That basketball is first and foremost a business is something that repeatedly proved season in and season out in Europe when one observes the fluctuations of players coming and going just like what we have been seeing with the presidential cabinet of Donald Trump in his first year of office. With teams shaping up in the German leagues for the beginning of the regular season, one is able to see how much teams have changed in only a matter of a few seasons. The Fraport Skyliners met Belgium team Antwerpen in an exhibition game in Frankfurt and two players form the visiting squad had had ties to the Frankfurt club in that one player Jason Clark battled against them in the 2014-015 season in the Eurochallenge while American Tyler Kalinoski has never played against them, but witnessed the Skyliners accomplish something that the club has only done three times in club history Clark who learned his basketball trade at the renowned Georgetown University where he never had a shortage of flinging the ball to big men like Greg Monroe, Henry Sims or Hollis Thompson who would later go on to the NBA has played in Turkey since facing Frankfurt, but at least hasn´t bounced around form team to team like many do in the last two seasons as he is going into his second season with the Belgium side. In the 2014-2015 season Clark played for Belgium side Aalstar and faced Frankfurt twice helping crush Frankfurt at home 94-59 where he steered 20 points in 21 minutes for the win, but in the return game was annihilated 80-58 as he managed only 7 points. When looking at the Fraport Skyliners roster now only Quantez Robertson is still there as every other player since the 2014-2015 season has departed. Tyler Kalinoski played his first time against Frankfurt as he was a spectator in 2016 at the Fiba Europe Cup final 4 in Chalon as his team fell in the semi-finals thus not being able to meet Frankfurt who disposed of Italian squad Varese winning their third club title. With many new Skyliners on the floor, Clark surely still remembered Quantez Robertson who has been a menace on both ends of the court since he entered the BBL in 2009 as he filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, seven boards and five assists. After the contest, Clark was stretching and after a short chat with Skyliner Mike Morrison who he knew from battles in Belgium years ago, he reflected how valuable a guy like Robertson is in this day and age where playing for the same organization for many years isn´t typical. “It´s crazy how much basketball is a business. It just shows how much the club and city loves Tez for him to be playing here since 2009. A club doesn´t always keep a player that long like with him, but it shows that Frankfurt is like home for him and the club value him as a good person”, warned Antwerpen Giants guard Jason Clark.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex Georgetown Hoya Jason Clark after leading Atwerpen to 86-85 pre season win against the Fraport Skyliners
Fraport Skyliner fans saw their team for the first time on their home court at the training facility and got their money´s worth as they saw a hard fought contest that had a certain pattern until crunch-time where they just couldn´t get over the hump as Antwerpen controlled the game.
In the dog days of summer there are always people playing basketball and even in the grueling Midwest heat where the only time to find a comfortable hour of basketball outside is possibly at 9.00pm when the sun is down and the air is a little bit more relieving, but then again if you are a player that is going after their basketball dream, there is no distance or conditions too unbearable. For seven players of one of the 2017 Howard Hoops teams in Germany, there was no 100 degree heat and steamy gym to contend with, but rather 62 degree weather and pouring rain and a 30 minute train ride from the international city of Frankfurt to the small town of Idstein that has a population of 24,000 and about as far away from the NBA as Puerto Rico is to ever winning the soccer World Cup. There isn´t much really too memorable about Idtsein except like so many small towns in Germany presents a breathtaking landscape similar to upstate New York as the most known athlete from Idstein is Max Hopp who is a dart player and where any non- resident could really get lost trying to find the A-3 highway in the pouring rain as finding the right turn was given with a small A-3 sign instead of the normal routine big sign that would make the drive a lot easier. Basketball players will do a lot on a Friday night in the hopes of being discovered in any way or impressing a manager a coach with their basketball skills. The Howard Hoops international tour has been a mainstay for a few years now as founder Ron Howard has developed it further step by step. This summer he already had a camp in Atlanta, Georgia as well as games in Germany this weekend in Idstein and Neu-Isenburg and games in England in September. Howard has been able to place numerous players in Europe and especially in Germany in the last years like Chris Miller, Chris Neal and Christopher Davis as his contact list grows day by day. It will be interesting to see where his track record will stand after this weekend?
