Basketball buzzer beaters are a rare occurrence and as seldom as DeMarkus Cousins hitting a three, but when they do happen, they often find a very strong hold in the hearts of those that were affected by it. It is even rarer for a guy playing his first ever home game for his new team being a part of a buzzer beater and witnessing the electricity of the arena as the ball splashes through the netting as the buzzer sounds. Rookie Tra Holder experienced this recently in Frankfurt for the Fraport Skyliners as teammate Skyliner lifer legend Quantez Robertson who is in his 10th season with the team hit first ever professional buzzer beater. In the last years there have only been a few buzzer beaters in the Fraport arena as Justin Gray nailed one in 2011 helping Frankfurt defeat Wurzburg while Antonio Graves hit two buzzers beaters one with Artland against Frankfurt and then dropped one with Frankfurt against Ludwigsburg. But none was as exciting and had as much meaning as the one Quantez Robertson hit over the EWE Baskets Oldenburg last weekend. The team were in the midst of a 8 game losing skid, were down by 10 points to the second place team and then to come back and win in buzzer beater fashion was a very special moment in the clubs 20th season. Holder was on the court and witnessed the whole thing. He was parked in the corner and could of got the ball, but American Tyler Larson had little time and his only safe option was Tez as he is called by everyone in Frankfurt except for maybe the passport control at the airport. “ It looked like it would go in. I fell to the ground when he took it and was so happy he made it. It was really cool, because it was my first home game, we were in a drought and we were able to beat the second best team. It was simply spectacular. I hope it can jump start our season”, stated Trae Holder. Seeing that amazing buzzer beater brought back special memories for Trae Holder as he looked back on his younger days and also what he has seen other guys do. “I have made two buzzer beaters. I made one in high school where we won the title. I also made one against USC with Arizona State. The one against USC was similar to the Frankfurt one. Against USC, we were down by 10 points, but had only 1,30 minutes to play. I also remember the one Kyrie Irving hit with the Cavs beating the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA finals”, stressed Tra Holder. The first week with the Fraport Skyliners has been very thrilling for the rookie while the first part of his rookie season battling injuries and never playing a game for Fiat Torino was rather unpleasant, but the guard wants to finish the season strong and help his new club as much as possible. He came into his rookie professional season having a great career at Arizona State overcoming some hardships along the way, but he learned to block out negativity and continued to work hard to achieve success.
Colton Ray is a 196cm guard from Williamsburg, Virginia playing his second professional season and first in Germany with Pro B team ScanPlus Baskets. He began the season with KK Ulcinjska Rivijera Ulcinj (Montenegro-Erste Liga). Last season as a rookie he played with St. John’s Edge (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 13 games averaging 3.6ppg, 1.7rpg. He began his basketball career with Lafayette HS and also played with Saint Ignatios Prep (S.C.). He played at Coastal Carolina (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 119 NCAA games and as a senior played 37 games averaging 9.4ppg, 6.4rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 73.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com a few months ago about basketball.
Colton thanks for talking to germanhoops.com You recently celebrated your first Thanksgiving in Germany. What kind of experience was that for you and how American was the experience in Germany for you? It was pretty cool they made it really Americanized for me so that it kind of felt like home. Not all the traditional foods but definitely had all the important ones.
After having been briefly in Montenegro this season you are now for good in Germany in the Pro B. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any friends that have played in Germany in the past?
I don’t know much about Germany other than Dirk Nowitzki but I’m enjoying it. I have a few friends that played here in the BBL so I knew about the style of play from watching it online back home.
You have joined reigning Pro B champion ScanPlus Baskets. What was the deciding moment where you knew that this team would be the right fit?
Obviously knowing they were the defending champions I knew they would be a contender for a championship and that’s what drew me in. Then meeting the players and the coaches I knew it would be the right fit.
You have joined one of the most talented and deepest teams in the Pro B. What is your role on the team and would not being the number one scoring option be ok with you? My role on the team is to do a bit of everything and no that’s not a problem with me as long we get the dub that’s all that really matters. I’m just trying to win a championship.
The team has many different players with different nationalities. What has been your impression of the club and how important is it having so many different type of basketball cultures playing as one? I’m loving it so far just being able to meet so many guys from so many different areas and being able to connect through basketball is such a cool thing to me.
You’re a guy that likes to dunk so you should feel right at home having a guy like Brian Butler as your teammate. What have you appreciated most about his game in the early going?
Well Brian is our captain so from the jump I immediately respected him because you don’t get that title without earning it. I mean the guy is a hard worker and a high flyer and I’ve enjoyed being able to go out and compete on the same side as him.
Have you picked up anything from Brian Butler’s dunking abilities in practice or does a guy like you not need any extra dunking tips?
Hahaha I mean nothing crazy. He has a lot more in his dunking bag than I do. I’ll try to do something a little crazy in the warm up line and then he’ll do the same thing and make mine look awful so I really leave the dunking up to him.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a very flashy player that can really do it all on the court. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit that description?
I mean I don’t know because those guys are so extremely talented but I watch a lot of Zach Lavine clips and athletic wings who can put it on the floor and try to model my game and take a little piece out of all of their games and put it in mine.
You can shoot the ball well, run the floor well and can finish with the best of them. What other strengths does your game have that you will showcase in Germany?
I think I’m a guy who can defend pretty well too. I might not be your typical pressure full court kind of guy but in a half court setting I take pride on the defensive end making sure my man doesn’t score and sacrificing my body by taking charges as well.
On what parts of your game are you working most on to continue to make your game as versatile as possible? I think just remaining consistent is a big thing for me. I stay in the gym and try to go to any optional shooting practices there are in an effort to help do that. I’ve learned as a pro consistency is key and it helps you maintain a job as well as get jobs later on.
You’re a player that can fill up the stat sheet with ease, but what do you feel is still a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away? I’m not sure. Maybe my creating for others. I’ve always been a team player and I try my best to get everyone involved on the court to a fault sometimes.
You played your rookie season with St. John’s Edge (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 13 games averaging 3.6ppg, 1.7rpg averaging only 9,9 minutes per game. I am sure you expected a totally different type of rookie season. How tough was your rookie season and did you experience any positives? Well honestly I don’t even consider it my rookie season because I suffered a torn meniscus prior to the season officially starting. I tried to play through it but the pain dealt too much and I wasn’t performing at a level I knew I could. Luckily Coach Jeff Dunlap and the front office gave me the opportunity to stay and rehab and even put me in some games toward the end of the season just to let me get my feet wet in the pro game which was huge. Nothing but love for the St John’s Edge and still keep tabs on them. But yeah I really consider this my rookie season.
In your 13 games there no team scored less than 88 points. I have heard good things about the NBL league in that it continues to grow. However is this league similar to the G-League in that guys are playing solely for stats as the big scoring games would suggest? The league is a lot tougher than people give it credit. There were some really good players that were exceptional offensively which provided a lot of scoring. I don’t think that it’s just scoring though because every night guys were trying to win and stats didn’t matter as much, at least on our team.
