Author: Miles Schmidt-Scheuber

Basketball journalist and play by play commentator

TJ DiLeo´s(Telekom Baskets Bonn) My Trick Basket Is Rather Empty At The Moment So I´ll Probably Stick To The Basics In The Allstar Game

is a 28 year old 190cm guard that is playing his sixth professional season and sixth in Germany. He played his first two professional seasons in the Pro A with the Giessen 46ers and then helped the team move to the BBL in 2015. He then moved to the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he is in his third season. Currently he has played 115 easyCredit BBL games and 29 Basketball Champions League games and 18 Fiba Europe Cuo games. He began his basketball career at Cinnaminson High School and played at Temple (NCAA) from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. He was invited to play for team Germany at the 2019 easyCredit BBL allstar game and spoke to about basketball

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Steven Bennett and TJ DiLeo in the 2014-2015 season in Giessen

TJ thanks for talking to Before we talk 2019 Allstar game, let’s talk about your Telekom Baskets Bonn season. How tough was leaving the Basketball Champions League and Fiba Europe Cup stage? Do you feel like this disappointment could spark the club the rest of the way?

It was tough and we were disappointed. But we learned a valuable lesson that we must be ready to go each and every game. We cannot take anyone lightly. 

The Telekom Baskets Bonn have really turned their season around. You had a tough stretch in December 2018, but have a strong 8-2 record in 2019. What has been the secret to the current success? 

There have been various things that have contributed to the recent success. Too many to list. But one broad goal in the last few months was to have better communication as a team. 

The Telekom Baskets Bonn score a lot of points, but also allow a lot of points. What has been the biggest challenge on defense this season and what does the team need to clean up to have a better chance of having success in the last months?

I feel like we have taken steps defensively in the past months as well. We have to be more consistent throughout the game and we need to rebound better. Guards have to do a better job helping the bigs on the boards. 

How has the whole Telekom Baskets Bonn culture changed with the departure of Predrag Krunic and arrival of Chris O’Shea? What adjustments has the new coach done? 

There has been a few adjustments, but I guess our opponents will have to scout that themselves haha.

Let’s talk about your teammates. Can some one tell me why Josh Mayo wasn’t added to team International. He is having a great season shooting 53% from outside. How has he developed the last two seasons? 

I’m not sure, but he’s deserving. It seems like he can’t miss this season. He’s always been a great leader and given the team whatever we need. 

Ex NBA player James Webb hasn’t been the crushing scorer, but he has been valuable in other area’s of the Bonn game. Please talk about those area’s where he has excelled most and what do you appreciate most about his game? 

Webb is so versatile. He can grab a rebound, push the ball up the floor, go coast to coast, and finish. He’s also a guy that can get hot at any time during the game. 

Martin Breunig has had his BBL breakout season this year. Could one say he has been a late bloomer and how is he a different player this season in comparison to last season? 

We saw glimpses of what Martin can do at the end of last season. I’m glad he’s taken the next step and I’ve really enjoyed playing with him. 

Recently the Telekom Baskets Bonn picked up versatile ex Euroleague player Nate Linhart. He hasn’t had the massive stats, but do you see him playing more of a role in the stretch run? 

Nate is an experienced player and everyone who knows the league is aware of how valuable he is. He’s helped us a lot so far, and I think it will continue even more down the stretch. 

Let’s talk about your game. Your BBL experience has been a valuable learning experience. After your first season with Bonn you were locked in reading situations and knowing when to be a playmaker. How much has Josh Mayo continued to help you develop as a combo guard? 

Playing alongside of Josh has really helped me out in a few ways. Other teams are so worried about him shooting (rightfully so) that it opens up a lot for me and allows me to create. Also, watching him play with the confidence he does has really taught me a lot in that aspect. He has no fear out on the court, and I’ve really learned from that. 

You have improved your stats each season in Bonn. How do you feel has your game continued to develop in your time with the Telekom Baskets Bonn?

I think I have developed into more of a point guard during my time in Bonn. 

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing TJ DiLeo in 2018 after a game in Frankfurt

You had very solid assist averages in all three competitions. What do you feel was a big challenge as a playmaker in your first Bonn season and how are you a different playmaker now in season three? 

Being confident in myself and looking for my own shot or drive to the basket. The more of a threat you are to score, the easier it is to get assists. 

You will be turning 29 this year. As a four year BBL guy now on what things are you focusing most on continuing to improve on the floor?

My basketball IQ and shooting ability. Will have to rely on those things when the athleticism starts to decline. 

You will be representing Team National this season at the 2019 BBL allstar game. Is it a strange feeling playing for Germany and what do you appreciate most about this experience?

It’s not too strange to me. I’ve been looked at as a German for my whole professional career, so its normal now. I just appreciate being able to take part in a fun event with some of the top talent in the league.

How special is it being together with Bonn teammate Yorman Polas on Team National. Many say he is the best defender in the BBL. How much have you benefited from him on the defensive end in the last three years?

Yorman can change the whole game. He can make the other team’s best offensive player look like they weren’t even on the court. It’s amazing. 

What do you like most about the format team Team National vs Team international. Do you feel like you and John Bryant have a special motivation playing against the other Americans? 

The format is cool, and I like it. I think John will just be out there trying to have fun like the rest of us. 

Team National have a lot of talented players playing, but also some big time veterans in Euroleague player Danilo Barthel and Per Guenter. What are your earliest memories of playing against these guys when you came up with Giessen? 

They both played on great teams that year when I was with Giessen. I just remember getting our butts kicked by both teams haha 

Team international is stocked with many great players. You have had the pleasure of playing against Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding the last four years. If you could only pick one basketball trait that you would love to pick up from him what would it be? 

Agelessness. The guy never takes a step back performance wise. 

Obviously the Allstar game is all about fun and not playing defense. Since the rules are a bit lax, could we await to see you releasing something from your trick basket or will you be sticking to basics mostly? 

My trick basket is rather empty at the moment. Probably just the basics.

What kind of game can we await? It will probably be a high scoring game to entertain the fans. What is your prediction of the score? 

134-130 for Team National

What is your list of five all-time best teammates you have had in your career? 

Josh mayo Juan Fernandez Yorman polas Bartolo Benni Lischka Julian Gamble Eric Palm (6th man) 

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing TJ Dileo in2017 after a game in Frankfurt

It’s still so early, but when all is said and done could Luka Doncic be one of the greatest Europeans that ever played in the NBA? 

I believe he can be. He seems like he has the right mindset and mentality. And obviously he has the talent 

What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?

i don’t mind the confidence at all. Not sure I agree, but it doesn’t bother me that he said that. He is definitely very close. 

Charles Barkley recently proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion? 

I don’t like the cross sports GOAT debates. You can’t compare. What about Floyd Mayweather? Usain bolt? Wayne Gretzky? 

What was the last movie that you saw? 

Captain Marvel

Thanks TJ for the chat.

The Dragons Rhondorf Are Alive And Kicking And Want To Keep The Pro B Dream Alive

In New York winning any game seems like a miracle for the New York Knicks, in Los Angeles winning a title this season with Lebron James seems like a miracle while in Germany, some weeks ago it seemed like a miracle would be needed for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven to stay in the easyCredit BBL, but after a new coach and a win again after months of not winning, there is hope again in the German northern city. In the cosy beautiful small town of Bad Honnef on the Rhine and only 15 minutes from the ex German capital Bonn, there is basketball hope again on the horizon even if the chances and future of the Dragons Rhondorf of remaining in the Pro B still have that miracle feeling as their road to staying in the Pro B still seems very very far away and as seemingly difficult as it still is for German national player Thomas Mueller to accept his booting from the team as head coach Joachim Low is never shy of making radical changes and making new face lifts on a regular basis. In Bad Honnef the Dragons Rhondorf are alive and kicking and want to keep the Pro B dream alive. Ok so the classic 80´s pop song Alive and Kicking from the Scottish band Simple Minds is a love song, but after more careful inspection of the lyrics, one could carefully compare them to the current Dragons situation.

                The Alive and Kicking lyrics are as follows What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up? What you gonna do when the love burns down?. What you gonna do when the flames go up? Who is gonna come and turn the tide? What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive? Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Who’s gonna save you? Alive and kicking”. In this song it´s the love that will save you and for the Dragons Rhondorf it will be the fight, effort, passion, German role players and love in order to stay in the German Pro B. Obviously getting continued support from it´s two best players Zgyimantas Riauka and Kwan Waller will also help. Last weekend, the club showed heart and immense fighting qualities in their do or die game against tg s.Oliver Wurzburg and finally a German role player didn´t just produce, but produced like a maniac as if it was his last game. Ex Bremerhaven forward Bo Meister left his jersey on the floor and was a vital spark with his trey dropping 21 points and five trey´s. Without his production, the season and Pro B dream of the Dragons Rhondorf most likely would have been history. One could say for Bo Meister his masterful game was better late than never.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Bo Meister after dropping 21 points in the win over Wurzburg

            After the big 98-90 win, I had the hero Bo Meister and Kwan Waller side by side for post game interviews and one could see that they were as relived as a small boy is when he finds out that Christmas presents will always be there despite learning that Santa Claus is a myth more than a reality. Meister was all smiles after his shooting masterpiece and revealed too me that his rebirth and heightened play was a family thing. “My sister was here watching from Bremerhaven. I was playing for my family. My grandfather was in the hospital and I dedicated this win to him. I played for him”, stressed Bo Meister. There was a playful atmosphere between Waller and Meister and just such extreme happiness between the two players that one simply had to enjoy this big moment even if question marks of the season past and future were still cloudy. One just had to savor the moment, but at the same time continue to believe and stay confident for the next tasks at hand. Waller was selective with not overdoing his smiling as the veteran learned first hand last season what losing is all about in Georgia where he won only one game, but he was extremely proud of how the team played and how his teammate Bo Meister and co stepped up crawling out of his shell. ““This was our biggest win of the season where we had double pressure. I live for these type of games. I am proud of the team that despite the pressure, the team stayed focused and locked in. We made a new step tonight. We showed who we are today and played well under pressure. We came together and didn´t want to end the season. Our backs were to the wall, but we had nothing to lose. “I am so happy and proud of Bo. He fought through adversary and shot his way through his slump. It has been great seeing him blossom as we know that he can bring so much on the court. He was our X-factor tonight. But we got energy from so many other Germans like Koscahde, Kneesch and Dia. I think that Bo´s game will give confidence to the other guys”,warned Kwan Waller.

