It was June 17th, 2010 and the tension and excitement couldn´t have been any more extreme in Bamberg as it was game 5 of the finals between Brose Bamberg and the Deutsche Bank Skyliners from Frankfurt and with a few seconds to go captain Pascal Roller who for years was one of the better free throw shooters in the BBL was unable to sink free throws to keep the game going and Bamberg won their third BBL title and first in the Chris Fleming era 72-70. There were two players on the court with one screaming pure joy out with Brian Roberts and the other experiencing his first big tough loss in his rookie season with Quantez Robertson. Nine seasons later both guys are still grinding away and have had great careers as Brian Roberts made it to the big show playing five seasons in the NBA and registering 320 games for three teams with New Orleans, Charlotte and Portland while the other Quantez Robertson now 33 is in his tenth season with the Fraport Skyliners and has given the name lifer a new meaning and now belongs to the top identity figures with Rickey Paukding having played with only one team in their careers in Germany. Last season Roberts returned back overseas and played with Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) and this season is balling with Unicaja Malaga(ACB Spain) and still going strong at age 32. The two exceptional players that had many battles in the BBL returned and faced each other for the first time in more than six and a half years as their last meeting was on April 3rd 2012 in Frankfurt as the Fraport Skyliners whipped Bamberg 76-68 as Robertson finished with 12 points and Roberts with 13 points. Quantez Robertson may have won their last meeting, but Roberts has the 7-4 lead in overall meetings and more importantly won that BBL title that Robertson is still chasing. Both met again in Frankfurt on a mild autumn night and fans saw a game of runs and a massive Fraport Skyliners comeback that wasn´t rewarded as they fell to Spanish side Unicaja Malaga 84-78. Unicaja Malaga moved to 6-1 and Frankfurt to 4-3 in Eurocup play. “We talked a bit. It is crazy that he has been in Frankfurt so long. I joked with him asking why he doesn´t have a German passport yet. He has put in good work here. He still plays the same and hasn´t lost a step”, stressed ex NBA player Brian Roberts. “Tez did a good job on Roberts. He didn´t score until late in the game”, added Jason Clark. Frankfurt played out their hearts and saw the real break through of some of the young kids Garai Zeeb, Elijath Clarance and Trae Bell Haynes in the third and fourth quarter as the club was carried by them. “We showed growth tonight. Some of our main players struggled, so we put in our young guys and they showed that they can play. They showed a lot of heart and that was the reason why they were in the game. The young guys did what they were supposed to. A big congrats to them”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Jason Clark. Unicaja Malage came into the game remembering their big 90-64 rout at home, but this time it wasn´t as easy on the road. “We had our ups and downs and it wasn´t easy playing against them. Playing small ball was an advantage for them. They played good transition and we made too many turnovers which helped them come back. We moved the ball well in the second and third quarters, but they played more aggressive in the fourth quarter and were able to come back”, stressed Polish national player Adam Waczynski.
The return Eurocup game between the Fraport Skyliners and Fiat Turin had two major stories involved that separated 50 years. The one major news story before the game was the return of 78 year old head coach Larry Brown who had been back in the states for a month on account of health issues and had been cleared to return and the other story was a buzzing one of 28 year old ex NBA player Erik Murphy who may never ever be close to being on the shooting level of a Dirk Nowitzki, but knowing the genuine character of the big German, he would surely have praised the American for his almost spotless shooting in the last two games had he witnessed it. “It was good to see coach Brown again on the sidelines. You never want to see a coach or player be out because of health problems. He looked healthy and had high energy. It is always nice seeing someone doing what they love”, stressed ex Chicago Bull Erik Murphy. Murphy hasn´t just been hot in the last 48 hours, but has been severely red hot. He led the Fraport Skyliners to the 83-79 win at home against the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he produced 22 points and then stormed on to the court in Turin and gave an unforgettable Eurocup performance dropping 33 points in the comfortable 85-75 victory. ”We came out ready to play and had a good first half letting the defense set the tone. We were focused and were able to take things away from what they do well. Despite some runs of them and shots made, we were pretty much in control of the whole game”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Erik Murphy.
His two game total stands at 55 points while shooting an amazing 20/26 from the floor.
After the bitter 72-64 loss at home against 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen the Fraport Skyliners sneaked back into the locker room as the only thing missing was hiding themselves with huge super market paper bags as they had given the name stinking up the room a new definition. Last season the week of preparation would have felt like a nasty eternity having to wait so long, but not this year as the Fraport Skyliners can rebound quickly after a loss and take revenge during the week in international competition. A week ago they had escaped Vechta with a win, but didn´t get the win in a pretty fashion and made amends with a huge win in Lithuania getting by Rytas Vilnius. This week the Fraport Skyliners were home again for Eurocup action after having been on the road the last two weeks in Malaga and Vilnius and were searching for their third win in the competition. They met top Montenegran team Mornar Bar who currently have a 8-2 record in their home league and were founded in 1974 and are a four time cup finalist and won the cup in 2004 and are defending league champs in their country league. Quantez Robertson also was looking forward to the contest as he met his ex teammate 30 year old Antabia Waller from Auburn(NCAA) who was a junior when Tez was a senior in 2008-2009. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game with a 2-1 record while Mornar Bar rode into the Fraport arena with a 1-2 record, but had defeated Italian squad Turin who had been without legendary coach Larry Brown who had traveled back to the stats to seek medical attention. The Fraport Skyliners rebounded very well from their poor loss on the weekend to 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen finding their groove and Brady Heslip In the zone early destroying KK Mornar Bar 95-78 moving to 3-1 in Eurocup play. They scored 63 points in the first half, but cooled down in the second half scoring only 27 points, but nobody cared as most of the damage had been done in the first half. Things got a little heated in the post game press conference as KK Mornar Bar head coach Mihailo Pavicevic criticized the Fraport Skyliners organization for not having court time in the days leading up to the match. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t take the criticism well as he defended his organization and
disapproved of the manner of which the opponent handled themselves. It is also not the way the Fraport Skyliners handle themselves as they are a respected organization tha tconduct themselves in a professional manner. That was the only heated exchanges that night as the Frankfurt players themselves were calm and happy with the turnaround of the play. “The reason for the win was defense, defense, defense. We played together, communicated better and switched better. We took away their game plan which was getting on them off the screens and didn´t give them open looks. On offense we shared the ball and hit open shots”, stressed Jason Clark. The KK Mornar Bay players exited one by one with their heads sunk and seemed a bit shocked by their sad showing. “They hit three´s all night long. Heslip got them going and it went on. It was a very good shooting night for them”, commented ex Seton Hall guard Khadeen Carrington.
