Christopher Miller (192-G-1993, college: Salem) is a 29 year old 193cm guard from Brooklyn, New York who is playing his eighth professional season and first with GoldCoast Wallabies NLB (2nd League). He played 3 seasons with the Giessen Pointers (Germany-RegionalligaThis season for Bensheim he averaged 19,5ppg, 3,8rpg, 2,0apg and 1,5spg. He has had experience in countries like El Salvador and Bosnia. He recently played for the South Shore Monarchs (TBL) playing 8 games averaging 22.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.3%. He began his basketball career at Clinton Community College and also played two years at Salem University (NCAA2). This season he teams up with Miles Schmidt-Scheuber with weekly chats about his basketball season.
Congrats Chris on the 70-59 win over CNBS. It was the fifth win in a row. Is the team peaking now?
We are very happy with our wins. I think we are coming together nicely right on time to have a good playoff run. We have been working hard and have been focused to turn things around for the better.
Talk a little about the 40 minutes. What phase of the game do you feel did you have the game won? You had 6 turnovers more but dominated the boards.
It was a very ugly game for us. We even went down 8 and it looked like the game was slipping away from us. We just stayed at it and understood we are a different team. It felt good to grab a win like this despite our poor play most of the game.
This seemed to be a real team effort as there was no huge scorer on your team, but it was well balanced.
Yes the ball was moving everyone did what was best for the team to win. For a lot of us it wasn’t our night individually but as a team we got it done.
The teams shot a combined 5/21 from outside. Was it just a lot of bricks or good defense on the line?
Just seemed like one of those days where shots didn’t fall. No excuses but I know that won’t happen again .
I think this was one of your games where you weren’t happy with how you played but just happy the team came together to get the big win.
Yes exactly we are clicking and have been doing what it takes to put that W on the board . Some games I perform well some not as well as I’d like . Most times I’m angry at my play if I don’t have a game that is up to my standards but I’m always happy with the victory
Your last regular season game is against Pully who you lost by 35 points early in the season. Will we see a different kind of game?
I never played against this team. We have respect for them and understand they haven’t been beaten. At the same time we aren’t the same team and would love to see how we match up against them.
What has been your biggest March Madness surprise?
FDU for sure New Jersey is always doing something special. Basketball needs New Jersey.
Chris Frazier (182-SG-1990, college: Dubuque)r is a 32 year old 182cm guard playing his 9th professional season and first with pro B team En Baskets Schwelm currently averaging 14,0ppg, 2,5rpg and 2,3apg.. He played the last 2 seasons with Pro A team wiha Panthers Schwenningen averaging 8.4ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 64.1%, 3PT: 45.0%, FT: 86.4% and last season averaged 10.0ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 88.5% he played BBL with Crailsheim and also gathered experience with Magdeburg, Atland, Rostock and Iserlohn. He also has NCAA 3 experience having played at the University of Dubuque. He spoke last summer to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Chris for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Hey Miles, always good talking to you. Right now I am in Velburg in Bavaria. I stay with my parents throughout the summer and I am currently getting myself ready for the season coming up.
How long did you go after last season without touching a ball?
I went a little longer without touching a ball this year. I decided to enjoy the summer a little bit more than usual.
Before we talk about your new challenge with the EN Baskets Schwelm, lets look back a bit. You played the last 2 seasons with the wiha panthers Schwenningen. When looking back do you sometimes wonder how your career would have gone had times been normal and there not been Covid. I didn’t break my foot when I had my first BBL chance or if I wouldn’t have stayed in the pro B so long, but things happen for a reason so I’m good where I’m at right now.
Was the last season a good example what can happen when despite having a very talented team, you can still not reach the playoffs because of a chemistry not being able to be built because of conflicting characters of teammates?
Yeah that is true. We were very talented on paper, but there were some that couldn’t buy into what we should have been able to do, but at the end we held it together and played together to hold the league so it worked out at the end. Do you feel like the playoffs could have been reached had Justin Pierce and David Cohn functioned better. We actually played some of our best basketball when those two were together. It’s hard to point where it all went wrong, but I think we were our best when they both were together.
You had a pretty solid season averaging 10.0ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.4apg, FGP 52,2%, 3PT 37.0%, FT: 88.5%. How would you rate your last season in the ProA.
I could have done better. I was playing really well before I dislocated my shoulder during the season and when I came back I just couldn’t find my rhythm. Don’t want to use that as an excuse though I had opportunities to play better.
There were many games where it seemed like you were hardly an option on that night and on other games was the main scoring option. Is having to play like this not knowing how much of a role you will have in a certain game tough for players self-confidence?
Yeah it’s a tricky thing. You score 24 one night and the next game you only get 4 shots, but that’s a part of the game. I’m a team player and I don’t need to be the #1 scoring option every night. It does mess with your confidence though because it puts pressure on you not to make mistakes.
Did you ever have talks with head coach Alen Velcic about your role? Was there never a chance for you to have been the number 1-2 option on a regular basis.
We have had many talks, but it was never about my role. He gave me the freedom to shoot my shots when I felt I was open. Like I said I’m a team player and being the #1 option isn’t critical unless it’s really what my role is meant to be.
You had 2 really good games against Paderborn and Itzehoe. We’re those your fondest moments in the last season.
Yes and No. Only because I should of had bigger games than that and helped my team make it to the playoffs.
Despite the tough last season, it seemed like there still could have been a chance for you to remain in Schwenningen. Was the uncertain future of the organization a factor for you departing?
No, I had great talks with Coach Alen. It was just a personal choice to move on and take on another challenge.
You had 2 solid seasons in the ProA. Why take a step back to the Pro B and Schwelm? What were the main reasons for going to the EN Baskets Schwelm?
Yeah I had great seasons in the ProA and I thought I would remain there to be honest. Covid and the War changed our Market and the league looks like it wants to get younger. I wanted to go to Schwelm to help the next group of guys to make their next steps in their careers. Of course I still want to be one of the best in the league though haha I’m only 32.
How hungry are you for a strong ProB season? Is their support from head coach Falk Moeller that you will have a major role on offense?
Oh I’m always hungry to have a good start to the season. The support from coach is there, but it’s for both sides of the court and of course off the court as well.
Do you do less now in the off season because you are older? How does your off season workout plan look like.
Like I said earlier I took a little more time off this year. I had to work on my golf game, but now I hit the weight room a lot and I go running almost everyday just to get in the best shape that I can. You can never get in Basketball shape on your own though.
Where do you rate Steph Curry now in the discussion with the all-time best PG?
Tough question. He is definitely up there, but the PG position has changed over the years. PG’s are usually scoring guards now so I’d still say top 5, but that’s a tough one.
How well do you see Germany doing at the 2021 European Championships?
Also a tough one. A lot of NBA guys are playing this year. It won’t be easy, but I think Germany could be a sleeper team.
With every new loss, the reality of the Fraport Skyliners returning back to the easyCredit BBL next season sinks a bit more like a Boeing 747 in the approach to Frankfurt airport, but on the other hand the 200o BBL cup winner was only 1 win away from the 16th placed team. But their current 6 game losing streak didn’t give much hope of a turnaround simply because they continue not being able to put up a solid game for 40 minutes and just physically and mentally fall apart in the second half of games. As midnight wascreeping closer each week, their chances didn’t any better against the always pesky Niners Chemnitz who continue to be a nasty opponent for any team as head coach Rodrigo Pastore continues to do incredible things with his roster each season. Currently Chemnitz was in 1oth place and still with every chance of reaching the playoffs with a 10-11 record, but they also had some soul searching to do as they came to Frankfurt riding a 4 game losing streak, but with more time to prepare as their Fiba Europe Cup season had ended early. The Fraport Skyliners had added drama as Geert Hammink had been let go 48 hours earlier. ‘We had to change our mind set and refocus and execute coach Klaus’s game plan’, said Quantez Robertson. On a mild late winter day the Fraport Skyliners welcomed the Niners Chemnitz and had to put up with a frenzy of three’s, but in the second half they controlled the three point line allowing only 5 three’s and on offense executed well sharing the ball and allowing their brilliant 1-1 qualities shine through as they received a 89-84 must win. ‘We knew that this was a huge game as we wanted to keep pace with the league. We were put off guard a little when the coaching change came, but Coach Klaus Perwas allowed us to play off our strengths. We got the needed confidence from him and trusted each other more and more in the second half. We saw more open three’s and executed very well. Coach Klaus simplified the offensive and defensive schemes and we used our talent. He put us in position to be ourselves’, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard JJ Frazier. The NIners Chemnitz had a smooth rhythm in the first half, but in the second half couldn’t play their game the way they wanted to and had problems getting stops as Frankfurt got more consistent. ‘We had energy and hit three’s early, but in the second half got beat by their good 1-1 play and we had too many turnovers. We have to defend better in the second half’, warned Niners Chemnitz forward Kevin Yebo.