                The 98-90 victory over the Dragons Rhondorf was without a doubt the biggest of the season for the Dragons Rhondorf especially with so much riding on the season. Even if the Dragons Rhondorf had many many ups and downs against Wurzburg being able to win the way they did had to have given them an added push and self confidence. They had very good phases of playing defense where the zone stifled tg s. Oliver Wurzburg, but then again phases where their one on one defense in the paint against Justin Smith and Jonas Weitzel who combined for 50 points looked about as awful as Bremerhaven have looked this season on the defensive end. The offense was clicking for the Dragons Rhondorf as they finally shot the ball with authority and consistency something which has plagued them time in and time out this season where their bricks and bad shot selection led too many loses. But not on this day. It was the second win a row for the Dragons Rhondorf over tg s.Oliver Wurzburg in a matter of weeks as one could carefully say that they have their number now. but they will battle one more time in Wurzburg and will need that win. With two wins in a row against Wurzburg, the Dragons Rhondorf will surely drive to Bavaria with added self confidence and take to heart whatever their double double beast Zygimantas Riauka has to say. One saw again last weekend in the Dragon Dome just how much he loves the game and wants to help and lead his team to victory. He didn´t always look good against Justin Smith on the defensive end, but his relentless effort and heart that he showed on every possession is one that must of sparked his teammates. Also his constant bringing guys into huddles has been his trademark this season as much as his monster double double games. Even if it has been a poor season for the Dragons Rhondorf, the play and passion of Zygimantas Riauka has been a delight to watch. Now all that has to happen is that the Dragons Rhondorf season will be saved. The dream of the Dragons Rhondorf continues to be alive as they continue to kick.

                Even if Riauka and Waller combined for over 50 points for the second weekend in a row, there was a difference. They were huge in Cologne with 59 points and did their magic again in the spectacular win over tg s.Oliver Wurzburg with 51 points, but there was one huge difference that was vital for the team winning at home in the playdowns and being alive and hopefully still kicking in the next games. In Cologne the Dragons Rhondorf received a pathetic 9 points from the rest, but against Wurzburg a huge 47 points from the rest which was most significant for the victory. Meister started off well hitting a 15 footer which got him in the right shooting mode early and from then on, his teammates found him more and got him into good positions to score. Then his three fell which added another spark and self-confidence in his game which would carry over to the end. His rebirth was so important considering his poor second half in Cologne. One can only hope that he will be able to continue his healthy shooting the rest of the way. Meister also made some big plays on defense, so in no way was he one dimensional. Also big in his scoring support was the timing. On several occasions when Wurzburg was crawling back and making big shots, the German would silence them with big three´s.  It wasn´t only Meister who was an important factor in the win, but also his teammates came up big. Take way Meister´s 21 points and the Dragons Rhondorf still got vital 26 points which was also crucial in managing the win. Granted no other German role player scored in double figures, but they got big time support in crucial moments. 34 year Lotola Otshumbe has made big plays the last weeks and found an aggressiveness not often seen for a guy who played mostly in the regionalliga in his career. His effort has been outstanding and exemplary. Yannick Kneesch hit a big three early and was a help on the boards in his limited play while David Falkenstein saved his best for last making some huge buckets down the stretch. Captain Joe Koschade was also crucial in the success being efficient in his minutes getting six points and three assists and making a big bucket in the last minute and a half putting the exclamation mark on the win. He also made a huge steal diving for a loose ball. That was the typical effort from the captain this season and something that not only he will have to continue in the next weeks, but also his teammates.

                There are four games left in the season and the best scenario now would be to have that big winning streak to end the season. But most important for the Dragons Rhondorf is not to look ahead, but take it one game at a time. They now face BBC Coburg who they split with this season. They were beaten badly in Coburg 88-68, but won 86-78 at home. In that game the Dragons Rhondorf played against a very slim Coburg rotation who had eight players, but six guys got the majority of the minutes. As usual Rhondorf got good support from Riauka and Waller who combined for 42 points, but also got ample support from one other German role player Yannick Kneesch who produced 16 points. While other Germans Alex Moeller, Joe Koschade  and David Falkenstein combined for 22 points. They also did a super job controlling the boards 32-23. A big help in this game will be keeping an eye and slowing down BBC Coburg´s two best players Chase Adams and Kevin Franceschi which they did well in that game holding them to 20 points. This will be another do or die game in the Dragons Rhondorf quest to live another week and stay in the Pro B. It also wouldn´t hurt if the club got a serious break out game from the fountain of youth Anish Sharda. He hasn´t averaged under 18,9ppg in the last four years in the Regionalliga and has proved on several occasions in the Pro B in Mainz, Langen and Hanau that he can be that reliable scorer. At the moment the Dragons are alive and kicking and not only have to let their good play from the Wurzburg game carry over to the Coburg game, but have to continue to show that passion, effort, and fighting qualities. Not to forget to show that love to want to win and keep their Pro B dream alive. The Simple Minds wouldn´t want to have it any other way either. 

The s.Oliver Wurzburg Guard Terror Overwhelm The Fraport Skyliners 91-77

For four season´s Mike Morrison was that big man that would do a lot of the dirty work on the floor and be that guy when asked that would go out and have a beer with fans at the Champions Bar at the Marriot in downtown Frankfurt. He was a contributor in helping the Fraport Skyliners win the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup and a guy that always brought the team much needed energy on the floor when the club needed it most. At times, it felt like all he did was dunk, but in his last season he developed a sweet mid distance jumper even if he didn´t always present it and once even dropped a trey from the corner. But what fans and teammates will most likely remember most from Mike Mo was his massive dunks and he sure had plenty of them in his four years with the Fraport Skyliners. Even if his dunks were thunderous at times, so was his cries of joy after his throw downs as if he was that lost tiger from Africa that had been kidnapped to St Petersburg, Florida and finally been set loose again to return home. The big man surely would have liked to have stayed, but instead his basketball journey continued in Lithuania this season where he played solidly in the country league and Champions League, but in mid season he suddenly was back in Germany only 100 kilometers west of Frankfurt in Wurzburg. With the regular season winding down and the Fraport Skyliners riding a two game winning streak and battling to reach the playoffs, they had to survive against the s.Oliver Wurzburg and their ex big man Mike Morrison. The Bavarian team has had a solid season with new head coach Denis Wucherer currently in the playoffs and fighting for the Fiba Europe Cup title as they advanced to the quarterfinals and now will have a date with top Danish team Bakken Bears. On a cool Sunday afternoon with on and off rain and spring still around the corner, The Fraport Skyliners welcomed BBL playoff team s.Oliver Wurzburg and were unable to handle their guard terror as the quick trio of Skyler Bowlin, Jordan Hulls and Cameron Wells combined for 39 points and had the Fraport Skyliners off balance all afternoon long at both ends of the court as they overwhelmed the Fraport Skyliners 91-77. After the contest Mike Morrison and Quantez Robertson had some quiet time and despite being very good friends for four years in Frankfurt as teammates, both couldn´t refrain from continuing their jokes off the court concerning each other. “It is always fun to play against Mike. We were room mates for four years and had many road trips. I hit a three on him on the first play. We were talking some junk. Mike thinks he is one of the best big man that can guard guards on the perimeter”, smiled ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson. “I do think that I am one of the best big men that guards guards on the perimeter On that play I had to see how he was feeling and see how he would do. It was a lucky first shot”, smiled Mike Morrison.

                Morrison will always be remembered as being a player that loved to dunk, but he was never a man for a lot of words, but rather a fellow that was always laid back and got to the point quickly concerning a topic about something. “One of our focuses now is to keep getting better on defense. We have many guys that can score. We had many ups and downs in the game, but our execution was good. Frankfurt played very physical and we did a good job executing on offense and sticking to our defensive principles”, stressed ex George Mason(NCAA) center Mike Morrison. The Fraport Skyliners two game winning streak was snapped and their hopes of reaching the playoffs continue to fall as with 12 games left, they would have to win around 10 games to get in. After the loss, Fraport Skyliner shooting guard Jason Clark reflected on the poor performance by the club. “We did not play our best today. We had problems with the Wurzburg switching and didn´t hit our shots. When you don´t hit shots and get stops, everything goes downhill. We did play better in the second half, but they continued to move the ball well and hit very tough shots”, explained ex Georgetown(NCAA) guard Jason Clark. Captain Quantez Robertson knows that they dug an even deeper hole with the Wurzburg loss. “This loss made it tougher to reach the playoffs. We are in a jam now. We let a few games get away earlier in the season. We didn´t get it done on the defensive end today. They outworked us and were more aggressive at both ends of the court”, warned Quantez Robertson.

Ex teammates but still friends off the court!!!Quantez Robertson and Mike Morrison after the Wurzburg win!!

