Lischka And Scott Watch As The Young Kids Propel Giessen To Come Back 84-82 Victory Over The Fraport Skyliners Juniors

Marco Voeller and Philipp Hadenfeld moonlighting as coaches!!!

It was May 6 and usually around this time, Pro B playdown teams have already been on summer vacation for weeks, but on account of Covid cases, the season was prolonged as the last game day of the Playdown schedule games were still to be played. The Pro B North playdowns had a real exciting do or die game in Bernau as young team Dragons Rhondorf were battling to remain in the Pro B and needed a win badly. While more than 500 kilometers away in Frankfurt, there was another Pro B playdown game, but it was meaningless as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos had already had been saved and were playing for pride. For fans seeing a warrior like Johanes Lischka is always worth it while on the Frankfurt side seeing all the young bucks one more time in the season was also a delight. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors controlled the first half, but got weaker in the second half allowing the Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos to gain confidence and a better rhythm and getting the come from behind 84-82 win. After the loss Skyliner Junior guard Matthew Meredith seemed perplexed as of how they gave away the game. ‘We had a good first half, but the second half was back and forth. They came back got the lead and then we would get the lead again until they got it at the end and won. Positive today was putting our big men Samare and Richardson into good position to score off the mismatches’, stressed Matthew Meredith. It was one of those games where Giessen could go into summer vacation with a big smile on their faces. ‘We came out slow giving up 31 points. But we improved our defense allowing only 19 points in the second quarter. We continued to pick up our game from there. We knew it would be a super hard fought game. I’m super proud of the guys. This is the best group of young Germans that I have had as teammates in Germany. They played hard and wanted to be good’, stressed Giessen guard Montrael Scott.

Alexander Richardson at the FT line

The Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed their total offensive arsenal in the first quarter jumping all over the Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos leading 15-4 after only a few minutes. Frankfurt did a super job getting their bigs Jordan Samare and Alexander Richardson involved as they combined for 8 points while ex Nurnberg guard Matthew Meredith supplied 5 points and ex Ehingen forward Nils Leonhardt had a lay in. The way Frankfurt was playing in the first few minutes was as if they were on a leisurely Sunday stroll in the park. The ball movement was great, their transition game was working and on defense, they were anticipating well and getting into passing lanes forcing turnovers. Giessen couldn’t muster any real offense as they were playing with many young Germans and a few extra NBBL (U-19) players except for ex German national player Johannes Lischka who got two buckets using his massive strength to his advantage. Frankfurt kept on the pressure on offense and continued to get good execution from their bench. Three and D player Risto Vasiljevic hit a trey and little used athletic wing player Isaac Obanor scored twice inside including a beautiful lay in from the corner by getting by two players and then making a fancy reverse lay up. ‘We always see him making shots like that in practice. He especially likes to do it with his left hand’, stated Matthew Meredith. Giessen executed better on offense, but couldn’t keep pace with Frankfurt because of Frankfurt’s great start. Giessen got two baskets from young German Tristan Goebel, but still trailed 31-19 after 10 minutes. Frankfurt was shooting hot at 72% from the field and 60% from outside while Giessen was doing everything inside being at 52% from the field. Frankfurt also had the rebound and turnover advantage. ‘Everything worked for us. We hit shots and were in rhythm. We really wanted to win’, said Matthew Meredith.

Johannes Lischka with a fade away

In the second quarter Giessen was able to find better to their game limiting Frankfurt to less points and also having a better execution rate on offense. German Tim Schneider began with a three pointer, but Frankfurt came roaring back going on a 7-2 run to up their lead to 38-24. Frankfurt continued to look for Alex Richardson who was a brute against the young Giesen big guys making a transition lay in and offensive rebound and put back, while Samare showed again why he is a modern big man hitting a trey. Lischka came back scoring two baskets in a row while Frankfurt got further production inside by Samare and Richardson with lay ins as Frankfurt led 42-30. Frankfurt was displaying fine team basketball as everyone got their touches and also got easy baskets. But Giessen stayed on Frankfurt’s door step keeping pace and cutting down their lead a bit before the break. They got two key baskets from scoring machine Montrael Scott who played the last two seasons in Schwelm and two baskets from NBBL player Finn Doentgens. Frankfurt was able to keep the 50-42 advantage at the break with points from Richardson and Meredith. Both teams had problems from outside shooting a combined 6/25, but from the field were better than 50%. Frankfurt had the slight 17-16 rebound edge. ‘We kept executing pretty well on offense, but lost some intensity on defense allowing more easy baskets’, expressed Matthew Meredith.

Alexander Richardson with the lay in

In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors lost more focus and allowed the guests to shortly take their first lead only to lose it again. Frankfurt began well getting a trey form Vasiljevic, but then prompt gave up a Giessen 7-0 run to lead 55-49. In the run, Giessen continued to get clutch game from Johannes Lischka who scored twice as well as a three pointer from German Sebastian Brach (190-G-2002). Frankfurt wanted to get away again and got a mini 5-0 run to lead 58-49 as Alvin Onyia tested his 24% three point percentage scoring and Leonhardt made a pretty back door cut and scored off the Meredith pass. Frankfurt’s defense just wasn’t there anymore as they couldn’t get a double figure lead anymore. Frankfurt then allowed a bitter 12-0 run as some open three’s from Brach and Scott as well as a lay in from 19 year old 216cm center Philipp Keile and free throws from Scott and Schnieder gave Giessen their first lead of the contest 61-60. But Frankfurt rebounded well from their lapse on defense closing out the third quarter with a 8-2 run to regain the lead 69-62. When Frankfurt wants to, they can be a real menace on offense. They have the weapons and used them as Samare nailed another three pointer, Meredith hit a jumper, Obanor a reverse lay up and Richardson a dunk off a perfect lob pass from Meredith. ‘We lost rhythm. Lischka does a good job playing on contact. He really has a good touch. You can try to take some of his moves for your own game’, added Matthew Meredith. ‘It was our last game and we just continued fighting’, said Montrael Scott. Both teams shot over 50% from the field and over 30% from outside while Giessen had taken control of the boards 25-22 and had the 7 to 3 offensive rebound edge.

Montrael Scott at the FT line

In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had the lead, but couldn’t put away Giessen properly, but instead allowed them to hang around and bite them in the butt in crunch time. Giessen just continued to chip away at the Frankfurt lead and began with an annoying 8-3 run to trail only 72-70. Lischka was aggressive scoring 6 points with 4 on free throws. Giessen also got a lay in from David Amaize. Frankfurt then got a lay in from Alexander Richardson for the 74-70 advantage. Frankfurt kept the lead briefly Meredith proved he could take responsibility and executed scoring twice giving Frankfurt the 79-74 lead with two minutes to go. It was the last game of the season and Giessen head coach Patrick Unger was bold and sat Lischka and Scott and allowed the kids to take control. And how they did as they put on a show for Lischka and Scott closing out the game in OMG style scoring 10 unanswered points to win the game as Frankfurt scored no more points. Sebastian Brach was the hero scoring 7 points. He began with a lay in which was followed by a vital trey from Tim Schneider to dead lock the game at 79-79. A Meredith miss led to a three by Brach for the 82-79 lead. Brach then followed with an aggressive drive from the baseline and bucket for the 84-79 lead to decide the game. Richardson followed with an and one lay in at the buzzer, but it was too little too late. ‘It was fun to watch the young guys play well. They really showed that they wanted to win. I always told them to play hard and have fun’, warned Montrael Scott. ‘We lost rhythm and our desire at the end. We weren’t disciplined on defense giving up three’s and a lay up’, stated Matthew Meredith. The Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos were led by Johanes Lischka with 20 points while Sebastian Brach and Montrael Scott added 15 points apiece. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Alexander Richardson with 24 points while Matthew Meredith added 18 points and Jordan Samare 14 points. Giessen shot 48% form the field and 28% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 12 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 49% from the field and 26% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 12 turnovers.

Jaleen Smith Knows Alba Berlin Will Be Sharp Going Into The Playoffs and Not Feeling Rust Like Other Teams Will With The Long Break

Jaleen Smith (193-PG-1994, college: UNH) is a 27 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that is playing his fifth professional season and first with Alba Berlin. He played the last two seasons with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg averaging 15.2ppg, 5.0rpg, Assists-3 (5.3apg), Steals-2 (1.8spg), FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 87.5%; and 10.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 82,8% the season before. In 2018-2019 he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,7ppg, 3,9rpg and 2,7apg. In his rookie season with New Hampshire (NCAA) from 2013-2017 where he played a total of 120 NCAA games. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season and as a senior he played 32 games averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He spoke to after the crushing 109-80 win over Giessen.

Thanks Jaleen for talking to Congrats on the win over the Giessen 46ers. How weird is it still playing while other teams are already on summer vacation or playoff teams waiting for the playoffs to start?

Seeing other teams play was kind of hard to watch because you can see the players are ready to be home but they have to finish the season. I understand especially when you don’t have any playoff hopes left in any of the games.

There will be teams like Hamburg, Bonn and Bamberg that will have a two week rest while Alba Berlin and FC Bayern Munich will be playing right up to the start of the playoffs? An advantage or disadvantage for Alba Berlin?

I think it’s an advantage because we will be sharp playing right into the playoffs as for other teams are going to be rusty getting back into games.

How important is it to face teams like Giessen and Braunschweig before you have the real test against FC Bayern Munich right before the playoffs start? How key will added self-confidence be for the team going into the playoffs?

Building up our self confidence is going to be huge going into playoffs because having everyone feeling good and ready for the games is going to be key to us making a run in playoffs.

Alba Berlin played it’s typical fine offensive game scoring 61 points in the first half, but also gave up 43 points against Giessen. Isn’t that too much against a poor team like that?

We took Giessen for granted because 2 of their best players weren’t with them and they came out and showed character and gave us a fight in the first quarter.

Giessen Germans scored the first 13 Giessen points. German talent Bjarne Kraushaar had 10 points. Was he a little off your radar this time?

Having the best players out it caused him to step up and he hurt us in the first quarter. He got an opportunity and took advantage of the chance.

How good did it feel hitting back to back three’s in the second quarter. You have been shooting the three ball pretty well as of late.

