Sometimes parallels can be small and unconventional, but it can still make one think the Arsenio Hall famous thought hmmmmmmmmmmm as back in 2004 the last time Frankfurt won the beko BBL title then known as The Opel Skyliners, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski were about to start their flight as successful German national soccer players, Lady Gaga was still screeching songs under the shower and actress Katie Holmes still had her cute school girl crush for future husband Hollywood tycoon Tom Cruise. Current Skyliners Jimmy Mckinney was making a name for himself at Missouri with guys like Travon Bryant, Rickey Paulding and Linas Kleiza, Roger Powell was still working on his game at Illinois with future NBA players Deron Williams and Luther Head and Dashaun Wood was a road runner in the making at Wright State. Back then in 2004, Frankfurt had a 27 year old Pascal Roller and raw talent coach Gordon Herbert who won the final against Bamberg in a game five series where each team won their away games until game five where Frankfurt was able to win at home. Now seven years later, Roller and Herbert were both wiser and more experienced and had the same chance to win another game five at home after the first four games had all been won on the road by the away team. Frankfurt also had a positive omen in which they had beat Alba Berlin twice in a playoff series since 2005 and wanted to make the triple against the Spree team in 2011 and despite a fresh Pascal Roller, Alba Berlin ruined his fathers day ending the season of The Deutsche Bank Skyliners 87-68 moving on to the final where they will meet three time beko BBl champion Brose Baskets Bamberg. The past success in 2004 didn´t seem to rub off on Roller and Herbert as Frankfurt was unable to win in their living room losing the fourth game in a row this season in the Ballsporthalle. “I think Roller and Herbert might have looked in their eyes with a small smile thinking about what they did in 2004. Remembering that success might have given them strength to do it again tonight”, stressed ex North Carolina Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja before the game. “I don´t think that Roller or Herbert will have remembered this. I don´t think they would have thought a second about it. It is different circumstances and you can´t compare it”, stressed Skyliner sport director Kamil Novak before the game. Alba Berlin won their fourth game in a row in Frankfurt and just outplayed Frankfurt in so many areas as the sadness was present on the faces of the Skyliners after the game. “This loss hurts very much. You work a whole season to get to the final and then it ends like this. A big problem was the rebounding. We got way to little second shots and we didn´t get on transition enough”, stressed Skyliner forward Jimmy Mckinney. “We did a good job finding the open man on offense. Our big guys also did a good job on the boards and also finding the open man. Idbihi and Taylor gave a lot of energy under the boards”, stressed Alba Berlin manager Mithat Demirel. The game five loss by The Deutsche Bank Skyliners also was the curtain call by captain Pascal Roller who had stated that he would step down from the court at the end of the season at the age of 34.
Pascal Roller is a 34 year old 180cm combo guard that is playing his 11th season in Frankfurt. He started his career with TV Langen and then played with Freiburg in the second German Bundesliga from 1996-1999. He has played in Frankfurt ever since except for the 2006-2007 season when he took a sabbatical in Italy with Angelico Biella playing 39 games averaging 5.7ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.4apg, 2FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 41.9%, FT: 85.0%. His best statistical season was the 2004-2005 season where he played 44 games averaging14.9ppg, 3.2rpg, Ast-5(4.0apg), 1.0spg, 2.7bpg, 2FGP: 49.5%, 3FGP-3(43.3%). He has played 19 Euroleague games, 28 ULEB Cup games, and 12 Eurochallenge games. His biggest success with Frankfurt was winning the BBL Cup in 2000 and the BBL championship in 2004. He is a seven time BBL Allstar. He also played with the German National team for 9 years. His biggest accomplishments was playing at the 2008 Olympics at Beijing, winning a bronze medal at the World Championships at Indianapolis in 2002 and winning a silver medal at The European Championships in Belgrad in 2005. In 2009-2010, he played 46 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 44.3%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT-1(90.8%). currently he is averaging 4,5ppg and 1,3apg. He spoke to German Hoops before game 5 against Alba Berlin
Congrats on the 83-74 win against Alba Berlin in game four. Are these do or die games easy now for you then earlier in your career?
Yes it gets easier, because I have more experience in these games in the last years. Now I know how to react in certain phases of the game and am able to make better decision in certain phases of a game.
