz had a smooth rhythm in the first half, but in the second half couldn’t play their game the way they wanted to and had problems getting stops as Frankfurt got more consistent. ‘We had energy and hit three’s early, but in the second half got beat by their good 1-1 play and we had too many turnovers. We have to defend better in the second half’, warned Niners Chemnitz forward Kevin Yebo.

Mindaugas Susunskas from outside

In the first quarter there were numerous runs on both sides as no team could get away from the other as the Niners Chemnitz had the 25-21 lead after 10 minutes. In the first few minutes the game was tight as no team could get away form the other. Fraport Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson got the hot hand early testing his 28% three point shooting percentage nailing two three’s while the guests also hit 2 three’s from ex BG Goetingen guard Dominic Lockhart and Lithuanian sniper MIndaugas Susinskas to dead lock the game at 8-8. The Fraport Skyliners knew coming into the game that the Niners Chemnitz were a great three point shooting team, but they were unable to stop them letting it rain three’s as they connected 3 more times from the parking lot as ex Loyola University of Chicago (NCAA) forward Aher Uguak, Lockhart and ex Gevi Napoli Basket (Italy-Serie A) guard Arnas Velica connected for the 17-8 led. Frankfurt gave up too many three’s and had problems on the defensive glass. New Frankfurt head coach Klaus Perwas did a superb job with time out management calling a timeout something which most likely hadn’t happened under Geert Hammink. But Frankfurt didn’t let that swift action of offense effect their mindset and they slapped Chemnitz right back with their own 9-0 run to dead lock the contest at 17-17. In the run ex ZZ Leiden forward Einaras Tubutis connected for two three’s and Robertson nailed his third three of the quarter. The game continued to have runs as the Niners Chemnitz continued to play their steady offense closing out the first quarter on a 8-4 run to lead 25-21. Ex Buffalo (NCAA) guard Wes Clark hit a 20 footer and free throws while Susinskas made another trey while Frankfurt got a jumper from Frazier and free throws from German national player Lukas Wank. ‘We gave up too many three’s. They gave us all that we could handle. We knew that we had to slow down their shooting’, stated JJ Frazier. The Fraport Skyliners shot 40% from the 2 point range and 63% from outside and had 5 rebounds and 4 turnovers while the Niners Chemnitz shot 40% from the 2 point range and 55% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 4 turnovers.

Lukas Wank at the FT line

The Niners Chemnitz continued to execute well on offense and allowed the Fraport Skyliners to stick around never being able to shake them as they led 46-42 at half-time. Frazier and Susinskas traded baskets in the first minute as Chemnitz still led 28-23. Frankfurt continued to attack the rim when they could getting a finger tip lay in from Frazier and also played transition whenever they could getting a big dunk from Tubutis to trail only 30-27. The Fraport Skyliners at this juncture needed more support from Derek Cooke, Marcus Lewis and Isaiah Washington (185-G-1998, college: LBSU, agency: Players Group) as they all had the goose egg, but instead it was 2004cm Hungarian forward Marko Filipovity who staged a shooting clinic nailing 3 three’s in a row for the 39-30 lead. Washington also connected for a trey upending his personal goose egg. Whenever the Niners Chemnitz threatened to run away with the game, the Fraport Skyliners always had an answer something they didn’t have in other games this season that they would lose. Lewis also erased his goose egg crawling out of his shell with a lay in and Washington and Robertson supplied three’s cutting the guests lead down to 41-38. Frankfurt showed they could play longer spurts of aggressive defense that translated into stops. Velica added another trey, the team’s 11th of the first half to lead 44-38. But Frankfurt had an answer again as Derek Cooke also slipped out of his shell with a lay in and tip in dunk as the Niners Chemnitz led 46-42 at the break. Einaras Tubutis was a huge energizer in the first half at both ends of the floor. ‘He has a very high IQ which I think is rare for bigs. He is always thinking on the fly. When he talks, I listen. He is right 95% of the time. He is always a few steps ahead on each play. He was injured this season and I expect to see more big production from him’, warned JJ Frazier. The Niners Chmenitz shot 57% from the 2 point range and 48% from the three point line and had 17 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 57% from the 2 point range and 53% from the three point line and had 11 rebounds and 6 turnovers.