Mindaugas Susunskas from outside
In the first quarter there were numerous runs on both sides as no team could get away from the other as the Niners Chemnitz had the 25-21 lead after 10 minutes. In the first few minutes the game was tight as no team could get away form the other. Fraport Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson got the hot hand early testing his 28% three point shooting percentage nailing two three’s while the guests also hit 2 three’s from ex BG Goetingen guard Dominic Lockhart and Lithuanian sniper MIndaugas Susinskas to dead lock the game at 8-8. The Fraport Skyliners knew coming into the game that the Niners Chemnitz were a great three point shooting team, but they were unable to stop them letting it rain three’s as they connected 3 more times from the parking lot as ex Loyola University of Chicago (NCAA) forward Aher Uguak, Lockhart and ex Gevi Napoli Basket (Italy-Serie A) guard Arnas Velica connected for the 17-8 led. Frankfurt gave up too many three’s and had problems on the defensive glass. New Frankfurt head coach Klaus Perwas did a superb job with time out management calling a timeout something which most likely hadn’t happened under Geert Hammink. But Frankfurt didn’t let that swift action of offense effect their mindset and they slapped Chemnitz right back with their own 9-0 run to dead lock the contest at 17-17. In the run ex ZZ Leiden forward Einaras Tubutis connected for two three’s and Robertson nailed his third three of the quarter. The game continued to have runs as the Niners Chemnitz continued to play their steady offense closing out the first quarter on a 8-4 run to lead 25-21. Ex Buffalo (NCAA) guard Wes Clark hit a 20 footer and free throws while Susinskas made another trey while Frankfurt got a jumper from Frazier and free throws from German national player Lukas Wank. ‘We gave up too many three’s. They gave us all that we could handle. We knew that we had to slow down their shooting’, stated JJ Frazier. The Fraport Skyliners shot 40% from the 2 point range and 63% from outside and had 5 rebounds and 4 turnovers while the Niners Chemnitz shot 40% from the 2 point range and 55% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
Lukas Wank at the FT line
The Niners Chemnitz continued to execute well on offense and allowed the Fraport Skyliners to stick around never being able to shake them as they led 46-42 at half-time. Frazier and Susinskas traded baskets in the first minute as Chemnitz still led 28-23. Frankfurt continued to attack the rim when they could getting a finger tip lay in from Frazier and also played transition whenever they could getting a big dunk from Tubutis to trail only 30-27. The Fraport Skyliners at this juncture needed more support from Derek Cooke, Marcus Lewis and Isaiah Washington (185-G-1998, college: LBSU, agency: Players Group) as they all had the goose egg, but instead it was 2004cm Hungarian forward Marko Filipovity who staged a shooting clinic nailing 3 three’s in a row for the 39-30 lead. Washington also connected for a trey upending his personal goose egg. Whenever the Niners Chemnitz threatened to run away with the game, the Fraport Skyliners always had an answer something they didn’t have in other games this season that they would lose. Lewis also erased his goose egg crawling out of his shell with a lay in and Washington and Robertson supplied three’s cutting the guests lead down to 41-38. Frankfurt showed they could play longer spurts of aggressive defense that translated into stops. Velica added another trey, the team’s 11th of the first half to lead 44-38. But Frankfurt had an answer again as Derek Cooke also slipped out of his shell with a lay in and tip in dunk as the Niners Chemnitz led 46-42 at the break. Einaras Tubutis was a huge energizer in the first half at both ends of the floor. ‘He has a very high IQ which I think is rare for bigs. He is always thinking on the fly. When he talks, I listen. He is right 95% of the time. He is always a few steps ahead on each play. He was injured this season and I expect to see more big production from him’, warned JJ Frazier. The Niners Chmenitz shot 57% from the 2 point range and 48% from the three point line and had 17 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners shot 57% from the 2 point range and 53% from the three point line and had 11 rebounds and 6 turnovers.
JJ Frazier from the parking lot
In the third quarter both teams continued to battle away as the Fraport Skyliners would earn their first lead. There would be 5 lead changes as the Fraport Skyliners had the upper hand after 30 minutes leading by 3 points. The Fraport Skyliners stormed out of the break with a swift 5-0 run to gain their first lead of the game at 47-46 as Washington made a lay in and Frazier a three pointer. The Fraport Skyliners were getting more input from their Americans as Frazier dropped another three and Lewis made a lay in for the 52-50 lead. Frankfurt stepped up their defense again and were guarding the 3 point line better as Chemnitz didn’t let in rain three’s. Not everything was gold what the Fraport Skyliners touched as they would suffer lapses on defense. Wes Clark nailed 2 three’s and 2017 NBBL champion Nelson Weidemann scored on penetration as the Niners Chemnitz led 60-56. Klaus Perwas called another key timeout calming his guys down. It definitely helped as the Fraport Skyliners stepped back on the court ready for battle and closed out the third quarter with a 10-3 run to lead 66-63 after 30 minutes. In the run Frankfurt received clutch three’s from Lukas Wank, a lay in by Tubutis who by chance got a loose ball that was close to a Lewis turnover and a Washington lay in. ‘We had to switch out on their shooters better. We didn’t want Filipovity beating us anymore. We did a good job flushing him off the three point line, like their other shooters’, stressed JJ Frazier. The Niners Chemnitz would only make 5 three’s in the second half. ‘We didn’t play good defense. Frankfurt began to hit their shots better. We had no answer for them’, commented ex Ehingen forward Kevin Yebo. yThe Fraport Skyliners shot 62% from the 2 point area and 48% from the parking lot and had 22 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Niners Chemnitz shot 46% from the 2 point area and 42% from the parking lot and had 24 rebounds and 10 turnovers.
Aher Uguak at the FT line
The fourth quarter continued to be a real scrappy duel, but half way through the quarter and 5 lead changes, the Fraport Skyliners would take charge and never look back. The Niners Chemnitz began the fourth quarter solid going on a 6-.2 run to lead 69-68 as Kevin Yebo supplied 4 points and Susinskas made a jumper. Frankfurt continued to be wide awake on offense getting a Lewis lay in and massive two handed stuff by Wank for the 72-69 advantage. The Niners would take one last lead as Nelson Weidemann supplied 5 points with a trey and free throws for the 74-72 Niners lead. But the Fraport Skyliners then showed just how lethal a 17th placed team can be shortly before crunch-time as they went on a 11-0 run to lead 83-74 and have the Niners near to getting out the surrender flag. In the run Frankfurt got huge buckets from Washington who made a trey and lay in while Cooke made a reverse lay up and lay in. Frazier also made free throws after making a spectacular steal on the baseline stripping the ball from Yebo and giving his team possession. ‘I was stuck between helping the big and my own guy. I knew that I had to get to the ball before the play happened. I was just in the right place and it worked out for me’, added JJ Frazier. Of course the Fraport Skyliners did make it exciting in the last minute giving up 2 three’s to Susinskas to cut Frankfurt’s advantage to 84-80 with 29 seconds to go. After a Washington free throw, Lukas Wank made a play that would give most coaches headaches attempting an alley-oop pass to Lewis. Wank made the perfect pass and Lewis made the throw me down dunk. But was that risky play correct to do at that point of the game. ‘You have to be able to trust the player who your throwing the ball to. It’s all about ball placement. If you throw Marcus the ball, you know he will catch it. He is a great athlete and finisher’, warned JJ Frazier. Velica made a lay in with 4 seconds to cut Frankfurt’s lead to 87-84, but Robertson sealed the win with 2 free throws. ‘We have to learn to make the right decisions at the right time and just finish games better. Frankfurt played very well and hit shots. We just couldn’t get stops when we needed to’, stressed Niners Chmenitz assistant coach Virgil Matthews. ‘We made free throws and most importantly didn’t turn over the ball. When we were on offense we executed well. The last 2 minutes was beautiful execution’, stated JJ Frazier. The Fraport Skyliners had 6 guys in double figures led by Isaiah Washington with 18 points. Lukas Wank and Quantez Robertson supplied 14 points a piece and JJ Frazier and Derek Cooke supplied 12 points apiece while the Niners Chemnitz were led by Marko Filipovity with 18 points. Arnas Velica added 13 points and Kevin Yebo 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 55% from the field and 42% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the Niners Chemnitz shot 42% from the field and 40% from outside and had 34 rebounds and 14 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners road to the playoffs continues to be going at full throttle as they continue to play superb basketball in the stretch run. After a weak January where they lost 3 of 4 games, they found their mark in February and entered their game against Leitershofen with a 4 game winning streak. They really improved their defensive work allowing only 62 points on average against solid Bavarian clubs Coburg and Oberaching. Frankfurt continued to want to fight for home court advantage and next met 8-12 Leitershofen who were clawing to life for that last playoff spot and had a must win situation in Frankfurt’s living room. Leitershofen came to Frankfurt on a roll with a 2 game winning streak having beaten the AC Wizards and Speyer. They had revamped their offense showing their explosiveness averaging 94 points in the last 2 games and best scoring this season during the 2 game span. On a mild late winter day the Fraport Skyliners Juniors welcomed BG Hessing Leitershofen and remembered their 76-70 loss against them on the road and this time showed how explosive they can be when the team comes together on offense as they displayed a offensive show winning 100-78. ‘This was an important win for us. We have a nice winning streak going towards the playoffs. We played a lot of transition and shot the ball well. They switched against us, but we always adjusted well and found solutions’, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Philipp Hadenfeldt. The guests began slow and had to play catch up basketball all night long as they couldn’t come to terms with Frankfurt’s explosive offense and transition. ‘We didn’t bring it tonight. We lacked energy all night long. We looked out of shape. They beat us on transition and the boards’, stated Teachloach Pal.