                The Fraport Skyliners had a strong start, but soon got overwhelmed by the Wurzburg guard terror and their aggressive switching. Mike Morrison got a rude welcome back to his old stomping ground as Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann blocked the Florida native and then ex teammate Quantez Roberston nailed a trey in his face. Frankfurt got off to a solid start on defense getting stops and Robertson had the hot hand sealing his second trey at the 8,33 minute mark and before Wurzburg head coach Denis Wucherer could wipe the first drops of sweat from his bald head, Frankfurt led 6-0. But then the game changed rapidly to benefit s.Oliver Wurzburg as they crawled out of their hole and cruised out on a swift 14-0 run to take the 14-6 lead. In the run, s.Oliver Wurzburg let their guard terror take over as the Fraport arena was raining three´s. Ex Citadel(NCAA) stand out Cameron Wells and Jordan Hulls who is shooting a massive 50% from the parking lot connected. Ex Giessen guard Skyler Bowlin also did some fancy dribbling and  hit a pull up jumper. The Fraport Skyliners finally got on the board again at the 1,56 minute mark as for six and a half minutes they hit nothing as ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas scored inside. Frankfurt then found some rhythm on offense as ex Giessen center Marco Voeller hit a nice hook shot and Finish national player Shawn Huff dropped a trey, but Frankfurt couldn´t get closer as they were unable to get stops on defense. The guests continued to play their energetic offensive game as ex Bonn forward German Florian Koch hit a trey, ex Bremerhaven guard Jordan Hulls hit an off balance shot and Wells scored at the buzzer as s.Oliver Wurzburg led 24-13. “We had problems scoring as they switched on our ball screens. We had trouble with that. Even though we had practiced it in practice, we couldn´t execute it in the game. We need to be better with that and let it translate over to the game”, stressed Jason Clark. S.Oliver Wurzburg shot 57% from the field and 83% from outside and they got 8 rebounds and had one turnover while the Fraport Skyliners shot 31% form the field and 33% from outside and gotb9 rebounds and had 3 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Mike Morrsion

                s.Oliver Wurzburg kept control in the second quarter as they were able to lead in double figures as the Fraport Skyliners continued to struggle at both ends of the court. The Fraport Skyliners actually had the better start going on a quick 5-0 run to sneak back into the game and trail only 24-18. In the run, Frankfurt stayed calm getting a super individual effort by Wolfarth-Bottermann who secured an offensive rebound and then made the put back while Huff dropped a three on transition. Even though the Wurzburg offense had executed well in the game, Frankfurt had done a good job severely limiting their pick and roll game. S.Oliver Wurzburg were able to keep the lead as they had many options on offense and also continued to force Frankfurt to turnovers. Florian Koch made a pretty hard two hand dunk looking a lot more athletic than re really looks and got a tip in from ex Skyliner Johannes Richter for the 30-21 advantage. Wurzburg was hit with their fifth team foul at the 6,30 minute mark, but Frankfurt was unable to take advantage of it. Not only was one ex Bamberg player with Johannes Richter playing well, but another with Leon Kratzer came in and he scored twice cutting the Wurzburg lead to 32-25. But the Bavarian team just had more of a smoother game than Frankfurt and perfected the inside out game as German Felix Hoffman hit a trey and Richter scored an off balance jumper from the wing at the shot clock buzzer and Hulls reached the free throw line. Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance closed out the second quarter with a left handed lay in, but s.Oliver Wurzburg led comfortably 41-29 at halftime. A huge mind boggling stat at the break at the displeasure of the Fraport Skyliners was the massive three goose eggs at the guard position. Jason Clark, Tyler Larson and Tra Holder had been held scoreless. If three strong guards aren´t scoring then it will be difficult to win. “They continued to do a good job switching, so we tried to get the ball inside more and use the mis matches. Some days it will be like that where you aren´t getting shots, so you have to focus on other things like rebounding and defense”, warned Jason Clark. S.Oliver Wurzburg shot 46% from the field and 55% from the three point line and got 15 rebounds and had 4 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 38% from the field and 33% from the three point line and got 16 rebounds and had 9 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber with Quantez Robertson and Mike Morrison

                The Fraport Skyliners made a huge run in the third quarter to cut the Wurzburg lead down to four only to lose the momentum and be trailing again by 10 points. Before Frankfurt got rolling, it was actually s.Oliver Wurzburg that made the first scoring dent as they rode a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 46-29. In the run, one could see the fine passing skills by Australian forward Xavier Cooks who gunned a bullet pass to the corner to a waiting Wells who fired home the ball and Cooks then hit a tough shot over Huff. Wurzburg was playing good team basketball, while Frankfurt was flat and still had no points from it´s guard duo of Larson and Clark. But that finally changed at the 7,49 minute mark as Jason Clark finally hit his first field goal which took 22 minutes and 11 seconds. “It´s always tough when your not scoring. If that is happening than you have to be locked down on defense. When I wasn´t scoring, I played defense and rebounded. I always let the game come to me and never force anything. In those 22 minutes I took something like three shots. That wasn´t much, but I didn´t force anything”, warned Jason Clark. The Clark basket broke the ice and the Fraport Skyliners broke out on a magical 12-2 run to trail only 48-44. In the run it was Quantez Robertson who supplied 8 points including consecutive three´s while Clark scored again inside while Larson finally scored his first field goal at the 5,15 minute mark taking him almost 25 minutes to be successful. Frankfurt did a good job disrupting the Wurzburg guard terror and getting in the passing lanes and getting some steals and tipped balls which slowed down their offense. The Frankfurt run didn´t impress Wurzburg as they slapped Frankfurt in the face with their own run of 12-2 erasing the Frankfurt comeback and suddenly leading 60-46. In the run, Wurzburg was led by the guard terror of Hulls and Bowlin who hit jumpers while Richter remained aggressive and made 4 points. Frankfurt displayed a spectacular play as Elijah Clarance made a huge block stuffing a Johannes Richter dunk attempt. 26 year old ex Dayton(NCAA) stand out Devin Oliver also added a trey. In the last minute Robertson sunk a trey and Larson nailed free throws, but s.Oliver Wurzburg still led 61-51 after 30 minutes. “Our comeback was started on the defensive end. We got steals and hit shots which gave us a boost. We were able to create offense from our defense”, warned Jason Clark. “We handled the Frankfurt come back well and stayed composed and stuck together”, added Cameron Wells. S.Oliver Wurzburg shot 51% from the field and 50% from the parking lot and had 23 rebounds and 10 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 43% from the field and 36% from the parking lot and had 21 rebounds and 11 turnovers.

                The fourth quarter was an offensive show as both teams combined for 56 points, but the Fraport Skyliners were never able to totally get over the hump and never got closer than 8 points. S.Oliver Wurzburg got going quickly going on a 9-3 run to extend their commanding lead to 70-54. In the run, the guests continued to execute their offense well as they understood how to share the ball as four different players scored as Richter connected on a three pointer, Cooks nailed a runner, Wells showed his quickness scoring on a lay in and Koch also made a runner. Frankfurt was searching for an offensive identity, but couldn´t find it while also making dumb mistakes continuing to give the guests extra opportunities on offense. The Fraport Skyliners may have lacked offensive consistency, but they exchanged that for that fighting mentality and at times showed glimpses of good offense. Larson got more aggressive and hit a three and free throws while Robertson kept his hot hand from outside as Frankfurt was clawing back and suddenly only trailed 74-66. But s.Oliver Wurzburg always had an answer while Frankfurt couldn´t get stops. After a nice Frankfurt come back, the guests slapped them in the face with a fierce 4-0 run to extend their lead to 78-66 as they could do what they wanted in the paint as Oliver snuck inside for a hard two handed dunk and Cooks also scored. Clark saved his best for last as he started getting open better and hit back to back three´s as Frankfurt trailed only 80-72. But as so often in the game, good play was followed by unneeded and untimely bad plays as Larson was hit with a flagrant foul. This led to four rapid Wurzburg points as Bowlin made free throws and Wells scored as they were back to leading by double digits 84-72. In the last two minutes, Frankfurt got five points from Larson, but couldn´t get over the hump or get stops as Wurzburg closed out the game in fine fashion with five unanswered points as Richter made a hard dunk and Hulls put the final exclamation mark on the victory with a trey. “We did a good job sticking together, sharing the ball and being aggressive. We also stuck together on defense and helped each other out”, added ex Tuebingen guard Cameron Wells. “Their guards kept hitting shots and Cooks played well. They hit really tough shots off our bad offensive possessions and that really hurt. We just couldn´t get over the hump”, stressed Jason Clark. S.Oliver Wurzburg had six players in double figures and were led by Johannes Richter with 17 points. Jordan Hulls added 15 points while Cameron Wells delivered 13 points and Xavier Cooks added 12 points. Skyler Bowlin and Floian Koch produced 11 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 20 points. Tyler Larson added 16 points and seven dimes while Jason Clark contributed 13 points. S.Oliver Wurzburg shot 60% form the field and 53% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 43% from the field and 42% from outside and had 26 rebounds and 13 turnovers.

Bo Meister Is Reborn Leading The Dragons Rhondorf To 98-90 Playdown Win Over Wurzburg

The Dragons Rhondorf arrived in the 2019 Pro Playdowns looking to out duel and grind away Tg S Oliver Wurzburg in 6 games with the hopes of remaining in the league. However on the first playdown weekend, they dug their hole even deeper by losing on the road to the RheinStars. Now their up hill climb and basketball battle became even steeper as now they also had to keep an eye on the Cologne team and exert even more energy needing to pass them as well. The Dragons Rhondorf came home on the second playdown weekend and met their fiercest competitor with the Bavarian team Wurzburg, but had had nice memories of their last encounter winning 73-61 on the last game day and gave one of their best performances of the season as they mastered the battle in the paint and under the boards and played the type of defense displaying heart, passion and courage that every coach wants to see forcing the opponent to a massive 23 turnovers. Tg Soliver Wurzburg came into the game having also lost their first playdown game against Bavarian team BBC Coburg and had a lot of revenge on their mind. The Dragons Rhondorf were clinging to basketball life and needed a win badly as with a loss and RheinStars win most likely could have kissed their Pro B life away. Once again Kwan Waller and Zygimantas Riauka carried the team combining for 51 points, but unlike in Cologne where the rest of the team scored only 9 points, on this night against Wurzburg, the Germans combined for 47 points and got 21 points from Bo Meister  who was like reborn which was the big difference in the 98-90 victory. The Dragons Rhondorf are still alive and after the victory one could see that American Kwan Waller was on a mission to keep the team in the Pro B. “This was our biggest win of the season where we had double pressure. I live for these type of games. I am proud of the team that despite the pressure, the team stayed focused and locked in. We made a new step tonight. We showed who we are today and played well under pressure. We came together and didn´t want to end the season. Our backs were to the wall, but we had nothing to lose”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf guard Kwan Waller. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg had good moments in the game and fought until the end, but gave up too many points and had no answer for Bo Meister. “Tonight it was clear that we were in the playdowns. We fought well, but our problem the last weeks was that we gave too many games away. We finally fought tonight. We have to play with more self confidence, defend better and hold our own against their energy”, stressed Wurzburg center Jonas Weitzel.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Bo Meister after dropping 21 points in the win over Wurzburg