JJ Frazier from the parking lot

In the third quarter both teams continued to battle away as the Fraport Skyliners would earn their first lead. There would be 5 lead changes as the Fraport Skyliners had the upper hand after 30 minutes leading by 3 points. The Fraport Skyliners stormed out of the break with a swift 5-0 run to gain their first lead of the game at 47-46 as Washington made a lay in and Frazier a three pointer. The Fraport Skyliners were getting more input from their Americans as Frazier dropped another three and Lewis made a lay in for the 52-50 lead. Frankfurt stepped up their defense again and were guarding the 3 point line better as Chemnitz didn’t let in rain three’s. Not everything was gold what the Fraport Skyliners touched as they would suffer lapses on defense. Wes Clark nailed 2 three’s and 2017 NBBL champion Nelson Weidemann scored on penetration as the Niners Chemnitz led 60-56. Klaus Perwas called another key timeout calming his guys down. It definitely helped as the Fraport Skyliners stepped back on the court ready for battle and closed out the third quarter with a 10-3 run to lead 66-63 after 30 minutes. In the run Frankfurt received clutch three’s from Lukas Wank, a lay in by Tubutis who by chance got a loose ball that was close to a Lewis turnover and a Washington lay in. ‘We had to switch out on their shooters better. We didn’t want Filipovity beating us anymore. We did a good job flushing him off the three point line, like their other shooters’, stressed JJ Frazier. The Niners Chemnitz would only make 5 three’s in the second half. ‘We didn’t play good defense. Frankfurt began to hit their shots better. We had no answer for them’, commented ex Ehingen forward Kevin Yebo. yThe Fraport Skyliners shot 62% from the 2 point area and 48% from the parking lot and had 22 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Niners Chemnitz shot 46% from the 2 point area and 42% from the parking lot and had 24 rebounds and 10 turnovers.

Aher Uguak at the FT line

The fourth quarter continued to be a real scrappy duel, but half way through the quarter and 5 lead changes, the Fraport Skyliners would take charge and never look back. The Niners Chemnitz began the fourth quarter solid going on a 6-.2 run to lead 69-68 as Kevin Yebo supplied 4 points and Susinskas made a jumper. Frankfurt continued to be wide awake on offense getting a Lewis lay in and massive two handed stuff by Wank for the 72-69 advantage. The Niners would take one last lead as Nelson Weidemann supplied 5 points with a trey and free throws for the 74-72 Niners lead. But the Fraport Skyliners then showed just how lethal a 17th placed team can be shortly before crunch-time as they went on a 11-0 run to lead 83-74 and have the Niners near to getting out the surrender flag. In the run Frankfurt got huge buckets from Washington who made a trey and lay in while Cooke made a reverse lay up and lay in. Frazier also made free throws after making a spectacular steal on the baseline stripping the ball from Yebo and giving his team possession. ‘I was stuck between helping the big and my own guy. I knew that I had to get to the ball before the play happened. I was just in the right place and it worked out for me’, added JJ Frazier. Of course the Fraport Skyliners did make it exciting in the last minute giving up 2 three’s to Susinskas to cut Frankfurt’s advantage to 84-80 with 29 seconds to go. After a Washington free throw, Lukas Wank made a play that would give most coaches headaches attempting an alley-oop pass to Lewis. Wank made the perfect pass and Lewis made the throw me down dunk. But was that risky play correct to do at that point of the game. ‘You have to be able to trust the player who your throwing the ball to. It’s all about ball placement. If you throw Marcus the ball, you know he will catch it. He is a great athlete and finisher’, warned JJ Frazier. Velica made a lay in with 4 seconds to cut Frankfurt’s lead to 87-84, but Robertson sealed the win with 2 free throws. ‘We have to learn to make the right decisions at the right time and just finish games better. Frankfurt played very well and hit shots. We just couldn’t get stops when we needed to’, stressed Niners Chmenitz assistant coach Virgil Matthews. ‘We made free throws and most importantly didn’t turn over the ball. When we were on offense we executed well. The last 2 minutes was beautiful execution’, stated JJ Frazier. The Fraport Skyliners had 6 guys in double figures led by Isaiah Washington with 18 points. Lukas Wank and Quantez Robertson supplied 14 points a piece and JJ Frazier and Derek Cooke supplied 12 points apiece while the Niners Chemnitz were led by Marko Filipovity with 18 points. Arnas Velica added 13 points and Kevin Yebo 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 55% from the field and 42% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the Niners Chemnitz shot 42% from the field and 40% from outside and had 34 rebounds and 14 turnovers.


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