Alvin Oniya at the FT line
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn’t waste anytime jumping all over BG Hessing Leitershofen as they led 11-0 after a few minutes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors demonstrated their high class inside out basketball as they sprayed three’s from Justin Onyejiaka (195-F-2004) and Nolan Adekunle and Jordan Samare scored inside while Adekunle also added a lay in. On defense The Fraport Skyliners Juniors played hard nosed while being aggressive and forcing the guests to countless turnovers. Ex Giessen guard Lucas Mayer finally got BG Hessing Leitershofen on the board with a runner at the 6,07 minute mark. The guests finally calmed down and before The Fraport Skyliners Juniors knew it they were only leading 18-15. BG Hessing Leitershofen attacked the rim more getting buckets from Stjepan Lopalovic, Mayer and Pal. Pal But the Fraport Skyliners Juniors found back to their offensive rhythm closing out the first quarter with a 10-1 run to lead comfortably 28-16. In the run The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to shine on offense getting a lay in from Samare and trey from Adekunle while 3 and D specialist Bennet Schubert nailed free throws. Frankfurt continued to defend with a high intensity forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets. ‘They slept at the start, but then found their rhythm. We reacted well against their defense and always had solutions which helped us have the big lead after one quarter’, stressed Philipp Hadenfeldt. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 53% from the field and 56% from outside and had 8 rebounds and 4 turnovers while BG Hessing Leitershofen shot 46% from the field and 20% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 8 turnovers.
Marc Kaufeld to the rim
In the second quarter The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to keep the lead by double digits, but let up a bit at the end allowing the guests to trail only by 6 points at the break. Hadenfeldt and 2017 NBBL champion Mario Vazquez traded baskets as Frankfurt led 28-20. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to execute well getting baskets from Alvin Oniya and a trey from Jordan Samare while the guests also executed soundly with a lay in from German Marc Kaufeld who is in his 10th season with BG Hessing Leitershofen and a trey from Lewis Londene who is in his seventh season with the team, but The Fraport Skyliners Juniors still led 33-27. Then came possibly the prettiest play of the game as Bennet Schubert made an incredible save of the ball that resulted in an assist as the ball went straight to Philipp Hadenfeldt who dropped a three for the 36-27 advantage. ‘I was a bit surprised the ball came to me. That was a big play form him. He is known to make the hustle plays’, said Philipp Hadenfeldt. BG Hessing Leitershofen continued to chip away at the Frankfurt lead getting some big baskets from Mayer who supplied the nifty finger tip role and an offensive rebound and put back by Pal cutting the Frankfurt lead to 39-34. Frankfurt got key baskets inside by Samare and Alex Richardson who finally scored as he had misfortune early on missing easy shots inside. Pal scored on the buzzer after getting a beautiful shovel pass form Mayer on the penetration, but The Fraport Skyliners Juniors still led 42-36. ‘Samare is a good weapon for us. He showed his inside out game. When he can use his pick and pop game, it is really hard to defend. He carried us’, commented Philipp Hadenfeldt. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 75% from the field and 41% from the three point line and had 19 rebounds and 7 turnovers while BG Hessing Leitershofen shot 48% from the field and 17% from the three point line and had 17 rebounds and 11 turnovers.
Jordan Samare from outside
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors found back to their explosive offense scoring 30 points while buckling down on defense and allowing only 17 points as they led 72-53 after 30 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors broke free with a 7-0 run to lead 49-36 lead. In the run Frankfurt got support from Hadenfeldt with another trey while Samare and Richardson continued to dominate the paint area with lay in’s. BG Hessing Leitershofen was rushing their offensive sets and were stopped 5 times before Vazquez finally broke the ice at the 7,28 minute mark for the first Leitershofen field goal. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to execute well on their set play and just crushed the guests on transition as Onyejaika scored back to back on transition and Samare made a dunk and Hadenfeldt a trey. But Frankfurt couldn’t make any ground as BG Hessing Leitershofen stayed with them getting key baskets Vazquez and Mayer to trail 58-46. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to up their lead a bit more as they got key three’s from Samare and Hadenfeldt while upping their defensive intensity and being more disruptive. The guests got a Nino Tomic three pointer and off balance jumper from Mayer, but couldn’t muster much more as they trailed 72-53 after 30 minutes. ‘We played good inside out basketball. They switched a lot and we were able to take advantage of the mismatches’, said Philipp Hadenfeldt. ‘We couldn’t find a good offensive rhythm and they really hurt us on transition’, stated Teachloach Pal. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 45% from the field and 42% form the parking lot and had 30 rebounds and 11 turnovers while BG Hessing Leitershofen shot 45% from the field and 25% from the parking lot and had 26 rebounds and 20 turnovers.
Lucas Mayer at the FT line
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to score easily on offense pouring home 28 points in the fourth quarter, but also allowed BG Hessing Leitershofen to score 25 points, but overall had a big enough lead that that didn’t effect the score. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors began with a 8-2 run to lead 80-55 as Nolan Adekunle supplied most of the damage with 7 points as his hot outside shooting and athleticism was too much to handle for BG Hessing Leitershofen. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to get the ball inside and use the mismatches to their favor as Richardson scored twice as Frankfurt led 86-58. The game was more as decided as The Fraport Skyliners Juniors lost some concentration and allowed the guests to sneak out on a 14-3 run to cut Frankfurt’s lead to 89-72. In the run BG Hessing Leitershofen got massive support from Pal who scored 7 points while Londene hit a three pointer and Meo Martin made an offensive rebound and put back. But The Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn’t play around anymore and closed out the game well with a 11-6 run. Dragon Crnjac added 5 points and Schubert a lay in ‘When you lead by so much your concentration tends to go down even if you don’t want it to. They hit some three’s even if they aren’t the best three point shooting team’, said Philipp Hadenfeldt. ‘Frankfurt thought the game was over early. You always have to fight until the buzer and that is what we did. We attacked the rim more which helped us in our comeback’, stated Teathloach Pal. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had 5 guys in double figures as Justin Onyejiaka scored 21 points. Jordan Samare added 20 points and Nolan Adekunle 17 points while BG Hessing Leitershofen were led by Lucas Mayer Teachloach Pal with 18 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 45% from the field and 36% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 13 turnovers while BG Hessing Leitershofen shot 50% from the field and 34% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 27 turnovers.
The EPG Baskets continue to roll by the Pro B south competition the way the Telekom Baskets Bonn are doing in the easyCredit, but the only difference is that they have only 1 loss and continue to show that nothing is in their way of reaching their massive goal of the Pro A. Their only slip up was a bitter 86-83 loss to Hanau in their living room 3 days before the new year, but since then have had a perfect record of 10-0. In this successful stretch in 2023, they haven’t had that total dominance offensively like they had before the Hanau loss, but still have played very good offensive basketball and still managed 90 plus points in 5 games. They have played solid defense and continued to shape that incredible chemistry that continues to grow as they will need that working to perfection when the post season comes. Ratiopharm Ulm farm team Orange Academy traveled to Koblenz with a less than spectacular record of 7-13 and were in danger of missing the playoffs and had a must win situation. Plus they had revenge on their mind after suffering a 87-77 loss at home early in the season. On a mild Friday night in late winter the EPG Baskets Koblenz welcomed a weakened Orange Academy who were without key players like David Fuchs and Tobias Jenson and dominated for 40 minutes racking up an impressive 109-73 victory in front of 1,079 fans. ‘We had a good start and later had some lapses, but everyone saw what were capable of when we can lead again between 20-30 points in only 3 minutes. Our biggest strength on offense was our penetration and transition and on defense we began with bad communication, but as soon as we found our principles, we got into transition which sparked our game’, stated EPG Baskets Koblenz guard Marvin Heckel (190-PG-1997). Orange Academy gave a spirited battle despite missing key players, but just couldn’t match Koblenz’s intensity or physicality for 40 minutes. ‘You could see that Koblenz is a Pro A level team. I’m still happy how we played. They scouted us very well and we had little solutions. They did a good job closing down our options’, stated Orange Academy guard Marko Rosic.