You played with quite a few guys that had played in Germany like Carl English and Rashaun Broadus. But when I saw the name Ransford Brempong, I chuckled a bit. I mean he retired ages ago. He came out of retirement after being out of basketball for 7 years. How did you experience the big man? Was it amazing that he could just come back after such a long time and play at a level like that? Big Rans was my guy from the minute he arrived. Hearing his story and seeing him come out of retirement and being a key contributor was awesome to witness. He gave me so many lessons that I’ve carried with me to Germany and we still talk every now and then to this day.
You played at Coastal Carolina (NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 119 NCAA games. You won two Bug South Conference titles in 2014 and 2015. Which one was more sweet? They both were REALLY sweet but 2014 was special because it was our first NCAA tournament birth in 25 years and we endured a lot of hard losses that year that really shaped us into making a run in the conference tournament and ultimately as a 16 seed taking a 1 seed UVA down to the wire and almost pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history.
You reached the NCAA tournament in 2015 losing to Wisconsin 86-72. What memories do you have of this game despite not getting many minutes?
Honestly just seeing how good that team really was up close instead of on TV. Frank Kaminsky dominated us effortlessly and everyone else really followed his lead. After playing them we understood how they went to two straight Final Fours.
You had many great games as a senior, but many that resulted in loses. Was your 15 point 16 rebound effort in the 81-77 win against S Alabama one of your fondest games concerning your overall play? Awesome game from a rebounding standpoint and pushing the game to overtime and winning on the road was awesome as well. My fondest game was probably my senior night which was my last game in the home gym with the guys I came into Coastal Carolina with and securing that win will always hold a special place in my heart.
Is Elijah Wilson like a brother for you? You went through thick and thin in school for four years. Now he is a top player in Austria. What was your fondest memory with him?
Blood wouldn’t make us closer. Talk to him still all the time and even lived with him this summer. Funny story actually we played each other in prep school when we were both committed to Coastal and his team cheated and beat us by 1 in a holiday tournament. My fondest memory of Elijah would have to be when we played Minnesota as freshman. It was maybe our 4th or 5th game playing a top program on the road and we came out absolutely on fire together. I finished with 15-16 points and didn’t miss a shot and he finished with 25. I knew our time at Coastal would be special after that and ultimately we became two of the most winningest players in our schools history.
How did head coach Cliff Ellis prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career? Coach always had belief in my talent and knew if I panned out and worked hard I would play professional at some level. So he made it a point to stay on me and coach me tough because he could see my potential as a player. At times I didn’t understand but looking back now it all makes sense.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Elijah Wilson? Obviously me but he probably won’t ever admit it. He did win the last time but I’m definitely winning the overall series.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now? Either Eldridge Payton or Frank Kaminsky
Who would be your starting five of best teammates you ever played with? Elijah Wilson Badou Diagne Tristan Curtis Warren Gillis Myself And Ron Trapps off the bench
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
LeBron MJ Curry KD
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
Jordan will always be the greatest player ever however LeBron has solidified second. Mike just was so ahead of his time and his killer instinct would make him a problem in the modern day era as well.
The Los Angeles Lakers are over 500 at the moment. Where do you see the journey of them going this season with Lebron James? I picked them to go to the conference finals. You can’t ever bet against LeBron. Only when he’s playing against the Warriors
Luka Doncic is the real deal and the top rookie in the NBA at the moment. Do you feel that with time he could become one of the greatest European players to ever play in the NBA? He’s definitely on track. The things that guy can do at his size is unreal. Definitely a believer.
The last weeks have been extremely painful for the Fraport Skyliners and fans as the team has been losing and losing so much that it´s almost February 2019 and they were still seeking their first victory in the new year. Currently the club was hiding behind an embarrassing 8 game losing streak and desperately looking to crawl out of their always growing hole, but the opponents didn´t get any easier as they had to battle 2015 easyCredit BBL cup champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg. They have witnessed an amazing season as withdrawing from international club duty this season has done wonders as they have been able to concentrate on the BBL and came into Frankfurt with a 13-3 record and sitting in second place behind FC Bayern Munich with the second best offense and defense in the league. For some Skyliner fans coming to see their team may not have been high on many wish lists, but to see Rickey Paulding step on the Fraport arena floor again and do his magic was definitely worth the ticket. Time continues to fly even on the basketball court and the Detroit native isn´t 30 anymore, but 36 and still playing like a 28 year old as he is in his 12th season with the club. A few days ago the seven time BBL allstar who had many battles in Frankfurt with his friend Jimmy Mckinney in the last years was rewarded with a contract extension and handed a loyalty ring for his faithfulness and loyalty to the EWE Baskets for never leaving the club. The American BBL identity figure came to Frankfurt having played 460 BBL games and amassed a total of 6,242 BBL points and was ready to not only battle the Fraport Skyliners again, but also against their identity figure Quantez Robertson who is in his 10th season with Frankfurt and both combined for 29 points and dropped some amazing shots over each other, but the guy standing tall and having the biggest smile after 40 minutes was Quantez Robertson who led a comeback and slapped the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the face with a buzzer beater 75-74 win. After the big win Robertson was content and not eagerly emotional since he had left all his energy on the court after the buzzer beater, but he still had enough gusto to talk and smile about his duel with Rickey Paulding. “We battled all day long. I made a couple tough shots over him and he did the same against me. It´s always fun battling a guy like that”, stated ex Auburn(NCAA) standout Quantez Robertson. After the loss, EWE Baskets Oldenburg legend Rickey Paulding hid out in the dressing room together with teammate Franz Massenat and one could of thought they might never come out, but actually they were waiting for teammate Karsten Tadda who had been occupied with doping controls. As always Paulding was very professional the way one should be after such a bitter loss. “I know what Tez brings to the table. I am happy for his career in Frankfurt. I hope he can play longer with Frankfurt than I did with Oldenburg. The people in Frankfurt really like him”, stressed Rickey Paulding. “I could really feel those two guys going at it. There is a reason why Paulding has played so long and we see Tez make those shots every day”, warned Trae Holder.