These are shots I’ve been working on during and after practice. I’m just glad I’m hitting my stride at the right time.

You were leading by 25 points after three quarters. Were you surprised that their depleted roster that was without key players Kendale Mccullum and Nuni Omot still had so much energy?

They came out in the first and second half making everything and playing with a lot of confidence which is dangerous with any team.

You didn’t play once against Kendale Mccullum this season who had a decent personal season despite playing for Giessen. He is also a guy that made it to the top from the Pro A. Does sometimes not having that duel weigh more than against a top player?

I would’ve love to match up with him. I have heard nothing but good things about him and he does little bit of everything for his team. He is the next great guard that is a product of the Pro A division.

Even though the team allowed 80 points you still forced 22 turnovers. Was this one of those games where you experimented with certain defensive schemes?

We stuck to what we always do nothing changed with our defense. We just wasn’t focused to give up 80 points to this team.

We have talked about Oscar Da Silva in the past. How vital is his character intelligence for his development. This guy could easily be a starter on any team, but sometimes plays only 14 minutes, but continues to be so efficient. Can a younger guy like this be a role model even for a veteran like you?

His development alone is crazy to see. He’s always working on his game and even now with the minutes he plays he’s contributing.

Oscar Da Silva had another inspiring game with 16 points and 5 boards in 18 minutes. Would you inspire him to play NBA Summer League again?

I would because his projection as a player is going to the NBA. On how long that would take is all about opportunity and he deserves a chance.

Alba Berlin also allowed young German point guard Nils Machowski to play his second BBL game. He will be dueling in the German U-19 final 4 in 3 weeks. How talented is he?

He is a very talented guard from what I’ve heard. I haven’t seen him play too much to talk about him but him coming into the game and being aggressive as he was on offense shows how much confidence he has in his game.

One guy we haven’t talked about ever is German Jonas Mattisseck. He had his best scoring game with 19 points. Is he a guy that has continued to be able to develop his basketball IQ playing in the Alba Berlin system?

The thing now for Jonas is his confidence I seen him do stuff in practice that is like ‘wow I didn’t know he could do that’ I feel like the more confidence he has in his self and his game the sky is the limit for him.

You had a very solid game with 16/4/7/4 stats in 24 minutes. Was this game also one of those opportunities that allows you to experiment with your game?

I’m just still trying to get better as the season comes to an end and get ready for the playoffs coming up.

What is the team’s biggest goal to do in the last two games besides win the games in preparation for the playoffs?

First our goal is to be healthy going into the playoffs with no injuries. Second to having everyone feeling good and confident before the playoffs start so everyone is having that ‘feel good’ feeling.

Do you believe that FC Bayern Munich’s loss against FC Barcelona will make them more hungry? What do you believe was missing from them reaching the Final 4?

I think it’s tough to win in Barcelona against a really good team like that. I think Barcelona made a lot more plays to win the game and in those games that is what it comes down to. They will be more hungry to win the BBL Championship for sure. We just have to be ready for what’s ahead.

Since playing NBA Summer League for the Phoenix Suns, have you become a fan of the team? How hungry are they to win the NBA title this season?

I think Chris Paul wants this championship more this year just tasting the Finals for him wasn’t enough. HE WANTS A CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!

Do the Memphis Grizzlies have any chance against the Golden State Warriors? Can one single guy like Ja Morant carry a team past Steph and Co?

I think it will be tough now especially since they are going to be on the road. The Warriors are a tough team to beat at home in the playoffs.

How do you see the east shaping up? Can Boston get by Milwaukee and how far will Miami go?

Right now it looks like Miami and Milwaukee will meet in the Conference final again. I have Miami going to the Finals again and getting past Milwaukee.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Star Wars: The Revenge of The Sith.

Thanks Jaleen for the chat


The Slick Finnish Saying Everybody Eats Some Porridge Helped Elias Valtonen Focus While Helping Baxi Manresa Beat FC Barcelona

Elias Valtonen (200-SF-1999, college: Arizona St., agency: Blacktop Management) is a 22 year old 201cm forward from Finland that is playing his first season in Spain with Baxi Manresa (ACB Spain) currently averaging 7.1ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 72.4% in the ACB. Last season he played in Germany with the Tigers Tuebingen and averaged 15.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.1spg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 61.0%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 80.2%. He played with Arizona State University (NCAA) playing 38 games from 2019-2021. He began his basketball career with UU-Korihait Uusikaupunki (Korisliiga). He then played He then played 3 seasons and 71 games for HBA-Marsky Helsinki (1st Division) and in his last season played 31 games averaging: 14.6ppg, 5.4rpg, 2.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 74.7%. He spoke to before the Basketball Champions League Final 4 game against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.

Thanks Elias for talking to Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?

Currently I am in Manresa and preparing for this weekends Final Four in Bilbao. Basketball life is treating me very well

Your playing your first season in Spain in the ACB with BAXI Manresa. How much is it like night and day the difference between the German Pro A and ACB?

I think the difference is big like it should be as well. I think the biggest difference is playing styles. Like in Germany Pro A it was more physical, almost felt like wrestling some days, here in Spain the game is more fast paced and tactical, which for me makes it one of the best domestic leagues in Europe.

Manresa is playing an incredible season in the ACB. What has been the secret to the success? It seems like even though the team allows many points, they often are able to score even more points consistently.

There is not one ‘secret’. I think its just our playing style in where all the players have bought into since the beginning. We are a well coached team where we have established very clear roles and work hard every day.

The team only have two Americans and many guys from other countries. How key has the many nationalities been for the success of the team?

For us it doesn’t matter where people comes from as long as we all play for each other. And we do. We have great chemistry in the locker room.

You have much experience and have seen much in your early basketball life, but still I doubt nothing tops beating FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in a season. How quickly were you able to understand what the team had done?

Yeah I am not going to lie that those wins were very big for me and this whole club. But during the season we have understood that playing our game we have chance to do it.

What memories will you always have from the exciting 96-95 win over FC Barcelona? What were you thinking being in the starting 5 and getting ready for the jump ball?

I didn’t have much in my mind. I just prepared like in every other game. In Finland we have a saying that ‘everybody eats same porridge’ so I just kept saying that to myself and tried to challenge the opponent the best way I could.

You had a super 14/7 game in the big win over Real Madrid. What kind of an experience was it being aware of defensive stopper Walter Tavares in the paint area?

Playing against guys like him is an honor and I just try to take advantage of those opportunities. Luckily the game started to go well for us and we kept playing without extra pressure.

What kind of experience has it been being teammates with American Luke Maye? He was at North Carolina and you at Arizona State. Have you guys shared some NCAA stories?

Its been awesome experience. He is such a cool dude and I love hanging out with him also outside of the basketball court. We do talk a lot about college ball and life in the States in general as well. So I think that’s something what connects us.

Your averaging 7/2 stats in 22 minutes in the ACB. What was the biggest adjustment for you coming from the German Pro A?

I think it’s been the pace of the game. Also decision making in different situations

Your continuing to shoot the ball really well from outside. You stated once you need to be more consistent in order to reach the next level. How have you seen the development of your shot this season playing against stiffer competition and the best players in the world?

You are right and I still have to keep having focus on that. I have done it fairly well in the ACB but Champions League I could have been better behind the arc. Overall I think I am going to the right direction as a shooter

Your biggest strength is your versatility. How have you been able to use this asset best in the ACB especially on your team where you have so many talented players?

I think so. I try to help the team in different aspects. Sometimes being a threat on offense, playing solid defense or doing those things is what we need in different games.

You once said this about your defense. ‘I take pride on my mach-ups. Basketball is a game of small matches and I feel like if you win those small battles more you have good chance to win. I think when I am active on defense I can force people to take tough shots and get steals’. How have you seen your defense progress in the ACB? What has been the biggest challenge coming from the Pro A?

I have developed as a defender here as well. For example positioning, pick and roll defense etc. Here players are more skilled to draw fouls on you and sometimes in Pro A officials didn’t whistle hand checks or body fouls that easy.

How excited are you to be playing at the 2022 Euro championships? Finland beat Slovenia recently that had strong players for the game. What can we await from Finland at the tournament?

Yeah we showed that our younger generation can play in that level and now it’s just time to compete there again and do those same things in the European Championships. We have good combo of more experienced and younger player

Finland has a lot of experience, but how is the state of the younger generation? What young player should we keep an eye on?

Miro Little is one of those players who got playing time in the last window with the National Team already at very young age. I think he has a bright future and I am looking forward to play with him again

You have the opportunity to win the Basketball Champions League this weekend. First you have to get by the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. Tuebingen isn’t to far away from Tuebingen. Were you able to visit games last season?

Yeah I had the chance to play against them once last year in preseason as we played a friendly match in Ludwigsburg.

What is your impression of the MHP Riesen? They have a real fox as coach with John Patrick, Have a loaded roster and play very aggressive defense for 40 minutes. What will be key to advancing to the final?

You said it. Its about that. They have an aggressive and physical playing style and we have to be ready to answer to that. But it’s about small things like always and playing the basketball we have played all season.

How proud are you of your ex team Tigers Tuebingen? They have been the big surprise of the season. Head coach Danny Jansson has formed an incredible team with great chemistry. What caught your eye most last season concerning his coaching abilities?

I have been following them actually quite a lot this year and I am very happy for the whole team and how they are doing. Danny has just kept going with his project we started last year and the results are already showing. He has continued to develop young players very well.

Ryan Mikesell only played 2 games last season, but this season has exploded in the Pro A. Could he be the second Tiger within two years to make the jump to the ACB?

I know Ryan from last year and talked to him this year few times. I hope he is the next. He is a great fundamentally sounded player and leader and his ambitions are also very clear.

You live in a very beautiful place with Manresa. What have you appreciated most about living in Spain?

I like Manresa a lot. Its not too big but not too small either. Barcelona is very close and here is everything you need. Its about the same size of Tubingen. But the most I have appreciated are the people here. Our fans are amazing.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Red Notice.

Thanks Elias for the chat.