                The Dragons Rhondorf came out with a tad more energy and had the early 3-0 lead and stopped the opponent in their first two possessions. Ex Bremerhaven guard Bo Meister who has had an up and down Pro B season and had a poor second half last week in Cologne got the first basket on  a 15 footer which proved to be a good omen for the Dragons Rhondorf. Wurzburg finally got on the board with a Badu Buck catch and pop jumper and from then on the first quarter would be tight as there would be many lead changes. One player that began to do much damage was ex Rhondorf forward Justin Smith who has jumped around Germany playing for teams like Weiden, FC Schalke, Rhondorf and Jena 2, but where ever he had played, he dominated scoring and rebounding. Rhondorf also started to get sound production from their Germans as ex Speyer forward Yannick Kneesch hit a trey. There were seven lead changes in the quarter as no team could get away from the other. Wurzburg head coach Eric Detlev didn´t shy away from playing his whole bench as another ex Rhondorf player Tim Eisenbacher scored 5 points and looked happy playing in his old playground. Rhondorf also got big production from 34 year old Lotola Otshumbe who scored and grabbed an offensive rebound. The Dragons Rhondorf always set the tone, but the Bavarian club always found an answer and stayed on the Dragons tail. Down the stretch, Kwan Waller took matters into his own hands scoring the last three buckets including a buzzer beater as the Dragons Rhondorf had the slim 28-26 advantage after 10 minutes. Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ DiLeo who was idle and didn´t have to play until Sunday against BG Goettingen took in the game and gave his two cents to the first 10 minutes. “Both teams played really hard as no team could get away from the other. There also were many fouls. Rhondorf did a good job taking care of the ball”, added TJ DiLeo. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 57% from the field and 50% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 54% from the field and 67% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 1 turnover.

Halftime interview with Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ DiLeo

                In the second quarter both teams demonstrated that basketball is a game of runs, but at the break it was the Dragons Rhondorf that had the comfortable 8 point lead. Karl Dia got Rhondorf on the board first with a lay in, but then it was time for the Justin Smith show. He led the guests on a 7-0 run scoring three baskets and a free throw giving Wurzburg the 33-30 lead. Smith was a menace all night long and often carried his team in come back returns. He finished with 29 points and 9 rebounds. “Smith was tough to defend. We hadn´t seen him before this season and didn´t know what to expect. We did know that he had a good mid distance shot. His game caught us by surprise. He played with a lot of intensity and did a good job getting to the free throw line”, added Kwan Waller. But this was a different Rhondorf team than from previous games. They knew their season was on the line and knew that they had to produce. They stormed back going on a 11-3 run to retake the lead at 41-36. In the run, Lithuanian double double beast Zygimantas Riauka got busy scoring three buckets in the row as he dominated in the paint and chose the mismatches wisely. But it wasn´t only the usual suspects, but Rhondorf also got vital support from their German role players as captain Joe Koschade nailed a trey and Otshumbe also scored. Rhondorf also had good defensive phases where their zone worked and this moment was one of them. That run sparked the Dragons Rhondorf as their aggressive defense also continued to spark their offense as they extended their lead to 48-38 getting another key basket form Otshumbe, a jumper from Meister and a trey from 36 year old dinosaur Anish Sharda. Wurzburg got some valuable production from Jonas Weitzel and Smith while Rhondorf got a Riauka lay in and led 50-42 at halftime. “The German role players played well and Zygimantas Riuaka was solid. Rhondorf also stepped up their defense at the end”, said ex Temple8NCAA) guard TJ DiLeo. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 55% from the field and 45% from the three point line and grabbed 18 rebounds and had 4 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 46% from the field and 29% from the three point line and grabbed 15 rebounds and had 4 turnovers.

               The third quarter had two stories as the Dragons Rhondorf got a lead into double digits, but tg s.Oliver Wurzburg fought back and shaved down the lead to two points, but trailed by 5 points after 30 minutes. The Dragons Rhondorf took some of that momentum from the end of the second quarter into the third quarter and quickly went on a 11-4 run to extend their lead to 61-46. In the run it was Rhondorf´s two best players Waller and Riauka who carried the team with two buckets a piece and Meister also scored. Justin Smith continued to be a one man wrecking crew scoring for Wurzburg, but there wasn´t much support elsewhere. The body language and self confidence of the Dragons Rhondorf were at an all-time high, but they did have defensive let downs and poor one on one defense in the paint that would allow the guests to come back. Rhondorf also weren´t always calm on offense looking for the quick shot and not executing while the guests started to slowly come back. Smith and German Jonas Weitzel were efficient and executing bringing them back on a 10-2 run to trail only 65-62. The Dragons Rhondorf were able to keep the lead getting some important energy in the last minute from ex Telekom Baskets Bonn 2 guard David Falkenstein who scored on an alley-op tap in and then hit a buzzer beater three for the 72-67 lead. “The third quarter hasn´t always been our best this season. We started well, but ended it bad. We let them hit to many open shots”, stressed Kwan Waller. “We had too many ups and downs in this quarter. Rhondorf started off well and we needed a boost and got the needed energy form Justin Smith”, added Jonas Weitzel. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 55% from the field and 44% from the parking lot and had 23 rebounds and 8 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 51% form the field and 18% from the parking lot and had 25 rebounds and 9 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing German 20 year old talent Jonas Weitzel who scored 21 points in the losing cause

                In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf got the needed push and energy from Bo Meister to carve out a big lead and they would never look back. Meister And ex Tuebingen German Julian Albus traded three´s as the Dragosn Rhondorf still led 74-70. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg never gave up and continued to pressure Rhondorf, but whenever they got dangerously close, it was Bo Meister that had a big answer. After Badu Buck nailed a three to cut the Dragon´s Rhondorf lead to 76-73, it was Bo Meister who drilled home a big three to give Rhondorf the 79-73 advantage. Smith continued to be a pest scoring with ease when he was in the paint and did so twice cutting Rhondorf´s lead to 83-77. But then came that back breaking moment as Bo Meister continued wanting the ball and stayed aggressive hitting back to back trey´s for the 89-77 lead. Rhondorf had played a strong zone on defense to help keep the lead and the Meister three´s had shocked the guests. Even if the Bo Meister scoring show had ended, his precise scoring had given Rhondorf a nice cushion lead and down the stretch, it was other players that helped manage the lead. Meister finished with 21 points and was relived after the win. “My sister was here watching from Bremerhaven. I was playing for my family. My grandfather was in the hospital and I dedicated this win to him. I played for him. My shot felt good today and I was calm and my body was perfect going into the game”, stressed Bo Meister. “I am so happy and proud of Bo. He fought through adversary and shot his way through his slump. It has been great seeing him blossom as we know that he can bring so much on the court. He was our X-factor tonight. But we got energy from so many other Germans like Koscahde, Kneesch and Dia. I think that Bo´s game will give confidence to the other guys”, stressed Kwan Waller. Wurzburg didn´t lay down and die, but gave one more push as they received back to back three´s from German Lennart Stechmann cutting the Rhondorf lead to 90-85. But Rhondorf got key baskets from Waller and Riauka to extend their lead to 94-87. Everybody gave their all to the success for Rhondorf and with 1,39 to play it was captain Joe Koschade who saw room and daylight and drove to the basket and scored giving his team the 96-87 lead and they would never look back. Smith got a dunk at the end, but Waller closed out the game with free throws. “It´s easy to play defense when your hitting shots. We took shots that we knew we could make. It feels good seeing the ball go in”, stressed Kwan Waller. “We didn´t defend well enough. If you allow 98 points then you will have problems winning. We had our chances, but didn´t play clever enough at the end”,added Jonas Weitzel. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kwan Waller with 27 points and 10 assists. Zygimantas Riauka added 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists and Bo Meister added 21 points. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg were led by Justin Smith with 29 points and 9 rebounds. Jonas Weitzel added 21 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 55% form the field and 43% from outside and got 33 rebounds and had 13 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 52% form the field and 27% from outside and got 33 rebounds and had 17 turnovers.

Rayshawn Simmons Has Taped Into A Special Zone With Team Ehingen

In the last 10-15 years Team Ehingen have been known as being a basketball breeding ground for top young German basketball talent as their list of fine graduates that have been able to develop further and play at a high level in Germany and elsewhere have been as long the touchdown list of receivers that Tom Brady has found in his career as guys like Lucca Staiger, Christian Stand hardinger, Nico Simon, Maurice Stuckey, Akeem Vargas, and Ken Ogbe have been just a few that have made the next step on the basketball ladder. But the club hasn´t been known to having much of an effect in the second Bundesliga. They arrived in the second Bundesliga in 2004 from the Regionalliga and after the league separated the league into Pro A and B, the club has been struggling in the Pro A for years. Except for one season 2013-2014 where they finished in third pace in the regular season, but couldn´t make the next step in the playoffs losing a tough 3-2 quarterfinal series to NBC. Since then they have been floundering in the Pro A and even played a season in the Pro B as in the Pro A, they finished in 16th, 14th and 15th in the last three seasons. But this season has been different as the club has played great basketball and been near the top of the Pro A standings from the get go. Back in the 2013-2014 season a big reason for the success was point guard Virgil Matthews who is still playing today and for years belonged to the top Pro A point guards who unfortunately never got a chance to display his strong basketball abilities in the easyCredit BBL. This season Team Ehingen is led by another point guard by the name of Rayshawn Simmons. He is just another example of one of those guys that never had it easy working his way up the basketball ladder, but this season one could say has been his real break through season as in his first two professional seasons he played well in lower leagues, but this season is proving that he can play at an even higher level. His basketball route has never been easy for him, but his grind, heart and special dedication to the game he loves is paying off for him this season, but his chip is still on his shoulder and not a light one. “I’ve had to deal with coaches/media doubting what I was capable of since 2012. Coming up in Saint Louis I was one of the top players in high school playing on the AAU team Saint Louis Eagles in the EYBL (Top league for amateurs in high school). After my senior year of high school I had a bunch of small D1s & great D2 Programs that wanted to bring me in but I felt like I was a great Mid-Major player or high major role player at the time. So I went to a community college to prove I could play the point guard position solely instead of a combo guard.  I was like 3rd in the nation in assists that year with 8.3 per game. I had all sorts of schools in the gym at the high & mid major level recruiting me. Me having to go prove myself as a point guard at a community college after competing against these high major guards was the turning point for me in college. And after my season in Australia I learned a lot from my experience in Hungary which has allowed me to tap into a special zone right now”, warned Rayshawn Simmons.