Moses Poelking at the FT line
The first few minutes was a tight battle as it took the EPG Baskets Koblenz a little time before they found their offensive rhythm, but once they did, they let their offensive arsenal take over as they lead easily by 12 points after 10 minutes. Massive 17 year old German talent Joel Cwik scored the first two Orange Academy baskets as he performed a tough runner and then split the defense and used his long arms to make a difficult lay in. While Koblentz got it’s first two baskets by Marvin Heckel who once again showed that stopping him on the penetration is easier said then done. The EPG Baskets Koblenz then slowly found their rhythm going on a 7-0 run as Brian Butler scored twice and ex Temple (NCAA) guard Alani Moore caught Orange Academy napping as he caught Dominque Johnson’s air ball and made a reverse lay up for the 13-6 advantage. Koblenz did a great job keeping possessions alive being more aggressive on the offensive glass and really annoyed the guests with the trap defense. The EPG Baskets Koblenz really poured it on inside with their physicality taking advantage of their length and size as Moses Poelking was like a hulk ramming home 2 dunks and making a lay in while the team’s three ball was also functioning as Heckel and Leon Friederici added three points in the offense onslaught to lead 25-13 after one quarter. ‘I liked our speed and athleticism and how we ran transition. Our 1-1 defense was good and our ball movement was excellent. All in all the game showed a high level’, stressed EPG Baskets Koblenz manager Thomas Klein.
Antonio Dorn with the lay in
In the second quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz continued to play very well at both ends, but in the second phase of the quarter lost some concentration for a few minutes, but still recuperated well to lead by 17 points at half-time. The EPG Baskets Koblenz began well with a 9-2 run to extend their lead to 34-15 as their bench contributed valuable points as big Man Leo Saffer made a dunk, Moritz Huebner connected on a three pointer and assistant coach/player Yasin Turan nailed free throws. The EPG Baskets Koblenz did a good job continuing to keep the intensity and pressure very high on Orange Academy and tried to push the ball at every instance. Orange Academy then got some vital support from German Latrell Grosskreutz who scored 7 points as they annoyed the EPG Baskets Koblenz at their own game playing superb transition as they trailed 38-24. Orange Academy got nothing easy as they had to fight for every shot and here and there got some scoring in bunches as Simeon Dimitrov made a lay in and German big man Antonio Dorn made a lay in after retrieving the shovel pass from Dimitrov, but the EPG Baskets Koblenz still led 42-28. Both teams finished the second quarter trading baskets as Orange Academy got jumpers from Germans Lenny Liedtke, Marko Rosic and Antonio Dorn while Koblenz countered with buckets from Heckel and Butler as the EPG Baskets Koblenz led 46-35 and Orange Academy was clawing back into the game slowly. But Alani Moore who had another incredible game silenced Orange Academy with 5 points in the last minute. ‘I’m just trying to improve my game every day so I can be the best that I can in the playoffs. I want to pace myself better and on defense not gamble as much’, stated Alani Moore. The EPG Baskets Koblenz led 52-35 at the break. ‘We had little gas for 3 minutes, but made up for it in the last 2 minutes playing fast again and having a good lead at the break’, commented EPG Baskets Koblenz manager Thomas Klein.
Moritz Huebner from outside
Orange Academy had their best scoring out put in the third quarter with 27 points, but they couldn’t get over the hump as they allowed 24 points and still trailed by 14 points after 30 minutes. German Lenny Liedtke had the hot hand in the first minutes supplying 7 points while Marko Rosic dropped a three pointer as Orange Academy stayed in range in their come back attempt, but still trailed by 14 points. The EPG Baskets Koblenz then went on a 6-0 run to lead 66-46 as Johnson supplied a trey and Heckel once again drove to the rim for two easy points. I had never seen Heckel score at such ease getting to the rim. ‘Heckel is so quick at the moment. He is so quick footed and simply so lively. The guests had to work hard for every shot and couldn’t come to terms with our physicality. We continued to play great transition’, added Thomas Klein. Orange Academy still had a lot of energy and now played their best basketball of the game going on a 12-1 run to trail only 73-62. The EPG Baskets Koblenz lost concentration again and Orange Academy showed that they have enough talent to come back against a top team. In the run they got clutch shots from Liedtke and Dorn, but also vital support from the bench from Dimitrov and German Lucca Bretz. Leon Friderici closed out the quarter with 3 free throws as the EPG Baskets Koblenz led 76-62. ‘We just had difficulty defending them in the run and they hit shots. But as usual it was just a question of time that we would find back to our game’, warned Marvin Heckel. ‘We are a young team and knew that we had to run. We wanted to rebound the ball, get stops, push and create’, stressed Marko Rosic.
Lenny Liedtke at the FT line
In the fourth quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz were able to shift up 2 more gears overpowering Orange Academy winning the quarter soundly at 33-11. Alani Moore gave the EPG Baskets Koblenz instant energy at the start with 5 points as they led 81-62. Grosskreutz countered with a trey, but the EPG Baskets Koblenz came back with forceful play in the paint as Germans Niclas Sperber and Poelking made easy lay ins for the 85-68 advantage. . ‘There is no stopping our big men. They scored at ease all night long’, added Thomas Klein. The EPG Baskets Koblenz then demonstrated that there would be no more lapses as they totally overpowered Orange Academy as they closed out the game with a brutal 24-5 run. Koblenz continued to drive and drive and drive at the rim and score with ease as Heckel and Johnson scored. ‘I wasn’t more lively today then other games. I’m not really sure why I could score so easily tonight. I think when I get going on transition, it really sets me off for the other parts of my game’, stated Marvin Heckel. Moore then added a pretty reverse lay up after delivering an unstoppable cross over and Huebner added a three pointer for the 95-71 lead. ‘Alani Moore uses his speed so well and reads the game so well. That is probably why he gets so many rebounds’, smiled Thomas Klein. The EPG Baskets Koblenz continued to execute in the direction of 100 points as Moore and Heckel scored again in the paint. EPG Baskets Koblenz head coach Pat Elzie then went deep into the bench inserting kids Tevin Schnable and Oluwadamilola Ade-Eri who combined for 7 points in 5 minutes to close out the 40 minutes. ‘They got tired in the fourth quarter. We continued to run a lot on transition. We knew how to overpower them’, stressed Marvin Heckel. ‘I think the end result doesn’t show how we really played. They have a deep bench and when they can still throw a Johnson and Friderici at you, it gets tough. We got tired and made more turnovers and missed more shots’, stressed Marko Rosic. Young 17 year old Orange Academy players Marko Rosic (8p and 7a) and Joel Cwik who added 5 points benefited from another game where they saw a lot of action and combined for 49 minutes. ‘They had a great opportunity this season in the Pro B and Regionalliga to get better. It is split second decision making that they have to make at this level’, stated Ilija Omrcen. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were led by Marvin Heckel with 20 points. Alani Moore added 19 points, 6 rebounds, 10 dimes and 4 steals while Moses Poelking contributed 13 points while Orange Academy was led by Lenny Liedtke and Antonio Dorn with 17 points a piece. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 59% from the field and 40% from outside and had 44 rebounds and 16 turnovers while Orange Academy shot 43% from the field and 33% from outside and had 26 rebounds and 23 turnovers.
Christopher Miller (192-G-1993, college: Salem) is a 29 year old 193cm guard from Brooklyn, New York who is playing his eighth professional season and first with GoldCoast Wallabies NLB (2nd League). He played 3 seasons with the Giessen Pointers (Germany-RegionalligaThis season for Bensheim he averaged 19,5ppg, 3,8rpg, 2,0apg and 1,5spg. He has had experience in countries like El Salvador and Bosnia. He recently played for the South Shore Monarchs (TBL) playing 8 games averaging 22.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.3%. He began his basketball career at Clinton Community College and also played two years at Salem University (NCAA2). This season he teams up with Miles Schmidt-Scheuber with weekly chats about his basketball season.
Congrats on the overwhelming 79-50 win over Acad Fribourg. Everything seems to be clicking for the team or not?
We are clicking well still not where we want to be but winning is always good and we are happy about that.
