Alvin Onyia´s 5 Assists Were Like 50 Points As His Will And Touch Of Larry Bird Helped Spark The Fraport Skyliners Juniors To 83-74 Do Or Die Win Over The RheinStars Cologne

Even if a club may not always be spot on on offense, but if you can stick to your defensive principles then you will be rewarded every now and then. That is exactly what happened to the Fraport Skyliners in the playoff series against the RheinStars Cologne. In game 1, they didn’t defend bad, but couldn’t get their offense going as they shot only 23% from outside and scored 63 points. In a do or die game in Cologne, they had some bad phases and had to play pick up basketball, but when it counted most, they defended with real heart and finally had that offensive explosion they knew they could always do but didn’t always do scoring 33 points in the fourth quarter on the road. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors weren’t saved yet as they had another do or die game, but this time in their own living room against Cologne. The atmosphere had been good in game 1 as many Cologne fans were in the building, but this time extra more fans came from the Fraport arena after watching the easyCredit BBL team battle and now wanted to cheer on the Skyliners farm team move on to the next round against the BSW Sixers. On a mild early Spring day with a packed Basketball City Mainhatten and 37 fans from the RheinStars that had made the 2 hour drive to Frankfurt, nobody got disappointed as everyone witnessed a hard fought playoff battle. Both teams had averaged 70 points allowed in the first 2 games and in game 3, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors stayed faithful to their defensive aggressiveness and stuck it out and survived the crunch-time wining 83-74 and advancing to meet the BSW Sixers next weekend. ‘We fought very hard and showed a real team effort. We stuck together the whole series and came back from 13 down in Cologne. We can be proud of how we played tonight. We deserved to win this game’, warned Marco Voeller. Even minutes after the siren sounded, the whole Cologne squad was on the bench and were staring at their own fans who had supported them to the end. The players looked as if they had seen a ghost and were just totally shocked and down, but who could blame them? They had just played their hearts out. ‘We didn’t execute when we needed to and struggled against their zone. When we didn’t get stops, we became hectic on offense and had trouble making shots. Frankfurt is a very good team with a lot of talented young players’, stressed RheinStars Cologne center Shore Adenekan.

Jannis Von Seckendorff to the rim

The first quarter was a back and forth slapping as no team could get away from the other as there were 6 lead changes. Except for an early trey by ex Wurzburg forward Nils Leonhardt, both teams stuck to the drive in the first few minutes. Frankfurt got aggressiveness and execution from ex Vechta forward Justin Onyejiaka who scored twice while the guests got early production from second year Cologne big man Elijah Schmidt who also scored twice. Despite Frankfurt getting 4 early turnovers, the RheinStars couldn’t profit from it well. Frankfurt also got big man Alexander Richardson going early while Cologne also got buckets from ex Rhondorf youth player Jannis Von Seckendorff and ex Ansbach forward Anthony Bauer who hit his bread and butter mid distance shot as Frankfurt led 11-10. But then came the arrival of ex Trier guard Ruppert Hennene who is one of those guys who is always dangerous with his shooting and he showed why making back to back three’s for the 16-11 Cologne lead. Frankfurt had produced too many turnovers and struggled with their 1-1 defense as Cologne’s intensity was higher. But Frankfurt who showed in this do or die game that they wouldn’t put up with long lapses as they retaliated with a lay in by 2018 JBBL champion Nolan Adekunle and a three by ex RheinStars Cologne youth player Jordan Samare to dead lock the game at 16-16. The first remained a game of runs as Frankfurt still had no remedy how to contain Hennen as he scored 5 unanswered points including another trey, but Frankfurt punched them back one more time with an old school hook shot by Marco Voeller and another trey by Jordan Samare to dead lock the game at 21-21. ‘It was a back and forth game. It took Frankfurt a while to settle in. Frankfurt had problems containing Ruppert Hennen’, stated ex Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Schubert.

Jordan Samare at the FT line

The second quarter continued to be a close duel as the RheinStars had the lead for the most part allowing Frankfurt on a little run to recapture the lead back, but gave it up again at the end. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had difficulty again getting into a groove in the first few minutes as the RheinStars got 3 stops including forcing them to 2 turnovers. Cologne executed well on offense going inside getting a floater from ex Koblenz guard Steffen Haufs and 2 baskets by Schmidt to have the 27-23 advantage. But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors then finally found their offensive rhythm again going on a 8-0 run to get the lead back at 31-27. In the run, Alexander Richardson and Onyejaika scored in the paint and Nolan Adekunle dropped a trey. Frankfurt did a good job being more aggressive on the offensive board and clogged the paint area better giving the guests little room to operate. Frankfurt kept the lead continuing their aggressiveness inside getting a lay in from Samare and tip in by Leonhardt, but couldn’t shake Cologne as Ruppert Hennen continued to wheel and deal and put Frankfurt’s defense into disarray. He hit another three pointer and made a beautiful finger tip lay in in best Tiny Archibald manner to cut Frankfurt’s lead to 36-34. Felix Hecker drilled home a big trey, but Cologne top guard Ali Sow finally found his groove making free throws and a few tough shots to give the RheinStars Cologne the narrow 45-42 lead at the break. The RheinStars shot 57% from the field and 53% from outside and had 16 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 43% from the field and 50% from outside and had 22 rebounds and 10 turnovers. ‘Samare and Richardson played well on the boards. Frankfurt continued to have problems containing Hennen. He has a good combination with his first quick step and shooting. If you give him a little room then he will punish you’, stated Konstantin Schubert.