                Rayshawn Simmons is a 25 year old 192cm guard from St Louis, Missouri that is playing his third professional season. He began his basketball career in St Louis where he already battled his good buddy Washington Wizard Bradley Beal in high school, but instead of going to a lower NCAA school, he decided to go to Moberly Area CC (NJCAA)  before making the jump to an NCAA program. He then did find the right NCAA fit and played at Central Michigan (NCAA) from 2013-2016 playing a total of 95 NCAA games. He was able to improve his scoring, rebounding and assists each season and as a senior played 33 games averaging12.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 5.0apg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 64.1%. Nothing was handed to him on a golden platter in school as working on his craft and getting daily motivation from teammate Chris Fowler did the trick for his game being able to grow. “I was working extremely hard there at Central Michigan. Chris Fowler, a fellow teammate was driving me every day to get better and be at the gym with him at 6am daily. We would compete against each other and push each other. We both were point guards who started together with another point guard so we knew we had to work extremely hard being smaller than most teams to be able to compete in the league & ultimately win a championship like we did. The mental aspect to my game profited most. I learned so much from Chris Fowler just in my approach to practices and games alone”, stated Rayshawn Simmons. The American got a little comical when it came time to revealing who really won those countless battles on the court. “I’m sure if you asked him he’d say him but the truth is me”, smiled Rayshawn Simmons. He had many memorable personal games like beating Penn or Toledo, but it was those intense rivalries against the other Michigan schools that he will never forget. “I would probably choose the game we beat Western Michigan and I took their best player out of the game, filled the stat sheet up nearing a triple double & making two free throws at the end to seal the game”, added Rayshawn Simmons. But nothing was more special than winning the MAC west division in 2015. “Winning that title and cutting down the net was one of my all-time favorite experiences. We had just finished our game to clinch the MAC West title and stayed in the gym instead of going to the locker room. The deciding game on if we win the whole conference was on the Jumbotron in our gym with all our fans still there watching with us”, added Rayshawn Simmons.  No matter what professional player you ask, 99% will have good memories and kind words for their college coaches. These are the men that groom and prepare tomorrows professional players and Keno Davis was spot on in getting Simmons to the professional level. “Coach Keno taught me how to be a pro and figure things out as a player on the court with his hands off approach. He gave me & Fowler more freedom than you could ever imagine a coach giving a player. He helped me fine tune some micro skills and he was big on numbers. Every practice and shooting workout was stated. This allowed me to take a precise look at areas I needed to improve on and notice the areas I was improving on or strong in”, warned Rayshawn Simmons. 

                After his stellar career at Central Michigan there was no doubt that he would turn professional, only getting that first gig wasn´t that easy as there was a lot of the red tape off the court that somewhat delayed his rookie season. “I had some G League teams interested in drafting me back in 2017. My agent at the time didn’t agree with me playing in the G League & didn’t allow me to go to a showcase in New York I had got invited to after summer league that year. I parted ways with him because he said he’d have a job for me in Europe by the time the showcase was over in August of that year. I’m all about being about your word & I also didn’t think it was best for me in my career to not keep all possibilities open. So parting ways with an agency that late I knew it would be hard for my agency I’m with now (Two Points) to find me a job. The draft came along I was passed on and I was blessed to get an opportunity that January. I never thought about throwing in the towel until being sent home from Hungary. That hurt me as a player and a person because I gave it my all and was trying to do everything I was asked. I learned most from that situation reaching rock bottom. I thought I’d get something before the New Year that year but didn’t and I took that pretty hard. Told my agent I wanted to go to Australia & now the rest is history”, added Rayshawn Simmons. In his rookie season with Orli Prostejov (Czech Republic-NBL) he averaged 11.9ppg, 4.5rpg, Assists-4(5.3apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 26.1%, FT: 71.2%. After living his whole life in the states, those first few weeks weren´t easy for the American as he remembered his wake up call to being in Europe and realizing just how far he was from home. “My wake up call that I was far far away from home was when I would be walking to the grocery store and trying to figure where something was and nobody being able to speak English to me. I had to use WiFi and google translate things that I wanted. I never used google translate a day in my life before then”, said Rayshawn Simmons.

                After a solid rookie season in the Czech Republic, he went back home and before getting that next gig in Europe, he suddenly breathed some NBA air as he had the unique opportunity to play NBA Summer League with the Washington Wizards. For anyone it would be the ultimate dream to play an NBA game, but just being able to lace up in the NBA Summer League was an unforgettable experience for the American. “ My experience with the Washington Wizards that year is one I’m forever grateful for. They brought me in on a workout as a fill in guy honestly and I had such a great workout that they brought me back for summer league training camp. At the end of summer league training camp it was time to make cuts. I didn’t know what to think when Scott Brooks called me into his office and 3-4 other guys had just been sent home before he called me in there. He sat me down & told me how I earned my spot on the summer league roster. He told me I changed the entire summer league camp with my leadership and hard work. I’ll never forget that organization giving me an opportunity to prove myself. I will forever be thankful for the experience. I got to play behind Deshaun Cooper & Nate Walters then the following year behind Kevin Pangos & Maalik Wayns. I learned so much from those guys as they are all playing top level ball in Europe or even had NBA stints. Each one of those guys took me under their wings”, stated Rayshawn Simmons. Just having this NBA experience is something he will never forget, but he also remembers seeing just how much of a business the NBA is. “The day coach Brooks called me into his office to tell me I made the team. I learned quickly how much of a business it was. I knew at the time I was just a G League level guy and not going to make a NBA roster. I’m optimistic but also honest with myself. I had worked out with some back up NBA guards that summer (Tyler Ennis & Langston Galloway) so I knew first hand how good those back ups were and I for sure wasn’t a starter. So he called me in his office to say I changed the camp and I made the team but he’s not sure how many minutes he’s going to be able to get me with the other two guys there”, stressed Rayshawn Simmons.

                The professional career of Simmons continued to have highs and lows after seeing the lows of finding a team late in his rookie season to gaining a high of rubbing noses with NBA players at the 2017 NBA Summer League, he experienced the next low as his second professional season was short and brief with Zalakeramia-ZTE KK (Hungary-A Division) as he played only 2 games averaging 7.0ppg, 4.5rpg, 9.0apg, 1.5spg. Despite the short stay, he still saw the experience as one that had a purpose and still kept him going on his basketball path. “In Hungary I was there for the entire preseason in which we went 8-2 beating teams in our league. I won preseason MVP in a tourney and was playing well. I was leading the league in assists there at 11apg but we had lost our first 2 games. My scoring numbers were low but there was a disconnect between coach and I because he was saying he wanted me to shoot the ball more but at the same time that I needed to be more unselfish. I wasn’t as aggressive as I should’ve been to score the ball and they wanted a guy to score more from that position then I was. They ended up bringing in a guy who the whole time I was there I was hearing they wanted to bring in the entire time but he was hurt earlier that season and preseason. It ultimately just wasn’t a match but I understood how it worked in that country as there’s a high turnover rate on rosters there. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity they gave me and for them sending me home honestly. It opened my eyes & drove me to the point I am now at in my career. I’d love to play against them one day but let’s hope I never do and just keep striding forward in my career. I played in Australia in March. This was where I was able to develop as a leader and work on specific things in my game. If it wasn’t for them sending me home in Hungary I probably wouldn’t have ever went to Australia to play which helped me more than anything in my career. I went to Australia because after leaving in November from Hungary and not signing in January anywhere I didn’t want to basically go a year without playing games”, added Rayshawn Simmons. But his sophomore campaign didn´t end in Hungary as he got a late season job down under with the Logan Thunder (Australia-QBL). The QBL isn´t the first division, but he gained the much needed self confidence in his game there which he has brought to Germany this season. In Australia he played 18 games averaging 12.6ppg, 4.1rpg, Assists-1(8.4apg), FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 76.2%. He looks back at his Down Under time as a period where everything fit in place on and off the court. “The experience was amazing and I loved it. The people were extremely welcoming and made me comfortable not just feeling like a machine or basketball player but a person. That allowed me to be more comfortable and do my job on the court a lot easier. When guys are happy off the court they tend to play better on the court. My fondest moment down under was our home quarterfinal game. Fans really came out and created one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in”, stressed Rayshawn Simmons. 