You celebrated your 7th win in the last 8 games. What steps has the team made in the last 4 games?
We started to put full games together and focus more on defense. Our chemistry is building and the wins are a result .
Talk a little about the 40 minutes. Was the game decided by the break?
They gave us a tough fight and they are a talented team. We knew if we didn’t start out from the beginning it would be a long night for us. Our plan was to take them out of the game early as best as we could .
It was another superb defensive performance as you allowed only 2 three’s. What was the biggest team strength on the night?
Our biggest strength is that we are not satisfied. We feel we didn’t do the best job defensively. I still feel we could be a better team defensively. However to hold a team to only 2 three pointers made is a big thing.
You had another strong scoring game, but I know that your 5 turnovers will gnaw at you. Does that ruin your free Sunday or can you block that out quickly?
It’s something to learn from. I’m focused on winning and I’m not perfect and have some things to work on but as long as I’m contributing to a win I can fix the other stuff later.
How much did your defense dictate your offense?
We got a lot of transition buckets and limited them to one shot possessions at times. More stops means more opportunities to score so I’d say it dictated a lot
On what areas of your game are you working on most to be best prepared for the stretch run?
Mental toughness. It’s the end of the season and it won’t get any easier. Just staying locked in is the key for post season success.
You next play against CNBS who have identical wins with you. You lost the first game this season. What will be key to getting win?
Key is continue doing what we are doing . Play together focus on defense. If we do this we will have a good chance.
March 2021 seems like it was ages ago as COVID was in full swing, Franz Wagner was still far away from the NBA as he was putting on the final touches with his development at Michigan (NCAA) and masks was a normal occurrence in basketball arena’s. For 15 year Marko Rosic (175-PG-2005), he was playing his first season with Orange Academy and had highly talented players around him on a daily basis. One of those was Jeremy Sochan, a young Polish player who was having a solid pro B season, but not necessarily one that had me jumping around with excitement. I had another Polish youngster by the name of Igor Milicic on my radar and thought he was the real deal. He definitely was talented, butdidn’t go the route I expected, instead it was Jeremy Sochan who exploded having a great freshman season at Baylor (NCAA) and currently plays for NBA team San Antonio Spurs averaging 10,0ppg. I definitely was totally wrong about Jeremy Sochan, but Rosic saw close hand how special a player Jeremy Sochan was. ‘I knew that he would go far and reach the NBA one day. But I never expected him getting such a good role. I really liked his defense, because he can defend many positions’, expressed Marko Rosic. He will never forget his time during Lock Down and being able to experience Jeremy Sohan not only on the court, but also off the court on a regular basis. ‘We spent a lot of time together during lock down. The nicest memory I have of Jeremy was playing basketball outside in the yard in the winter. We connected together very nicely. It was nice seeing how everyone at the boarding school Orange Academy grow together as a family’, stressed Marko Rosic. Often guys that make it big become arrogant and unapproachable and live in their own galaxy, but that didn’t happen with Jeremy Sohan. ‘I remember Jeremy always saying never forget from where you came from. I’m still in contact with him today’, commented Marko Rosic. Not only is Jeremy Sohan a special player, but so is Marko Rosic.
Marko Rosic who lists Real Madrid’s Jan Vide, FC Bayern Munich’s Amar Licina and EPG Basket Alani Moore as his toughest opponents so far in his career was born on April 5, 2005 in Hamm, Germany and grew up in Werne and has Serbish roots. His parents come from Kralijevo, Serbia. He began his career in Munster where he played 2 years of JBBL (U-16) from 2018-2020. He then was up for a new challenge and came to Orange Academy for the 2020-2021 season. He feels totally blessed to be able to play for this ambitious organization that currently belongs to the top youth addresses in Germany. ‘Many young players would love to be in my position. The conditions at Orange Academy are excellent. I can practice in the gym at any time. This season was very important for my development in that I’m averaging 19 minutes per game and gaining more experience at the men’s level. Plus being able to practice as much as I want with individual training as well as my shooting and ball handling has been vital. I watch a lot of Euroleague and easyCredit BBL. I love to watch guys like Milos Teodosic and TJ Shorts. They really have helped shape me as a player’, stated Marko Rosic. It has been a tough season for Orange Academy as currently they are riding a 7-13 record and sit in 10th place 3 wins away from the last playoff spot. They lost 7 of their first 8 games and just couldn’t recover from that disastrous start. ‘We got into a hole early and just couldn’t get out. Many things didn’t go our way. We had many injuries. Losing Julius Ferber really hurt us. We didn’t have the best atmosphere in the team after that losing streak. But we are young and all want to prove themselves. We try to get the best out of every situation in practice and games’, expressed Marko Rosic. Every teammate he has has something special to offer and it isn’t any different with Tobias Jenson and the white Scottie Pippen Joel Zwick. ‘Tobias is long, quick and strong. He is the total opposite to me. He is more of a scorer, but if he has to can be a playmaker. We always play against each other in practice. He brings out the competitive nature in me when we battle in practice. Joel has a lot of talent, but I honestly think that sometimes he doesn’t show everything that he has. I think highly of him. He is a great defender. He worked very hard on his shot and you can see everyday how far he is coming as a shooter. You can see how much time he invests. He has a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see where his journey will go’, added Marko Rosic.
The lightening quick point guard who lists Jordan Mueller, Sebastian Pachucki, Joel Cwick, Jacob Ensminger and Jeremy Sohan as his best teammates of all-time played his first full NBBL (U-19) season last year after not being able to play in 2020-2021 as the season was cancelled because of COVID. Last season in the NBBL he averaged 16.6ppg, 6.4rpg, Assists-3 (5.8apg), 1.8spg, FGP: 36.1%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 83.3% and scored in double figures in 10 games and in the Regionalliga averaged 7.9ppg, 2.9rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 24.1%, FT: 73.8%. He had some huge games in the NBBL hitting Wurzburg AK for 35 points and Urspring for 31 points while in the Regionalliga he scored 19 points against Saarlouis and 15 points against Limburg. This season he has had triple duty seeing action in the Pro B, Regionalliga and NBBL plus going to school and looking for his degree and not everything has been rosy. ‘Going to school and finishing is very important for my parents. They want me to have something to fall back on. I have had my ups and downs on the court. I didn’t play as much in the Pro B at the start because there were many guys at my position and I asked Chris Ensminger that I wanted to focus on the Regionalliga. I also had some health issues, but I’m fine again. I found my flow again in my game. I hit a game winner against Bensheim in the Regionalliga and scored 18 points against Erfurt last weekend in the Pro B. I’m really happy how I’m playing at the moment’, said Marko Rosic This season in the Regionalliga he is averaging 12,8 ppg, 4,0rpg, 8,7apg and 1,9spg and in the Pro B is averaging 6,3ppg, 2,2rpg, 2,9apg and 1,1spg. Orange Academy next battle against top Pro B team EPG Baskets Koblenz that are 17-1. His stats are obviously stronger in the Regionalliga than Pro B, but it isn’t because of the lower physicality in the Regionalliga. ‘Many doubt me because I’m small and weigh 60 kilos. I don’t think that physicality is a problem. I use my quickness and court vision to my advantage. I don’t have many finishes but use more my floater and mid distance shot’, stated Marko Rosic. Orange Academy are seeking revenge in Koblenz. Orange Academy have nothing to lose and will have the first loss in their minds. ‘The first loss was close. They played zone at the end which surprised us as a young team. Koblenz is very experienced and it will be difficult to play there. We are coming in with the mind set not to lose. We are hungry to win. We will see what will happen’, warned Marko Rosic. He contributed 13 points in the loss, but coughed up the ball 5 times. It isn’t easy playing against top Pro B guard Alani Moore. Watching film has always been massive for him. ‘I talk a lot with my dad about my game. Those 5 turnovers is way to much for a point guard. I’m very critical with myself and rewatched the game right away. I need to be more under control with my ball handling. But I also watch good things in my game. I try to soak up as much from a guy like Moore. He is very quick like me. I saw his moves and I really learned a lot from his game. He is a tough defender so it is ideal going up against him’, stressed Marko Rosic.