It was 2,30 in the afternoon on a very rainy, windy and stormy day in Germany where no one really wanted to leave the house or the work place as the conditions were as uncomfortable as a Shaq falling down on you in the paint and taking his time getting up and the kind of day where no umbrella is safe and where one better have a more sturdy one waiting in the wings when I reached ex NBA player Vincent Hunter preparing for a Basketball Champions League game against Brose Bamberg in Bamberg. It was five and a half hours before tip off and he was up beat and why shouldn´t he have been, because basketball life for the friendly American has been excellent in the last year and a half as he got his first experience in the NBA playing a few games with the Memphis Grizzlies and then returned back to Europe and suited up with a new team AEK Athens and proceeded to win the Basketball Champions League and Greek Cup. Basketball life has continued to be good for the Detroit native as this season he has an important role on a team that has been playing very well in the Greek league where they are currently in third place and always in the mood of annoying the Euroleague powerhouse teams Panathinaikos and Olympiakos and in the Basketball Champions League have held their own sitting atop group C with a record of 10-2 and on their way of continuing to do damage in this competition the way they did last season. The amiable sounding American didn´t know me and I didn´t know him, but for some reason we hit it off right away on the phone, but there was one side note that definitely helped the getting to know phase as I mentioned to him that I had had dealings with his brother Matt in the past. His brother Matt Hunter is four years older than Vince, but 7 centimeters smaller and is also a professional player. He played at Central Connecticut State (NCAA) and then played in Germany and his last stop was with IR Reykjavik (Iceland-Dominos League) two seasons ago. In Germany he wore the jersey of the Rostock Seawolves (Germany-ProB) playing 25 games averaging 18.7ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.6apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 71.2% and picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 2nd Team -16 and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Defensive Team -16 awards. Even though Vincent Hunter has had more success than his brother he has the utmost respect for him and thankful for very much. “We have a special relationship. I have watched him play since I as a little kid. He is one of the main reasons why I even started to play basketball. He is looking for a team at the moment. He is still a good player. I still learn a lot from him. I appreciate his passion and hustle the most on the court”, stressed Vincent Hunter. He also is one of the few professional players that didn´t take himself in that special one on one duel with his brother. “We get at it all the time during the summers. I think he would get more wins. I´ll give him that”, added Vince Hunter. One notices quickly that that brotherly love is mutual and that the respect for each other is more than present. “Me and my brother are like super goofy. Anytime we get together it’s nothing but jokes n laughs. We can just chill and not talk about basketball at all. I think that’s what helped us with sports. We’ve always been competitive and it just helped us push each other. Seeing who would score more or get more dunks. It’s always been fun. I think that’s why we have always been happy and cheered for each other”, warned Matt Hunter. After my nice chat with Vincent, I promised to try to help his brother Matt get back on the basketball scene with a team with my basketball and agent contacts. After the brother connection was discussed and the ice was broken, I preceded to have a very informative and interesting 40 minute talk about his career. The NBA was a hot topic, but so was his zeal to do great things with AEK Athens. All throughout the talk, the American continued to repeat a phrase that has stuck with me since then. “I just have to keep my head down and keep moving forward”. He obviously wants to get back to the NBA, but this phrase clearly shows the kind of drive he has to be successful for any team he plays for as the NBA is always on the mind of Vincent Hunter, but for now it´s leading AEK Athens to another title.
Vincent Hunter was born on August 5th, 1994 in Detroit Michigan and grew up in Southfield and played at Consortium College Prep. There he first got noticed with his basketball talent as he was named team MVP as a senior after averaging 26.5ppg, 14,0rpg, 4,0spg and 4,0bpg and aided the team to a 20-4 record. He then played two seasons at UTEP(NCAA) playing a total of 67 NCAA games and started 58 games. In his freshman season he played 34 games averaging 12.3ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 55.8%, FT: 60.9%. He scored in double figures in 22 games including posting 26 points against Southern Mississippi, 21 points against FIU and 20 points against Middle Tennessee State and Marshall. He upped his game even more in his sophomore season averaging almost three rebounds more per game while playing 33 games averaging 14.9ppg, 9.2rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 60.2%. He scored in double figures in 25 of 33 games and registered 12 double doubles. His season highlights included a 26 point bashing against South Eastern Louisiana, 23 points against N Mexico State and 22 point efforts against UAB, Rice and Florida Atlantic. He had made great progress on the court in his two years at UTEP and felt he was ready to test the professional waters instead of continuing in the NCAA. He had the total support of his family who made his decision come a lot easier. Usually when a player is putting up strong stats in the NCAA, a lot has to do with his own ability and teammates, but in most cases the head coach also has played a significant role in that player developing so well. Very rarely do I hear of a player that had a good NCAA career and then had the luxury of having a professional career not talk fondly of his college coach, but sometimes things don´t mesh with the head coach as Hunter experienced with Tim Floyd at UTEP. “I´d rather not talk about him”, said Vincent Hunter. The American declared for the NBA Draft in April 2015, but remained undrafted, but got his first taste of the NBA that summer playing the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with the Philadelphia 76ers playing 4 games averaging 7.0ppg, 5.5rpg.
Hunter who credits the Arizona(NCAA) standouts Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as his toughest opponents in school began his professional career in 2015 and made the training camp roster of the Sacramento Kings (NBA) plying one pre season game and later was released and then moved to Reno Bighorns (D-League) where he got his first real taste of how the NBA works playing 33 games averaging 21.8ppg, Reb-3(11.1rpg), 1.5apg, 1.0spg, 1.6bpg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 66.7%. He was incredibly consistent scoring in double figures in 30 of 33 games and scored 20 points or more 23 times and 30 points or more four times. He had a monster game against Los Angeles netting 32 points and hauling down 24 rebounds and also had great games against Iowa with 32 points and hit Oklahoma for 31 points. His stellare play definitely warranted some kind of NBA call up, but it never came. His rookie season didn´t end in the D-League, but suddenly he was in balmy Athens in winter playing for one of Europe´s greatest teams Panathinaikos and teammates with Greek legends Antonis Fotsis and Dimitris Diamantidis and well known players like James Gist, Nick Calathes, James Feldeine. “Of course I was disappointed and wanted a call up. I really wanted some team to recognize me, but in the end it turned out good. I came to Greece and played Euroleague with Panathinaikos Athens. Signing with a Euroleague team was a big deal for me. I was quickly showed another view of basketball. That helped me in the long run”, warned Vincent Hunter. With Panathinaikos Athens (Greece-A1) he played 14 league games averaging 2.9ppg, 3.3rpg; and 8 Euroleague games averaging 4.0ppg, 1.9rpg. It normally is always very competitive with minutes with Euroleague teams, but when you come in mid season, getting minutes is a major challenge, but he was very happy for the early European experience. “It helped me a lot. I was lost when I came to Greece. I didn´t know the European game. The game quickly taught me how different the game is in Europe. When I came over, I really believed I would average 30/20 in Euroleague, but I learned quickly that that wasn´t realistic. I ended up getting something like two shots a game”, added Vincent Hunter. Along the way he picked up his first professional title with the Greek cup.