Do or die games in professional sports now a days seem to be as common as the gossip that has been surfacing about the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger in the last weeks concerning his leisurely activities with mistresses, NBA teams playing matador defense letting guys like Dwayne Wade or Derrick Rose get simple buckets and hope to get points back at the free throw line to finish games or Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen keeping his name fresh in the tabloids even if he is just trying to sell his Beverly Hills mansion for a cool 7,2 million. In the last days, fans saw two do or die games in the NBA playoffs as both Dallas and Miami got past Oklahoma and Chicago who had to win to elude summer vacation, in the NHL, Boston and Tampa Bay squaring off in a seventh game where Boston kept their dream alive of their first Stanley Cup win since 1970 or ex Skyliner Ilian Evtimov who got an early summer vacation as his team Chalon lost a do or die game against Asvel. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners faced the same predicament having their backs to the wall down 2-1 against 8 time beko BBL champion Alba Berlin, but had had fond memories of the O2 World arena winning a thrilling comeback win in the fourth quarter out scoring Alba Belrin 24-5 just 8 days ago in game two. Frankfurt might of had their backs to the wall, but finally played Skyliner basketball winning game 4 and forcing a game 5 this Thursday in Frankfurt dominating Alba Berlin for the most part of the game winning 83-74. Skyliner coach Gordon Herbert had been in enough do or die games in his career and knew exactly how he could prepare his players best. “We worked hard on the mental aspect of it. We wanted to be very focused coming into the game. We did a good job coming out with a lot of energy into the game”, stressed Skyliner coach Gordon Herbert. “We had a different kind of week for this game. We focused more on the mental part than on the physical part. We did a lot of mental exercises something that I have never done before, but it was worth it and the game showed that many guys got something out of it”, said Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen. “It was not easy for Frankfurt to come into a game like this, but Frankfurt was prepared for the moment and there is a reason why they were the second best team in the league. Many guys stepped up like Roger Powell, Pascal Roller was strong off the bench and Tez does what he always does”, added Alba Berlin forward Bryce Taylor.
The way the Alba Berlin Deutsche Bank Skyliners beko BBL semi final series had ended in the first two games couldn´t have been more dramatic or unbelievable than if Lebron James had lost a game on a tip in on his own basket, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz winning a playoff game against the hated New York Yankees with a suicide squeeze bunt or Boston bruins goalie Tim Thomas winning a playoff game with a full ice flick of the wrist shot that would beat Tampa bay Lightening goalie Mike Smith by accident the same way FC Schalke goalie Manuel Neuer has been prone to allowing goals, or Skyliner assistant coach Klaus Prewas who is usually reserved in the same way after games if the team won by one point or 35 points, but after the game two shock win looked like he had just survived the torture chamber of Hannibal Lector in the Silence of the Lambs. “You never know what is going to happen in the playoffs. I remember that in 2008 we did the same against Oldenburg where all teams won their away games. I was a little surprised how Frankfurt won game two not allowing Alba Berlin to score for eight minutes. Something like that usually doesn´t happen to Alba Berlin”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn coach Michael Koch. “The most important thing in the playoffs is always the fighting mentality, playing with heart and getting the rebounds. My most crazy playoffs was when we were down 1-2 in games to Braunschweig and we came back to win 3-2. We had many injuries and played with lesser means. We played fought and played with heart and that is how we were able to get the win”, stressed”, added Alba Berlin sport director Mithat Demirel.
With the surprise effects that had happened in the first two games, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners didn´t want to exit the court again after game three with another insane ending that could of added some extra forehead wrinkles or a few more grey hairs above the brow so the gang of Gordon Herbert entered the game wanting to be as alert as Dirk Nowitzki has been in the current playoffs leading his team to success, as Ashton Kutcher will have to be serving in the role of Charlie Sheen and not getting caught in his pitfalls or how 8 time Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl winning against Michael Chang again at a Frankfurt exhibition match last weekend and getting revenge after losing to the then 17 year old American who was suffering from cramps and had to serve under hand 22 years ago at Roland ´Garros in Paris, but every effort The Deutsche Bank Skyliners did wasn´t rewarded as Alba Berlin played sensational team basketball defense pounding Frankfurt 68-52 and taking a 2-1 lead in the best of five beko BBL semi finals series. “We couldn´t make a shot. I think we were a little tired. Alba Berlin was able to keep throwing fresh new guys at us and they had a deeper rotation tonight. They just wore us down tonight”, stressed ex NBA player Roger Powell. Despite the bitter loss in game two at home, Alba Berlin looked fresh and ready to go in game three.
The surprised effect on the faces of Skyliner fans as the buzzer sounded after 40 minutes in game one couldn´t have been more extreme as if former American president Bill Clinton had entered the Ballsporthalle hand in hand with superstar singer Elton John, any person enjoying the rays, chicks in skimpy clothing and the beach atmosphere of South Beach and possibly seeing singer Gloria Estefan prancing on the beach, but suddenly being met by a five foot great white shark in three feet of water or seeing David Blaine make the Paris Eiffel tower disappear in a weird kind of illusion. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had to erase this dramatic ending to game one and keep their game faces on in game two against Alba Berlin and were as focused in the fourth quarter in their comeback return as Berlin skipper Muli Katzurin always is never ever seeming to lose composure on the sideline, as American talk show legend Oprah Winfrey had to be in her last show not breaking down in he rlast interviews with Madonna and Tom Hanks and Prince William not getting up in tabloid news in his daily life as Frankfurt took charge in the fourth quarter knotting the series at 1-1 with an incredible comeback in the fourth quarter winning 80-72. It seemed like Frankfurt may have had some problems keeping that bitter game one loss out of their heads at times in the first three quarters, but was totally forgotten in the fourth quarter. “It was difficult going into game two after what had happened in game one, but no game is easy when your fighting for a title. We just kept fighting and never gave up. I think that Alba Berlin was able to play their style in game one and we were our style in game two”, stressed Skyliner guard Dashaun Wood. “I personally didn´t think too much about the game one loss. I blocked it out and didn´t feel the pressure to have to win here”, added Kimmo Muurinen. If this was one of the biggest comebacks in Skyliner history or for some players didn´t seem to be the case, but it was a great comeback. “I have had bigger comebacks, but none in such an important game as this”, stressed Kimmo Muurinen. Roger Powell had a big smile on his face and quick reply to the greatest comeback question. “I have had way better comebacks. My best comeback was when we beat Arizona and Channing Frye to reach the Final 4 where we were down 14 points with two minutes to play and came back and won”, smiled Roger Powell.