Marko father Ivan Rosic coach of Hamm
The ex Munster player who lists Kobe, Shaq, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Michael Jordan on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is a 175cm point guard who is very thankful that he has had his father as a mentor. Dad Ivan who currently coaches in Hamm has played a huge role in his son’s basketball development. He decided to remain in Hamm when he had other coaching offers. He sacrificed his career so that he could be around him and help him get to the next level. He can’t see his games live so they talk a lot on the phone and train together during the summers. He was a point guard in his playing days and Marko has kept a big piece of advice from his dad that he brings on the floor each day. ‘He wants the best for me. He told me that scoring isn’t the most important thing. You don’t need to look for yourself, but for your teammates. Getting an assist will make two happy and make the team stronger. He also has been instrumental in helping me with leadership qualities. Off the court I’m quiet. He really helped me come out of my shell’, warned Marko Rosic. He is more of a pass first point guard and I would have thought he would compare his game to a Ricky Rubio, but I was wrong. He hasn’t watched much of Rubio on film. He compares his passing game more to his favorite player Milos Teodosic and the whole package to Argentine national player Facundo Campazzo. He also watches a lot of American TJ Shorts who plays for easyCredit BBL team Telekom Baskets Bonn. He has shown at all 3 levels with Orange Academy that he can fill the stat sheet with ease. ‘I think that my biggest strength is getting my teammates involved. I also think that my leadership is strong as well as my organization, pushing the ball in transition and my mid range shot. I haven’t shown my 3 ball as much yet even though I did go 3/5 against Erfurt last weekend. I think that I also have shown that I can be that extended arm of the coach on the court and hold the team together’, warned Marko Rosic. He knows that if he wants to reach the next level, he will have to be even better with his flaws and strengths. ‘I work mostly on my ball handling and three pointer. But I continue to want to be able to hit my mid range shot as well as becoming an even better passer and also becoming an even better leader’, said Marko Rosic. Often getting that extra experience with a national team is vital for the development of a player and at what level a player can still reach, but at the moment he isn’t with any national team. ‘Germany haven’t called me, because I’m too small. Serbia have too many guards at my position’, added Marko Rosic. He has a very precise basketball dream and for once it isn’t the NBA. ‘I want to play in the Euroleague and for Roter Stern Belgrade. I think that it is important to set small steps. My goal now is to reach the easyCredit BBL’, warned Marko Rosic. It will be interesting to see where Marko Rosic‘s journey will go. His teammates definitely think highly of him. ‘He definitely belongs to the best German guards in that he is always able to create an open shot for his teammates. He is also a very good scorer which he doesn’t always show because he is a pass first guy. He also reads the game well. He is already a very strong leader for his age and knows how to lead a team’, stressed Joel Cwick. I definitely will be rooting for him, because I always love very small point guards. I was always the smallest and know what it’s like to pretend your tiny Archibald and loves to make the assist.
How often have we heard about how talented a young athlete is? Those big time gems seem to be all over the place, but to be honest sometimes it’s more the parents wanting to think that their kid is that 1 in a million. But then again there are those really talented kids that got on the scene at a young age like a Ricky Rubio who played his first Euroleague game at age 14 or a Lional Messi who joined FC Barecleona at age 14 signing on a napkin. You see these young phenoms in all sports and in the last years also in German basketball as guys like Isaiah Hartenstein and Franz Wagner demonstrated in very young years that they were very special on the court. But there are also other really talented German kids in basketball that aren’t wooing everyone with their shooting or dunking, but are actually giving their 2 cents on the sidelines. 20 year Tom Walther is one of these guys. There have been other young German head coaches in Germany like a Thorsten Leibenath or Bjoern Harmsen that reached the highest level, but has there ever been a 20 year old German assistant coach in the German second division (Pro A)? I think I need to check the Guinness Book of World Records if there is any information about this. ‘ I didn’t check but I can imagine there aren’t many coaches that young in pro Basketball. But for me it’s not about records, I’m just happy about the opportunity’, stressed Tom Walther . The German basketball scene is a small one and it didn’t surprise me when I learned that Tom Walther not only knew Fabian Beierlein another German guy that is a basketball workaholic and probably knew Dashaun Wood’s stats in 2011 better than the ex Wright State guard himself when he wasn’t even a teenager yet, but is friends with the Bayreuth native. ‘Fabian is one of my really close friends even if we talk mostly through the phone, because of the distance. We discuss almost all things that come with basketball and he was also involved in my decision to sign in Tuebingen. It’s always nice to meet him’, said Tom Walther . Tom Walther is proving that not all talented German kids connected to basketball have to be basketball players as he is working with the Tigers Tuebingen.
I reach Tom Walther last summer on a steamy hot day in August as he was enjoying the last days at home in Leipzig as well as was working out with friend Grant Teichmann of the Dresden Titans before heading to Tuebingen for his new basketball adventure. I had always known about him but other than assuming he was a teenage basketball fan, I knew nothing about him. That changed very quickly when I saw his name under basketball highlight videos for players on You Tube and when I saw him behind the bench for the BSW Sixers last season. ‘I think I started doing highlight videos sometime in 2019, just for fun. I did youth coaching already before but it helped me to build a good worldwide network. Over time I started to work with different agencies, mainly for Matt Slan from Slan Sports’, commented Tom Walther . He was born on October 30th, 2002 and knew pretty rapidly that basketball was in his blood, but more on the bench than on the court. He began his coaching career in Leipzig with USC Leipzig in 2016 when he was 13 years old. He was an assistant coach for the Leipzig U-12 and U-14 teams and later was head coach for the Leipzig U-15 and U-16 teams. He joined the organization in 2016 in a time where there was much turmoil going around, but he stuck through it. ‘When I began it was a hard time, but in 2016 I was a teenager who helped in youth basketball without the knowledge of a basketball organization that I have today’, stated Tom Walther . Getting his first break in the coaching business in Leipzig was massive and he will never forget who was most instrumental for him then. ‘Dominik Braun, Head of department of USC Leipzig, was the most important person for me. I was his assistant coach for years in u12 und u14 basketball and he was one of the main reasons why I stuck to basketball and became the coach that I am today. In 2020-2021 he gave me the chance to be a head coach in youth basketball for the first time. He was trusting me and I know I can always ask him for advice’, remembers Tom Walther . He also recently got his primary school degree from the Friedrich-Schiller-Schule Leipzig.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Tom Walther in Rhondorf in 2021
The ex eenager who believes that 4 time NBA winner Steph Curry is the best shooting point guard of all-time then got another break and for the first time got out of his comfort zone of being at home and working with USC Leipzig and landed a job with Pro B team BSW Sixers in Sandesdorf. This was his first real introduction to men’s basketball at a higher level. It was a lot of learning by doing and the players that didn’t know him right away must of thought ‘what is this kid doing here and giving me orders’. But in the end the club experienced a good season reaching the playoffs sweeping Erfurt and then losing a tough 3 games series to ambitious organization Wolmirstedt. ‘ It was a crazy experience. I knew nothing about pro basketball coaching in the beginning and I was younger than most of the players. But Coach Chris Schreiber gave me the chance to develop myself and to grow into the role as an Assistant Coach. I learned pretty fast how to prepare the opponent and I learned something new basically every week and every game. I’m really thankful for that opportunity’, stressed Tom Walther . When your young, it is always vital to soak in as much as possible and that is exactly what he did learning as much as possible from Darren Stackhouse, the younger brother of NBA legend Jerry Stackhouse. ‘Darren was one of the main reasons why I started to work for the Sixers in late September 2021. He was supposed to be the Sixers Assistant coach but as he also was JBBL AC for MBC and worked with me together in Leipzig’s youth basketball so there wasn’t much time left for Pro B. So he really pushed the idea of me also coaching in Pro B and we both ended up on the coaching staff of Chris. I won’t forget his humor and our meals after the Pro B home games, together with player Sven Papenfuss’, commented Tom Walther .
The kid who has Lebron James as his personal GOAT now has taken on new challenge with Pro A club Tigers Tuebingen. A few years ago the Tigers Tuebingen was a former easyCredit BBL team that was declining and being forgotten in the Pro A. But all of a sudden with the emergence of rising coach Danny Jansson, the club belongs to the top teams in the Pro A. Last season they earned moving back to the BBL, but opted to remain in the Pro A. It was a no brainer that he would join this organization when a guy like Jansson comes calling. ‘Our first contact was last summer when Danny sent a message to my highlight page, asking for a video for a press release of Tuebingen. I used the chance to introduce myself as a coach and after I saw that last year’s AC Hussain Dassouki wasn’t coming back for this season I reached out to Danny and after a meeting in Tuebingen and multiple phone calls we’re working together now ‘, remembered Tom Walther . Sometimes you have to be aggressive like a point guard to get some success and that is exactly what he did in keeping the contact with Jansson. When your 35 and get your first assistant coaching job in the Pro A, you will be happy, but when your 19 years, the feeling must be like a boy in a candy story. ‘I’m really excited and I can’t wait to start working. I visited Danny and the Tigers organization earlier this summer, they gave me a really good feeling and I felt welcome straight from the beginning. I expect a really good and competitive league this season, you can win or lose every game. Last years Pro B felt already really competitive but in Pro A you typically have better Germans and you’re also allowed to have more import players on the court which will be interesting to see and to scout.’, said Tom Walther last summer. In the few talks and live conversations that he has had with Jansson, he has got to know a honest and hard working man that also knows when to have fun. But getting more experience doesn’t stop with Jansson as he also will be working together with assistant coach Hanot Zabaleta Carro. ‘It’s always good to have more experienced guys around you. Hanot is responsible for our S&C, a part of coaching that I haven’t done so far, so I’m looking forward to learn from him in this aspect. But life is more than basketball so I’m interested in learning more about him and the Spanish culture in general’, expressed Tom Walther . The young German is part of the success of the Tigers Tuebingen as they are in second place with a 19-7 record chasing Rasta Vechta.
