In a span of a little more than eight and a half months, I came upon Dennis Mavin three times in three separate cities from Giessen-Rhondorf-Frankfurt and after a little bit of concentrated pondering, I was reminded of the annoying, but famous and classic song Rio from German pop group Trio that has the catchy line New York-Rio-Tokyo that was a late summer hit in Germany in 1986 reaching #3 in the charts leaving them as a one hit wonder. But the Giessen-Rhondorf-Frankfurt when hummed like the classic Rio song just didn´t fit the melody. Some people even mistook the German lead singer Peter Fessler as being the well known American singer Al Jarreau, because the song is in English and his voice sounds like the American. Of course the three German cities could never compete in name recognition as the world class cities in this song even if Frankfurt is a world class city, but not as big as those three, but for Dennis Mavin being mentioned with these lesser known German cities is sort of similar to how his basketball career has gone since he began at Florida Atlantic (NCAA) in 2011. He is one of hundreds, no probably thousands on earth who is playing professionally and where his overall ability outweighs his current status on the basketball ladder. I remember seeing Mavin for the first time a day before Easter on April 8, 2018 in Giessen when he played his last game for Pro B team Giessen Rackelos witnessing a heartbreaking 93-89 game three loss to Rostock propelling them into the semi-finals as his 19 points couldn´t withstand the combined 66 points of the lethal trio of Jordan Talbert, Bill Borekambi and Brandon Lockhart. In Giessen I remember seeing a lightening quick guard who was a lot better than the talent on the court. I saw the Florida native a little more than 6 months later in Rhondorf conducting a post game interview with him after he helped lead his new team ScanPlus Baskets to a 95-74 win over the Dragons Rhondorf where he produced a solid 11 points, five boards and seven dimes. Then a little more than a month later our paths crossed again in Frankfurt. After a convincing 77-55 victory by the farm team of easyCredit BBL team Fraport Skyliners Fraport Skyliners Juniors over the RheinStars Cologne, a young man was standing in front of me wearing Skyliners apparel. He gave me one of those confident looks that someone gives one when one knows each other. The only problem was, I had one of those embarrassing moments again that I get from time to time. I had no idea who he was even though I had interviewed him face to face a little more than a month ago. When you interview players almost daily, you at times loose track of who your dealing with. After a few seconds, I had to tell him “sorry Man I have no idea at the moment who you are, could you give me a little help”. Inside I felt as embarrassed as a Steve Harvey must of felt when he announced the wrong winner at a beauty pagent. After I quickly got over my very embarrassing moment, all was cool with Mavin and me and he told me he was going to be playing for the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. The city hopping between Mavin and I coupled with not having him on my radar is nothing new for the American. He has been overlooked his whole basketball career despite having very good basketball abilities that could have him in a higher league than where he currently is now in the German third league Pro B. It is no secret that his overall abilities outweigh where he currently is on the basketball ladder, but he isn´t going crazy about his current basketball status, because he knows it is part of the basketball process no matter how ugly or unfair it can be for certain players. “I love basketball and I have 100 percent faith and what I can do. For me is just staying patient waiting on my opportunity! Yeah it gets tough but I think I’m tougher”, warned Dennis Mavin.
Every winning streak has to come to an end sometime as the wiha Panthers experienced last weekend losing a bitter nail bitter to Coburg 85-82 which ended their amazing 23 game winning streak at home which had started in April of 2017 and carried over all through last season where they won the Regionalliga title. They didn´t need any adjustment time this season as they have taken the Pro B South by storm. They won their first four games, but since then have had ups and downs, but produced a positive 7-6 record to have a strong hold on second place. A big problem for their offense has been the injury to captain and robust point guard Kostas Karamatskos as the team playmaking and leadership has been dearly missed, but the club still has done a good job compensating his void by getting solid production through out the roster. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors continue to play a super season despite having changing rosters all through out the season with the availability of the BBL double license players and injuries effecting their results. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors arrived into the battle with the wiha Panthers Schwenningen with a lot of self confidence as they had beaten talented and 2018 Pro B champion ScanPlus Baskets 81-75 as they were extremely deflated without their leading BBL double license players, but the younger guys stepped up and came up big in their absences leading the club to a huge victory. Against the wiha Panthers Schwenningen, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were without young kids Len Schoormann, Maxi Begue, Calvin Schaum and Jordan Samare who were balling at the Addidas Next Generation Tour in Munich, but in good company again as some of the BBL double license players were on board again like Elijath Clarance and Armin Trtovac, but not Richard Freudenberg and Garai Zeeb as a high scoring third quarter of the guests broke the back of the home team as they could never recover losing 75-65. After the tough loss, many of the players snuck out through the rear of the gym next to the dressing room, but young German big man Aaron Kayser left through the main entrance and gave his two cents about the loss. “We didn´t play together as a team in the third quarter. We had no solution for their zone. We also gave up too many transition baskets. We have to learn to play better as a team and share the ball better. Obviously Garai Zeeb was dearly missed, but that can´t be an excuse as we won last weekend without him”, stated ex Chemnitz Niners center Aaron Kayser. After the big win Philadelphia native Rasheed Moore was proud of how his team stuck together for 40 minutes. “We gave all we had today. We didn´t have a great start. The first half was ugly. In the second half, we began to hit shots and turned up the defense”, stressed wiha Panthers Schwenningen forward Rasheed Moore.