In his second professional season in 2016-2017 he sought the NBA route again starting with the NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando playing 3 games for the Los Angeles Clippers averaging 5.3ppg, 3.3rpg and then played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas with the Memphis Grizzlies playing 5 games averaging 11.8ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.8spg, 1.0bpg. After playing a very strong NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, he had high hopes of making an NBA opening day roster, but was disappointed by the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies ven if he did play 4 pre season games for the latter. He decided to refrain from going the G-League route and went back overseas for a new challenge with t Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB). He had a very good sophomore campaign overseas for the Russian side playing in the VTB which is considered a top league where he played 17VTB games averaging 14.7ppg, Reb-2(7.7rpg), 1.0apg, 1.4spg, Blocks-3(1.2bpg), FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 67.6%, and played 9 Basketball Champions League games averaging 14,6ppg 5.9rpg, 1.2apg, 1.2spg, 1.6bpg, FGP: 63.0%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 61.9%. “I believe that the VTB is one of the top leagues in Europe. It was crazy how many good teams we played from a day to day basis. I remember playing top teams like Kuban, Zenit, CSKA and Khimky in a time of four to five days. You always have to bring you’re a game. Otherwise you will have problems”, warned Vincent Hunter.In the VTB League he had some great games against Unics and Khimki netting 22 points a piece. He´ll never forget playing against one of Europe´s top organizations CSKA Moscow losing 95-80, but contributing 6 points, 6 boards, 2 dimes, 2 steals and a block. There was especially one player that Hunter was in awe of on that evening. “Kyle Hines is a guy I always want to learn from. We play the same position and we are both undersized position five players. He is one of the top defenders in Europe so I try to pick up things from him. He is a perfect fit for CSKA Moscow. I like how he plays his game. He produces in his own way”, warned Vincent Hunter.That season he had some teammates with marque names like Michael Stocktin and Marquis Teague, but he had a very special relationship with the fierce and intimidating competitor Nick Minnerath. “Nick is my guy. He actually played division one at the University of Detroit so I watched him play a lot in high school. So we had a little connection there. He went through the same kind of steps I did playing D League and then coming overseas. I always tried to take in as much information as possible”, added Vincent Hunter.
Going into his third professional season in 2017, it was no surprise that he was booked up in July and not available for any lounging on Miami´s or Mexico´s beaches as he had another date with the NBA Summer League in Orlando playing 3 games with the Oklahoma City Thunder) averaging 16.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 58.6% and also with the Memphis Grizzlies in Las Vegas playing 6 games averaging 8.5ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.7spg, FGP: 56.8%. In his third attempt of reaching the NBA, he finally made the big show with the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA) playing 3 games averaging 2.0ppg, 1.0rpg and also played 13 games with the Memphis Hustle (NBA G League) averaging 16.2ppg, 8.6rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 17.4%, FT: 70.3%. In the G-League he scored in double figures in 10 of 13 games including a 29 and 13 effort against N Arizona and a 23 and 14 effort against Oklahoma. His good G-League play got him a gig with the Memphis Grizzlies. He scored in every game, but lost to San Antonio, Miami and Golden State. He had some memorable teammates with Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers just to name a few and will never forget the NBA ride. “I cherished the overall learning process. We didn´t have a very good season. We had the second worst record and were ahead of Phoenix. Our coach was fired during the season. I learned about the ups and downs that go along with being in the NBA. The most important thing I learned about my time with Memphis is that you have to keep grinding, keep my head down and keep moving forward. You can only control what your doing”, warned Vincent Hunter. There is that phrase again of keeping his head down and moving forward. Every player´s dream is the NBA, and for Vincent Hunter being at the big show was way to short. “Of course the NBA is on hold for me. I always want to play at the highest level possible. If I can´t play NBA then I want to play Euroleague. The NBA dream is never over for me”, warned Vincent Hunter. Making the NBA last season may have been his biggest feat as of yet, but his season would provide a few more major highlights when he joined AEK Athens (Greece-A1). He may have come in mid season and played only 14 Greek league games averaging 8.4ppg, 2.8rpg, FGP: 63.2%, FT: 81.5%; and 8 BCL games averaging 8.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 63.6%, FT: 57.7%, but he also won 2 chips with the Basketball Champions League and the Greek Cup. He had some very strong games in the Basketball Champions League including a 20 point game in 22 minutes in the 80-71 win against Olimpija and was solid in the final contributing 10 points in 17 minutes in the 100-94 win against Monaco.
was only obvious after the massive success with AEK Athens that he would return
for this season. He did have another go at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas
playing 4 games for the Los Angeles Clippers averaging 8.8ppg, 5.3rpg,
FGP: 68.4%. AEK Athens continue to shine this season and after two titles last
season have a lot of self confidence for new great things happening this
season. “I think that we are a top team. We have been playing well in the BCL,
but were coming off a tough loss against Olympiakos. They are a real tough
team. Our biggest strength is our defense. When we are locked in defensively
then we are to beat”, said Vincent Hunter. The team recently let go Canadian
guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes and could have picked up the missing piece to a title
with guard gem Jordan Theodore. “ He played with Milan last season and played
BCL with Banvit. He knows how to score the ball”, stressed Vincent Hunter. The
team has a lot of versatility and experience with guys like Jonas Maciulis,
Dusan Sakota, Malcolm Griffin and the beast Delroy James, but have a reel jewel
in Howard Sant-Roos who has been climbing the basketball ladder since 2009 when
he was with Bernareggio (Italy Serie C Reg.) and toiled in the German third
division for a few years in Braunschweig playing with a fairly unknown Dennis
Schroeder before making his break through in 2015 with CEZ Basketball Nymburk
(Czech Republic-NBL). “He is our leader on defense. I think that a lot of
people don´t really know how good of an offensive player he is. Once he is
clicking he can be unstoppable on offense. On the defensive end, he can stop
anyone”, warned Vincent Hunter. On a team with a lot of talent, Vincent Hunter
is holding his own and leading the team in scoring and rebounding in both
competitions. He had good performances in the Greek league with 12 points
against Panathinaikos and 15 points against Olympiakos in losses and in the
Basketball Champions League hit Lietkabelis for 28 points, French team Dijon
for 25 points and Spanish side Fuenlabrada for 24 points. “My biggest strength
is my versatility. I can guard the positions 1-5. I try to bring a lot of
hustle on defense getting blocks and steals and just being everywhere”, warned
Vincent Hunter. His scoring definitely gets noticed from opponents, but it´s
his versatility as a scorer that isn´t always on the radar. “Even if I do
score, I still think that at times it does get unnoticed. My ability to score
on the fast break and scoring in different ways is something people don´t
always see. I can´t control if people notice this or not so I just keep my head
down and continue to move forward”, stressed Vincent Hunter. Once again that
favorable phrase of his always present in his mind when he is thinking about
his career. Hunter didn´t leave Bamberg with a win, but left the Bavarian town
still sporting a positive 3-2 record against German teams. Against Bamberg, he
played solid for 27 minutes contributing 14 points on 7/10 shooting in a tough
77-73 loss as the 11-5 turnovers did them in. The 203cm forward has the chance
to win three titles this season as his basketball rise continues to develop. At
the age of 24, he already witnessed the NBA and played against Tony Parker,
Marc Gasol, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and as a rookie was a Euroleague
player with Panathinaikos Athens. He is a guy that will be very interesting to
watch where his basketball path continues to take him. With a strong finish
with AEK, he might not even have to play NBA Summer League in summer as he
route back to the NBA could even be easier. He knows what his recipe for success
will have to contain for him to get back to the big show. “I think the only
thing I have to do is keep playing my game. I think that somebody will
eventually notice me. I can´t control that, but only how I play. Like I said
before, I will keep my head down, work hard and keep moving forward”, warned
Vincent Hunter. Oh there is that phrase again of keeping his head down and
moving forward. His intensive focus and desire to reach his goals are so strong
that he will go his way.