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Ron Howard founder of Howard Hoops In Idsein Germany after the kick off his tour in Germany 2017
In Idsein there was a coach in the stands with Danny Stallbohm who also had his son Justin with him who will fire away from downtown like no other when he is on the court as they took in the action.
One doesn´t always have to be in caught up in the playoffs of the NBA, Euroleague, or Endessa where one can witness great basketball in places like the Oracle arena in Oakland or the Wizink arena in Madrid or other leagues in Europe to be in the basketball zone in mind and be more than ecstatic about getting the full hot order on basketball, but one can also be trapped by desire in smaller venues in the dog days of summer in August like the OSP-Rhein-Necker gym in Heidelberg that seats 2000 people. On one side of the less modern arena where the benches are is a wall and seats no people. Any basketball spectator that has been used to the huge state of the art arena´s and were brought into the OSP Rhein-Necker gym blindfolded and turned towards the wall could of suffered a minor heart attack not knowing in what basketball calamity they had stumbled into. On August 8th, the OSP-Rhein-Necker arena in Heidelberg was the focus of a very special basketball evening that showcased great basketball talent all for a good cause as the well known University of Iowa that was an NCAA finalist in 1956 and NIT finalist 2013 were at the start of a European tour that would also take them to Italy and Switzerland and were playing against a put together basketball team for one night called the Basketball Aid Allstars. The game was for a good cause as once again Basketball Aid which had organized a successful tour last summer had put together this special event with all procedes going to help the fight for children stricken with cancer.
Iowa has a young team and some big talent with guys like Tyler Cook, Isaiah Moss, Jordan Bohannon and Nicholas Baer not too mention senior Dominique Uhi who was making his homecoming as he hails from Frankfurt only 98 kilometers from the trendy tourist attraction city Heidelberg where he was in the Fraport Skyliners organization for a few years before making the jump to the States in 2012. The Basketball Aid Allstars were led by coach German basketball legend Pascal Roller and had some very talented young players like Fraport Skyliners Richard Freudenberg and Garai Zeeb or Lukas Wank from Wurzburg, but also the very experienced Alexsandar Nadjfeji who at age 40 still plays like he is 30 and won titles in Germany with Cologne and Berlin.
It isn´t like Jordan Bohannon isn´t engulfed by special basketball vibes each weekend when he enters into huge basketball buildings in the States when he is on NCAA duty battling the likes of Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State or Seton Hall, but even during the dog days of summer and approximately 4,532 miles away from Iowa, the American will be presented with some NBA and brotherly vibes even if he doesn´t know it. When the American who hails from Marion, Iowa and could have called the University of Wisconsin a second home when he was younger sets foot in the tiny size OSP Rhein-Necker arena in Heidelberg, Germany that seats 2,000 on Tuesday it may seem like just any other ordinary gym with one side showcasing stands and the other side where the team´s benches are only a wall behind it, but in reality it will be more than that. The 20 year old 183cm point guard will be at the first stop of a summer basketball tour that will also take him and the Iowa Hawkeyes to the mountains and chocolate of Switzerland and to the pasta and wine of Italy. The first stop in Germany is a very special one as Iowa is taking part in a special event for the Basketball Aid organization that has been fighting against cancer that effects children since 2007 by giving awareness and having events where the proceeds go to cancer aid. As Bohannon and his teammates clash against a special put together Basketball Aid roster of mostly German professional players, the sophomore will have that special brotherly vibe following him all around the court as his brother Jason played for the then USC Heidelberg second division team that played in the OSC gym. He also will taste that NBA flair that is in the arena as current Chicago Bull Paul Zipser learned his basketball trade in this gym when he was a youth and actually was teammates with his brother Jason in the 2010-2011 season and played two games together at the end of the season where the German played two minutes scoring two points and the American tallied a total of 14 points in the two games. Another NBA aspect to this arena is that German basketball legend Pascal Roller will be coaching the Basketball Aid team. He had a stellar career winning 2 titles in Germany with the Frankfurt Skyliners and like Zipser started his career in this gym, but even better was a long time teammate of Dirk Nowitzki in the German national team that fed the Dallas Maverick in the post more times than Tyler Cook will ever dunk at Iowa. Now more than 6 years later Zipser is in the NBA, Jason Bohannon has retired from professional basketball and Jordan Bohannon is on the verge of continuing a very solid NCAA career. Basketball Aid international tour chairman Hans Beth was able to get a Maik Zirbes German national team jersey that was autographed by every member of the team and will be auctioned off at halftime.