Trevion Crew´s Unending Self Confidence Gives Him That Mindset Of Always Wanting To Dominate

TreVion Crews (183-PG-1996, college: Bethel, IN) is a 26 year old 183cm guard from Fort Wayne Indiana recently played his first season overseas with German club PS Karlsruhe playing 17games averaging 12.6ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 59.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 91.3%. He also gained experience with the Fort Wayne Vision (MBL). He began his college ball at Jackson College and then played at Bethel College, Indiana from 2018-2021 playing a total of 98 games. He put up insane stats of 20.3ppg, 8.5rpg, 5.6apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 38.4%, FT: 81.8%,, 23.1ppg, 5.5rpg, 5.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 42.7%, FT: 90.6% and 24.6ppg, 5.2rpg, 5.0apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 86.2%. He spoke to about his basketball career.

Thanks TreVion for talking to Straight from the NAIA to Germany. Do you feel like your living the ultimate Cinderella story? You must be aware that very few NAIA guys have reached the Pro A level?

Oh yea absolutely! Like I said my journey to get to where I’m at has been amazing and each day I just stay consistent and control what I can control! Yes I am aware, but there is a lot of talent at the NAIA level!

What besides a giant chip on your shoulder and immense hard work has allowed you to keep progressing in your basketball career?

Two things, the love for the game and my family! Without a doubt if I wasn’t getting paid to play I would still try to compete because I just love it so much and it’s a part of me, and my family has been there for me through all my hardships and all my trials so they keep me level headed!

Since COVID emerged you were in the States and Romania. What were the biggest challenge for you on and off the court during the pandemic?

I didn’t go to Romania! But the biggest challenge in the states would have to be finding gyms with a consistent schedule! It was hard to get on courts and get in different locations because some places wasn’t allowing 2-3 people at once, so I struggled during that time trying to find a gym!

With all that you experienced during COVID, how do you believe did you get stronger as a man?

Covid allowed me to be more organized in what I was doing! I had a schedule, I had a diet, and I had a plan and I stuck with that plan for a while now so it helped me grow in that area!

You played your rookie season with German Pro A club PS Karlsruhe. What did you know in general about Germany and it’s history and basketball?

I didn’t know much about Germany so that’s why I was excited to come over and check it out! It’s a beautiful place, it’s a great league to be in and I’m happy I got this opportunity!

I can imagine you have heard about the Cinderella story of Cameron Hunt who played at Southwestern KS? You had a very exciting last months. Do you have immense self confidence coming to begin your pro career in a very competitive second division after having a G-League work out?

I’m not familiar with Cameron Hunt story!

You had insane stats in the NAIA. With what kind of a mind did you go into your rookie season in Germany?

Yes I would have high confidence in myself even if I didn’t train in the GLEAGUE! I’m just a confident player and I work on my craft and I’m confident that things will translate. My mindset will be how it always is, Dominate! Any opportunity I get to take the floor and lace up my shoes I want the world to know who I am and what I’m capable of so I must be a dominant player from start to finish! If I play hard and do what I’m supposed to do the stats will speak for themselves!

Let’s talk about your game. You have a game similar to Chris Paul. To what other NBA players would you compare your game to?

Yea I would also say Damian Lillard in terms of shooting the NBA 3 off the dribble and change of speeds to get to my spots

You have the complete package as a player. With you being so versatile, would you say that that is your biggest strength?

Yes absolutely, being able to do multiple things on the floor is a blessing and it makes it hard for teams to guard and scout against me!

How much pride do you take on the defensive end? What is your biggest strength there?

I take a lot of pride in defending I think it shows a lot of heart to do so much offensively then turn around and stop your man from scoring! My strength would have to be my quick hands and how strong I am!

On what area’s of your game are you working on most now so that your game can continue to progress?

Being more vocal as a leader is an area I’m constantly growing in! I’m great at leading by example but at times I need to speak up and allow the team to hear my voice

Last summer you were in for a try-out with the Indiana Pacers. What kind of an experience was that seeing that NBA atmosphere at close hand? With what kind of a feeling did you leave there?

I actually did a pre draft workout for the Indiana Pacers! But the atmosphere was amazing, everything was professional and on time and I enjoyed it very much!

You were a bit nervous, but still held your own. What key advice did you get from the coaching staff?

Yes I was super nervous but one of my mentors/close friends told me that I’m not even supposed to be there so that alone helped me relax my mind and my body and to just leave everything out on the floor!

There you battled Kyle Mangas a guy you met often in the NAIA level. Was he able to help you reach another level in your game with all the times you played him and at the NBA workout? Do you continue to follow his path? He is playing a very good rookie season in the Czech Republic.

Yes playing against other great players will always bring the best out of you so having him at the workout was great! Yes I follow him still he is putting up great numbers in the league he’s in!

After high school you played with the Fort Wayne Vision (MBL). What kind of an experience was it being a boy playing with men?

Playing with the Vision was great, my uncle (Carlos Derrick) is actually the head coach so he made it a little smoother for me by teaching me everything I needed to know about the league! It definitely helped me get better as a player playing against men!

You then played a year at Jackson College (NJCAA). How did your game grow there and prepare you for your next step in the NAIA?

I got the privilege to be coached by an ex-NBA player Carl Thomas so that in itself was amazing and he allowed me to become more of a scorer then I was used too! He gave me a lot of knowledge as well and I learned a lot from playing for him!

You then played at Bethel University, Indiana (NAIA) from 2018-2021. You scored in double figures in 95 of 98 games. That’s incredible. What kind of rapid steps did your game make there?

I was ready, plain and simple! I had been prepping myself playing against great talent since I came out of high school so once I stepped on the college floor I was ready to show who I was!

You had so many incredible games including having 5 40 plus games. What was your most memorable game there?

That’s tough, I can’t choose 1 game but I’ve had a lot of great games against Indiana Wesleyan, Mount Vernon, and Spring Arbor!

How did head coach Steve Drabyn groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

Coach Draybn helped me hold myself accountable off the court! He was the guy who could careless about you as an athlete but more of you as a person! That translates to being a professional by being organized and doing the little things off the court professionals need to do to stay ready!

Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Zac Owens?

I always torched Zac! But no he is a great player, we’ve gotten so much closer as brothers since he came to Bethel!

Who was the toughest player that you faced that reached the NBA?

Kay Felder or VJ Beachem

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Terrell Crews, Treyvon Covington, Lowell Griggs, Demarien Smith, Ed Dyson

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Lebron, Wade, Steph Curry, Shaq, Kobe

What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

I think Lebron is the greatest hands down! The teams he was able to get to the finals, the stats don’t lie, all that stuff shows he’s better to m

Did you see the sequel of the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?

Naw I thought it was actually ok, it’s better than Bad Boys 3 and the remade Lion King!

Thanks Trevion for the chat.

The Miles Basketball Minute: The Routine Question To Me This Season Was Always What Has Happened With The Fraport Skyliners?

To be honest I wasn’t too scared about the Celtics-Nets series and my Celtics not advancing. That it would be a sweep surprised me though. My positive feelings towards the Fraport Skyliners wasn’t any different in late summer in 2021 either. I mean they had a new Spanish coach with Diego Ocampo. In the last years Pedro Calles had made the Spanish way sexy in the easyCredit BBL with his incredible success with Rasta Vechta and continued maturity and bringing the Hamburg Towers to new heights. Plus Braunschweig had brought in a new coach and that project was also reaping success as well as Alba Berlin making the transition after the departure of Aito. So what could go wrong? So back to my Celtics. That Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be total messes in this series was something that few expected so the social media onslaught they have been suffering can be understandable. I’m just overjoyed that the Boston Celtics reached the next round, but now the next battle awaits against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. I can’t say the same for the Fraport Skyliners a club I have covered since the 2003-2004 season. I have witnessed a lot of joy and glory with the 2004 BBL title or remembering Tyrone Ellis and Alex King chugging down beers after defeating Alba Berlin to reach the 2005 final, or Pascal Roller miss a untypical clutch free throw in Bamberg in 2010 losing game 5 or Jordan Theodore heaving the ball up in the Le Colisee arena in Chalon seemingly trying to have his mom catch it back in Englewood, New Jersey after he was instrumental in helping the Fraport Skyliners win only their third club championship with the Fiba Europe Cup in 2016. Since that incredible achievement, the organization that came to life in 1999 has been heading in a downward spiral. There have been some seasons like 2006 and 2013 where the team was saved with a last second win to stay in the league. That isn’t the case this season. Only a wild card can help them. The season didn’t begin well and the club just never found a rhythm. I travel to many places during the season. If it’s Rhondorf, Koblenz, Giessen, Limburg or other places, I always heard the routine question which was ‘what has happened to the Fraport Skyliners’? It was tough always stuttering and trying to find some excuses for this so disappointing and brutal season. I reach Fraport Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson (188-G-1984, college: Auburn, agency: Interperformances) on the eve of their last road game of the season in Crailsheim. I’m a bit miffed as I hear his kids in the back round expecting silence as he is in a hotel room, but I guess with the brutal tough season traveling on game day to a meaningless game can be done. Even with a new baby on board, Quantez Robertson still finds some time to follow the NBA and the Celts-Nets series. ‘I was surprised of the Celtics sweep. But the Nets haven’t played together this season. I would of thought that the Nets would at least get 2 games’, said Quantez Robertson. Mega super star Kevin Durant has taken a beating on social media about his poor shooting series. It didn’t take him long to flee the States and head to Monaco to watch close friend Mike James battle in the Euroleague. ‘I feel you can’t really criticize the way KD played. He did all he could. It was just one of those series where he didn’t shoot the ball well. It helped the Celtics that they keyed in on him. They did a good job forcing him to take tough shots and get the team out of rhythm’, commented Quantez Robertson. Jayson Tatum stole the show from Kevin Durant, but he isn’t the new Durant yet. ‘I mean there is only one Kevin Durant. But it is a fact that Tatum is one of the best young players in the NBA now. He is scoring and defending and showing he is an allstar and on his way to becoming a superstar’, warned Quantez Robertson. After some NBA talk, it was time to rap about the very poor 2021-2022 season. It didn’t take long for Tez to think for the perfect sentence defining the season. ‘It was tough and unbearable’, stressed Quantez Robertson.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber witnessing Kevin Durant exit a posh 5 star hotel in back bay Boston before a game against the Celtics in November 2021