It is interesting to see that some of his biggest coaching influences aren’t the big legends like Pesic, Blatt or Aito, but moreover guys like Simon Cote, Pete Strobl and Chris Schreiber. He also enjoys listening to podcasts from around the world with various coaches to attain different knowledge. He understands that being an assistant coach in the Pro A isn’t only a step up in level, but also in how he has to prepare in comparison to what he saw last season with the Sixers. ‘ I think the biggest difference is the versatility of the players. In Pro B it was often possible to categorize players in one play type. Also the Pro A is having more games, so my time management for the reports and videos will be different’, stated Tom Walther . 30 years ago watching film was a lot more difficult than today as you can find a lot more easy access to watching players online. One thing is for sure, he has watched many highlight films in the last years. ‘The biggest strength is that I love to watch basketball, that way it’s easy for me to watch a lot of video and to focus on different aspects of the game. I also found a way to work fast and effective when it comes to cutting and editing the footage’, added Tom Walther . Being versatile is a massive trait for any player and it isn’t any different as a coach. ‘I want to establish myself as a Coach which means improving in all aspects of coaching, video wise, individual wise, teaching wise and also in S&C aspects’, warned Tom Walther . The last years he worked very hard off the court to get his German high school degree and his schooling hasn’t stopped yet. He plans to continue his studies in Stuttgart despite also having his coaching duties with the Tigers Tuebingen. He just can’t say no to an extra challenge. ‘ It will be a huge challenge, especially in the beginning. Fortunately there will be the chance to work from home and online for university, that way I’ll be able to attend morning practices. I’ll surely miss some practices but I won’t be a rare face in the gym. For me personally it is important to get a degree to have a plan b, in case coaching isn’t working out for me in the future’, warned Tom Walther . He is very smart for 20 having a plan B ready. But he showed once before that he can shuffle school and basketball and I’m certain he will do it again. He has been on a mission since he was 13 and so far everything has worked out. Why shouldn’t it continue in Tuebingen? The Tigers Tuebingen are also on a mission and together they will conquer all.
One of the exciting aspects of pro sports in Germany for fans no matter if it’s soccer, ice hockey or basketball is that your club can never take off a game. It isn’t like in the NBA where a team like the Knicks in the past could flounder around for a few seasons and always play against a Golden State the next season, because in Germany if you struggle in a season, you can find yourself a league lower the next season and everything changes for that club especially financially. Pro A club Art Giants Duesseldorf a team that only some years ago were in the Regionalliga (4th division) and daydreaming of moving up made the jump up to the Pro A this season, but now are on the verge of moving down again as they currently are having a head to head battle with Leverkusen to remain in the league as Schwenningen is in last place and will be the first team to move down. Of course, it is double bitter when you play your heart out and lose by 1 point on back to back weekends against Tuebingen and Giessen. One player who is in the middle of the drama has been C.J. Anderson (197-G-1996, college: UMass, agency: One Motive Sports) an American who is in his third professional season after playing in Hungry and Austria and came in January to help in the stretch run. The Pro A is an underrated league that has many very talented American guards that could play in the top league easyCredit BBL. Despite coming in late, he has played solidly in the Pro A. He probably could of played somewhere earlier, but it was more about not going somewhere and then seeing quickly having made the wrong decision. ‘Yes it was more about the right fit and staying ready when the call comes. I enjoyed the fact I was able to spend time with family’, said C.J. Anderson. So far he is giving his all and has played solidly in the Pro A averaging 10,1ppg, 4,5rpg, 2,9apg and 1,0spg. ‘My role is to be a playmaker and defend. It’s easy to score when you’re surrounded by shooters and guys that can create their own shot as well. Basketball is basketball. You adjust to the level just by playing the game. I embrace any challenge’, warned C.J. Anderson. Of course being able to play with 2 high quality players like Booker Coplin and Ryan Richmond has sweetened the experience. ‘It’s been great to play with those guys. It was easy to build chemistry with them both. I appreciate that they have accepted me to be able to play my game in order to compliment theirs’, added C.J. Anderson.
C.J. Anderson who lists Trae Young and Jordan McCrae as the toughest players that he ever faced on the court is a 26 year old 197cm guard that was born on May 10th, 1996 in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Whitehaven high school and then enjoyed a 4 year career at the University of Massachusetts (NCAA) from 2014-2018 playing a total of 125 NCAA games. He did not have a big offensive scoring role in his first 3 seasons. He averaged 10 minutes in his first season and then they rose to 24 and 21 minutes. He never averaged more than 4,9ppg in his first 3 seasons. ‘It was tough because I had to wait my turn. It’s not easy coming from being one of the best in your high school to having to understand that it’s all about timing and patience’, stated C.J. Anderson. But in his senior year, he finally got a real chance logging 35 minutes per game and averaging 11.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 4.9apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 81.3%. ‘My senior year I was given an opportunity to go out there and go to work. We didn’t have a huge roster so I was asked to do more and be myself’, remembered C.J. Anderson. In his senior year he scored in double figures in 19 games including hitting Quinnipiac for 23 points in a tough 68-66 loss, Richmond for 22 points in a 25 point loss, but helped beat La Salle scoring 21 points in a great 69-67 win. After playing his first 3 years for Derek Kellogg, he finally got the trust from Matt McCall in his senior year. ‘The best advice I was given by him was to go out there and just have fun. He saw I was playing a little tense for a period of time and told me to remember why I started to play the game’, said C.J. Anderson who remembers beating teammate Carl Pierre in every 1-1 match they played against each other.
The American who lists Michael Jordan , Kareem Abdul Jabaar , Lebron James, and Stephen Curry on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore began his professional career in 2018 in the G-League. He split time with the Erie Bay Hawks (NBA G League) averaging 2.8ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.4apg, and in March’19 signed with the Sioux Falls Skyforce (NBA G League) averaging 2.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.0apg. He surely wished for a different type of rookie season, but in the long run, it was an learning experience for him. ‘It was a tough situation. You had to learn how to adjust to when it’s your time in the G league. You could have 5 straight games where you play none or 5 minutes and then the next the team needs you to play 25 minutes. You have to take advantage of that opportunity. The NBA is the greatest experience of my life. The whole lifestyle and resources there are the best I’ve ever been a part of’, stressed C.J. Anderson. He was able to learn from ex NBA player Calbert Cheaney and simply will never forget having received the opportunity to be part of a NBA farm team. ‘He was a very down to earth man. He was always giving advice and didn’t mind helping me with my game or just studying the game. I realized I was part of a NBA organization by the way they took care of the players. The best experience was when it was time to play the game we had everything and more for what we needed for the game’, remembered C.J. Anderson.
The big guard who lists Leron Black , Chris Chiozza , Anton Beard , Marcanvis Hymon , and Jaylen Adams as his 5 best teammates of all-time came overseas in 2021 and played with Oroszlanyi Sportegylet E Lions (Hungary) averaging 9.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 2.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 74.7%. Every American has that first wake up call where he senses that there is a culture shock and not necessarily a Mcdonalds around the corner. ‘My wake up call was when I first got into my home and realized that everything was totally different from America’, said C.J. Anderson. He scored in double figures in 14 games including 22 points against DEAC and 22 points against ZTE KK and even had a Kevin Love type of game hauling down 21 boards against PVSK-Veolia. Last season he made the jump to team Basket Swans Gmunden (Austria-BSL) averaging 9.9ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.1apg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 60.7%. He was able to celebrate his first chip winning the Super Cup. ‘It was a great experience winning the SuperCup. We will remember the entire atmosphere and feeling of winning such a special accomplishment’, added C.J. Anderson. He was surrounded with serious talent in Gmunden with talented guards Stephon Jelks and Eric Washington who are making their marks in the easyCredit BBL this season. Being able to hold his own against guys like this gives him hope to continue to move up he basketball ladder. ‘I’m so happy for Stephon. He is my brother for life and I’m so happy that he has this opportunity. I want to have the opportunity to play a role in the NBA or play in the EuroLeague or Australia NBL. I saw that Eric was special. His mindset was on another level. That’s what takes you there. The talent was already there. It’s all about when you’re given the opportunity’, stated C.J. Anderson.