                After testing the basketball market´s in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Australia, his basketball agency Two Points did a great job landing him in Germany in the second division called Pro A with Team Ehingen. Last season it was American Davonte Lacy who made a name for himself as did German Kevin Yebo and this season that ticket belongs to Rayshawn Simmons. If things had worked out a little better and quicker last season, he would have been feeding the ball to Davonte Lacey in the winter of Germany instead of enjoying the amazing weather down under, but in the end everything turned out for the best. “Ehingen and me were a perfect match for each other. I needed a well respected league to go prove myself in and they needed a leader for their young guys. Coach Dom had contacted me back in January of last year about coming out to help the team but it didn’t work out. So when he contacted me again this summer it was almost a no brainer. Good league to showcase my talent and prove I can play at the next level. I can’t thank Ehingen enough for the opportunity they presented me with here and the freedom they give me to just go out and be myself every day in practices and games”, stated Rayshawn Simmons. It also didn´t take the American long for getting accustomed to German life. So often one hears the horror stories of guys playing in under developed basketball countries with terrible living conditions or not getting paid, but in Germany the basketball American is king. “I really appreciate how Americanized it is here in Germany compared to Eastern Europe. I love the style of play here, not too structured but not too much one on one. It’s a perfect mix and I think that’s important to have”, stated Rayshawn Simmons. The club started off slow, but since then have played well enough to be in the playoff range all season long. Many things are clicking for the team as they look to make the playoffs. “There’s no real secret. Except hard work and staying committed to one goal. Everybody on this team has a job so everybody needs to do their job. I think we had a great preseason and worked extremely hard. The first game of the season for us and the majority of our players was on the road vs a veteran team in front of a great fan base. We were tied with 6-7mins to go and I sprained my ankle, went out and tried to play through it the last 2mins. The 2nd game of the year I didn’t practice that whole week and played when I could barely walk. That threw off our rhythm for the game. So we started extremely slow but had a chance to win it late and tie it. Then the 3rd game was our first game of being back in a rhythm. We just didn’t execute our game plan on the road to the level we needed to in order to get a road win. It also didn’t help Kevin Yebo (one of the leagues best players) was in foul trouble all 3 of those games. We have a young team and every player, every coach, every practice, every shoot around we have is important for us to be successful”, warned Rayshawn Simmons. The team scores over 80 points and allows more than 80 points per game. It is obvious that they will have to improve on the defensive end to possibly make a run in the playoffs. “We’re a young team so there’s going to be defensive breakdowns from time to time but with experience throughout the season we will continue to fill those holes on defense. We just have to stay focused on the defensive game plan coach gives us and limit the times in games where it’s 3-4mins or even a quarter where we don’t execute the game plan. I think from game to game we’ve improved defensively for the most part so far. As long as we are improving game to game and playing hard then we can live with the results”, added Rayshawn Simmons.

                               Not only Simmons has been a key contributor to the success of Team Ehingen, but also his teammates. The club has four guys averaging scoring in double figures. Top team scorer and rebounder Kevin Yebo has been one of Germany´s biggest shooting star´s who still is extremely raw and off the radar. Only two years ago he was balling in the German Regionalliga(fourth division) in Limburg and now is on the verge of further greatness. Last season the German picked up All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro A Newcomer of the Year award and Simmons is totally elated with his game and success and also his game feeds off his buckets. “Kevin Yebo is one of the best players in the league. He has no real ceiling and I’m excited to see him continue to improve this year and in his career. He’s a special player with athleticism you just can’t coach or teach. He’s extremely coachable with an eagerness to learn and improve daily. I really appreciate his natural feel for the game. He knows when to cut, pop, screen and fill the lane with me on the break in transition. We work and play off of each other extremely well. He’s a special talent who works hard and is also a testament to Coach Dom´s track record of improving players”, warned Rayshawn Simmons. When your leading the Pro A in assists, it helps when you can find a long athletic guy like Yebo who lives on the rim, but also when you have that incredible sniper in Seger Bonifant. He is another guy totally underrrated, but one of the best shooters Germany has ever seen. The American can flat out shoot the ball as he demonstrated at W Liberty(NCAA2) shooting over 50% from downtown for three seasons and last season shot 48% from outside and currently is at 50%. “He’s another guy I feel like who was overlooked. Coach Dom did a tremendous job by putting together me, Kev, and Seger. We were all perfect matches who complimented each other’s game. Seger is the best shooter in the league in my opinion and the best in game shooter I’ve ever played with. I think he’s shooting it 50+% from 3pt range so far. Every shot he shoots I think it’s going to go in no matter where it’s from. He makes the game so easy for me. I literally just have to find him when he’s open or just drive it to his side of the floor and make defenders choose lay up or basically lay up (3pt shot) from him. If teams don’t deny him or put focus on him he’s liable to make 6+ 3pt shots on you. I think there was a game this year he scored 39pts. He can flat out beat you if you don’t focus on him”, warned Rayshawn Simmons. The American doesn´t have his favorites, but has been a great floor general for the whole crew and if he had to pay his respects to all of his teammates helping him get so many dimes, the dinner bill would probably be enormous. “I probably should get all the guys dinner honestly. Tanner Leissner doesn’t get the recognition he probably deserves but he defends guys bigger then him extremely tough every night & finishes around the rim just as good as anybody in the league. Tim Harsbergen is a deadly shooter and has a great feel for the game filling lanes in transition and cutting backdoor. I could go on and on down the whole team. Every player has a job and every player is extremely important. Coach also puts me in a position to succeed and play to my strengths. It’s a collective effort”, stated Rayshawn Simmons.

                The offensive game of Raysahwn Simmons is a mix of scoring and playmaking as it should be for a point guard. Growing up, the American was a fan of Steve Nash, Magic Johnson, Chauncey Billups, Rajon Rondo, and Jason Williams. “I try to incorporate a little something from every point guard I watch honestly. I’m a student of the game”, stressed Rayshawn Simmons. If one had to chose between a scoring or pass first point guard, he would take the latter. “Yeah, that would probably be fair. I honestly don’t think about passing or scoring just trying to make the right play and taking what the defense is giving me. My job as the point guard is to get the right people the ball in the right spots. I think I can lead with the best of leaders in the world and have the ability to make every single guy around me better. Also I can guard 1-3 and can take on defensive assignments taking an individual out of a game if asked to. I take it personal making sure the other teams point guards aren’t getting their averages. Point guards are judged on wins and losses so if I can force the opposing point guard under his averages then that gives my team a great chance to win”, said Rayshawn Simmons. The American has really been able to do a superb job of being able to be that lethal scoring threat and being that reliable playmaker this season as he has scored in double figures in 20 games and registered 10 assists or more in 16 games. There is a reason why his assist averages have risen as a professional in comparison to his NCAA days. “Here in Germany, Coach Dom put together a team that was perfect for my game and he run plays to my strength. He also allows me freedom to push the ball in transition and be a playmaker at times instead of just set play. He’s put bigs around me who are fast that can run the floor in transition, finish around the rim, and pop to make the 3pt shot. Then our wings are great spot up shooters who also fill the lanes in transition and great at slashing or backdoor cuts. Extremely unselfish guys that are all hungry to prove themselves and succeed. Australia was a similar team build to this team and Hungary I was surrounded by shooters and a great post up center in Ivica Radic”, warned Rayshawn Simmons. His offense has really been noticed in Germany, but there is another part of his game that he wish would finally appear on the basketball radar. “I think what I’m allowed to do defensively sometimes goes unnoticed. I can defend extremely well on & off the ball & guard multiple positions. I can also rebound the ball pretty well”, stressed Rayshawn Simmons. Currently he is averaging 11,7ppg, 3,6rpg and 9,2apg.

                Simmons has made a name for himself this season in the German Pro A and one can say this season has been his real break through as after this season he should continue to get good offers from teams in good leagues in Europe. If he can lead his team into the Pro A playoffs and even win a round, it would ultimately improve his future job offers tremendously. He may even remain in Ehingen who knows. Maybe his teammate Segr Bonifant could persuade him to remain during a yummy dinner of Zwiebelrostbraten and Spaetzle at their local restaurant in Ehingen. He has seen a lot in his career having some solid seasons in the NCAA at Central Michigan and has experienced growing pains in his first two professional seasons, but now has broken through in Germany. Sometimes he must look back on his high school days and wonders how his basketball path could of evolved with a little bit more luck and timing, but he will never be jealous of his good friend 2012 #3 NBA Draft pick Bradley Beal who has made a name with the Washington Wizards. There was a time during high school when Beal was with Chaminade College Prep and battled Simmons and the NBA player nailed 40 points and he dropped 33 points. It is only obvious that Beal remains Simmons toughest player that he ever played against at any level.  Many have said that that was one of the best high school games ever in St Louis, Missouri. Scoring wise not much separated them then, but now worlds do between the NBA and the Pro A. “Bradley Beal is like my brother. We’re best friends but I don’t think blood could have made us any closer. His family is my family and vice versa. We both have the same trainer (Drew Hanlen with Puresweat) and workout together and lift together with his older brother (Brandon Beal). We push each other every day in our workouts as athletes but also to be the best human beings we can be, which is the most important thing. We tell each other exactly how it is and when the other is wrong about something. It doesn’t get any more positive then that as a brother and a friend”, warned Rayshawn Simmons. Both friends Beal and Simmons were born in 1993 and one thing is sure, Beal has already reached the highest level with the NBA, but Simmons is only at the beginning and it will be interesting to see where his continued climb up the basketball ladder will take him. The American hasn´t questioned the unfairness of certain experiences in his career as he has kept a good head on his shoulders. “I know there’s been a plan and everything in my career has happened for a reason”, stated Rayshawn Simmons. With his huge talent, good confidence level and level head, Rayshawn Simmons will continue to climb the basketball ladder in the next years.

Toddrick Gotcher(Ifestos Limnou Greece-A1) Playing Your Role For Good Teams Is More Important Than Getting Your Stats

Toddrick Gotcher is a 26 year old 190cm shooting guard from Garland, Texas in his third professional season and first with Ifestos Limnou (Greece-A1). Last season he gained experience with Cholet Basket (France-ProA) playing 34 games averaging 9.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 68.5%. As a rookie he played with ASA Koroivos Amaliadas (Greece-A1) plying 26 games: Score-5 (12.9ppg), 5.8rpg, 2.2apg, Steals-4 (1.6spg), FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 61.3%. He began his basketball career at Lakeview Centennial High School and played 126 NCAA games at Texas Tech from 2011-2016 and as a senior played 32 games averaging 10.9ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 84.8%. He spoke to German Hopps about basketball.

Toddrick thanks for talking to You played a season in France and currently your second in Greece. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Perhaps your teammates Tyrone Brazelton, Sean Evans or Jerry Smith have told you about the BBL?

I have heard a lot of good things about Germany. Great country to live in and the basketball is a good league with great competition and very professional. I’ve talked to many of my teammates about the BBL and explained how much they liked the league during their time there. Some say my game fits in the league as well. 