Kevin Durant hamming it up with Mike James agent Alexandros Katsaros at a Euroleague game in Monaco in April 2022

The best thing to do after a loss is to forget it and move on. But after a so disappointing season like this, you have to review it and then forget it. I have to admit, I wasn’t totally perplexed or shocked when the Fraport Skyliners brought in unknown Spanish coach Diego Ocampo who had coached in Europe’s best league ACB, but never had success. I was blinded by the success of Spanish coach Pedro Calles and others like Jesus Ramirez and Israel Gonzalez showing they can take over teams and show success. But I was wrong. Ocampo was a nice guy and I dreaded always seeing this short Spanish guy coming to the post game interview after every new loss, a bit more broken and reeling to find plausible excuses why his guys lost again. It is no secret that success also has to do with having the right combination of players and making the right chemistry. Unfortunately the Fraport Skyliners weren’t able to bring in the right players and they never found a rhythm this season. That the Fraport Skyliners had a limited budget surprised no one, but the team lives and dies with the point guard. Getting unproven Donovan Donaldson sealed the fate of the team from the start. I mean here and there you have to be flexible and be able juggle money and at least get a player that has won something or played in Germany before. I would have gotten Kendale Mccullum right away who had a very good season in Giessen. Ok so they also moved down, but that wasn’t his problem. That organization had numerous problems. By the time the Fraport Skyliners got ex NBA player Will Cherry, the team was already in the hole at 1-5. ‘It was very tough because we were losing. We had a bunch of good guys and had confidence, but once you get a losing streak, have injuries and have guys coming and going, it is hard to find the right chemistry’, stressed Quantez Robertson. At first it seemed like Will Cherry could have been that magical acquisition that would turn the club’s season around the way Justin Cobbs did in November 2014 when he was hauled in. Cherry and the Fraport Skyliners began with a massive road win in Ulm where Cherry was brilliant and after two tough loses against Bamberg and Braunschweig, beat Wurzburg and Crailsheim. But then came a four game losing streak including a tough 82-78 loss against Chemnitz that they should of won. This was one of many games that could have saved Frankfurt from being saved and being in the cellar at the end. Then there was another very brief moment of hope as they beat Heidelberg shortly before the new year at home and defeated arch rival Giessen. But after that the season totally fell apart. The win against Heidelberg would be their last win in their living room until the last game of the season against Bayreuth a little more than 4 months later. The club had many problems, but for Tez the biggest was just being able to score. ‘Lack of execution hurt us the most in the fourth quarter. Not being able to defend the ball and getting stops when we needed to hurt us the most’, remembered Quantez Robertson. There was one positive aspect to the terrible season. ‘We fought every game hard. Despite losing so much, we never gave up’, stressed Quantez Robertson.

After the win in Giessen is when the Fraport Skyliners season was decided as winning then became as difficult as trying to figure out how to stop a Giannis in the post for anyone on earth. The big losing streak occurred in January and the club should have reacted then and fired Diego Ocampo, but instead kept him on board believing he could be the miracle worker. Instead they let Ocampo go on March 17th. ‘I think that making a coaching change could have been better had it happened earlier. Otherwise they should of just left Ocampo until the end. Making that change so late was really tough for the players. The new coach wanted a new system which made it hard to adjust to so late in season’, expressed Quantez Robertson. The club would then lose 13 of 14 games and when the season was finally almost over, they finally began to play better winning three of their last four games against Oldenburg, Crailsheim and Bayreuth. The club had a talented bunch of players, but if there is no sound rhythm and chemistry, it is harder to play together and score baskets. The team scored the least points in the EasyCredit BBL with 73 per game. They were one of the better defensive teams allowing 79 points per game. What a shame to be able to play so hard on the defensive end, but not get rewarded because one can’t produce points. Not having good starts into games scoring wise seemed to plague Frankfurt. ‘I believe that a lot of games were decided in the first half. In order to get back into the game, you need more energy. We had problems not having the extra energy to finish our comebacks’, commented Quantez Robertson. There were so many losses against teams like Chemnitz, Goettingen, Ulm, Bamberg, and Giessen that they should of won, but didn’t. These losses were the difference between getting over the hump and remaining in the league and not. They also belonged to the poorest three point shooting teams at 29%. Despite this they continued to heave away from the parking lot instead of trying to have more of an inside out game. Even when ex Euroleague player Jamel Mclean joined the team, they still should of played more inside ball. They should of involved 221cm giant rookie Matt Haarms more in the offense, but the three ball was more on the menu.

It isn’t easy to rate the season of the individual players with positive words after such a poor season. The team’s top scorer was Will Cherry (14/3/4 stats). He had some massive games and was a big reason for the wins against Ulm, Braunschweig, Giessen, Heidelberg and Oldenburg. But he couldn’t bring more consistency. There were games where his hero ball and not being able to take care of the ball hurt the team. Jamel Mclean (11p/5r) was also a bright spot despite coming to the team injured and not in the best shape. He showed glimpses of why he played for numerous Euroleague teams. That he averaged 22 minutes a game is a bit of a shock considering he often was winded and should of been on the bench more. His post moves and finishes were nice to watch and he surprised me in the last game that he still has good athleticism making many dunks. I hope he plays 2-3 more years. Marcel Ponitka (9/3/4) came late, but he was a positive aspect. He is a guy that would have made a difference had he been on board from the start. He always played with energy at both ends and showed he could score at ease and be a facilitator. Quantez Robertson (8/4/3) played his 13th season and unfortunately is declining in his play. He showed at the start that his scoring qualities had to be present as he scored in double figures in 9 of 12 games, but in the last 16 games scored only in double figures in 4 games. His three didn’t come well as it was his second worst shooting percentage for a season since the 2011-2012 season. ‘The season was frustrating for me. Not being able to close out games effected my play’, added Quantez Robertson. If the team gets a wild card, I believe that his chances are 50/50 of returning. His love for the game is huge, but he just became a dad for the third time and with age creeping up and thinking of family could make him retire. ‘I don’t know yet what I’m going to do’, stressed Quantez Robertson. Brancou Badio (10/2/2) who was hauled in by Diego Ocampo had a good start as his scoring qualities helped the team, but as a young player, he didn’t have the needed experience to be able to help the team more. Inconsistency and 1-1 play took over as the losing got worse. After the Fiba window in Feb, his play diminished and he played no role for new coach Luca Dalmonte getting DNP’s.

One of the biggest disappointments was Lukas Wank (5/3/1) who came in and wasd supposed to help at the point something that no one understood except the coach. Seeing him play often had one wondering if he was on the court or somewhere else. He showed his scoring abilities way too little and his ball handling was poor. Why was he seen as a potential point guard if he coughed up the ball 6 times against Alba Berlin and 8 times against Ludwigsburg. The guy always played with energy, but just couldn’t give the team the needed support that was awaited from him. The only consolation was that he was the team’s best three point shooter at 35%. Rookie Matt Haarms (7/4/1bs) had a solid rookie season. But I often wondered how a guy at 221cm can miss so many easy shots next to the rim. He had games where he showed his potential and especially on the defensive end could become a defensive stopper and that will come with experience. He should have had more of a role in the offensive system. Len Schoormann (7,0/2,0rpg) played his real first easyCredit BBL season where he saw ample minutes going from 7,0 minutes to 23 minutes. He had blitzes where he scored in bunches. His drive is very strong, but his inconsistent three pointer is what will decide if he becomes a solid BBL player or doesn’t. On top of that, his 1-1 defense continues to be a major work in progress. He has a long summer ahead of him in the lab. It will be interesting to see what player he is next season and if he returns to Frankfurt. The Two players who I feel developed the best in this dismal season were Rasheed Moore (10/5/1) and Lorenz Brenneke (6/3). It is no secret that I have been a big Moore fan for years. Not many have gone the tightrope like he has from the Regionalliga to BBL in three years. He showed last season that he can be a go to guy, but also does so much more with rebounding and finding his teammates. He had a poor 2 month span from January -March, but after that finished strong finishing scoring in double figures in 10 of 11 games and in his last 8. This guy has so much heart, maybe second to Quantez Robertson on the team and his work ethic is incredible. I remember seeing him get up shots on a Saturday night at 9:00 pm after having watched the farm team Juniors where he was one of the few guys that did on the team. He has a chip on his shoulder and ready to make the next step. He will reach the next level. After not getting a chance with Alba Berlin, Brenneke sought a new challenge with the Fraport Skyliners. As a young player, inexperience and consistency were an issue, but he showed in enough games that he has BBL format. His inside game is refreshing and often was able to give the team the needed energy in moments when it really needed it. Developing a three could be beneficial as in today’s game that is something that more and more bigs seem to have. Tez also agreed that Moore and Brenneke made big strides, but so did Len Schoormann. ‘These guys played their roles well and did what was expected. Lorenz always played hard with the short minutes that he got. Rasheed played well for the majority of the season. He shot the ball well. Len got off to a good start. When he got hurt, it messed up his confidence a little and took some time for him to get his rhythm back’, stated Quantez Robertson.

The basketball God was looking down on the Fraport Skyliners organization with a big smile in the last weeks. The 2000 BBL cup winner got a lot of help in the Pro A playoffs as teams that had BBL ambitions like Bremerhaven and Trier lost. Now nothing stands in the way for them to go for the wild card. 45 minutes after the win in Bayreuth, it was mentioned at the fans farewell party outside the arena that the Skyliners would get active for the wildcard. It will cost 700,000 Euros, but in the long run, it is better to stay in the BBL. Going down to the Pro A is too risky as it is a lot more difficult to move right back as there have been teams like Bremerhaven, Trier and Tuebingen that haven’t returned back for many years. Despite the season being a tough one, Quantez Robertson has some fond memories. ‘Obviously my daughter being born was huge. Another nice memory was the final game against Oldenburg and playing one last time against Rickey Paulding. It was always fun to play against him. We didn’t guard each other in this game. We talked a little before the game about staying healthy and what we would be doing next. I hope we meet again sometimes. Maybe we will stop in each other’s state’, explained Quantez Robertson. When I ended the call last week, I said ‘see you Sunday. I hope it isn’t for the last time’. Tez just laughed and didn’t say anything and we hung up. After the win against medi Bayreuth, I conducted my last post game interview of the season. He then got up to meet the fans outside. He departed saying ‘I know that we will be talking this summer again about basketball’. I hope our next chat isn’t only about the NBA or retirement, but about him and the 2022-2023 Fraport Skyliners.