On Tuesday August 8th, the University of Iowa will meet the Basketball Aid allstars and the American team led by head coach Fran Mccaffery at Iowa since 2010 are coming off a season ending loss in the NIT Sweet 16 to TCU 94-92 and embarking on the 2017-2018 season with many returning players, some interesting new freshmen and needing to compensate the loss of top scorer Peter Jok.
There was a time in the 70´s where the Montreal Canadians owned the hockey world establishing a special dynasty similar to what the Chicago Bulls mastered in the 90´s winning six NBA championships, but outlasting the Jordan´s and Pippen´s with their brilliance of hockey talent and sheer eloquence on the ice with the names of Lafleur, Gainey, Robinson and Dryden producing 8 titles and made these Gentlemen household names in Canada. Even if Ice Hockey isn´t the most played sport in Canada, it just seems like the countries most popular sport with the success of teams like the Montreal Canadians having a total of 24 Stanley Cups and the success rate of the Canadian national team that has won 26 Gold medals at World Championships and their biggest win of 47-0 against Denmark would be like the Cavs and Lebron James pouring in 350 points against the hapless Brooklyn Nets. Even if basketball has made strides in the last 7-8 years in Canada as it has sent more and more guys to the NBA with Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Nicholson or Jamaal Murray just to name a few, it is out of fashion for the country to develop rare talent like a Rick Fox or a Steve Nash back in the day as nowadays it seems like a few new players reach the NBA each year. Currently it fields 354,000 kids playing the sport in the 3-17 age group, Ice Hockey is still king in comparison to basketball as 543,390 people lace up the skates which is 1,64% of the Canadian population. Canadian national basketball player Tyson Hinz could easily stroll down Rideau street in downtown Ottawa undetected where he hails from while Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson might have a hard time dodging some autograph collectors and gawkers in cafés and even a more older Guy Lafleur would be recognized more than a HInz, but the basketball player is like a Montreal Canadian without skates, but just a tad better. Whereas the Montreal Caandians won 8 Stanley Cup titles in the 70´s, Hinz has accomplished his on impressive feat at only the age of 25 as he has also won 8 titles at Carleton(CIS), plus a Silver medal at the World University Games in Shenzhen (China) in 2011 in only 8 years and with his special lady luck and knack pf knowing how to mesh well with new teammates and teams and win titles, there will surely be new hardware added to his collection soon. He would have had even more had he been able to win in his first two professional seasons in Holland where he reached the semi´s and final, but he finally won his first professional title recently winning the German Pro A with 2004 Fiba Europe Cup winner Mitteldeutscher BC.
Hinz is a 201cm forward that learned his basketball trade at the well known Carleton University in Ottawa and in a span of five years won 7 titles including four CIS titles which is the equivalent of the NCAA title in Canada and three OUA championships.