Have you had any offers or interest from German teams in the last years? Is this a league that you would like to play in?

I have had some interest and offers from German teams. I really like the league from when I watch games and that is a league that may be a destination to play in for me if the opportunity fits. We will have to see what the future holds for me. 

Your playing your second season in Greece and this season with Ifestos Limnou (Greece-A). Talk a little about how cool it is playing for a team that moved up 4 leagues in six years. What do you appreciate most about playing for this club?

This year with Ifestos Limnou has been wonderful. This team is actually in its first year in the Greek league and the people around the organization have a big vision that we have bought into. I have to give credit to the coaches and management for making it happen and excelling in providing everything that we need as players. What I appreciate most about this club is the great fanbase and the people in the city of Limnos. We have a sellout every game and that has helped us win big games at home. 

The club is holding it’s own and battling for the playoff places. The club has some experienced and talented Americans as well as solid players from Greece. What has been the secret to the success so far?

We set a goal at the beginning of the season and the secret is that every player has bought in to what the club wants and we have come together as a team with our different abilities. It is great to see a team full of different backgrounds come together as one for a common goal.

Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure and how easy have the experienced point guards Jerry Smith and Tyrone Brazelton who have a combined age of 63 made your life on the court?

They are great teammates that really come to work hard every day in practice. Playing alongside these guys on the court is great and makes life easier for all of my teammates because of how good they are. Being in my third year, I have learned so much from these two guys about basketball and how to come to take care of business on and off the court. I really appreciate soaking in as much knowledge as I can from these guys. 

At the forward position there are two more very experienced guys at age 30 with Sean Evans and Antwaine Wiggins. How important have these guys been for the club and what do you appreciate most about their games?

I really appreciate these two guys also. They are great teammates and really do anything the team needs to be successful. They are a vital part to our success and bring exactly what we need from them every game. I appreciate their leadership qualities and hard work every day that sets the tone for us. 

Let’s talk about your game? You’re a 190cm guard and if you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit that description?

My game would be considered as a good 3 pt shooter that has good size at the guard position that can defend any position. I would like to tailor my game after three players that I love watching film on to see how they pick their spots. Those players are Eric Gordon, Bradley Beal, and CJ McCollum. High level scorers that score at all three levels on the court. 

In your last four seasons you have been near the 40% area from outside. Do you feel like you can be a 40% shooter from outside down the road and is it for you more mental or just getting up enough reps?

I definitely feel like I can be a consistent 40% 3pt shooter every year in my career. I think it is mostly mental. Of course you have to get up your reps too. But I know I have the ability to shoot because I have been doing it all of my life. But it starts with shot selection. Your shot selection usually determines the outcome of what your percentages will look like. 

What other strengths does your game encompass where nobody would ever dare that you are a one dimensional player?

I think a couple of my hidden strengths are taking care of the ball. Not having many turnovers and reading the game understanding defenses and trying to get to my spots. Trying to be the smartest guy on the court, both offensively and defensively. Also, being a physical defender is something that I am known for too. 

You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t always get noticed right away on the court?

My hidden strength that doesn’t get noticed would be my athleticism. I am not a guy that likes to dunk all the time. But I think that I am athletic in most parts of my game that goes unnoticed sometimes. and being a good rebounder as a guard.

On what specific things are you working on this season to help improve your game as you continue to go up the basketball ladder?

This season I am working on many things to continue to move up on the basketball ladder. My first would be to work on my pick n roll game a lot more and understanding the different ball screen defenses and what to look for. Next, would be my ability to get more consistent at making shots off the dribble in one on one situations. 

How big is the motivation to play against the two top teams in Europe Panathinaikos and Olympiakos? You have had some very good games against them. Is there any specific memory of one of the games?

It is always good playing Euroleague teams such as Panathinaikos and Olympiakos. They have great players, with great history. My greatest memory was my rookie season and we played Olympiakos my first game ever as a pro. I had a pretty good game against them, but that just gave me the confidence that I can play at a good level. 

Last season you played for Cholet Basket (France-ProA) playing 34 games averaging 9.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 68.5%. What kind of experience was it playing in the Pro A. How did your game progress in your second professional season?

My experience in France Jeep Elite (Pro-A) was amazing. My time in France is one that I will never forget. I learned a lot about European basketball playing in that league and understanding how playing your role for good teams is more important than getting your stats. I would encourage all young players that if you want to play for high level teams, that playing your role and always playing hard on defense is so vital to success in European basketball.

How did you witness the further basketball development of point guard David Michenau? He was drafted in 2016 by the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA,2rd (39). Is his drive still there to reach the NBA or has he accepted a career in Europe?

I witnessed David’s ambition and passion first hand. He definitely still has NBA on his mind by his work ethic. We battled in practice every day and we made each other better. He has NBA talent and showed it on the floor every day. 

Last season you played with one of my all-time favorite players Illian Evtimov who I have covered his whole career. What did you appreciate most about his presence on and off the court?

Illian was a great guy. Always lit up the locker room with his great jokes. Seriously one of the best shooters, I have ever seen. He could shoot the ball from anywhere. I appreciated the knowledge that he passed on to me and his positive attitude every day, no matter the circumstance.

Evtimov is a real movie buff. Did you get infected by his passion for movies or have movies also been something you never lost track of in your life?

Actually my teammates and I would go watch movies all the time with Ilian. I wasn’t much of a movie guy, more of a tv series guy but Ilian talked me into watching some of the movies that he recommended. 

As a rookie you played with ASA Koroivos Amaliadas (Greece-A1) playing 26 games: Score-5 (12.9ppg), 5.8rpg, 2.2apg, Steals-4 (1.6spg), FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 61.3%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Greece where you knew that you were very far away from home?

Playing in Greece as a rookie taught me a lot. It taught me to be mentally tough every day, especially being away from my family for the first time. Greece is a tough league to play in and I gained some good experience to help myself in the future. My wake up call from going from college to pro was the business aspect of it. Every day you have to bring your best and have a positive attitude. 

You had a great rookie season and was fifth in scoring. What did you learn from your game as a rookie that you didn’t know before that?

I learned that I can play with the best of players and I learned that I belonged. At Texas Tech, I played at a high level. But, now I understand how to get to my spots on the floor and how to play my role of whatever the team needs from me. 

Was your 29 point and 10 rebound effort against Trikallas your best game as a professional so far?

I would say that is my best game as a professional. That game I was feeling really good and thought every shot that I shot was going in. It was a good feeling and a big confidence booster. 

You played 5 years at Texas Tech. How vital was hanging on that extra season for your game to develop further?

Getting that 5th year really helped me develop into the player I am today. I can honestly say that if I did not get that 5th year, I would not be in the position I am in today. I became better at all aspects of my game. It also finished with going to the NCAA tournament that year which was huge for our university.

What stories do you remember hearing about Ronald Ross who graduated in 2004 and went on to have a stellar professional career which ended recently when he retired?

Ronald Ross is a true legend at Texas Tech. He had a great career both in college and professional. I watch some film of him sometimes and he still tells me stories of whatever countries he has been in. I workout at Texas Tech every summer and still get a chance to talk to him all the time. I remember many stories of him being one of the best Texas Tech players ever. His name is still talked about today. 

You had some very memorable games at Texas Tech (NCAA). What was your most memorable game? Perhaps your 17 points in the 63-62 win against Oklahoma State, or your 18 points I the 63-61 win against Oklahoma State, or the 24 points in the 71-61 victory against Oklahoma State. You had their number. 

Those were some great games that I had and I loved each and every one of them. My most memorable game was actually a game I did not play too well to my standards, but we beat #2 ranked Oklahoma at home and stormed the court. They went to the Final Four that year. It was a game that every player on the team played extremely hard and we came out with the win by one point. 

How did ex Kentucky (NCAA) head coach Tubby Smith groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

Tubby Smith not only groomed me as the best basketball player I could be but also as a man. He taught me things that I will use for the rest of my life. That is what makes him special. He has really prepared me for moments like the ones I live out today. He is a role model for me. 

Who won a one on one in practice you or Devaugntah Williams?

D- WIll and I always had one on one battles. We battled each other in practice every day making each other better. I would say we are even if we were to count the one on one games total. But he is a great player and continues to show now playing overseas. 

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?

The two toughest players that I battled were Buddy Hield and Andrew Wiggins. Those two were my assignments when we played them. But the best player that I played was Joel Embiid. He was not as polished as he is today but had nearly a triple double against us and was unstoppable.


If you had to pick your personal favorite starting five of teammates over the years which players would you chose?

-Markel Starks or Ty Brazelton (PG)
-Jerry Smith (SG)
-Ryan Evans or Haukar Palsson (SF)
-Roland Freimanis (PF)
-Sean Evans or Yancy Gates (C)

If you had to construct your very own NBA mount Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
-LeBron James
-Michael Jordan
-Magic Johnson
-Shaquille O’Neal

What is your personal opinion about the never ending debate of who is the greatest between Michael Jordan and Lebron James?

I am going with Lebron James with the slightest advantage. Lebron is the best basketball player I have ever seen. He can do literally everything. Jordan was unbelievable as well and I know the things he has done. But I am witnessing Lebron greatness as we speak. Plus he is not done yet. 

What was the last movie that you saw?

Last movie I saw was Through the Fire: Sebastian Telfair. One of the best basketball movies ever. 

Thanks Toddrick for the chat.