Kwan Waller is a 29 year old 183cm point guard from Auburn, Illinois that is playing his third season in Europe and first with the Dragons Rhondorf currently averaging 16,8ppg, 4,1rpg, 4,0apg and 2,9spg. He began his basketball career with Auburn High School. He then played with Sauk Valley CC (NJCAA) and Ky Wesleyan (NCAA2). He turned professional in 2012 an dplayed in semi-pro leagues in the states from 2012-2015 for teams like the Charleston Gunners (PBL), Rockford Riverdawgs (IBA) and the Lake Michigan Admirals (PBL). He also sampled experience with Mineros de Cananea (Mexico-CIBACOPA) playing 15 games averaging 12.1ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 46.2%, FT: 80.6%. In 2015-2016 he came to Europe and played with the Leeds Force (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 32 games averaging 15.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.2apg, Steals-5 (1.6spg), FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 69.7%. Last season he played with Sokhumi Tbilisi (Georgia-Superleague playing 21 games: Score-4 (17.9ppg), 5.6rpg, 4.4apg, Steals-3 (2.1spg), FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 63.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Kwan welcome to Germany. After playing in countries like England and Georgia. What has been your impression of Germany and what have you learned to appreciate the most so far from the country? I have learned to appreciate the way Europe plays the game of basketball. It’s a more team oriented game!! It has taught me to become a better point guard.
Congrats on signing with the Dragons Rhondorf. What was the deciding factor that made you take this step?
Basketball is my dream job! I know that joining the Dragons will be a win win situation for both parties! For example me helping out the Dragons with wins and me moving up the latter in Germany from the Dragons organization!
After toiling in the semi-pro leagues for three years, you have found foot in Europe now in your third full season. Does the chip on your shoulder get lighter now with two seasons of European ball under your belt or will it always be there?
Good question! It’s still there! My road to professional basketball has been quite the journey. I have started from scratch. Unlike most players who go pro straight out of college, I felt like I was passed up because of my height and lack of numbers from playing division 2 basketball. Moreover learning that grades does matter in highschool/juco college which stopped my chances of playing division 1 basketball even though I was the leading scorer in my conference and all-american. so I had to start from scratch going to try out after tryout! but it made me a tougher basketball player because I never gave up!
How tough has the overall situation been for you coming to an ambitious team that started 0-4. How tough was it mentally leading up to the first game in Erfurt? Nothing that I haven’t faced before. Playing in Georgia has taught me how to play with a young team so I’m looking forward to the challenge
You started in Germany on the right foot getting a win. You don’t have the best winning percentage in your first two seasons in Europe as you had a combined record of 15-38 in England and Georgia. How confident are you that the Dragons will turn the season around? Very confident! anything is possible when you work hard and inspire while your doing it!
What has been your early impression of the Dragons Rhondorf. It is a very young team. What do you feel is the biggest strength of the team? Possibly always sticking together in all tough situations? Our biggest strength is that we are young! so we can use that to our advantage, running the floor, playing aggressive defense etc.
Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka has been a beast. What has impressed you most about the veteran inside player? The guy LOVES to win!! He treats the Game like war! and I love that and he doesn’t mind looking in the mirror to see if he is doing anything wrong. Oh he’s also super unselfish. A little bit too much and a great IQ as well. He is my type of big!
You’re the oldest on the court and will be the leader in the back court. How much of a raw talent is 17 year old Samuel Horvath? How vital will he continue to be this season as he gains more experience? This young guy is good. All we can do is wait to see how good he will become. Maybe sooner than later if he keeps playing against me every day in practice.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 183cm point guard that can fill up the stat sheet at ease. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description? I don’t like to compare myself especially when I’m still an active player. Let’s wait and see after I finish ball.
You showed your scoring talent the two seasons in England and Georgia On what things do you see continuing to work on and getting better at in your third professional season? Everyday I’m continuing to become a better playmaker for my team. Also a better shooter and an overall dominate force on the court.
Last season you averaged 4,4apg in the Georgian league. Do you feel like you can up that this season especially when you have a big man like Riauka who is a beast down low? Yes sir. I feel we already have good chemistry and communication. I feel comfortable we will make the right decisions on the court together!
What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court? My shooting! and my overall ability to control the game!
Last season you played with Sokhumi Tbilisi (Georgia-Superleague) playing 21 games: Score-4 (17.9ppg), 5.6rpg, 4.4apg, Steals-3 (2.1spg), FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 63.3%. You won only 1 game. How tough was this season and what lessons did you learn about yourself when you went through hard times? The season was really tough and I was put in a bad situation because of injury the previous year. It taught me how to be leader through tough situations on the court. More importantly how to talk to my teammates through those situations.
As a rookie in Europe you played with the Leeds Force (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 32 games averaging 15.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.2apg, Steals-5 (1.6spg), FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 69.7%. Ok so you had the English language there but what was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home? Actually rookie season was in Mexico! I never have been afraid to leave home, that is what I always wanted to do!! England was a great experience for me and the english speaking country made me feel right at home!
In your rookie season in Europe in England you were teammates with American Dandre Bullard who was also a rookie. How important was he for your rookie season and how important were you for him as rookies? Like I said before I was not rookie! I also toured in china and all through Europe countless times in between Mexico and my first European job. my ex agent is working on a documentary about it now. Bullard and I became very close during our time in England!!
As a rookie you played in the up and coming Mexican league but then three years in the semi-pro leagues with teams like Rockford Riverdawgs and Lake Michigan Admirals. How tough was this period. Was there any one special experience in those years where you say today that that was vital for you staying with it and not stopping? It was very tough making it as a pro those years everyone kept asking my why I’m not a pro. All I could do was shrug my shoulders. I’m glad I kept chasing opportunities and investing in myself, and that’s what I would tell youngsters today.
In your season in Mexico you played with three veterans Clavin Clemons, Derek Wright and Franco Harris. How vital was guard Harris for you in your first professional destination. Is he a guy that you looked up to considering his vast experience in Mexico? Mexico was the experience that showed me what the business was about and to play under pressure! it was everyone for themselves.
You began your basketball career at Sauk Valley CC (NJCAA) in 2007 and played two seasons there. How important were these two seasons for your early development? What did you learn about yourself as you were fighting to get established more as a player?
I was just a scorer back then and strictly a 2 guard!! I was a raw talent that didn’t do much besides putting the ball in the basket! I started school early as well, so I was always 2 years younger than my competition.
You finished at Ky Wesleyan (NCAA2) playing there from 2009-2011. What were your fondest memories there on and off the court? Honestly Kwc was a bad experience for me. one of my fondest memories was changing my shot in one summer. The system made me feel like a robot and I dropped out my 4th year with no degree and no professional offers. The reason for dropping out was to pursue a professional career in basketball in China. The best memory of kdub was when the head coach told me my best basketball was ahead of me with a look of disgust on his face because I was dropping out!
