Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Tim Oldenburg after he produced 18 points and 15 rebounds in a 79-66 victory against Leipzig in 2015
It really didn´t matter if the Fraport Skyliners Juniors won or lost, Tim Oldenburg was always prepared to give his five cents after a game about what happened on the floor no matter if he had just survived a double OT loss, hit the floor 25 times all battered and still gotten up or been a spectator at the end of the bench trying to get through an injury. Oldenburg is a 25 year old 202cm forward/center that has decided to hang up his jersey and concentrate on his 9-5 job at the police force. The German came to the club in 2009 and first played with Eintracht Frankfurt (Regionalliga), but witnessed his first Pro B minutes in the 2010-2011 where he played 12 games. In total he would play 7 Pro B seasons, but also a BBL game, one Eurochallenge game and two Fiba Europe Cup games. Oldenburg was so much more than just a good basketball player, but a guy that had a great charachter and was a role model for everyone.
Even if an exciting basketball game can be interrupted and made less nice by the constant blowing of whistles slowing down the game, so can a timeout where some patrons will scoot to the food stand to buy a Coke and nacho´s while other´s may even delay a bathroom run just to watch the entertaining sideline show of ex Alba Berlin head coach Sasa Obradovic who has his own Serbian theatre like skits with his hand and body gestures trying to motivate his squad back into the game, but the 2 time European basketball champion with the then Yugoslavia also has a knack of saying bold things. In the 2015-2016 season Obradovic who won the Korac Cup in 1995 with Alba Berlin as a player and has basketball legendary status from the Spree river to Potsdam is a guy who can talk and fill a press conference room and where journalists for once won´t interrupt, but just shut up and listen stated that ex Brose Bamberg guard Brad Wanamaker belongs to the top three best players to ever have played in the BBL. It would be interesting to how quickly he could come to a conclusion to which center is better the more experienced Elmeden Kikanovic or constantly developing and rising star Johannes Voigtmann of the then Fraport Skyliners. It would also be interesting to see how Obradovic would react to the question “Was Johannes Voigtmann the best player in the BBL in 2015-2016? In terms of play, the way Johannes Voigtmann was playing that season, he was becoming more and more of a showcase player in the BBL and a player that fans came specifically to see play. You may have seen Jason Boone as an extra in a Lebron James movie as he could easily moonlight as an actor or go into the field once his playing days are over and could even make a mean Jason or funny Jason on screen. However where he doesn´t joke is when it comes to basketball as he is all business on and off the court and on December 15th, 2015, he had the audacity to tell me at half time of a Fiba Europe Cup game in Frankfurt against Sodertalje that Johannes Voigtmann was the best player in the German BBL. Even the ex floor general of the Fraport Skyliners Jordan Theodore was very impressed about his ex teammate: “To me Jo has been playing at a high level all season. Definitely the best center in the league. Big Jo is definitely one of the best players in this league. He does it all”, warned Jordan Theodore. In 2015-2016, it is so much fun watching the blue eyed basketball monster as at times it seemed like he was a younger version of Larry Bird wooing fans with his special knack of passing the ball, but in reality it is just Johannes Voigtmann being the most complete center in the BBL. “Joe is very skilled. He has a high IQ and can do things with the basketball that I haven’t seen from guys his size. He can put the ball on the floor and create for others. He can shoot the long ball and his mid range game is unstoppable”, stressed ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore. But before we talk about the current play of the German national player, let´s look back to 2012 when he first arrived in Frankfurt.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber doing play by play with Johannes Voigtmann during a Pro B playoff game between TV Langen and Basket Akademy Weser-Ems in Langen in 2014
Voigtmann is a 24 year old 211cm center born on September 20th and hails from Eisenach, Germany and played four seasons with the Fraport Skyliners. Before coming to Frankfurt, the German big man started his basketball trade in the former East Germany and didn´t start until he was 15 years old.