Tags : QUANT

Spencer Reaves Continues To Be Hot And Ready To Help Lead The Bayer Giants Leverkusen To Success Over Tuebingen

Spencer Reaves (191-G-1995, college: Central Mo., agency: One Motive Sports) is a 26 year old 191cm guard from Newark, Arkansas playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He played his first three professional seasons in Spain with Azpeitia Juaristi Iraurgi Saski Baloia (Spain-LEB Silver) and UBU Tizona Burgos (Spain-LEB Gold). He began his basketball career with / Cedar Ridge High School and then played a season with North Greenville University (NCAA2). He then finished at the University of Central Missouri (NCAA2) from 2015-2018 playing a total of 85 games averaging 12.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 83.5% in his second season, 17.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 85.4% as a junior and17.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 88.6% as a senior. He spoke to after helping the Bayer Giants Leverkusen beat the Romerstrom Gladiators and advance to the Pro A semi-finals to meet Tuebingen.

Spencer thanks for talking to Congrats on advancing to the semi-finals of the pro A playoffs. How much did this win raise your wining joy after winning game three?

We are happy to be in the spot we are in. Making the semifinals is never an easy task. We going to get back to work this week and hopefully have a good series against a really tough team.

The Bayer Giants Leverkusen had their destiny in their own hands. How key have your fans been all season long for being able to help push the team to success?

Now that the covid restrictions have lessened a bit, more fans keep making their way into Ostermann-Arena. We broke the season attendance record easily in game 4. We hope to have the same support in the next round as well! It always helps the team.

The first quarter was a tight battle as Trier led 23-22 after 10 minutes. How interesting was it observing the big man battle inside this series with Heinzmann/Baeck vs Wiley/Wolf. From your feeling over the series, who won these battles for the series?

For me, I was happy I was a guard in this series. Those are all monster guys and players that show why they are some of the best in the league. I think both duos battled really well and luckily we were able to make more plays down the stretch to win the series.

The game continued to be a tight affair in the second quarter as Leverkusen led 45-44. How key was young German player Robert Merz who hit two three pointer early. He really was able to take vital responsibility in that phase.

Rob is great for us. He’s always ready, always hungry to improve his game. Hansi gives everyone a chance and he made the most of it on Friday. I told him after the game he was a big reason why were able to win. I have to give credit to all the young guys though because they played this playoff series like veterans. Not an easy thing to do.

The contest continued to be a real battle as Trier had the 63-60 advantage after 30 minutes. What key words of advice do you remember Hansi Gnad telling the team before taking care of business in the fourth quarter?

Well Hansi always preaches defensive stops. We normally don’t have issues with scoring the ball. Hansi emphasized getting stops and being able to run in transition against such a big team like Trier.

The game continued to be a real struggle going into crunch-time and despite Trier only leading by some points, it seemed like they had the momentum. What was going through your head most to get over the hump and get the lead back?

Like I said before, it was just about getting stops, limiting them to 1 shot, then executing on the offensive end. We always try to trust the work we have put in and normally it works out pretty well for us.

With Trier leading 75-72 the Bayer Giants Leverkusen took control at the exact last moment going on a 8-0 run. It couldn’t have been constructed any better.

You have to give credit to our fans honestly. Once you get a stop or two, follow that with a basket, they really bring the energy into the building. It was really huge for us in that moment.

Trier definitely had numerous chances in the last minute as good shooters like Grun and Zeeb missed shots that could have decided the game. Was this kind of defense that you will have to continue to display against Tuebingen?

Tuebingen is a different team than Trier but very very hardworking like them. We will have to play a different style against Tuebingen and also throw different things at them to keep them from being comfortable. I know Hansi and Jacques will have us ready and prepared.

You hit back to back buckets and as usual was a key factor in the offense getting over the hump. How key was it reading the defense correctly in leading to your two baskets in the last minute?

I had decent success all series on the ball screen action. Their drop cover was a little easier with Wiley having fouled out. I was able to get a little deeper in the paint to get the shots off. Luckily they were able to fall.

Trier did many things better like hitting three’s and rebounding. How decisive were the 4 more Trier turnovers in Leverkusen being able to pull out the win?

We did a decent job all series on taking care of the ball. Feel like the guys played really good defense down the stretch to cause a few more turnovers. It gave us the chances to win.

You had another good game with 18 points, but more importantly hit big time shots in crunch-time again. Do you feel like you will be able to heighten your game to another level once again vs Tuebingen?

That’s the plan at least. I just want to put the team in the best position to win. Against trier I was needed as a playmaker and we were able to get the job done. We will see what is required against Tubingen next round.

You now face Tuebingen who have been the absolute surprise team of the season. You lost the second game in a phase where they were losing many games. After that they really rose their game winning 13 of 15 games. How dangerous is this club?

They are a really good team. They play smart, together and with a lot of energy. There is a reason they are the #1 seed. They have earned it and won games in the biggest moments. We will have to be ready.

Tuebingen scored well in both wins. I’m sure Hansi Gnad will have the team prepared for the series. What will be key for being able to win this series against the surprise team of the season?

Well we beat them at home this season. We need to replicate the gameplan. And especially with the playoffs, make adjustments throughout the series. It’s going to be really fun.

Have you met Leverkusen soccer legend Stefan Kiesling? He was there at game 5 and surely was in perfect mode helping cheer on the team to the win?

We love to have people like him at the games. I have never met him, hopefully I will soon. We are super appreciative of all the fans that I’ve came to the games this season. We hope to see them when we come back for game 3 and 4. definitely need their help.

Thanks Spencer for the chat

The Fraport Skyliners End Disappointing Season With A Bang Fighting For Their Fans And Defeating medi Bayreuth 82-70

There have been so many years especially when the Fraport Skyliners had had success where no basketball junkie wanted the season to end. But this season had been a nasty ordeal where losing became the norm for the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner. It has been one of the seasons where one was happy that the season was finally over. But the Fraport Skyliners wanted to close out the season in style against medi bayreuth. The Fraport Skyliners had been playing a lot better basketball in the last weeks beating a very much improved EWE Baskets team since the arrival of new head coach Ingo Freyer and playoff candidate Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. This season against Bavarian team medi bayreuth, Frankfurt had lost 85-72 on the road where the execution rate of the three ball decided the game. The Fraport Skyliners wanted to end this dismal and forgettable season on a high note and did winning three of their last four games and their last regular season game 82-70 over medi bayreuth. When it counted most the Fraport Skyliners were able to execute at both ends of the court in the fourth quarter and never allowed the guests over the hump. ‘We fought the whole game and whenever they made runs, we were able to hold up well against it and execute. We took care of the ball well and had less of live turnovers. We took our open shots whenever we had them and didn’t hesitate. We fought for our fans and wanted to go out with a bang’, stressed Quantez Robertson. It had been a very tough season for the Bavarian team as they had no answer how to limit the hot Frankfurt shooting. ‘They shot the ball really well and we couldn’t get stops late. They also got baskets in the paint and Mclean played well. I thought that we defended well at times, but when a team shoots as well as they did, it is hard to win. We had a super up and down season. We were never able to find a niche with our group’, stressed medi bayreuth guard Marcus Thornton. ‘Frankfurt found their rhythm early and shot the ball very well the entire game. That helped their self-confidence and that carried them’, stated medi Bayreuth head coach Raoul Korner.

Matt Haarms at the FT line

The first quarter was a real scoring fest as 54 points were scored and the game was dead locked at 27-27 after 10 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners didn’t waste any time nailing back to back three’s from Rasheed Moore and Marcel Ponitka. It also didn’t take the guests long to get over their mini shock as they hit three’s from ex Marquette (NCAA) forward Sacar Anim and ex Nurnberg guard Bastian Doreth to trail 8-6. Both teams offenses were rolling as Frankfurt continued their smooth execution receiving a trey from ex NBA player Will Cherry and a lay in from Ponitka to lead 13-8. But medi Bayreuth didn’t lay down as they continued to attack and relied on the three ball getting back to back three’s from Anim and Estonian forward Janari Joesaar to capture their first lead of the game at 14-13 as it was raining three’s. Both teams continued to rattle off points as if it was nothing as there would be four more lead changes. Cherry and Quantez Robertson made baskets while ex Trier center Andreas Seiferth made a lay in and ex Boston Celtic Marcus Thornton steered 5 points for the 22-19 Bayreuth advantage. Seiferth continued to be hot making a trey and lay in for the 27-24 advantage. But the Fraport Skyliners would have the last laugh as Quantez Robertson fired home an unconventional three at the buzzer behind the BBL logo behind center court to tie the game at 27-27. ‘There was a lot of scoring as both teams left guys open. The rotating and talking wasn’t good. I knew the ball was going in with the way I was lined up in the air. Every once in a while I practice these in practice’, smiled Quantez Robertson.

Terry Allen form downtown

In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners continued to execute well on offense and also shaved down the Bayreuth points to more than half of what they scored in the first quarter. The Fraport Skyliners began the second quarter on fire and took that momentum that Quantez Robertson had given them with his buzzer beater and responded with a brutal 9-0 run on consecutive three’s from Germans Len Schoorman, Lukas Wank and Ponitka to lead 36-27. Frankfurt had upped their defensive intensity forcing Bayreuth more to hurried shots which ruptured their execution rate. Bayreuth then got some rapid production with a Joesaar lay in and Allen three pointer to trail only 38-32, but Frankfurt remained consistent and also unpredictable as they didn’t only heave three’s but continued to use their height and physical advantages getting key dunks from Mclean and rookie Matt Haarms to lead 44-34. Mclean wanted to go out not only on top with a win, but also with a good personal game and did with 13 points on 5/6 shooting including making numerous dunks. ‘When he dunks, it does take a lot out of him for the next plays. But when he gets that fire in his eyes and he hedges out aggressively then he is able to finish well’, stated Quantez Robertson. Bastian Doreth connected on a trey and Mclean closed out the first half with a typical lay in as the Fraport Skyliners led 48-39 at the break. ‘We did a good job moving the ball and finding guys and making the right plays. We took time and executed and found the mis matches in the post’, added Quantez Robertson.