How did head coach Todd Brown help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career? By saying my best basketball was ahead of me!
Who won a one on one back in the day Cardell Mcfarland and who would win today? We were tied. Cardell doesn’t play anymore. Might want to go watch the full game when we played against each other in England.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now? Not sure if anyone made it to the league when I was playing in the NCAA.
Who would be your starting five of best teammates you ever played with? Huzie Hambright. Willie Richardson. Darko who currently is in Russia and Tone from my NBA China tour. Sorry I don’t remember last names.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick? Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Shaq and Bill Russell.
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron? Come on now!! Mj I hate this question. The greatest players never abandon their teams to chase rings, There in it for competition. Kobe is better than Lebron.
What was the last movie that you saw? interstellar! I’m a huge fan of physics
It was 15 minutes after the Fraport Skyliners suffered one of their most brutal loses in their 20 year history being slaughtered unmercifully by 8 time easyCredit BBL champion Alba Berlin 105-70 in the semi-final of the German Cup as most fans had exited the Fraport arena and were trying to digest and somehow comprehend what they had just witnessed while most of the players had crawled back to the locker room and wondered what it would take to shake the seven game losing streak. New Skyliner guard Tyler Larson had just given his debut with his new club and had caught on quickly that one of the normal post game procedures is to sign autographs for the fans win or lose. Despite the brutal slaughter to the hands of Alba Berlin, most players were good sports and signed autographs before escaping to hear the post game disappointment speech of head coach Gordon Herbert. Signing autographs is a part of the business and something that is common all over the world. In the states getting those NBA autographs can be more of a challenge as many are tired of the daily hazzle and lack of privacy which in a way is understandable, but then again when you consider that a James Harden made more than $ 28,000,000 last season, it is kind of sad when you’re the only guy waiting outside the Rockets Boston hotel and he just glides by you like you aren´t there while your politely saying “Mr Harden could you please sign my piece of paper”. Not only is Harden in his own universe on the court, but also off it. The NBA is a whole another world in so many area´s, but in Europe getting that autograph is a lot easier and more enjoyable than in front of a hotel in New York when 20-30 autograph hounds are pushing and shoving trying to get as many signatures in order to help pay their rent. It also isn´t as prevalent to see autograph collectors waiting before or after games for the players in Europe. I remember seeing this guy year in and year out in Oldenburg and Bremerhaven waiting for players after they exited their hotel and only last week, there was a faithful soul who waited in freezing temperatures outside the Fraport arena after a Asvel Eurocup win and got Polish national player AJ Slaughter to stop and sign. In the Fraport arena, fans will never be denied an autograph and Tyler Larson was feeling the love of the fans when he began to sign and it felt like it might never stop. He had just suffered one of his new organization´s toughest loses in club history, but he still tried to make every fan happy and have that special one on one moment. “I have written autographs when I was with other teams, but this was a lot today. I must have been signing for at least 10-15 minutes. I like making an influence on people and enjoy writing autographs and making them happy”, stressed Tyler Larson. Of course the Fraport Skyliners didn´t haul in Tyler Larson to only sign autographs, but to help lead the team and give stability at the point guard position and getting that second defensive dog like Quantez Robertson wouldn´t hurt either.
Tyler Larson is a 27 year old 191cm guard from Las Vegas playing his fourth professional season and has found experience playing in countries like Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Belgium, Italy and Russia. He is a guy that never forgot where he came from and how he has gone down a tough basketball path and is just thankful that he can play the game he loves. That could also explain the friendlessness that he showcased in his first Frankfurt appearance to the fans as he went overboard with the autographs and selfies. His career start wasn´t easy as his route to South Dakota(NCAA) wasn´t a simple one as he had to prove his worth at Casper Community College first before getting his NCAA break. After being redshirted his sophomore season and having an unspectacular junior season, he finally broke out his senior year averaging 14.4ppg, 7.8rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 75.3%. He was very consistent and had some monster games and even held his own in a tough loss to top basketball school Stanford where he scored 11 points dished out 5 assists and had 4 rebounds against future NBA players like Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown and top talent Reid Travis currently a senior at Kentucky. His professional route also didn´t start off with a bang as he had to pay his dues for his first two years in Latvia, but his hard work and dedication rewarded him in his second season with BK Barons Kvartals Riga with the scoring title in the LBL league. He made his breakthrough in his third professional season in Belgium with betFIRST Liege Basket (Belgium-Euromillions League) averaging 18.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 5.8apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 54.4%, 3FGP: 48.5%, FT: 83.3%, and also spent some time in Italy with Openjobmetis Varese (Italy-Serie A) averaging 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 40.7%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 62.5%. It was in Belguim where current Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark first saw the American ball and his effective play was still on his mind after the loss against Alba Berlin. “I played against him in Belgium. He can do everything all across the board. I like most how he has the ability to create for himself. I´m a big fan of his game”, stressed ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark. Before coming to the Fraport Skyliners this season, he began with Parma Basket Perm (Russia-VTB) and played 12 VTB United League games averaging 12.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.8apg, 1.5spg, 2FGP: 45.6%, 3FGP: 27.0%, FT: 72.4%. He had some strong games against Kalev/Cramo scoring 26 points and netted 23 points against N Novgorod. He also played against top team CSKA Moscow holding his own with 6 points and 8 dimes.
He arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday and took in the Eurocup game against French team Asvell and after passing the medical check had a few days of practice and had the opportunity to get to know his teammates. He made his debut in the biggest game of the season against Alba Berlin and had to witness one of the club´s worst performances in their history losing by 35 points. It wasn´t like he faced a weak team in his debut, but was hit by the Alba Berlin rampage and was impressed by the play of the Eurocup team. “They are obviously well coached. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and when. They played very well together and looked like a college program as if they had been together for 3 years. They hit a lot of shots and didn´t miss much. They are good, but not 30 points better. We had to play better”, stressed Tyler Larson. One really couldn´t expect much from him after only a few practices, but he did surprisingly well filling the stat sheet well adding 7 points, 2 boards, 4 dimes and a steal in 26,54 minutes of play while staying clear of the turnover stat, but didn´t find his range shooting 3/10 and was blocked twice. The American didn´t let the embarrassing loss dig into his focus and desire to win as he was more than annoyed with the loss and had that stern all business look on his face in the post-game chat that would have got most people to think twice before saying something to him that might not have sat right with him. “I like the style of the BBL. At first, I felt like I had to adjust, but as the game went on, I started to feel more comfortable. I felt great on the court, but I have no excuses. I should of played better. We as a team should of played better. We have to play better and get the win in Lyon. We can´t let this Alba loss beat us”, warned Tyler Larsen. “He played well and is still learning the system. He found me a few times for open looks. I like how he sees the floor. He will be good. He just needs to get to know his teammates. He will help us”, warned Jason Clark
In his debut with the Fraport Skyliners, he showed a diverse spectrum of what he can do. After the contest Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert had stressed that he had showed only about 30% of what he has as a player which gives a positive light of what can come in the next games from him as he gets better accustomed to the Skyliners philosophy and to the tendencies of his teammates. He came into the game against Alba Berlin in the first quarter and quickly showed that he has nifty passing skills as he made a no look pass to Jason Clark. After missing his first shot, he returned soon and made his first Frankfurt bucket scoring in traffic on transition. He also made a steal, but also was caught off guard by the intelligent Alba Berlin defense getting blocked. He came back into the game at the 7,39 minute mark of the second quarter and grabbed an offensive rebound. Soon after he was blocked for the second time in the game as this time he made a bad decision on attempting that shot. At halftime Quantez Robertson buddy and Alabama native Jermale Jones who is playing in the German second Regionalliga for Lich gave his first impression of the American. “He only played a few practices and it´s tough to come in and play against a top team like Alba Berlin. He played a mix of the one and two, but more the two as he didn´t know the system yet. He still has to understand the coaches philosophy. But from what I saw, he can handle the ball well and makes good decisions”, warned Jermale Jones. In the third quarter he took good care of the ball and played team basketball finding Robertson for an open three. In the fourth quarter, he had some more good plays. He did force a few shots, but did connect on a pretty deep trey and snuck inside the paint for a lay in. He also made a nice dish to Marco Voeller for the easy bucket. At one moment at the 6,02 minute mark, he was on the court with four Pro B license players and did a good job leading them as that unit contributed very well in garbage time. After the horrible loss, he got further praise and not only from his fellow Americans, but also from the German kids like ex St Johns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg. “Tyler did a good job. I like how he plays. He is very calm on the court. He fits well into the team and I´m happy to have him here”, added Richard Freudenberg. Getting two extra guards with Larson and Trae Holder didn´t make the basketball life easier for young German guard Garai Zeeb who has been battling for minutes since arriving in Frankfurt in 2015, but he is happy to learn from experienced guys like Larson. “He has a lot of experience and I will try to take as much from his game as possible to help mine”, stated Garai Zeeb.
Larsen is a combo guard that has the ability to do many things on the court. He came to Frankfurt having shown in the past that he can score the ball and fill the stat sheet with ease. He has the pleasant ability of knowing when to score and when to create for his teammates and is smart with the basketball and doesn´t make hasty decisions. When looking closely at his game and how he creates and handles the ball, names like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker come to mind when describing his game to NBA players. He has the game to make an impact with the Fraport Skyliners, but also hasn´t come into a easy situation as the team is riding a 7 game losing streak. Larson knows he isn´t a savior, but a guy that has to play his role to the fullest and just help get the team on the winning track again. “I will do what the coach wants me to do and what the team needs to get from me. I won´t be that guy that will try to be the main guy, but the guy that makes his teammates better while being effective and being a vocal and defensive leader. I want to get my teammates the ball and make them feel good”, warned Tyler Larson. A big problem for the Fraport Skyliners this season has been their poor defense which gives up an uncharacteristic 83 points something that has been unheard of in the Gordon Herbert era as he has consistently shaped good defensive squads that often averaged giving up under 70 points per game. The whole defensive package hasn´t functioned properly this season as a lack of consistent aggressiveness, one on one defense, perimeter defense, rotations and most importantly communication have been invisible. It isn´t too late to make adjustments on the defensive end and with the signings of Larson and Holder, the new youth spunk could add a new flair. Even if Larson is known more for his offense, one shouldn´t underestimate his defense and his zeal for improving in that area of his game. “I want to continue to be an all game communicator. Even if I´m tired or have a mental lapse, I want to always be communicating. I want to keep improving in this area”, said Tyler Larson. The American has only been in Frankfurt a few days, but quickly took a liking to Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson. The presence of Robertson could be a very pleasant blessing in disguise for the future of the Fraport Skyliners. “Tez has been around the game for so long and is like a mentor. I love how he is a dog on defense. I can really learn a lot from him. He is always talking and keeping everybody´s head up. He is a very positive guy. I don´t get down or angry on the court. I feel like I´m like him. We will mesh”, warned Tyler Larson. The season isn´t over yet and the goal now for the Fraport Skyliners is too reach the playoffs. They are only four wins away from the last playoff spot, but now is the time to start a season turn around. Tyler Larson won´t be the savior that will magically turn the team´s season around, but if he can be that second defensive dog like Quantez Robertson, then there could be an improvement on the defensive end which is the Fraport Skyliner´s biggest flaw at the moment.
Only two and a half months ago,
Dennis Mavin showed a consistent and effective performance with the ScanPlus
Baskets netting 14 points in 17 minutes in a 80-72 victory against the Fraport
Skyliners Juniors and now it´s 2019 and he is with Frankfurt and dueled against
his ex team trying to help his new team get revenge for the early season loss.
For Florida native Dennis Mavin, he brought 2 BBL games into the game with the
Giessen 46ers from last season and a 2-1 record. He has had very good
performances in all games with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors netting 15 points
in his debut in the 78-65 win against Orange Academy, posted 21 points in the
exciting 83-81 victory against the Dragons Rhondorf and last weekend steered 23
points in the tough 86-64 loss on the road in Leverkusen. Mavin faced his old
team and his predecessor American Colton Ray who had arrived and played at
Coastal Carolina(NCAA) before his professional career began was averaging 11.7ppg,
4,6rpg and 3,3apg and had scored in double figures in six games with the
Scanplus Baskets. He had some great games like recently scoring 20 points in
the exciting win against Orange Academy and 20 points against the Bayer Giants
Leverkusen. It was a duel of two guards who wanted to continue to show just how
valuable they are for their teams and Mavin surely still had some memories of
his time with his ex team and why it didn´t work out there. The Fraport
Skyliners Juniors controlled the game and except for a late fourth quarter
scare by the ScanPlus Baskets were able to get revenge for the first loss on
the road winning 81-75. After the big win, Dennis Mavin was congratulated by
many of his ex teammates and he reflected on the victory and how it was
battling against his ex team. “This win was huge since we clinched a berth for
the playoffs. It was a total team effort. We were missing a lot of guys, but
all stepped up from the starting five to the last guy on the bench. We played
hard and did a good job staying consistent on offense and defense for 40
minutes. It was weird at first playing against my old team, but at the end of
the day it was just basketball. It wasn´t overwhelming since I had done this
before in college”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Dennis Mavin. After the
loss, one could easily spot the disappointment on the face of Colton Ray as he
tried to describe the reasons for the loss and what it was like facing Dennis
Mavin. “We didn´t play as hard as we should of. The younger guys on Frankfurt
wanted it more. We didn´t match their intensity and when we did it was too
late. Dennis was still with us when I arrived. He is a great player and I´m
happy for how well he played and making that story book ending with the shot”,
stated ex Costal Carolina(NCAA) guard.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors got off to a quick good start leading 8-2 as their guards got aggressive and scored in the paint with ease with Dennis Mavin and 16 year old German Len Schoormann displayed. They also hit a pair of free throws. The only bright spot for the ScanPlus Baskets early on was German big man Kristian Kuhn who played 24 BBL games getting two buckets and dominating the boards. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors might have been without Zeeb, Freudenberg, Trtovac and Clarance, but that didn´t necessarily take away from their team athleticism as there were enough kids around as 17 year old Maxi Begue showed getting three baskets in a row including a pretty floater for the 14-7 Frankfurt lead. The ScanPlus Baskets had no outside game and also had to rely on their athleticism as 2017 easyCredit BBL slam dunk champion Brian Butler got busy and made a few buckets cutting the Frankfurt lead to 16-13 with a few minutes remaining in the first quarter. The three pointer had been invisible for Frankfurt, but at the end the club got huge back to back three´s from ex TV Langen guard Niklas Pons and ex Kronberg guard Felix Hecker. After a tough last season where Pons battled injuries and not having accuracy on his shot has returned strong this season and has made strides with his game and took full advantage in his increase in minutes. After 10 minutes, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had the comfortable 22-15 lead. “We hit nothing, missed easy lay ups and had bad pick and roll defense”, stated ScanPlus Baskets sport director Dario Jerkic. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 50% from the field and 33% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 5 turnovers while the Scanplus Baskets shot 36% from the field and 0% from outside and had 6 rebounds and 3 turnovers.