For basketball fans waiting for the lovable Shaq to make a free throw, waiting for a winner between the Oklahoma Thunder and The Memphis Grizzlies in one of their playoff games which took three overtime periods, actor Robert de Niro choosing society girl Paris Hilton as his next love interest in a movie or Tom Brady finally taking a hint from teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber to finally cut his wild, long and out of control haircut feels like an eternity, but waiting 10 days during the always exciting playoff time for the next opponent for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners was long enough for Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney to sneak back to St Louis and do a cameo in a Nelly interview, current Skyliner MVP Dashaun Wood to go on the road with his MVP trophy and do public speaking on how to win a coveted award like that and Skyliner energy bundle Quantez Robertson could of secretly fled back to Cincinnati to conduct a playground street ball dunk contest with friend Mark Dorris and nobody would have noticed. Despite all this free time and temptation, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were all present for game one with less game rhythm against 8 time beko BBL champion Alba Berlin and were as ready as Derrick Rose was for Lebron and The Miami Heat in game one, mountain climber Apa Sherpa climbing to the peak of Mount Everest a record 21 times or Roger Federer getting more competition form the young guns like Nadal and Djokovic as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners never gave up, but lost the game in the last seconds on account of a loose ball falling 81-80 in game one of the beko BBL semi finals against Alba Berlin. “Having such a long rest can be good or bad. WE were fresh were able to prepare well for the opponent, but we didn´t have game rhythm like Alba Berlin. One may hae thought that they may be tired after a long series against Oldenburg, but they were not tired in game one”, stressed Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen. “The 10 day rest didn´t hurt Frankfurt at all. They worked hard in this game. A long lay off can work for or against you, but Frankfurt has a great coach and players and this game could of gone either way”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Bryce Taylor.
In the last 10 days, basketball fans around the globe have seen the Los Angeles Lakers get clobbered by the Dallas Mavericks sending them back to la la land somewhat disillusioned as if they had seen the ghost of Dirk Nowitzki on the court, the Miami Heat saying farewell to the Boston Celtics 4-1 possibly missing their last chance of getting a title from the big 3 as they had absolutely no plan how to control Lebron James and Dwayne Wade as if the two NBA stars had seen some extra footage of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar from their glory days unwrapped from Pat Riley giving them extra motivation or the Chicago Bulls getting by the Atlanta Hawks with one man show Derrick “when do you need a basket” Rose or the Grizzlies-Thunder series battling back and fourth in an intense fight as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have had on the tennis court in the last years. With so much action and excitement going on in North America, Deutsche Bank Skyliner MVP and Mr road runner Dashaun Wood was able to closely follow the action, but make life comfortable from opponents as he stayed clear of any zones, because as Frankfurt had had a 10 day break waiting for their next opponent which turned out to be 8 time beko BBl champion Alba Berlin that tore apart the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in game 5, 99-68. This long delay in games for Frankfurt and absence of Wood was a good thing for beko BBL teams, since Wood has dominated in almost every game this season scoring in double figurers in 35 of 38 games making the zone his personal playground the same way Derrick Allen does for Alba Berlin and taking apart defenses the same way Lionel Messi does on the soccer pitch, Tiger Woods once used to do on the golf course or Formula one driver Sebastian Vettel is doing again on the race course. “Wood has been great all season. He puts Frankfurt on his back and carries them. One game he didnt play I think they lost by 30”, added Gloria Giants Duesseldorf guard Steven Wright. Wood who got his MVP award before game 3 against BG Goettingen will have had a long time to stare and remember what he has done this season from his little camera in his mind as he averaged 25ppg, 5,5rpg and 5,5apg in the Alba Berlin series and should continue to be a wrecking crew in the beko BBL playoffs. “I am sure Wood can gain more confidence by looking at his MVP trophy. He is always around a triple. I am sure he will be exciting and it will be something to watch”, added ex Walter Tigers Tuebingen guard Steven Wright. Or could Dashaun Wood take the force of that MVP award and make him even more stronger and step up his game and be like a mini Derrick Rose, Lebron James or Dwayne Wade?”Wood is one of the fastest players I played against. He is a very dominant player. He can win games, score, rebound, and lead the team. I mean what else can you ask for from a player? If he had the athletic ability of Dwayne Wade or Lebron James then he wouldn´t be playing in the beko BBL. I heard people say he is not that good. You got give credit when credit is due. Men lie, Women lie, numbers don´t”, warned ex Braunschweig guard Steven Wright.