Jamel Mclean with the lay in

In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners got sloppy on offense scoring only 12 points and still played pretty good defense to keep the lead. Medi Bayreuth came into the second half rejuvenated and struck Frankfurt with a nasty 9-2 run to cut the lead down to 50-48. In the run the guests got vintage support from ex Richmond (NCAA) forward Terry Allen with 5 points while Seiferth continued to get touches in the paint producing a easy lay in and Joesaar also scored on the back door cut as Allen dished out the dime. Medi Bayreuth was playing smart inside out basketball while Frankfurt was falling back into old habits with coughing up the ball and being sloppy. But instead of falling apart like in so many other games this season, they were able to withstand the blow and struck right back executing better again as Mclean scored in the paint, Robertson nailed a deep three and Moore scored on the fast break to lead 57-51. Frankfurt was playing with a higher intensity and got back to old good habits playing transition. But Bayreuth also never stopped fighting and got a key bucket by Seiferth and beautiful trey by Thornton to cut the Frankfurt lead to 57-56. Wank converted on a clutch three pointer to close out the third quarter leading 60-56. ‘We knew that they would make a run, but we remained aggressive on defense and made key shots down the stretch’, said Quantez Robertson. ‘We had lapses on defense. We can’t have lapses like that when they are shooting so well. We were unable to limit their runs’, stressed Marcus Thornton.

Andreas Seiferth at the FT line

In the fourth quarter the precision shooting of the Fraport Skyliners returned and they also upped their defensive stops which didn’t allow the guests to get over the hump again. Anim got the Bayreuth hearts going again with a 20 footer pull up to keep Bayreuth close trailing 62-58. But Frankfurt wasn’t going to allow any more big runs as 2017 JBBL finalist Len Schoormann put a little dagger in the Bayreuth hearts with back to back three pointers upping Frankfurt’s lead to 68-58. But Bayreuth was never out of the game always coming back supplying their own little punch as Anim remained aggressive scoring inside and Thornton dropped another big three as Bayreuth trailed only 68-63. Both teams were executing and the only difference was that the guests weren’t able to make any real ground as Frankfurt kept scoring. Frankfurt got buckets from Moore with a runner and a Cherry lay in as Frankfurt remained on top leading 74-65. Medi Bayreuth had the next answer as Allen dropped another trey and Seiferth made a 25 footer, but Frankfurt still led 76-70. But that was the last punch that medi Bayreuth would have as the Fraport Skyliners then served up the knock out punch closing out the contest with a 6-0 run. In the run, Frankfurt got support from Ponitka with a lay in, a Mclead dunk and Wank free throws. ‘We stayed aggressive on defense and continued to play hard and stayed together’, warned Quantez Robertson. We couldn’t get stops and their guards did a good job getting to the hoop or kicking it out’, stated Marcus Thornton. ‘We never found ourselves after the Fiba windows. But despite all the turbulences that we had, there were three positives. One we remained in the BBL, two we never gave up and three having the amazing fan support’, stressed Raoul Korner. The Fraport Skyliners had six players in double figures and were led by Marcel Ponitka with 14 points. Jamel McLean (202-C-1988, college: Xavier) added 13 points and Len Schoormann 12 points while medi Bayreuth was led by Andreas Seiferth with 17 points while Marcus Thornton added 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 51% from the field and 50% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 13 turnovers while medi Bayreuth shot 42% from the field and 41% from outside and had 38 rebounds and 19 turnovers.

Nicolas Buchholz Carries The Dragons Rhondorf In Crunch-Time To Massive 78-65 Playdown Win On The Road Over The RheinStars Cologne

With the 2022 Pro B playdowns winding down faster and faster, the Dragons Rhondorf have constructed an incredible season ending furry with the hopes of remaining in the league. It couldn’t be any more exciting with two games remaining as three teams with the Dragons Rhondorf, RheinStars Cologne and Lok Bernau were all dead locked with 10-16 records and 20 points. The focus of the Dragons Rhondorf was to win their last two games against the RheinStars and Lok Bernau and all would be ok. The Dragons Rhondorf had had a solid showing against the RheinStars having won two of three this season. They did lose the last playdown game in their own living room, but they had won their first encounter in Cologne 90-79 and now had to simply do it again. After a strong week of practice and having won three of their last four games giving added self-confidence, the troops of head coach Julius Thomas arrived in Cologne with a do or die situation and gave an incredible performance for 40 minutes winning 78-65 forcing the RheinStars Cologne down to the Regionalliga. One of the hero’s of the win was guard Nicolas Buchholz (200-PG-2001) who dropped three clutch three’s in the fourth quarter. ‘We gave a very consistent effort and kept the lead well. We did give up some runs, but we fought until the end and played together as a team’, stated Nicolas Buchholz. The atmosphere in the ASV gym was breathtaking, but the RheinStars couldn’t reward their fans with a victory as they just couldn’t get over the hump in the fourth quarter. ‘We had good stretches throughout the game, but fell apart in the fourth quarter. We didn’t stick to our defensive principles. We didn’t play help side well and gave up too many offensive rebounds’, stated guard Vincent Golson.

Former easyCredit BBl Commissionar Jan Pommer in the first row
Marek Kotieno from outside

The RheinStars Cologne didn’t waste any time jumping all over the Dragons Rhondorf taking a quick 7-3 lead. The intensity and energy of Cologne was extremely high as the Dragons Rhondorf still seemed to be a bit asleep. Top Pro B player Vincent Golson began the run dropping a trey and getting a transition lay in and rookie Elijah Schmidt scored on a lay in on a pretty back door pass from Thomas Michel. Nicolas Buchholz dropped a three pointer finding his rhythm right away as he would keep it until the end of the game. Rhondorf began to execute better moving the ball around well leading to a Paul Albrecht three pointer and a Oshane Drews runner to cut the RheinStars lead to 9-8. Rhondorf also stepped up their aggressiveness on defense making it a lot tougher for Cologne on offense. Rhondorf finally took their first lead of the game as Paul Albrecht made a lay in for the 10-9 lead as he was carrying the team early. The Rhondorf lead didn’t stand long as the RheinStars fought back as Golson scored in the paint as his quickness totally crippled the Rhondorf defense and German John Saigge nailed a big three pointer for the 14-10 advantage. But the Dragons Rhondorf closed out the first quarter getting free throws from Ralph Honnou and Marcelo Ruediger for the 15-14 lead. ‘We didn’t start well. But we quickly came together and built each other up and stayed together. Paul Albrecht was really important for keeping us together and keeping us all on the same wave length’, stated Nicolas Buchholz.

Vincent Golson at the FT line

The second quarter was really tight as the RheinStars made a run to recapture the lead, but soon lost it letting the Dragons Rhondorf regain the lead and hold it until half-time. Mark Kotieno got Rhondorf on the board first with a 25 footer, but then the RheinStars took command jumping out on a 7-0 run to take the 21-18 advantage. In the run the RheinStars were led by Schmidt who scored inside on a lob pass from Thomas Michel, Golson made a lay in and young athletic German Jannis Von Seckendorff connected on a trey. The RheinStars were doing a good job taking advantage of the mis matches and feeding their bigs inside. Rhondorf had breakdowns on defense and didn’t play satisfying 1-1 defense. But the Dragons Rhondorf didn’t have long lapses on offense in this game as they mostly had answers for their opponent. For the next three minutes, both teams found their range as they traded three leads and let it rain three’s. Golson nailed two as did Kotieno. Buchholz continued to be on an offensive rampage as he scored 5 points including dropping a trey for the 30-27 lead. Rhondorf kept the slim lead continuing to get good support from Buchholz who scored on a drive and Drews also scored on two lay ins as his athleticism coupled with his swiftness gave Cologne problems all night long for the 36-32 advantage at the break. ‘We played a zone which took Cologne out of their rhythm. Drews remained aggressive and gave us the needed energy’, stressed Nicolas Buchholz. The RheinStars Cologne shot over 40% from the field and outside while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 40% from the field and 38% from outside. Rhondorf had the 19-16 rebound edge having the 9-4 offensive rebound edge and both teams had 8 turnovers a piece.

Oshane DRews at the FT line

Both teams had runs in the third quarter, but at the end of 30 minutes, the Dragons Rhondorf still had the comfortable 59-51 lead. The RheinStars Cologne kept chipping away at the Dragons lead getting a Thomas Michel lay in who played in the BBL with Bonn and a trey from Golson cutting the Rhondorf lead to 40-37. Kotieno had his three pointer rolling all night long hitting another three pointer and Paul Albrecht finally got an old school hook shot to fall something that didn’t happen in the first half for the 45-37 advantage. The Dragons Rhondorf were in control, but the RheinStars Cologne retaliated and exploded for a 12-3 run to capture the lead back again at 49-48. In the run Cologne got their energy going as Michel served up the perfect alley-oop dime to Von Seckendorff for the crushing dunk. ‘That was a nice play from Jannis. He is super athletic and kept us going. I see it in practice all the time from him. He really gets excited on his dunks which sparks his defense. I think that he will be a real good player’, warned Vincent Golson. The run was continued by Mr ‘TJ Shorts of the Pro B’ Vincent 2-2 Golson who scored 10 unanswered points including two three’s. The RheinStars were playing on adrenaline and Rhondorf wasn’t able to match their intensity. But basketball will always be a game of runs as the Dragons Rhondorf fired back closing out the third quarter with a 11-2 run. In the run the ex Pro A team was led by Nicolas Buchholz with 6 points. Brazilian giant Marcelo Ruediger who was very present on the glass made a tip in and Bruno Albrecht and Drews made free throws. ‘The run at the end helped us get into a good position to win the game. We did it together pushing each other bringing them out of rhythm’, said Nicolas Buchholz. ‘We had good intensity, but didn’t stick to our defensive principles. I just played my game enjoying having the trust from my players’, said Vincent Golson. Both teams continued to shoot well, but the Dragons Rhondorf really controlled the rebounds 32-23 with 12 offensive rebounds.