Riverside, California may just be another city in California that gives it´s 2 cents in helping the estimated 39,14 million of the Golden State keep it´s growth, but when you have 319,514 people living there, you are bound to produce more than just a handful of very talented athletes. When looking at the who´s who of well known sports figures that come from Riverside, one quickly notices that the city that is 57 miles from Los Angeles has had a fancy of producing baseball players more than basketball players. If one were to make a poll asking Riverside natives which player Barry Bonds or Reggie Miller is that places most famous athlete, the responses may be mixed, but stats don´t lie that baseball players own that region. For the old school baseball fans just mentioning the father and son duo of Bobby and Barry Bonds and Dusty Baker would make one or the other reminisce back to four decades as they owned the baseball landscape of the 70´s, 80´s, 90´s and into the millennium. Other notable players were guys like Alvin Davis, 2002 World Series champion and save master Troy Percival, Eric Show and 2002 World Series champion Adam Kennedy just to name a few. Basketball players just don´t match baseball players in number from Riverside, but it has produced some very well known players besides Miller like his sister Cheryl current NBA shooting star Kawhi Leonard, Tony Snell and Euroleague winner with Real Madrid Marcus Slaughter. Another guy that belongs to the short list of professional basketball players that come from Riverside is Mason Biddle. He may not ring a bell for most, but he recently finished his rookie season in Germany and despite all the baseball talent coming from Riverside, in the end he decided to focus on basketball and his talent brought him a professional contract in 2016. Like so many guys before him, he chose against baseball for a reason I chose Tennis after spending my last game in ninth grade at short stop, the usually most exciting position on the diamond getting one ground ball the whole game and just lost in thoughts about what I am doing wasting my time with this sport. It wasn´t so much difference for Biddle as boredom can be a nagging difficulty for a teenager when all you really want is some fun and excitement. Biddle couldn´t come up with so many famous basketball players from Riverside either. “Yea the only other two I can think from Riverside California besides Reggie Miller would be Kawhi Leonard and a good friend of mine Malcolm Lee. Obviously, everyone knows Kawhi and Malcolm played 3 years in the NBA and was in the top league in Turkey this past season. I played baseball growing up and I wish I would have stuck with it but it was too slow paced for me so I stopped playing at a young age”, warned Mason Biddle.
Who knows what may have happened to the baseball career of Mason Biddle had he stayed with it, but he was able to turn professional after his college career at Western State(NCAA2) and now is on a fun and exciting roller coaster ride where he will see if he can be another one of many talented players form America in Europe that can slowly move up the basketball ladder up levels.
BASKETBALL AID International Tour 2017
It was one of the sporting highlights of the last years and it was for a good cause. In the summer of 2016, the BASKETBALL AID International Tour toured through Germany and Luxemburg. They demonstrated attractive basketball at 6 places playing 9 exciting games against EasyCredit BBL, Pro A, Pro B teams as well as against the Luxemburg national team in front of thousands of fans gathering money for children stricken with cancer. 30,000 Euro and a huge wave of enthusiasm and support was the result of the project.
Peter Jok driving to the bucket who finished a stellar Iowa career playing 123 games and now is looking to start his professional basketball career
The BASKETBALL AID International Tour will continue at the start of August. During the University of Iowa´s European tour at the beginning of August, they will come to Germany on August eighth. The Hawkeyes who play in the highest American college league division one will meet a BASKETBALL AID All-STAR team at the Heidelberger arena at the Olympic base Rhein-Neckar(Im Neuenheimer Feld 710) at 20.00. The organizer of the game are German Pro A team MLP Academics Heidelberg with their CEO Matthias Lautenschläger.
This will be the University of Iowa´s only game in Germany as they will play other games in Switzerland against the Swiss national team and in Italy.
“We are very proud to have been able to win such a top university for the continuation of our project. The talks have been running since months”, stressed Hans Beth who is the chairman of the BASKETBALL AID International Tour. Beth and German basketball legend Pascal Roller who won a silver at the 2005 European championships with Germany will look after the opponent of the University of Iowa. “At the moment we are putting together an All-Star team from Germany and it will be an attractive game”, stressed Hans Beth. The game also has a very special meaning for the ex German national player Pascal Roller. I have been a member of BASKETBALL AID for many years and I am looking forward to being a part of this great event.
