With Christmas rolling along as quickly as the Green Bay Packers are mowing down NFL competition towards a perfect regular season as if they are finding four leaf clovers each weekend, the Eurocup competition is also slowly coming to an end for the Fraport Skyliners. In the last Eurocup home game of the Fraport Skyliners, the team welcomed home Keith Simmons who played in the Main city from 2008-2009. The last time the New York native and ex teammate of bBC Bayreuth guard Kevin Hamilton at Holy Cross played in the Fraport arena, Ilian Evtimov was still shousing bombs from the parking lot, Lorenzo Gordon was still melting little girls hearts with his warm smile, and no day went by in the BCM where one didn´t hear old coach Murat Didin say the word Bubba at least 40 times. Since then Simmons has found a new home in Turkey with Banvit where he has played since 2009 and entered the Fraport arena with an extra portion of Baklava helping his team slip past the Fraport Skyliners 62-56. Simmons might not have led his team in scoring, but did in rebounds and assists and helped spark the defense in the victory. “Simmons is an all around great player. He doesn´t always have to score, but when they need anything like rebounds, assists or defending then he is there and does his job”, stressed Skyliner guard Michael Thompson. After the game, Mckinney and Simmons were joking around as if they were still teammates. Mckinney noticed that the game of Simmons has grown since his Frankfurt days. “Keith has always been a great defender and makes it so tough on offense. He just does his job. He has improved his shooting. He was already a good shooter with Frankfurt, but now he is a great shooter”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. Simmons was glad to see his old friend again. “It was cool being back in Frankfurt. It was good seeing the Skybembels and Jimmy of course. The blue light outside in the front of the arena looked nice. Fraport seems to have done a good job. Jimmy played a strong game against us in Banvit, so it was key today to slow him down a bit even though he did get loose a bit. We trashed talked a bit, but it was all in good fun”, added Keith Simmons.
After 40 minutes in the thunderbird cage in the Enervie arena last weekend, the expression of relief on the sweaty face of Skyliner captain Marius Nolte spoke volumes as if he had finally got that long awaited guitar lesson from Guns and Roses Slash, defeated good friend Steven Esterkamp in a three point shooting contest despite the Ulm player being blindfolded or knowing that he doesn´t have a Santa Claus job at the Frankfurt Christmas market as a second job, but all that happened was that the Fraport Skyliners had finally won again after 52 days of being winless in the Beko BBL. 72 hours later, The Fraport Skyliners wanted to win their first game in Eurocup play and were as focused as German national player Heiko Schaffartzik was taking three pointers at Wetten Das, NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki watching his teammate taking shots at Wetten das or how Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been playing this season, but their opponent Lok Kuban were too strong in the second half wearing down Frankfurt 69-58 and moving to 3-1 in Eurocup play as the Skyliners get elimated. “We were as focused as we were in Hagen. We did come out sluggish, but we played them toe to toe until the end. We were very focused”, stressed 2011 NBA Draft pick Jon Leuer. “Frankfurt is a god team. When they are able to play their pace, then they can beat anyone. We are 3-1 now in Eurocup play and just take it one game at a time. We know what it takes to get to the next round. We will continue to dig down, execute and win games”, warned ex NBA player Lionel Chalmers. The Fraport Skyliners lost their fourth game in a row in Eurocup play, but gave a spirited effort. “We got off to a slow start and did a good job battling back, but were unable to bounce back”, said Skyliner guard Michael Thompson. Just like in Russia a week earlier, Lok Kuban took control in the second half. “We tightened up our defense in the second half and didn´t look back anymore. We kept up our intensity until the end”, added Lok Kuban guard Roderick Blakney.