The Tennessee native who has Michael Jordan as his GOAT and feels that the classic movie Coming To America should have been left along is a big guard who models his game around John Wall and Herbert Jones. ‘I love to facilitate , score , and defend at a very high level’, warned C.J. Anderson. He is a very versatile player and like all Americans has a high self-confidence rate and knows he can impact the game in many ways. ‘My biggest strength is that I can do it all and that I can play alongside all. It helps a lot that I can adjust with anyone’, commented C.J. Anderson. His versatility is also a part of his game that will continue to affect his defensive game and most likely how well he can move up the basketball ladder and recommend himself for greater tasks in higher leagues. ‘My versatility is what helps me. I can play and defend the 1-4. I truly believe it can help with being able to mix and match with different 5’s on the court’, warned C.J. Anderson. In in the NCAA, he shot the ball at 40% from outside, but as a professional overseas, his three point shooting continues to be a work in progress. Currently he is shooting only 11,1% from outside. ‘I want to improve shooting the 3. I can shoot the ball but I enjoy finishing with contact and taking The mid range pull up’, stated C.J. Anderson. It will be interesting how C.J. Anderson finishes up his third professional season overseas in Germany with the ART Giants Duesseldorf. He won a title last season in Austria and won’t do it this season in Germany, but helping save the team from moving back to the Pro B will be worth as much as a title in Duesseldorf.
Matt Freeman (207-F-1997, college: UCSB) is a 25 year old forward from New Zealand that is playing his third professional season in Germany and first with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven currently averaging 9,5ppg, 5,6rpg and 1,8apg. Last season he played with PS Karlsruhe averaging 10.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 43.5%, FT: 86.5% an din his first season played with the ROMERSTROM Gladiators Trier (Germany-ProA) averaging 11.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 69.0%. He got his first basketball experience in New Zealand with the North Adelaide Rockets and then went to the States from 2014-2020. He played at Westlake high school and then at the University of Oklahoma (NCAA) from 2016-2019 playing a total of 84 games. He then finished at the University of California Santa Barbara (NCAA) averaging 9.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 88.5%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Matt for talking to germanhoops.com. This is your third professional season and third German Pro A team. Is it fair to say that Germany has become like a second home for you?
I think at this point Germany will always be a part of me. Being such a traveller I think I have many second homes now so really home for me will always be in New Zealand. But nonetheless I have loved my experience in Germany thus far and I’m excited for all that is to come!
You had a very good game against Bremerhaven with Trier and overall had a 2-1 record against them. What was your memories in general about this team?
Obviously this will be a new team with a new coach so the play style will be different. Though, from my experience they always play with a high intensity and score a lot of points.
What is your general impression of head coach Steven Key. What stood out most about his basketball philosophy and character?
With my conversation with Coach Key I felt our feelings were mutual on how work ethic should be, playing basketball as a unit and not individually, and building strong relationships throughout the team and organization to reach the highest level of success. I’m excited to get to work and play for him!
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 208cm forward. To what NBA player would you compare your game to?
I’ve always looked at guys like Ryan Anderson & Kevin Love as they’re power forwards who can shoot the ball extremely well. But I also love the way they understand their role and are solid in other areas of the game that help themselves and their team to be successful.
You’re a 208cm forward. Would you classify yourself a modern day big man?
I think big men today are definitely able to shoot the ball a lot better than they used to. So in that regard yes. But I also consider myself to be more of a point forward who can bring the ball up and control tempo so I think that side of my game is more uncommon in today’s big man.
You can fill the stat sheet. Would you also call your versatility one of your bigger strengths?
For sure. I’ve always prided myself in my passing ability as a big man and obviously the way I shoot the ball. I think basketball is a game where you don’t have to do it all but being able to/being as versatile as possible only increases your worth as a player. I continue to work on all aspects of my game because I love the game and there’s always so much more to learn every day you put in the work.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most now so you can continue to improve your game as you move up the basketball ladder?
I think for me this off season has been about physical growth and learning how to draw contact and finish whilst still being balanced. I think it’s a simple concept but a hard one to master. I’m liking where I’m at with it now and excited to see it translate into this season.
Last season you got many passes from Stanley Whittaker. What did you appreciate most about his game and will he make the next step in the easyCredit BBL?
Stan is an incredible player and loved him as a team mate. We had a great relationship and I think what we appreciated most about each other was our mutual respect/passion for the game and the ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality to win. Even if we were down 20 I could always count on him not to give up. I have no doubt wherever Stan is he will be successful.
What do you feel is still missing from your game to reach the easyCredit BBL?
I think my answer is similar to what I said about what I am currently working on. But in addition to that I think my continuous physical growth will help me defensively to guard multiple positions. Being able to do that makes you valuable at the highest of levels in basketball.
You played your rookie season with the Romerstrom Gladiators. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew that you were very far away from home? I think the biggest wake up call was being out in public and not having people speak English. I’m terrible at learning languages so it will always be hard for me but definitely something I have gotten used to. Other than that the feeling of playing basketball for a job. Knowing that at any moment you could be sent home is a big reality check. Definitely a motivating factor to never stop working hard.
How tough was going into your rookie season with Covid. You got signed very late. Did you ever lose hope in the basketball process?
It was very tough mate. There was a very long period of drought in finding a job. I actually did start to look into other opportunities outside of basketball but I never stopped working on my game in case that call came, and thankfully it did.
You hail from New Zealand. How much of a role did your experience at Westlake high school play a role in you deciding to go to the NCAA?
Westlake was an awesome high school. I made life long best friends but also it put me in a pool of great Basketballers. Many of whom went to college in the US before me. So I think the exposure to that environment definitely convinced me to play in the NCAA but it was also a dream of mine even prior to going to high school there.
You played 3 seasons at the University of Oklahoma. Your NCAA career began well scoring 15 points in a loss to Northwestern State in your first NCAA game. You showed quickly that you knew how to be efficient in the minutes you got. Despite never averaging more than 11 minutes per game in a season what benefits did your 3 years there under Lon Kruger give you? Coach Kruger has a long history of knowledge in the game of basketball. I think it was a great opportunity to learn through his experience what it takes to be successful. Although that time didn’t exactly come at OU with him I think it’s fair to say it helped me in becoming the player I became when I transferred to UCSB.
What do you remember from the intense battles with Jamuni Mcnease who played in Germany some years ago? I’m sure the work in daily practices made you better despite you not getting as many minutes?
Jamuni was my room mate and my best mate for life. I talk to him all the time. He knows I’ll give him buckets any day & time of the week. But no doubt, my brother Muni is a tough dude who I’ve seen do some of the most athletic things ever. I’m excited at the opportunity to play with him again some day.
What was your memories of NBA superstar Trae Young? What kind of bond did you have to the freshman? Do you still have contact to him or is he in his own world now?
Funnily enough Trae and I actually dated different girls who were on the dance team so we spent a fair bit of time with each other off the court. But he was obviously a natural superstar from high school onwards. I still have his contact but we haven’t spoken in a few years since he made the NBA.
You then finished at the University of California Santa Barbara (NCAA) averaging 9.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 88.5% Was the 69-67 Cal Poly win in your last NCAA game one of your best wins ever? My brother Jaquori hit the game winner!
How did head coach Joe Pasternack groom and prepare you best for a professional career? As intense as Coach P is, I will be eternally grateful for everything he did for me. He restored faith in me that I can play basketball professionally at the highest level. As hard as he was on me, he did it because I needed it and he knew it would bring out the best in me, which it did.
Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Amadou Sow? Love Amadou, tough ass kid. We had great battles. But I’m taking me every time.
Who is the toughest player that you ever faced on the floor so far in your career that reached the NBA? There’s been a few honestly but I remember Kenrich Williams at TCU, Jarrett Allen at Texas and probably Azubuike at Kansas. They were all damn tough.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time? Man I almost can’t answer this. I’ve had some amazing team mates over the years. But if I have to answer I’d have to say the guys who are my life long friends who I still talk to all the time. Logan Hunt, Jamuni McNeace, Daniel Harper, CJ Cole, Patrick Geha & Ty Lazenby
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore MJ, Lebron, Kobe, Shaq
What is your opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all time Jordan or Lebron?
I think it’s stupid to try and compare two different Eras. The game continues to evolve every year. Jordan was the goat in his generation and Lebron in his. Simple. If they had played in the same era then I have absolutely no idea. They would both be different players had they played in each other’s Eras.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone? I heard not so good things about it so still haven’t seen it! Don’t want it to ruin the original for me!!