It is that time of the year again where the biggest basketball talents meet and show their abilities on the court in Trevisio, Italy at the 2017 Adidas Eurocamp. Germany is in good company as it will be represented by guys like Karim Jallow of FC Bayern Munich, Louis Olinde of the Brose Baskets Bamberg and Kosja Mushidi of Mega Leks, but also from two other huge talents with Isaac Bonga and Richard Freudenberg from the Fraport Skyliners will also be present. At the 3 day camp from June 9-11, the young hopeful talents will play in front of current and former coaches and players like Thon Maker of the Milwaukee Bucks) and Russian legend Andrei Kirilenko. The players will be able to showcase their skills in drills as well as compete against each other in games. Well known players that played at the Adidas Eurocamp in the past have been 93 first and second round draft picks, including NBA standouts Serge Ibaka (208-C/F-89) (Toronto Raptors), Danilo Gallinari (208-SF-88) (Denver Nuggets), Goran Dragic (190-PG-86) (Miami HEAT), Brandon Ingram (206-SF-97, college: Duke) (Los Angeles Lakers), Jaylen Brown (201-F-96, college: California) (Boston Celtics), Dragan Bender (213-PF-97) (Phoenix Suns) and Thon Maker (216-C/F-97, college: High School) (Milwaukee Bucks). Forty-three former EUROCAMP participants currently hold NBA contracts and 64 currently play in EuroLeague Basketball.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Isaac Bonga after a Fraport Skyliners win in Rhondorf in 2016
Isaac Bonga comes into the camp as one of the biggest talents in Europe at the moment from the year 1999 and at only 17 years of age and 205cm still has a huge upside in his development and could use this camp as another opportunity to raise his NBA draft stock for 2018 as he is already for many experts seen as a top 10 draft pick.
A little more than a week ago German wonder boy Isaac Bonga saw the sides of two worlds once again as the sky is the limit for the 17 year special talent was able to broaden his horizons again something he has been able to experience time in and time out if it was playing in the basketball without boarders tournament in Lithuania or shooting the breeze with New York Knick Justin Holiday at the 2017 NBA allstar weekend in New Orleans. Bonga skipped off the sold out court in Ulm of 6,000 plus people having played the most BBL minutes this season with 26 contributing six points, four rebounds and three assists in a narrow 90-84 defeat to ratiopharm Ulm and 20 hours later, he was brought back down to reality that his basketball life isn´t only a bed of roses as he departed the floor in Munich a defeated young man as he had to accept the bitter 75-44 NBBL loss against the International basketball academy Munich with only 200 people in attendance and had ran around like a mad man leaving his heart on the floor having played 38 minutes filling up the stat sheet like a mini Lebron posting seven points, six rebounds, seven assists, four steals and one block. With his BBL season over, Bonga wanted to make his last season goal of reaching the NBBL top 4 in Frankfurt reality, but he as well as his teammates had to really show what they were made of, dig deep down within themselves and play with heart. Bonga wanted to avenge his unsatisfactory 3/18 shooting in Munich and at the same time force another do or die meeting with Munich and other German super talent Oscar Da Silva who dropped 59 points and 35 rebounds in the two game playoff series against Urspring and can continue to tell his friends that he will be attending Stanford next fall and play at the alma mater of ex Bamberg legend Casey Jacobsen. It was no secret that this special do or die game would bring out the best in Bonga and Da Silva as they combined for 40 points and 24 rebounds, but the International basketball academy Munich also known as IBAM came out on top escaping Frankfurt with a hard fought 61-60 victory. As the buzzer sounded, the few Munich fans that had made the trip jumped up in excitement as if lightening had struck them and star player and young phenom Oscar da Silva was calm, but one could see in his eyes that he was not only relieved, but also very proud for reaching the NBBL Top 4 tournament. “I am very happy about getting this win in Frankfurt. We never stopped fighting and played with high intensity. We came back through our good defense which helped us get transition baskets and that was key for the win”, stressed future Stanford Cardinal Oscar Da Silva. For Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners, it was a very successful season, but their goal of reaching the NBBL Final 4 in Frankfurt was not met and one could easily read the frustration of the players on their faces. Especially for team second top scorer Konstantin Schubert it was a disappointing way to end his NBBL career. “We knew that we could of won this game. Game one was depressing, but we had a different face today and defended very well against very good individual players. But when you only score 60 points, it will be difficult to win. We didn´t do much wrong on defense, but didn´t rebound well in the first half and when they couldn´t hit from outside, we were unable to stop their penetration”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Schubert. “They switched to zone in the second half which gave us problems and took us out of rhythm”, added Fraport Skyliner Isaac Bonga.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber Post game interview with Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ DiLeo in Frankfurt 2017
TJ DiLeo is a 26 year old 190cm guard playing his fourth professional season and first with the Telekom Baskets Bonn (Germany-BBL). He played the first three professional seasons with the Giessen 46ers playing 76 Pro A games from 2013-2015 and helping the team move to the BBL in 2015. Last season for GHiessen he played 19 games averaging 5.7ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 73.3%. . He played at Temple from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. In 2010, he played for the German U20 National Team in 2010 and played for the European Championships U20 in Croatia playing 9 games: 10.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP. He spoke to German Hoops before the Fiba Europe Cup game against Nanterre in Bonn.