Ali Sow at the ft line

The RheinStars Cologne upped their game in the third quarter and upped their lead by as much as 10 points, but once again the Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn’t hang their heads and made a run to cut the guests lead to only to 2 points after 30 minutes. Ruppert Hennen got his team on the board first with a 10 footer for the 47-42 lead. But Frankfurt then got some timely support from Justin Onyejaika who scored on transition and Alex Richardson made a tip in dunk as Frankfurt trailed only 47-46. But the RheinStars knew what was at stake and then played their best offense of the game going on a lethal 15-6 run to secure the comfortable 62-52 advantage. Cologne suddenly matched Frankfurt’s intensity level on the boards getting a dunk by Schmidt as Sow found a hole in the Frankfurt zone and Von Seckendorff made a tip in dunk. Sow was running the offensive show with his playmaking and scoring. He also added free throws and a lay in on transition and three pointer. Cologne did a good job containing Adekunle better as that scorer who could take over for Frankfurt in the scoring department was missing. Frankfurt was showing nerves as their offensive execution was lacking as their plays were more hurried. But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors clamed down and closed out the third quarter with a vital 8-0 run to trail 62-60. Vital in the run were Marco Voeller with two lay in’s and clutch shots by Mr energizer Philipp Hadenfeld. Point guard Alvin Oniyia began the run with Voeller with the perfect pick and roll play. Onyia would play a pivotal role in the fourth showing his absolute will to overcome all obstacles. ‘We defended well in the run at the end. We defended better and improved our 1-1 defense from the first half. We forced them to tough shots’, said Marco Voeller. ‘We had a bad phase not hitting shots and getting stops’, added Shore Adenekan. The RheinStars Cologne shot 52% from the field and 44% from the three point line and had 24 rebounds and 14 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 43% from the field and 37% from the three point line and had 31 rebounds and 15 turnovers.

Alexander Richardson at the FT line

The Fraport Skyliners stole the lead back early in the fourth and after giving it up once more regained it back and never gave it up again. Hadenfeldt began the fourth quarter with a three pointer as Frankfurt led 63-62, but Ali Sow stole it back with a lay in for the 64-63 advantage. But on this night, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were just the more consistent team and picked best when to start their runs. Frankfurt reacted to the last Sow bucket with a 14-6 run to lead 77-70 and gain complete control of the game and never give up the lead again. Instrumental in the lead was 7 year man Alvin-Olebabe Onyia (181-PG-2000). He may only have scored 1 point but his 5 assists were worth like 50 points. He had suffered a tough blow to the floor earlier and suffered a cut. He was treated on the bench and returned back to the game. His actions reminded one of Larry Bird’s famous return in the 1991 playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. Bird shouldn’t of played that game in the first place as his back was badly injured. He then hit the floor where he thought he had broken his jaw. After treatment he returned back to the game and shot out the lights as the Boston Celtics won. It wasn’t quite as dramatic with Oniya, but he made 2 clutch assists to Richardson for baskets. ‘Alvin was extra motivated and his will and fight prevailed. He may get too emotional at times, but he is our bull dog and a good defender and team player. Those were 100% big plays he made for Richardson’, warned Marco Voeller.

Frankfurt displayed fine inside out basketball as Leonhardt also scored inside and Adekunle and Hadenfeldt supplied three’s. The momentum of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors rose with every new bucket. Sow gave the RheinStars all he had down the stretch making free throws to cut Frankfurt’s lead to 78-74 with 41 seconds to play. When your as good of a driver as Ali Sow, it is only logical that his self confidence is very high, but he didn’t anticipate getting blocked by the athletic Nolan Adekunle. Adekunle and Richardson then closed out the win with free throws. ‘Cologne really fought hard. We never gave up and stuck together until the end. We made big shots and big plays on defense and Hadenfeldt free throws’, added Marco Voeller. ‘We had no more rhythm on offense. Frankfurt attacked the rim and made big plays’, stressed Shore Adenekan. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Alexander Richardson with 17 points. Nolan Adekunle scored 13 points and Jordan Samare and Philipp Hadenfeldt added 12 points a piece while the RheinStars Cologne were led by Ali Sow with 24 points while Ruppert Hennen added 18 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 46% from the field and 37% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the RheinStars Cologne shot 43% from the field and 28% from outside and had 35 rebounds and 18 turnovers.


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