If you’re a German basketball fan and primarily follow the easyCredit BBL, you surely will be able to easily find the arena´s in big cities like Berlin and Munich, but if your driving through the beautiful countryside of Germany and town hoping, you may not necessarily know if that place has a professional basketball team if you aren´t caught up with the lower leagues like the Regionalliga, second Regionalliga or Oberliga. You won´t find the same caliber of players in these lower leagues then you would in the easyCredit BBL where guys like Rickey Paulding, Bryce Taylor and Quantez Robertson have become the identity players of the league and why people come to watch games. Very often it is these import players in German lower leagues that have some kind of special story and have made their dream come true usually coming from a lower college league, but not necessarily giving less than the BBL players, but often having a special kind of heart that only these type of players can have, because they never had an easy journey to get to the professional level. One of these guys is Ronald Howard. Three years ago, one could of discovered him earning a living playing in the Regionaliga in Limburg in a small school gym in front of not more than 300-400 people. At first glance, one may have thought that 196cm NBA star James Harden had gotten lost or secretly been loaned out for a game, but with closer scrutiny one would of seen the 15cm difference as it really was Ron Howard even if his goatee made him a dead ringer for Harden, but only if one was at more of a distance away. The American is quick to point out what he likes and dislikes about Harden and that having a goatee has nothing to do with him. “I think James is a good offensive player but he doesn’t play defense and that is what I can’t stand about James. Best PG in the league is tough for me because I don’t watch the NBA much because I love Euroleague but I give it to Kyrie that boy knows how to win and as a PG he must know how to be a winner. I grew my goatee out because I´m Muslim”, stated Ron Howard. Even if Howard had played for some other German Pro B teams and in Romania, his professional career was never a cake walk, but one in that he witnessed what lesser known players really go through as making the professional level has many hardships and twists and turns that he somewhat tackled and conquered. Once his professional career ended in 2014, he knew right away, that it was his duty to try to make the professional route for other Americans easier.
The first meeting between Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Ron Howard in Limburg in 2013
Currently Howard is 32 and will be turning 33 in August and had a short professional career, but at least he can always boast that he was able to live the dream of playing overseas.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber doing play by play commentary in english at the 2016 Gezeiten Haus Cup in Rhondorf in support of the 2016 Basketball Aid international tour.
After two playoff appearances in a row and the Fiba Europe Cup title last season only the third club title in the 18 year history of the Fraport Skyliners, this rapid success of the team could have kept a good majority of fans content this season as that third playoff showing didn´t happen as the season was at best average. There weren´t too many highlights to remember this season for the 2004 BBL winner that one will take into dream land when one is stuck on the German autobahn in the dog days of summer wanting to reach Salzburg, Austria in time for afternoon coffee and fluffy Nockerl at Cafte Mozart. Some things that stand out was the impressive rookie season of American Shavon Shields, the AJ English buzzer beater in Tuebingen, the magnificent 35 point performance and 8 crushing dunks by Florida native Mike Morrison against Pinar Karyisaka in Champions League action or the signing of another young gun for Gordon Herbert´s stable with 18 year old Richard Freudenberg who looks a tad like the young version of Zack Morris aka Mark Paul Gosselaar from 90s American TV show Saved By the Bell. So with one game remaining on the Fraport Skyliners schedule against 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin in the Fraport arena one has little to look forward except for observing a good hard fought game and seeing some last great plays this season like Quantez Robertson feeding a Mike Morrison for the felt like 1000 alley-op of the season or asking a Nils Giffey in warm ups for the 20,000 time what it was like playing together with Kemba Walker at Uconn and where he stores his 2 NCAA rings. Not only what is on the court is worth observing, but also people who are roaming the Fraport arena. In Los Angeles you have Jack Nicholson courtside wondering when his Lakers will ever be good again, in New York it can be Spike Lee wondering who will be in the tabloids first the next morning him or Carmelo Anthony and in Frankfurt you have Hans Beth. Beth may not be as prominent as the Hollywood actors, but in the Fraport arena everyone knows his face as he is at every game sitting a few rows up behind the scorers table and is always flashing that charming smile and never seems to lose his dapper look and still has the combined look of James Bond star 007 Roger Moore and Dynasty star John Forsythe minus the grey. Beth shakes almost as much hands during a game as Don King does in any Boxing ring from New York to Tokyo and Fraport Skyliner CEO Gunnar Wobke and is always ready to bring further awareness to his baby Basketball Aid. This Saturday he will be talking to numerous people and could be bringing further life to the Basketball Aid international tour something he has been supporting and been in charge of the last years.