TJ congrats on the 77-76 win against Nanterre in the Fiba Europe Cup competition. How did this win really feel considering your only half way to the Fiba Europe Cup top 4?
I think this win was really good for us mentally. We realize that we still have the second leg to play, but our goal was to go to Nanterre and get a win. Nanterre is a strong team that has played very well at home, so we are happy to be heading back to Bonn next week with a one point advantage.
Nanterre were in front for the most part of the first half, but shortly before the break you took the lead and would hang on to the end. How nerve-wracking was the second half for you personally?
It wasn’t too bad. During the game you forget about the nerves. Also, I knew we have some guys that really step up in important late game situations, so I had confidence.
In the last weeks do or die games as well as fascinating and breathtaking finishes like the unbelievable 75-73 win by North Carolina over Kentucky where Malik Monk´s last second shot was overturned by Luke Maye´s last triple with 0,3 seconds remaining to propel the Tar Heels into the 2017 NCAA Final 4 were as usual as it has been for ratiopharm Ulm winning and winning in the BBL this season, but also in the NBBL playoffs do or die games have been growing as last weekend the Igeko Falcons BC Nurnberg had to win at home against Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners to keep their season alive and did with a super performance as they won 63-51 stepping up their defense allowing 29 less points than in game one and carved the total points by German wonder boy Isaac Bonga and Cosmo Gruehn in half from 57 points to only 29 points and forced them to coughing up the ball 20 times with their aggressive defense. It hadn´t helped the cause of Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners that they were without their other strong performer Konstantin Schubert as he had been nursing an ankle injury. Both teams arrived into the game with their two star players Isaac Bonga who registered his first triple double in the Pro B a few weeks ago and is a projected 2018 NBA Draft Pick and Moritz Sanders who currently is averaging 7,2ppg in the Pro A and quietly developing further as a basketball player and were hoping to move on and face the International Basketball Academy Munich with their star player Oscar De La Silva. Despite being without second top scorer German Konstantin Schubert again for the third time in the series, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had enough other weapons and depth and took advantage of their home court despite some loud Nurnberg fans who had made the trip to cheer on the kids and escaped a last furious comeback by their opponent to slip into the quarterfinals with a satisfying 70-60 victory.
Isaac Bonga and Miles Schmidt-Scheuber: Postgame interview in Rhöndorf, December 2016
It was a game that Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led from early on, but allowed Igeko Nurnberg Falcons BC very close in crunch time, but it was the overall sound team play and superb leadership by 17 year old Isaac Bonga that allowed the home team to preserve the win. After the quick win, Bonga had exactly one hour and five minutes before his next game in the BBL against the Telekom Baskets Bonn and was dripping with sweat outside the locker room and showed absolutely no panic about having to get to the Fraport arena in time and reflected about the victory and keeping a cool head at the end. “I knew from the start that I had to take responsibility today. That is my job as point guard. We were always awake in the game and stayed calm even in tough times”, stressed Isaac Bonga.
When Bonga was long gone and on his way to the Fraport arena for the 10 minute drive from the BCM gym, Cosmo Gruehn was still on the court stretching and found the right words for the win. “Rebounds was key today as we were the better rebounding team in the first half and also defense as we held them to 60 points. We also did a good job keeping Sanders and Hassfuerter in check. We didn´t have to rely as much on our outside shooting like in game two, but were able to penetrate more with success”, added ex USC Freiburg big man Cosmo Gruehn.
Roland Nyama is a 23 year old 198cm forward from Frankfurt, Germany that has the German/Cameroonian citzenship and recently finished his college career at Stony Brook(NCAA) after three seasons. He started his basketball career with the FTG Frankfurt junior team. He then got further valuable basketball experience with Eintracht Frankfurt (2.Regionalliga) in 2008. He then continued to play with Eintracht Frankfurt (2.Regionalliga) from 2009-2011 while also playing for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt II (Germany-ProB) where he played 6 games in two years. In 2011, he came to the United States and played for the Holderness School. He came to Stony Brook in 2013 and in his first full season played 34 games averaging 7.5ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 69.2%. In his last season he played 32 games averaging 10,3ppg, 4,4rpg and 1,4apg He spoke to German Hoops after announcing he would turn professional and before signing with German agency Scorers First.
Roland thanks for talking to German Hoops! You recently played your last college game against Illinois-Chicago. Did you know after the completion of 40 minutes that it would be your last NCAA game?
Hey Miles, thanks for having me. Yea I’ve known for a while that’s why I wanted to advance as far as possible in our season. I was actually sick that game and wanted to help contribute.