The ScanPlus Baskets got off to
a roaring start in the second quarter going on a 12-2 lightening run to take
their first lead of the contest at 27-25. In the run the ScanPlus Baskets finially
hit shots as they got many guys involved.
Bosnian big man Edin Alispahic scored 6 points including 4 free throws while Croatian
206 cm big man Jere Vucica dropped a trey and ex BBL player Marin Petric nailed
a pull up jumper. Mavin briefly slowed down their run hitting a trey to give
Frankfurt the lead back at 28-27, but the guests continued to chip away and
force Frankfurt turnovers with more aggressive defensive pressure and
offensively got four free throws and a lay in from Kuhn and a massive dunk from
Brian air Butler for the 34-28 advantage. The ScanPlus Baskets did a great job creating
mismatches and executing with ease. The contest proved again in this phase that
basketball is a game of runs as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors shut down the
guests run and started clicking on offense again going on a 11-1 run to lead
39-35 at the break. In the run, Frankfurt got key bench points. Frankfurt
practiced a sound inside out game as Felix Hecker hit a three and NBBL captain
Alvin Oniya scored in bunches with two lay ups as his quickness stifled the
guests. Cosmo Gruehn also continued to shine as he scored in the paint and then
closed out the second quarter with a pull up jumper buzzer beater. Frankfurt´s
young kids continued to take responsibility and executed and were simply
effective. The ScanPlus Baskets had no fire on the defensive end and allowed
the Frankfurt kids to stick it to them. “We got back into the game with
offensive rebounds. We were fighting well, but not scoring”, added ScanPlus
Baskets sport director Dario Jerkic. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 52%
from the field and 42% from the three point line and they had 21 rebounds and
11 boards while the ScanPlus Baskets shot 36% from the field and 25% form the
three point line and had 15 boards and 4 turnovers.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to distance themselves again from the ScanPlus Baskets as they found their accuracy from outside again. The ScanPlus Baskets came out strong again like they did in the second quarter going on a 4-0 run to dead lock the game at 39-39. Brian Butler scored both baskets with a lay in and massive two handed dunk on transition after a Stefan Fekete steal. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to grab another nice lead again as they let the three fly and execute as Schoormann and Mavin scored for the 45-41 Frankfurt lead. Despite a Alispahic three, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to build their lead as they got to the free throw line as Mavin, Begue and Gruehn scored for the 53-45 lead. After a Fekete left handed lay in, it was Gruehn hitting a huge three to extend Frankfurt´s lead to 56-47. It was another very good game for Cosmo Gruehn who continues to develop very well for Frankfurt. In his first season he averaged 4 points and 2 rebounds and last season it was 6 points and 2 rebounds. This season he continues to take responsibility especially in those games where other guys are missing. He finished as the game´s top scorer with 18 points, top game rebounder with 9 and top assist man with 3. “I´m so proud of Cosmo. He was huge for us today. He is playing with a lot of confidence and really stepped up for us”, stressed Florida native Dennis Mavin. Hecker followed with another three and ex Ehingen big man Tobias Jahn also scored with a pretty turn around bank shot as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors led 62-51 after three quarters. “We stuck to our defensive principles and stayed consistent while matching their defensive intensity”, stated Dennis Mavin. “Simple mistakes hurt us and we had break downs on defense”, added Colton Ray. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 50% from the field and 47% from the parking lot and got 28 rebounds and had 15 turnovers while the ScanPlus Baskets shot 38% from the field and 21% from the parking lot and had 23 rebounds and had 10 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the ScanPlus
Baskets were able to stage two come backs, but when it counted most were unable
to stop their ex player Dennis Mavin. The ScanPlus Baskets got off to their
third straight quick start in the fourth quarter going on a 9-2 run to cut the Frankfurt
lead to 64-60. In the run, the ScanPlus Baskets were led by free throws and lay
ins by Kuhn, two by CJ Oldham and by Petric. The ScanPlus Baskets got easy baskets
inside and stepped up their defense forcing Frankfurt to uncharachteristic
turnovers. But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to get on track again
and start their own 11-7 run and lead comfortable again 75-67. In the run the
Fraport Skyliners Juniors got continued big play from Cosmo Gruehn with 5
points, a lay in by Jahn after getting the inbounds pass from Schoormann
catching the guests napping and Begue also scored in the paint. With 3,21
minutes to play the ScanPlus Baskets attempted one last comeback going on a 8-2
run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 77-75. In the run they got 5 points from
Croatian forward Jere Vucica who also produced a trey and got a Oldham bucket
and Butler free throws. With the clock winding down Frankfurt had possession and
the ScanPlus Baskets did a great job on defense getting the shot clock down on
Frankfurt´s possession as Dennis Mavin had to create his own shot and did
hitting a very difficult fade away jumper for the 79-75 lead with 26 seconds to
go. On the next Possession the ScanPlus baskets had 4 chances in the paint, but
were halted while Cosmo Gruehn closed out the game with free throws for the
win. “It was a broken play and I knew that I had to make something happen. I
was confident that if I got to my spot that I would make it. I take that shot
all the time”, stated Dennis Mavin. “We were close at the end. We played good
defense, but Mavin made a tough shot”, stressed Colton Ray. The Fraport
Skyliners Juniors were led by Cosmo Gruehn with 18 points. Dennis Mavin added
15 points and Len Schoormann had 10 points while the ScanPlus Baskets were led
by Jere Vucica with 13 points while Kristian Kuhn and Brian Butler added 12
points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 50% from the field and 47%
from outside and got 38 rebounds and had 22 turnovers while the ScanPlus Baskets
shot 38% from the field and 20% from outside and got 35 rebounds and had 12 turnovers.