The life of a professional basketball player in Europe obviously is worlds apart from the glitz and glamour of the NBA, but it´s still an occupation and a meal ticket for so many Americans living their basketball dream. A professional basketball player in Europe has so much free time on his hands during the day something any normal Joe Shmoe that is working a 9-5 job would dream of having at least once a week, but professional basketball players have it almost every day and sometimes worry too much about what and what not to do. Usually a club will have a weight room workout and light shooting somewhere in the vicinity of 10-1 and then a hard practice at night for 1-2 hours and in between and after a player has many options to fill their time. Back in the 80´s and 90´s a player had to be very imaginative about their free time as their was no social media, state of the art cell phones or Skype. Back then a player actually went into book stores to fill up on reading material and had possibly more interesting encounters of how to pick up women simply because then it was a work of art whereas now you can find a new one every night in the internet. However an interesting thing that clubs have done over the years is send players to schools to talk about their experiences with basketball and life or to help aspiring young kids how to play basketball. Usually it seems the taller and more gregarious a player is, the more interest a player will get simply because you don’t see many 208cm men walking around in Europe. Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison can fill the Fraport arena alone with his crushing dunks as it is always a highlight to see him running the floor and getting served up an alley-op hard throw down from a AJ English, Kwame Vaughn or Quantez Robertson as his 8 dunks recently against Turkish team Pinar Karsiyaka seemed like an eternity for the Champions League team on that night. Of course, Morrison could also tell great tales about his experiences in Finland and Cyprus or school days at George Mason as well as other players recalling their great moments, but it´s not every day that a player can rock the court with his play and also fill a classroom with his Kobe Ammunition. One of these guys is Jordan Burris who currently is living his basketball dream in the German 4th league with up and coming team Coburg. He is having a great third professional season which in a way is his rookie season after his first two professional seasons didn´t really pan out the way he wanted to. He is filling the gym in Coburg with his game as he is averaging 20,8ppg, 9,1rpg, 2,6rpg and 2,4spg and if he had to would be able to fill any other room with his Kobe Bryant story. Burris had the opportunity to film a commercial with NBA legend Kobe Bryant that would fill any room to capacity, but then again if Mike Morrison would film an interview with his son Mike junior, it would surely get the thumbs up in Frankfurt and fill any room as anything they would do could only be entertaining as this father and son duo had the perfect wedding proposal plan and party time plan when mommy left for a trip to the States recently. If Burris really wanted to and needed extra cash, he could surely come up with a way to spice up the Kobe Bryant experience and just tour the country. He will forever cherish his time with the LA Laker legend. “ He’s been my favorite player since I can remember. So to meet him and be able to pick his brain was the experience of a lifetime. At one point he stopped the production of the commercial and gave me a personal lesson on his fade away. That’s a memory I will cherish forever. He’s also a big trash talker man. But I guess in 20 years of NBA basketball he’s heard it all”, stated Jordan Burris.
Burris also had the audacity to talk trash with Kobe and warned him about blocking his shot, but instead saw the master drop 10/10 on him. “I told him I’m Jordan I’m the guy that’s going to lock you down. To that he said that’s not what my 30,000+ points say. After that I had nothing to say. But just being a huge fan of his, I admire his work ethic and tried to incorporate that into my game. Be the first one in and last one out as much as possible. A line that sticks with me from Kobe is rest in the end; not in the middle”, stated Jordan Burris.