Last season Stony Brook made the last dance March Madness, but this season you lost the final ACE game too Albany 63-56. How crushing was it losing this game and did this loss have an effect on you deciding to leave school after only three seasons?
No the loss didn’t really have anything to do with it. Obviously I would’ve loved to go out winning the conference again but overall we exceeded expectations and had a successful season.
You recently announced that you were leaving school for going your last year of elegibility to turn professional. How did this whole process come about and how difficult or easy was it making this decision?
The first time I thought about leaving early was when I was hurt with my knee injury and realized that a basketball career can be over in a heartbeat. So I wanted to maximize my potential playing career but get my degree first. It was tough since I’ve made so many connections here and Stony Brook became my second home but at the end of the day I felt like it was the best decision to leave.
Even if they don´t want to admit it, guys like Travis Thompson, Garai Zeeb or Konstantin Schubert will never forget the massive one sided drubbing they got last season in the playoffs as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got hammered by Weissenhorn in game one by 69 points, but for some reason, the club has had a knack of rebounding back from tough situations as they came back strong rebounding from that massacre and winning two do or die games in a row and advancing to the pro B finals where they were swept by Ehingen. This season, they had a do or die game on the last game day beating the Giants Nordlingen in fine fashion as they were led by Isaac Bonga who celebrated his first professional triple double. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors slid into the Pro B playoffs with a 4 game winning streak and a lot of momentum, but that came to a crushing halt as they were brought down to reality as they faced top Pro B north team Lok Bernau losing 75-64. German wunderkind Isaac Bonga was close to another triple double as he finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, but the overall team carelessness with taking care of the ball in the second half set their doom as they coughed up the ball 22 times while Lok Bernau has only 10 turnovers thus giving them 12 extra possessions. It was time for the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to rebound back again as they had another do or die situation, but they were at home in their own Basketball City Mainhatten living room and still had the memory of their big do or die win against the Giants Nordlingen two weeks ago and wanted to force another do or die game in Bernau and did setting the tone of the game early and breaking away in the second quarter and never looked back as the Frankfurt depth was too much for the Lok Bernau depth as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors brushed aside Lok Bernau 76-61. After the match, a content top scorer Travis Thompson was all smiles reminiscing about the big do or die win. “We came out good early and rebounded well. We moved ball better and Isaac Bonga hit some three´s. We were able to stop their run and were able to make our own run. We also hit many timely shots that helped us get this win”, stressed Alaska native Travis Thompson. After the loss, 31 year old BBL veteran Robert Kulawick who played 294 games in the BBL showed his role model style carrying the water bottles to the locker room something that usually is reserved for the kids was very disappointed with the performance of his team. “We slept at the start and didn´t have the needed intensity which punished us to the end. I have to compliment my team for the comeback, but it came down to not getting stops and then Frankfurt coming back and hitting a three. I have to compliment Frankfurt for holding us to 61 points. They did a very good job”, stressed 2010 Eurochallenge winner Robert Kulawick.
It seems like it was only yesterday when Donald Trump was putting on the last final touches of his 2016 Presidential campaign and the NBBL season was just getting into swing, but after a few months the regular season is winding down and the playoffs are looming quickly. For one team, the playoffs were already booked while the other team was fighting for that last spot. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had a 10-3 record and sitting in position two despite having lost two of the last three games, but won their last game in Langen 92-68 where Cosmo Gruehn poured in 28 points. In their two previous games, they had lost to ratiopharm Ulm and Urspirng where they were missing their four top players and were led by players like Leon Pullen and Oliver Babitsch who usually get lesser minutes. On the other side of the court the Young Tigers Tuebingne arrived into the game with a 6-7 record and in fifth place battling Urspring for that last playoff spot who also had a record of 6-7, the Young Tigers Tuebingen had to win their last game in Frankfurt to reach the playoffs since they had won both regular season games against Urspring. However Eintracht Frankfurt had their allstar ensemble on board and wanted to cruise into the NBBL playoffs with full force and easily took apart the Young Tigers Tuebingen 75-52 on a wet Sunday afternoon. Only 16 hours earlier 17 year old German wunderkind Isaac Bonga had experienced his first big milestone as a professional registering his first triple double of the season with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win against Nordlingen propelling the Pro B team Fraport Skyliners Juniors into the playoffs. Bonga wasn´t as good against Tuebingen as he only had six points and six turnovers, but was solid on the boards with seven rebounds and had seven assists, but it didn´t really matter since his team had strong support from their three starters Konstantin Schubert, Cosmo Gruehn and Niklas Pons who combined for 44 points and young 16 year old German Alvin Onyia gave good energy from the bench netting 13 points. After the game Konstantin Schubert who is the clean cut guy who never looks like he broke a sweat, but looks more like a young banker in training understood that the club wasn´t totally consistent, but important that everyone was on board. “We had our ups and downs, but was a good preparation for the playoffs. We wanted to go into the playoffs with force and it was important that everyone could play together. We did a good job rebounding and had the height advantage and really took advantage of it”, stressed Konstantin Schubert.