Ok after six games it is obvious that Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark won´t be stealing Jared Jordan´s nickname Mr Pass anytime soon, but the ex Georgetown standout supplied the needed energy and scoring punch when the team needed it most helping carry the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup winner to it´s second Euro Cup win over Rytas Vilnius 70-61 as it´s record grew to 2-1. You have those pass first point guards and you have the scoring point guards and Clark definitely belongs to the latter. So far this season he has shown his moments in the playmaking category and been that scorer he was brought in for scoring 16 points against Turin and Vechta. There has been criticism that the club has a point guard problem, but does it really? The season is young and the team continues to find ways to win and in the second half it was the point guard duo of Clark and Bell Haynes that took control and were vital in the team escaping with a win. The American who made a name for himself in Belgium playing most of his professional career there and is on the way of doing the same thing in Germany now was in good spirits shortly before boarding a plane in Lithuania back to Germany the day after and was content about the victory “The key to the win was our defensive intensity. We brought it from the start and did a good job continuing to do it in the second half”, said Jason Clark.
Lazeric Jones is a 28 year old 182cm point guard from Chicago, Illinois that is playing his seventh professional season and first with AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA). He has played in various countries in Europe like Israel, Greece, Hungary and Turkey. He has won three professional titles with two in Hungary and one in Turkey. He started his basketball career at Simeon Career Academy where he helped the school win the state title in 2007 while playing with Derrick Rose. He then played two years at John A. Logan College before finishing at UCLA. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the 75-65 Eurocup win in Ulm.
Lazeric thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Was this your first time in Germany? What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball?
This was my first time in Germany. Ulm is a nice city. I have really enjoyed my stay here. I only heard good things about Germany.
Congrats on the convincing 75-65 win keeping a very offensive team like Ulm under 70 points. The way you have been defending in the early going, does this team have the potential to be a very good defensive team?
I think so. Coach is big on defense. As long as we give the effort I feel like we will always do well against any team we play. Sky is the limit for us this season on the defensive end.
You have played in many countries in Europe in Israel, Greece, Hungary, Turkey and now France. How cool has it been playing for AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA) and living in Monaco?
It has definitely been different. Monaco is such a beautiful place. The organization has been great and given me everything I need to be comfortable. The weather is great and I love the view.
In 1990 basketball in the United States was still living its glory off the NBA Showtime of the 80´s where in Boston and Los Angeles the streets in some areas would be barren when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson faced off on the court, but in Germany basketball was just there and nothing else, a sport that was worlds behind the number one game soccer. Back then shortly before Michael Jordan would begin his quest for 6 NBA titles and become the greatest player of all-time, the ex North Carolina(NCAA) standout belonged to the best players in the NBA having scored 69 points in the NBA the season before and in the off season visited Germany doing promotion for Nike and landed in the Ballsporthalle now named the Fraport arena about 15 kilometers away from Frankfurt in the suburb of Hochst, but with that growing skyline always in eye sight. Back then the arena that was brand new and had been built in 1988 wasn´t even sold out something that would be unheard of today if a Lebron or even long retired Jordan came back in 2018. It was August 28th 1990 and only 4,000 fans were on hand to watch Air Jordan play with top German team Steiner Bayreuth against a team from the US Military.
The most known players from the German squad were 1993 European champions Michael Koch who would later coach in Germany with the Telekom Baskets Bonn and Kai Nurnberger who played with Frankfurt from 1999-2003. Jordan was supposed to play with each team, but in the end played the whole game with the German club scoring 25 points and leaving fans with a memory that they would forever have bolted in their minds even if he seemingly fled after the game quicker than any fan could blink an eye or a Usain Bolt could run backwards down the track abstaining from signing autographs. Having had superstar Michael Jordan play a game in the now called Fraport arena is without a doubt the greatest basketball player that ever graced the floor. Granted over the years the Fraport arena has seen many great players like Dejan Bodiroga, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat or a Jose Calderon to name just a few from Europe and even American players like Dorell Wright, Darius Miller or a Casey Jacobsen to name just a few. Well known coaches have also come and gone in the arena like a Svetislav Pesic with FC Bayern Munich, Ettore Messina with Kinder Bologna, Dusan Ivkovic with CSKA Moscow, Sergio Scariolo with Unicaja Malaga over the years so the arena has seen a lot, but nothing as great since Michael Jordan. That changes October 3rd as legendary head coach Larry Brown who is 78 years old will arrive with a lot less fan fair than a Jordan, but with the most utmost respect from all who know and understand basketball. “It is great for European basketball that he will be in the mix here. It just shows how much he loves coaching and how dedicated he is to still be coaching at that age. He has won so many titles. Most coaches wouldn´t come back to coach at that age”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Erik Murphy.