In the fourth quarter there was no looking back for the Dragons Rhondorf as they took good care of their lead and played consistent basketball until the end. In the first few minutes it looked like the RheinStars Cologne could make it interesting again going on a rapid 6-2 run to cut the Dragons lead down to 61-57. In the run Cologne got vital production from Saigge, ex St Johns forward Ron Mvouika and ex Dragon Yannick Kneesch. Cologne continued to attack the rim taking advantage of the waning Dragons defense. But as the Dragons Rhondorf had demonstrated all night long, they didn’t have longer lapses on offense. Rhondorf got a key three point play by their identity figure Viktor Frankel-Maus making a very pretty submarine shot and as usual the team sniper Buchholz nailed two three’s for the 70-59 advantage. With three minutes to play the RheinStars had one last gasp of energy going on a lightening 5-0 run to cut the lead down to 70-64 as German Darius Perwan made a runner and Golson a tough off balance trey. But the Dragons Rhondorf didn’t let down, but instead slammed the door shut going on a 8-2 run to clinch the win. Buchholz hit his sixth trey of the game and Drews and Maus hit free throws to conserve the win. ‘Our consistency helped us keep our distance. I got the hot hand and my teammates put me in good position to make my shots. Plus the great support of the fans helped. This win was for the whole organization’, stressed Nicolas Buchholz. ‘They got offensive rebounds and made open three’s. We couldn’t execute, ‘stated Vincent Golson. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Nicolas Buchholz with 25 points. Oshane Drews added 14 points and Marek Kotieno 13 points while the RheinStars Cologne were led by Vincent Golson with 34 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 44% from the field and 40% from the three point line and they had 44 rebounds and 17 turnovers while the RheinStars shot 37% from the field and 32% from the three point line and had 36 rebounds and 11 turnovers.


Playing Against Legends Like Teodosic and Belinelli And Meeting Westbrook Have been Eyepopping For Jon Axel Gudmundsson(Hakro Merlins) In The Last Year

Jon Axel Gudmundsson (195-G-1996, college: Davidson) is a 25 year old 196cm guard from Grindavik, Iceland playing his second professional season and first with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. He began the season with Lavoropiu Fortitudo Bologna (Italy-Serie A) averaging 3.5ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.3apg. Last season he played his rookie season with the Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-BBL) averaging 12.2ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 74.3%. He began his basketball career at U.M.F. Grindavik and then played at Davidson (NCAA) from 2016-2020 playing a total of 127 NCAA games. He spoke to after the 81-70 loss to the Fraport Skyliners

Thanks Jon for talking to The Hakro Merlins Crailsheim suffered a tough loss to the Fraport Skyliners that could have bad consequences for their chance for the playoffs. Did the team underestimate Frankfurt?

We knew coming in that Frankfurt had played well and won some games. We didn’t go into the game with the needed energy. We just didn’t play the game the way that we wanted to.

The Fraport Skyliners had the comfortable 44-31 advantage at the break. Rasheed Moore was on fire. Is that how you had him in your memories?

Yes for sure. I remember him as being a very good shooter. He made many shots early including hook shots. He always was able to be aggressive early and score baskets. He is a real good scorer with a good three pointer and post up game. His game gave Frankfurt confidence.

You made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. The Fraport Skyliners are known for slipping up in the fourth quarter. What adjustments did you make and did Frankfurt run out of gas?

We finally played with energy and how we know we can. But the problem is when you only play really well for 5 minutes, it’s still hard to win.

What was it like playing against your old team Fraport Skyliners? Despite being on the other side of the court, do you feel for their struggles?

Obviously as an ex player, it was difficult seeing them struggle this season. I think a lot of it had to do with the coaching change. I went through the same in Italy before coming to Crailsheim. We were close to winning some games we should of won and it was the same for Frankfurt. Sometimes all it takes are 1-2 possessions to win a game. Last season we were able to hit big shots when we needed to. That didn’t happen as much for them this season.

Last season you played with the Fraport Skyliners. Had you been following their progress in Italy and seeing their poor results? Did it surprise you?

Not really. They dealt with injuries. It was huge when they lost Bruno Vrcic in pre season. I remember him last season being so key for us coming off the bench. It was hard for them not having him this season. He was a real game changer.

What was it like seeing Quantez Robertson again. Did you exchange any words with him?

Tez and I talked before the game as well as after. He apologized about the intentional foul after the game. It wasn’t hard a foul, but the refs still had to call it.

After having a solid rookie campaign with the Fraport Skylines, you moved to Lavoropiu Fortitudo Bologna (Italy-Serie A) for your second professional season. You only played half a season there. From the stats it seemed like your role might not have been classically defined?

Coming into the season in Italy, I had a great coach. He allowed me to do a lot in pre season and first game. But then came a coaching change and then everything shifted. The new coach didn’t have that confidence for the players and something was different. He wanted to bring in his own players. It was still a struggle and there were off court issues like guys not getting paid. I also got a new role.

You got good minutes at first averaging 22 minutes in the first 9 games but then only 11 minutes in your last 4 games. Did the coaching staff lose faith in you?

I did play at the start of the coaching change, but then I pulled my hamstring and I was out for 4 weeks. After that it was tough to get playing time. You could feel that the energy shifted. We ended up wining like 3 of 4 games before I left. It was really an up and down time for me and a real learning process.

How much of a factor was your bad start shooting the three which is your bread and butter. You didn’t begin well and never found a rhythm.

I had a different role. I’m used to playing point guard and then they had me playing the two. I wasn’t used to that and a lot of the plays were for the point guard. It came down to me getting something like 3 or 4 touches per game and I was just standing in the corner. I couldn’t find any kind of good rhythm like that. Plus I feel like we didn’t have a well put together team. The new coach brought in some new guards and we couldn’t find the right ball movement.

What was it like being teammates with German Robin Benzing And James Feldeine? Were you able to get any positive things from his existence on and off the court?

I became really close to James. We always hung out. James is super experienced and had played at a high level. The same for Robin. Robin is a great offensive threat. It was great to learn from both. We began to click as a team when James came in, but then came the coaching change.

What was it like dueling in the Bologna rivalry against Virtus? Did that bring you back to some of those rivalry battles in the NCAA?

I don’t feel that it is comparable to the rivalries in the NCAA, It is different. The passion that fans have in Europe is a lot different. I had so much fun in this game. We had some of the best fans ever. You couldn’t hear anything the whole game. We didn’t know what was happening on the court. We had a 15 minute drive to the arena and along the way there were fans on bicycles that were banging on the bus. It was crazy. Unfortunately my ex team will probably move down.

You have played against incredible players in the NCAA, but what was it like playing against legends like Teodosic and Belinelli? Does the kid in you come out a bit seeing them play?

Teodosic was one of my favorites growing up. I remember talking to one of my teammates about him and Belinelli and how crazy it is watching both growing up and then you have to go out and guard them. But when the game starts, you don’t think about that. Then when the game is over, you look at the scouting sheet, you just think that they are so good that made plays that are so incomparable to anything else.

You then returned back to Germany to play for your old coach Sebastian Gleim with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. But also here your results and minutes are up and down. It really baffles me why you don’t have more of a scoring role especially now with TJ Shorts out?

We have a very good point guard in Mike Caffey. I feel that I can help the team. It is about me finding my role. I thought that I had found my role already when TJ was still playing. Then the team got Caffey. They needed to make changes. I feel it was right move getting him. We had played against him in the Fiba Cup. I had had a good game against Munich and thought that I had found my rhythm. Then I had foul trouble against Bamberg and couldn’t really help the team. In Hamburg we didn’t show up as a team. Then I tweaked my hamstring and Mike played really well. Coach liked that and the rotation faded for me.

What changes have you seen in the coaching of Sebastian Gleim in comparison to last season? He is winning this season and is a big reason for the success of the team?

Key for him has been that he has been gathering more experience and learning new things. He did a great job last year with Frankfurt. I don’t think the budget is as high in Frankfurt as in Crailsheim, but I don’t know. We had a good core from last year and then he did good recruiting getting the right pieces. Jaren Lewis has played great since TJ went down. He put together a great team and allowed the players to play their game. Many coaches don’t allow that. He told us what he expects and has allowed every player to do exactly what they are good at.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Jon Axel Gudmundsson in his rookie season with the Fraport Skyliners in 20-21

How annoying is it as a sniper to have consistent shooting woes. How have you tried to deal with it best this season?

I just try to shoot every day. It is tough and even tougher with the schedule that hasn’t allowed as many practices. I try to take 150 shots from the three point line two days before a game and do shooting sessions with coaches before a game. Plus I try to shoot before and after practices.

Last summer you played NBA Summer League for the Phoenix Suns. What kind of an experience was it being able to catch a breath of the NBA? What one instance will you never forget about it?

It was a very fun event. Many NBA players watch you. We all live at the same hotel and you see super stars. I remember my assistant coach Mark Bryant taking me over to meet Russell Westbrook. He introduced me. It was cool being able to say what’s up to Russ. He asked me where I had played. It was nice to see how humble he is. I also remember the Suns coming over like Chris Paul and Devin Booker showing up and hyping us up. I also remember seeing Dario Saric being in the practicing facility and taking treatment. I also got close to Jaleen Smith now with Alba Berlin who I had known. I also remember playing against Jalen Smith in college. He has had a great season since being traded to Indiana. I also remember seeing Steph Curry signing autographs and remembering me from my Davidson days when he visited.

Did you get a better feel about what it takes to reach the NBA? Is luck really the biggest factor?

Yes I feel like I got a good taste of the NBA. I don’t know if luck is the right word, but I feel that it is more about being in the right place at the right time. A good example is Haywood Highsmith. Last season he played with Crailsheim and didn’t have the greatest season, but recently signed a three year deal with Miami. He put in a lot of work during the summer. I think that a lot of unseen work is happening that players do. There is obviously politics involved, but also a lot of hard work that people don’t see. It isn’t always about how good of a scorer you are, but about how good you do the little things.

You have ties to the Suns and Warriors because ex Davidson great Steph Curry played there. These two teams most likely will reach the final. Who will most likely win the series?