With the days getting shorter, temperatures falling to a point where you want to make that first visit to the sauna, and the first shoppers getting ideas about Christmas gifts, a get away trip to exotic Gran Canaria could be more than enticing. When thinking about Gran Canaria, the first thoughts may be how warm the micro climate currently is, if there is ever a possibility of hot lava oozing down the side of a mountain on the island of volcanic origin,12 time wind surfer world champion record holder Bjoern Dunkerbeck giving a clinic on the court, tennis player Carla Suarez Navarro ever reaching the top 10 in the WTA rankings, or how many of the yearly 2,2 million tourists actually know where the island is geographically before going there. However for many one of the last thoughts that the team could actually have a professional basketball team is high. For many players also basketball isn´t the first thing that they think about when they have the island Gran Canaria in deep thought. “ I played against Gran Canaria with Polish team Turow some years ago. You think more about the water before basketball, but when you see the great atmosphere in the arena and the fans, you quickly know that that would be a great place to play at. I was surprised how close the gym was to the water”, stressed Skyliner guard Justin Gray. “When I think of Gran Canaria, I think of holiday and going to the beach, but then once you see the basketball atmosphere there, you see that there is a lot of basketball tradition there and feel great being able to play there”, stressed ex Bamberg forward Spencer Nelson.
Marquez Haynes is a 24 year old 191 cm guard from Irving texas that is playing his first season in the ACB for Gran Canara as is their current leading scorer. He played at Boston College from 2005-2007 before transfereing to Texas Arlington (NCAA) where he played from 2008-2010. In his senior year he was the third best scorer in the NCAA averaging (22.6ppg), 4.3rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 40.9%, FT: 74.6%. Last season, he started his professional basketball career for ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA, starting five): 33 games: 14.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 73.1%. Currently he is averaging 12,1ppg, 1,8rpg and 2,4apg. He played at the 2011 European championships for Georgia playing 8 games: 8.0ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 53.3%. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 with Boston College in 2006 and won the French Cup with Chalon in 2011. German Hoops spoke with the American before the Eurocup game against the Fraport Skyliners November 22nd.
A tough 69-65 loss in ACB action against Fuenlabrada. What were the main reasons for the close loss?
Tonights loss was a combination of many things. It is always hard to win on the road in the ACB. I think tonight we were just a step slow energy wise. Their activity and size inside gave us some problems as far as rebounding and scoring easy points. We shot a lot of 3’s tonight. in the future we have to do a better job attacking the paint and the rim. Along with taking better care of the ball. They forced us into many turnovers.
Kirk Penny led the opponent with 17 points. What was your impression of the ex NBA player from Australia?
He is one of those guys that you can´t leave open, because he can shoot out the lights. Kirk Penney is a hell of a player. I saw on film that he does not need much time to get his shot off and he is a very deadly shooter that does not need much space. I think we did a solid job making him take some tough shots. He is a guy that is going to take shots regardless, you just have to make his looks as tough as possible.
Keith Simmons is a 26 year old 196cm guard from Kingston, New York that is playing his fifth professional basketball season and fourth in Turkey. He played at Holy Cross (NCAA) from 2003-2007. In his senior year, he played 34 games: 16.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.9apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3Pts: 34.9%, FT: 76.7%. In 2007-2008, he played for Kepez Bld Antalya (Turkey-TBL, starting five): 30 games: 16.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.1apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 56.8%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 73.5%. In 2008-2009, he played for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five), injured in Oct.’08 and was off for 1 month: EuroChallenge: 8 games: 8.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg; German League: 33 games: 11.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 74.1%. He has played for Banvit Basketbol Kulubu (Turkey-TBL) since 2009. Last season, he played EuroCup: 5 games: 10.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 87.5%; Turkish League: 38 games: 10.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 76.4%. He spoke to German Hoops after the 73-72 win against the Fraport Skyliners in Eurocup play.
Congrats on the 73-72 win against the Fraport Skyliners in Eurocup play. How did you like their new uniforms?
They were nice uniforms. It is nice them having the Airport the hub of travel as their sponsor. Deutsche Bank was a great sponsor, but the new one is a good one also.
After a five game losing streak in the Beko BBL, The Fraport Skyliners came out focused and were only trailing 39-34 at halftime. What was giving Banvit the biggest problems in the first 20 minutes?
Frankfurt hit many tough shots. I think they hit 7-8 shots in the game with the buzzer sounding or very near to it. Mckinney and Davidson hit tough shots and were hard to stop at times.