The Young Tigers Tuebingen big highlight of the season was sweeping top German youth team Urspring, but lost both games to TV Langen probably costing them the playoffs, but head coach Manuel Pasios was still content with the performance of his team against a very strong Frankfurt squad. “It was a very scrappy game. Our three point shooting kept us in the game. We were at a big disadvantage under the boards as we couldn´t compensate their height. Frankfurt gave their all and wanted to go into the playoffs strong. We were able to annoy them only a little with our press, but that was it”, stressed Young Tigers head coach Manuel Pasios.
In the Second German Bundesliga also known as the Pro A, there is an influx of American point guards controlling the starting job positions as rapidly as men do the remote control on Sundays during the fall between the time of 1.00-7.00pm when the NFL season is in full gear and the only thing getting a man away from the couch is that unwanted bathroom stop or the quick five second sprint to the refrigerator for the next cold beer. When checking all the teams in the league, you will find all kinds of American point guards from the ones that have battled in the EasyCredit BBL like Richard Williams of the RheinStars Cologne or guys like Diante Watkins that had to first prove himself in the Pro B before making the step up and now belongs to the top 5 guards in the league or a guy like Chris Alexander who seems to have lived in the Pro A his whole career, but the least can believe how a guy like him went from being the Pro A top scorer with Essen in 2015 to signing the next season with a Regionalliga team FC Schalke. All in all, fans can witness the American talent at the point guard position each weekend as the names go on and one with guys like basketball globetrotter Marcus Hatten or a Carrington Love of Kirchheim or a Chase Adams from Paderborn or a Devin Moore from Ehingen. It is important to mention though that the top point guard this season in the Pro A isn´t an American or German, but is a 21 year old Slovenian by the name of Aleksej Nikolic who is averaging 18,1ppg and 6,9apg who is only practicing his talent in the Pro A as he gets further groomed by Brose Bamberg with whom he has a double license. With so many top talented American point guards in the Pro A, isn´t there any room for home grown German talent? Statistics won´t lie as there are Germans around, but most likely filling a back up position or still developing and too young to be getting anything more than garbage time. However there are a few German starting point guards in the Pro A holding their own like 26 year old Anthony Canty of the Hamburg Towers who is considered the best German point guard in the league averaging 15,2ppg and 4,0apg, 25 year old Till Joscha Joenke of the Hebeisen White Wings who is averaging 10,6ppg, 4,7rpg and 4,6apg and 27 year old Simon Schmitz of the Romerstrom Gladiators Trier who is averaging 10,9ppg and 5,2apg. All three have played in the EasyCredit BBL, but never accounted too anything except a back up role. “Till is a good young German point guard that one can learn from. He has a good drive and is physically strong. Till has already breathed BBL air and I think he will go his way into the BBL”, warned Daniel Mixich. They definitely have the talent to be on a BBL roster, but the question is if they want to have that back up roles again? Where is the new generation of German point guards in the Pro A. They are around, but are as abundant as finding a priest convention in Las Vegas. One of the biggest German raw talents in the Pro A is Daniel Mixich who is only 19 years old and started his first pro A season with 17 years with BV Chemnitz where he is now playing his third full season. Mixich is a very interesting player who was a member of the German U-20 team in 2016 and has a bright future ahead of him, but has one obstacle in his drive to get to the top in that he first needs to earn that secure starting point guard job in the Pro A.
Chemnitz: Basketball-Bundesliga ProA. BV Chemnitz 99 (Niners) vs. Baunach Young Pikes Daniel Mixich Foto: Peter Zschage
Mixich may be a 182 cm point guard and only 19, but has already experienced a lot of basketball at a young age and at times when seeing his name in the Pro A box scores the last years, one may have thought he would be in his early twenties to mid twenties, but he is in fact still a teenager that has a lot of basketball in front of him and like any other young German player wants to get to the top. A big advantage for him who is a player that plays beyond his age is that he was introduced to the men´s game when just about every other kid his age was playing Batman Arkham City or Portal 2 on Play Station or going to watch the big men play basketball in some huge 10,000 plus arena in Berlin or the small school gym´s where German Pro A, Pro B or Regionaliga games take place.