The Warriors have played well, while the Suns struggled against the Pelicans. Booker was hurt, but the Suns still finished the series. Chris Paul has been great and he also was another favorite of mine growing up. I think that if they are in the western conference final, it will go 7 games and whoever plays best will win.

Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?

I didn’t see it. I always think that the original is the best. It is hard to beat the original, but too many people see the money signs,

Thanks Jon for the chat.

A Bus And Boat In One Long Road Trip Could Be Another Chapter For A Eric Kibi Book Chronicling His Crazy Globetrotting Basketball Life

5 star hotels, private jets and incredible tasty cuisine is something only NBA players will get to tell their grandchildren about one day, but what about the normal schmo’s playing the game they love. How does a road trip look like to them? Euroleague teams travel in style, but they are still far away to how NBA teams are treated and many first divisions in Europe travel well. But then there are so many other players who have to travel long and hard to that next away game and can tell other kind of stories to their grandchildren that NBA players couldn’t even imagine of. One guy who could write book about his crazy globetrotting life in Eric Kibi (198-F-1990, college: ACU) He is 31 years old and is in his 10th season and has balled in more than 200 professional games for 19 organizations in 12 countries including Germany Canada Montenegro Denmark, Spain, France Slovakia Iraq Argentina Holland Morocco and Chile. The guy has literally seen it all. He is a guy that has played in a lot of lower leagues where the road trips were a real grind. But that is nothing new to him. He has always been used to the grind, because he has always been a gym rat and constantly worked on his game. Currently he is balling in Chile for CD Tinguiririca San Fernando (Chile-Liga Nacional) and seemingly living in a bus is an understatement. Back in the 90’s I was visiting Argentina a lot and also had to befriend the long bus trips. It was just my bad luck that I had to have found friends that lived in the middle of nowhere and weren’t situated in the country capital Buenos Aires that had a population of 11 million plus. I remember that my friends only lived 400 kilometers away and if I was in Germany a distance of that with the highway would have taken about 4 hours. But for me driving to General Villegas took 8-9 hours mainly because there was no highway and you traveled on bumpy roads and seemingly stopped in every little town. Just when you had got some shut eye, the lights came on and new people were getting on the bus. I would get on at 11 or mid night and then get to my destination when the sun came up and the roosters were saying good morning. For a guy living in Boston, I only knew how to travel by car or plane. That is why the long bus ride seemed like an eternity. It is good to know that even 15 years late when Eric Kibi was in JUCO, the sound of a Walk Man was still in style. I never left home without my walk man. This season in Chile, the bus was only a part of the road trip. ‘The bus trips are pretty crazy here. But this one we are currently on is probably one of the longest but also the coolest. This weekend we play two historic teams in Ancud and Castro. They are located on a beautiful island in Chile that they call Chiloe. So what we did is we practiced until 10pm and then at midnight we got on a bus for 12 hours and then had to get on a boat for another hour then off the boat and drive another hour and a half. The view on the boat was amazing, it is very beautiful to see. We arrived at the hotel at about 3.00 in the afternoon, then we practiced at night and we will played tomorrow and Saturday. It really had me reminiscing to my JUCO days in Texas in 2009 where we would travel for hours and the only difference is in those days I had an iPhone 2 and no wifi haha, it was straight CD Walkman for hours’, remembered Eric Kibi A Bus and Boat in one long road trip could be another chapter for a Eric Kibi book chronicling his crazy globetrotting basketball life.

Eric Kibi on the bus!
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber saying farwell to some of his Argentine friends as he boarded a 11 pm Estrella bus to Argentina´s capital Buesnos Aires

The forward that lists players Justin Satchell and Argentinian big man Christian Amicucci who plays like Luis Scola as his toughest foes on the court in Chile this season and can swipe down numerous rebounds a game the same way Steph Curry can drop three’s doesn’t matter where he plays each season as long as there is a court and he has a ball he is happy. He has never been afraid to go to new countries. In Chile he is playing for the third time in a Spanish country and is proud that he no longer needs a translator. He is still seeking his first professional title, and unfortunately it won’t happen in Chille either. ‘It does get difficult. I can’t lie to you. I got close in 2016 and lost in the last minute of a Game 7 and still think about it until this day. But I wake up every morning still motivated, still feeling blessed to have the opportunity to even do this for a living as long as I have and if it’s in God’s plans for me to win one it will happen if it’s not then so be it, I’m still going to keep working’, said Eric Kibi He is having another incredible personal season, but the only downside is that the club hasn’t been as successful as his play. With the season winding down this weekend, they are near the bottom of the standings. Obviously, it isn’t easy to play so well and suffer loses. ‘It’s been difficult, yes, since we also went through a coaching change mid-season. But our new coach Alejandro Iturra who’s the assistant of the Chilean National team, honestly I can say has gotten the most out of this team and we are competing against the top teams. I really appreciate working with him and he’s helped me improve my game’, stressed Eric Kibi It is no surprise that the club is scoring a lot as that is a norm in South American countries, but it’s the defense that has crippled their play as they allow 91 points on average. ‘Yes unfortunately in this league the centers are quite big with most of the time them being a foreigner and in our team our foreign reinforcement at the 5 had some issues with the club so we have been playing most of the season without a center and I think this is what hurts us at times. We can get by for a bit with the small ball because we have so many shooters but over the course of the game it’s difficult to beat the top teams like that if the shots aren’t falling one day’, warned Eric Kibi With two games left this weekend, he is positive though that he can end his challenge in South America positively. ‘I’m very confident, we have been working hard taking the big teams to the wire the last 4-5 games, we deserve it and the city of San Fernando deserves it. They were champions in 2014 and are basketball lovers here. They have stayed with us through thick and thin through some tough losses at home. Coach especially puts in so much effort into the scouting reports and film so we owe it to him. We still have a slight chance at the playoffs’, warned Eric Kibi

The forward who’s heart bleeds for the Toronto Raptors but favors the Celtics in the east and Warriors in the west in the current NBA playoffs has played in so many countries and in so many various kinds of leagues where the style, skill level and competition level is always different. One would be surprised possibly a little bit just how skilled the basketball is in Chile. The rebounding monster has seen it all and knows what he is talking about. ‘I would say the top 4-5 teams are pretty much BBL teams and that’s mostly because they have good local players who all play for the national team. The rest are more low BBL, Pro A level. I would say Germany is more physical for sure and the youth system is much better but Chile has some good young guards, especially Franco Morales that are BBL talents that could rival with the Per Gunther and Maodo Lo easily’, warned Eric Kibi In many leagues the 31 year old would be the elder statesman but with his team CD Tinguiririca San Fernando (Chile-Liga Nacional) he is somewhere in the middle of the pack with his 31 years. For once it has been nice not being the oldest guy on the team. ‘There are a few, I’m very close with Julius Holt and our captain Eduardo Sepulveda. They are both 36 and former national team players, both been pros 18 years. I pick their brains so much every day’, added Eric Kibi Not only securing rebounds in the manner of a Bill Russell back in the day has been a pleasure for him, but also sharing he floor with then Sepulveda brothers something that doesn’t occur to often. ‘ Eduardo has a younger brother, Matthias who is also on the team and man can he go. Matti just had 33 points in 23 minutes last week. He is a very gifted scorer and it’s a matter of time before he plays on the national team. But those are my guys. I love it because they are competitors and every practice they compete, they yell I love it and it carries over to games’, commented Eric Kibi

The ex Abil.Christian (NCAA2) player who witnessed the Will Smith slap of funny comedian Chris Rock and believes that everyone makes mistakes and that shouldn’t diminish the outstanding career that the Men Of Black star is having another outstanding season. Currently he is averaging 20,0ppg and 15,0 rebounds per game. This extraordinary season has brought back flashbacks to his stellar season early in his career where he averaged the same kind of stats with Regionalliga team Rendsburg. His massive chip on his shoulder is something that has powered him his whole career. ‘I think I still get doubted a lot by coaches and organizations during the signing periods and that really motivates me every day. I feel like I should be playing in higher leagues but that’s fine I don’t sulk about it I just double down on the work. Last three years, I changed my diet, went Vegan, took up intermittent fasting and I think my last 3 seasons in Argentina, Holland and here speak for themselves’, warned Eric Kibi His noteworthy skills in Chile speak for themselves as he has scored in double figures 16 times and scored 20 points or more 12 times. He had a lethal monster game against Temuco with 24 points and 24 boards. Getting to the magical Kevin Love area of 20 or more rebounds is seldom. He has done it a few times including early in his career in Germany where he totally smothered Regionalliga team Cottbus with a 28/26 demolition and hit a sweet buzzer beater for good measure. Getting to that 20 rebound boundry has less to do with fortune but moreover it depends if one guy is on him or the whole team in exactly how many boards he will haul down. ‘There’s no luck about that, I think rebounding is all about will, heart and cardio. Some games I’ll have 3 guys boxing me out so I can’t get to offensive rebounds which is the big difference because every game I’ll always get my 10-12 defensive rebounds now the question becomes how many offensive rebounds do I get today, it can be 3,4,5 but the games where guys forget about me and I’ve been able to get 8, or 9’, expressed Eric Kibi He may b 31 years old, but he still has so much basketball and hunger left in his lion body. Wondering where he will go next each summer is as exciting to predict as is how many rebounds he will get each game. He is a player that has proved time in and time out that he is good enough for higher leagues. Will he get a new opportunity next season in a higher league? ‘This summer the strategy is simply to try to reach the highest league possible. I find the South American basketball champions league very interesting. Also In my head I know there are players with similar playing styles as me in the top leagues in Europe (France Pro A, Spain ACB, Germany BBL, EuroCup etc) I’m not scared of any leagues, system or player. I believe I can adjust to anything. I believe I can play in those leagues but obviously I need that opportunity and whether that’s next season or in the future, I’ve prepared myself so much mentally through film and mental practice that I’ll be ready.’, warned Eric Kibi It will be interesting to see where the talkative player will play next? The world is big and this basketball globetrotter is always game for new challenges. Who knows maybe his path will take him to Asia or Australia, two places where he has never played before. One thing is for sure that he will always find himself on a bus again. There will always be new road trip stories to be told that he can sample for that possible future book.