Keith Simmons is a 26 year old 196cm guard from Kingston, New York that is playing his fifth professional basketball season and fourth in Turkey. He played at Holy Cross (NCAA) from 2003-2007. In his senior year, he played 34 games: 16.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.9apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3Pts: 34.9%, FT: 76.7%. In 2007-2008, he played for Kepez Bld Antalya (Turkey-TBL, starting five): 30 games: 16.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.1apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 56.8%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 73.5%. In 2008-2009, he played for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five), injured in Oct.’08 and was off for 1 month: EuroChallenge: 8 games: 8.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg; German League: 33 games: 11.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 74.1%. He has played for Banvit Basketbol Kulubu (Turkey-TBL) since 2009. Last season, he played EuroCup: 5 games: 10.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 87.5%; Turkish League: 38 games: 10.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 76.4%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Eurocup game against the Fraport Skyliners November 15th.
You are playing your 5th professional basketball season and fourth in Turkey. Did Murat Didin have something to do with your love for Turkey?
I got my first chance in Turkey and since my first year here, Turkey has been special for me. I have had successful seasons with Banvit and have always come back. I like it here and want to continue to be successful here.
You have the Turkish citizenship now. How did that come about?
I am playing my fourth year here and last year the team approached me about getting the Turkish citizenship so the team can have an extra import player on the roster.
After having to play against a strong and well rehearsed Bamberg team last weekend, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners didn´t have a breather long having to face Turkish power house Besiktas Istanbul and without reinforcements, the chances of winning were slim and about as unlikely as if funny man Will Smith were to shut his mouth for a day, Bayern Munich and Louis Van Gaal not winning anymore games or tennis ace Roger Federer never winning Wimbeldon again as Frankfurt gave a superb effort, but missed too many open shots down the stretch as the Turks snuck out of the Ballsporthalle with a 68-61 win. Frankfurt knew that it would be tough going into the game without a starting center and power forward, but didn´t try to think about it. “Once you are on the court there are no excuses. Every player had to step up. We just focused on what we had on the court and we played well”, stressed Skyliner point guard Dashaun Wood. There was some pressure on Marius Nolte to fill the void and finished with six points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. “I thought a lot about this game this afternoon and how we have to go into it. I wanted to be aggressive and bring energy, but not get quick fouls. I got fast fouls and need to be more clever in the future”, warned Paderborn native Marius Nolte. Frankfurt now needs to return to Istanbul next week and win by 8 points or more to advance to the next round.
Mire Chatman is a 31 year old 187cm guard. He is playing his third season for Besiktas Istanbul.He is an explosive guard who can fill it up in a hurry. Mire has the ability to break his defender down off the dribble as well as pull up from beyond the 3-point line. He shoots at a very high percentage and it thus a threat from anywhere on the floor. Mire uses his explosive quickness and athleticism to get open shots for himself and his teammates. In addition to Mire’s outstanding offensive ability, Mire is also an outstanding defensive player as evidenced by his 3.5 steals per game during his senior season. He was voted as an NCAA Division One Defensive All-American along with 14 of the other top defensive players in the NCAA Division One. Mire is a tremendous all around guard who can dominate the game with his offensive and defensive abilities. Mire also has a great work ethic and will continue to work hard to continually improve his game. He played at UTPA and in his senior year 2001-2002, he averaged (26.2ppg), 5.4rpg, 3.9apg, 3.6spg, 48.4%FG, 35%3pts, 70%FT; Led team to a 20 win season (20-10); 3rd in nation NCAA I in scoring and steals. He played at BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) from 2002-2004. In the 2004-2005 season, he played at Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (France-ProA), got injured in March ’05 and was off for one month: Euroleague: 14 games: 16.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 6.2apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3FGP: 48.5%; French ProA League: 31 games: 15.6ppg, 3.9rpg, Ast-5(5.9apg), 2.1spg, FGP: 47.1%, 3FGP: 34.8%. He played for Dynamo Moscow from 2005-2007. In the 2007-2008 season, he played for Triumph Lyubertsy (Russia-A Superleague,starting five): ULEB Cup: 11 games: 12.8ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.2apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 72.7%; Russian League: 22 games: 12.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, Steals-3(2.0spg), 2FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 63.6%. He spoke to German Hoops prior to the Eurocup qualifying game against The Deutsche Bank Skyliners.
You are playing your third season for Besiktas Istanbul. Is there any reason besides money why you continue to play for this traditional Turkish team?
There is no real reason. I just want to help the team win. I do like the coach. He lets me play my game. I also want to continue to help the team finish what we couldn´t finish the last two years.