The Fraport Skyliners Get By Pesky Science City Jena 83-69

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber meeting ex NBA player Reggie Williams after the Fraport Skyliners win over Science City Jena

There are countless season highlights each season for the Fraport Skyliners with teams like FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin visiting them, and then of course other kind of random highlights that pop up during the season. A huge highlight this season was early in the season as Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert dueled and beat coaching legend and NBA and NCAA champion Larry Brown in a Eurocup match that he will never forget or the fans that were able to see this coaching dinosaur before he steps away form the game at age 78. Another massive highlight recently was the magical buzzer beater by Fraport Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson who sent home Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding who most likely had revenge on his mind and another reason to hang on another season in the BBL. The highlights didn´t stop there as another one emerged with the arrival of Science City Jena who continue to present countless BBL legends the last seasons as the guys don´t get any younger, but older and continue to age like fine win with 38 year olds Immanuel Mcelroy, Derrick Allen and Julius Jenkins who combined have 114 years of age. Not to mention 34 year olds Dru Joyce and Martynas Mazeika and 32 year old ex NBA player Reggie Williams round out the fabulous old man wrecking crew of Science City Jena. Old school BBL fans should thank head coach Bjoern Harmsen every day for keeping these legends playing in the easyCredit BBL. The old heads combined for 49 points and had Jason Clark impressed after the contest. “It´s crazy seeing them play like that. They are all in incredible shape and move well. They all still have it and probably will play until they can´t walk anymore”, smiled ex Georgetown(NCAA) native Jason Clark, The Fraport Skyliners came into the contest with a big win in Goetingen and a record of 8-12 and resting in 13th place and with big hopes of a big stretch run while Science City Jena were reeling off a bitter 76-74 loss in Bremerhaven and were in a fight to stay in the league having a 5-17 record and resting uncomfortably in 16th place. After 40 minutes Gordon Herbert strolled by me and just said, It wasn´t a pretty game”. And I replied “yes, but a win is a win”. The Fraport Skyliners played a hard game, defended well, controlled the offensive boards, hit the big three´s when they had to and got many of the loose balls while Science City Jena played with a lot of heart and effort, but just couldn´t get over the hump and that dreaded 10 point cushion in the second half. “This was a huge win for us. With two wins in a row, this will continue to boost our confidence. We had to fight until the end. They had a lot of experience and never gave up. We didn´t shoot the ball well in the first half, but we defended well. Huge tonight was getting many offensive rebounds and the loose balls as well”, stressed Jason Clark. After the loss Lebron James friend Dru Joyce reflected about the loss shortly before stretching. “Frankfurt did a good job attacking us on the offensive boards early. We defended well, but didn´t finish the possessions well. We have to do a better job of that. We continued to fight, but Frankfurt outplayed us”, stressed ex ratiopharm Ulm guard Dru Joyce.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Dru Joyce who he has covered for more than 10 years in Germany

                The Fraport arena looked like an international club game as not too many fans made the trip into the arena on a rare Wednesday night easyCredit BBL game, but nobody missed anything in the first few minutes. Both teams had massive problems on offense as shots weren´t falling. The Fraport Skyliners displayed their aggressive defense right away taking a quick 5-0 lead and stopped Science City Jena on their first six possessions. Ex Telekom Baskets Bonn center Johannes Wolfarth-Bottermann got aggressive right away getting Frankfurt´s first five points in the paint. Science City Jena finally got on the board for the first time at the 6,19 minute mark of the first quarter as ex Skyliner Derrick Allen snuck inside back door scoring a reverse lay up as they trailed 5-2. The Fraport Skyliners continued to have the momentum as ex South Dakota(NCAA) guard Tyler Larson stroked home a three for the 8-2 advantage for Frankfurt. However one can only slow down a team like Science City Jena for so long, because sooner or later, they will get going and did. They stepped up their defense and surprised Frankfurt with an annoying 9-0 run to get their first lead of the game at 11-8. In the run, they played sound team basketball getting a lay in from ex Vechta big man Oliver Mackeldanz as Derrick Allen gave him the shovel pass, a Julius Jenkins fast break jumper, and five points form ex Alba Berlin guard Immanuel Mcelroy. The guests were playing smart basketball and finding the open man better and getting better shots than Frankfurt. Frankfurt then got some needed energy from German big man Leon Kratzer with a basket and offensive rebound as he would carry that energy into the second half as Frankfurt led 14-13. “Both teams had problems with shots falling. Both teams defended well. We had a problem with their match up zone, but we got a better feel for it as the game went on”, stressed Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners shot 24% from the field and 13% from outside and had 13 rebounds and 2 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 40% from the field and 50% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 3 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber has been covering BBL dinosaur Derrick Allen for 15 years

                In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners started to pull away and lead in double digits and the guests would never get back into the game until partially in the fourth quarter. The Fraport Skyliners got going quickly going on a 12-2 run to extend their lead to 28-15. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners  received massive production from ex Baunach big man Leon Kratzer. He totally dominated the paint area and was simply all over the place. He scored six points and also swiped down a few of his 8 offensive rebounds on the evening. It also didn´t hurt that ex Alba Berlin guard Akeem Vargas dropped two three´s. Frankfurt also showed on a few occasions their special knack of being able to escape from precarious situations and recover well and get buckets. This was an ability that very much helped their game on this night. Here and there the guests showed some flashes of brilliance as ex Braunschweig big man Sid Marlon Theis made an offensive rebound and hook shot and ex Bonn guard Martynas Mazeika scored a lay in to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 28-21. But Frankfurt didn´t let these small flashes deter their game as here and there they were rewarded with Jena mistakes including a technical by head coach Bjoern Harmsen which ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson used to his advantage scoring three free throws. Down the stretch, the Fraport Skyliners closed out the second quarter going on a 9-4 run to lead comfortably 37-25 at the break. Frankfurt got a pull up jumper from Jason Clalrk and a lay in from Wolfarth-Bottermann while Science City Jena received two clutch baskets from ex Akron(NCAA) guard Dru Joyce. “Leon Kratzer was huge for us. He is a big difference maker with his size, length and natural rebounding skills. He helped us get a lot of extra possessions with his offensive rebounds. We continued to defend well even if our shots weren´t always falling”, stressed Jason Clark. The Fraport Skyliners shot 32% from the field and 28% from the three point line and grabbed 25 rebounds and had 5 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 35% from the field and 20% from the three point line and got 20 rebounds and had 7 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewed Immanuel Mcelroy for the first time after he helped lead the Rhein Stars Cologne to the BBL cup win in 2005.

                In the third quarter , The Fraport Skyliners continued to have that nice double digit cushion lead and led by as much as 16 points. Even if the Fraport Skyliners got on the board first with a coast to coast lay in from Larson, they knew that they could never coast for a few minutes and not get punished. Even at times when they defended ok, they still were beat by the guests as they went on a mini 4-0 run to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 39-29 as Derrick Allen who still has the ballerina moves like 10 years ago in Frankfurt hit a turnaround shot and Immanuel Mcelroy still displayed speed going coast to coast for the bucket. Every now and then Frankfurt would beat Jena with their youth as Clark went coast to coast making a hard dunk as 29 years of age beat 38 years of age. Even when Jena played their match up zone, Frankfurt found ways to beat it as Finish national player Shawn Huff and Jason Clark dropped trey´s for the 48-33 advantage. Then there came a span where the teams hit three consecutive three´s as Vargas connected as did Jenkins and Joyce, but Jena was unable to make much ground trailing 51-39. Both teams had certain bench contributors like ex Arizona State guard Tra Holder hit a three and Theis snuck into a passing lane made the steal and went coast to coast with a two handed jam. The Fraport Skyliners kept the healthy lead as down the stretch, and it was Larson making big shots to keep Frankfurt in double digits leading 65-50. “Jena made more mistakes which gave us added possessions. As our defense began to roll our confidence grew as did it when more shots began to fall”, stressed Jason Clark. “Frankfurt hit their three´s better. We lost too many balls and couldn´t recover the 50/50 balls. You can´t have kick balls on the road. We had to be more alert”, stressed Dru Joyce. The Fraport Skyliners shot 40% from the field and 32% from the parking lot and had 31 rebounds and 7 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 43% from the field and 38% from the parking lot and had 26 rebounds and 12 turnovers.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Ronald Roberts who he interviewed recently meet in Frankfurt

                In the fourth quarter, Science City Jena made a little run, but couldn´t get over the hump as the Fraport Skyliners closed out the game in style. Science City Jena found some offensive daylight early attacking the Frankfurt from outside going on a 11-3 run to cut Frankfurt´s advantage to 68-61. They got three three´s from Mcelroy, and two from Theis while Allen scored in the paint. Science City Jena relied on the three and were rewarded and in this run also played some scrappy trap defense which totally surprised Frankfurt and brought them out of their rhythm. After a Frankfurt time out, they calmed down and moved the ball better and went on a 5-0 run as Clark connected on a trey and Huff scored inside as suddenly the Fraport Skyliners led more comfortable 73-61. Science City Jena continued to fight as they knew every new loss would diminish their chances in the fight to stay in the league. Dru Joyce answered with a lay in to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 73-63. Then came the turning point of the game which poured an early dagger into the heart of Jena. On Frankfurt´s possession, they crashed the boards and seemingly felt like they had grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, but in reality it was something like 4-5 which kept the possession alive. In the end a loose ball got to Jason Clark in the corner and he fired away for the crushing three and 76-63 lead. Joyce did counter with a three to cut Frankfurt´s lead to 76-66, but a fierce 7-0 Frankfurt run dashed the hopes of Science City Jena. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners got consecutive steals from Huff and Larson which led to a Huff bucket and Robertson three pointer. Larson also scored. 29 year old 11 year Science City Jena German Ermen Reyes-Napoles hit a trey at the buzzer, but it was too little too late as the Fraport Skyliners had won their second game in a row and kept their playoff hopes alive. “They hit a lot of tough shots. My three pointer and the sequence of offensive rebounds hurt them. If we hadn´t got those rebounds and they had scored, it could have been a different game. We did a good job crashing the boards”, stressed Jason Clark. “We gave them too many offensive rebounds and couldn´t clean up our possessions. The more opportunities that you give them, the better chance they will have to convert. Their guards and big men played well”, stressed Dru Joyce. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Tyler Larson with 18 points. Jason Clark added 13 points, Shawn Huff had 11 points and Leon Kratzer produced 10 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes. Science City Jena was led by Dru Joyce with 17 points while Immanuel Mcelroy added 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 38% from outside and had 45 rebounds and 11 turnovers while Science City Jena shot 45% from the field and 50% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 16 turnovers.