A little more than 27 months ago on a warm latesummer day, easyCredit BBL team Fraport Skyliners were playing an exhibitiongame against Pro A team RheinStars on the Us Army Base in Wiesbaden about a 20minute drive from Frankfurt. In this test game, fans saw the first signs of areal star being born in Isaac Bonga as the 16 year old got ample minutes fromhead coach Gordon Herbert and he presented his unending athleticism, but whatwas even more enjoyable to witness were his no look passes which some of theyoung German kids that were there that day wearing the Cologne jersey surelydidn´t forget. Now Isaac Bonga is living the ultimate basketball dream in La Laland with the Los Angeles Lakers G-League team South Bay as his call up is onlya matter of time while the Rhein Stars are in the cellar in the Pro B southstandings. So much has changed in the last two years as the RheinStars pathhasn´t gone the desired route. They came to Frankfurt with a disappointing 1-9record and sitting in 12th place as their defense hasn´t found anidentity yet giving up 80 points per contest while the Fraport SkylinersJuniors season has had two faces and recently been like night and day. Theybegan the season in lightening fashion coming out of the gates with a six gamewinning streak, but currently were riding a poor four game losing streak. Thebiggest problems in the last weeks has been their defense. They are currentlystill the fourth best defensive team allowing 72 points per game, but in thelast four games were giving up 78 points per game and had three games with 80points or more given up. Another problem had been that their roster had beenshaken up as key contributors Jules Akodo left for London and JT Roach returnedback to California as combined they scored 18 points per game something that wasmissing now. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn´t have an Isaac Bonga anymore,but had enough offensive and defensive forces on board with guys like Big manLeon Kratzer who made his Pro B debut as well as well good support from roleplayers Felix Hecker and Len Schoorman and a whole lot of defensive pressurefor 40 minutes overwhelming the RheinStars Cologne 77-55. After the big game,Frankfurt head coach Sebastian Gleim was content with the victory. “It was animportant win when looking at how tight the standings are. If we had been 8-3now, I would have been very happy, but at 7-4, I´m still happy. One couldalready see last weekend against Coburg that our game was getting better again.The team could practice a lot this week and guys were fresh and were happy. Ourdefensive pressure was good and everyone played at a high intensity”, said headcoach Sebastian Gleim. The RheinStars Cologne never gave up, but shot poorlyand had problems against the defensive pressure of Frankfurt and taking care ofthe ball. After the loss ex Western Michigan Tucker Haymond was miffed by theloss and felt a bit helpless as well. “Frankfurt played very good defense andwere the better team today. They did a good job scouting and took certain guysout of our game plan. We played hard, but our sense of urgency wasn´t good. Wedidn´t match their physicality until the end of the game”, added TuckerHaymond. “It may have looked like an easy win to you, but it was hard work. Weplayed good defense which always gives us success. We deserved to win the game.We had good defensive pressure, but our three ball wasn´t falling. Our high Lowgame of Kayser, Trtovac and Kratzer worked well. We moved the ball well also.We trained together almost everyday and were fresh”, smiled Richard Freudenberg.
New Fraport Skyliner Dennis Mavin watched the game as he played for the Giessen Rackelos in the Pro B last season and also saw BBL action and this season played with the ScanPlus Baskets while in the stands Fraport Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertso who has season tickets to the Pro B games had an old teammate by his side with current Euroleague player with Baskona Shavon Shields who played with Frankfurt during the 2016-2017 season and was in Frankfurt for a lay over. Both teams had difficulty finding an offensive rhythm as the RheinStars were using a good Box and one zone while Frankfurt´s defensive pressure irritated Cologne from the get go and continued for 40 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors did a good job getting the ball inside early to big Man Armin Trtovac who got a bucket and got to the line easily. Frankfurt also was finding their shooters as ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb connected and ex Kronberg guard and 2017 NBBL player of the year Felix Hecker supplied outside shooting and five points and ex St Johns forward Richard Freudenberg made a lay in like a guard as Frankfurt led 15-9. While the RheinStars couldn´t find their outside shooting touch, did find production inside from young German Benedikt Van Laack and ex Tuebingen big man Yasin Kolo with a turn around shot. Frankfurt did a good job as always using their bench and their depth didn´t disappoint as 20 year old German energizer Konstantin Schubert scored inside and then Hecker scored inside again as Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance who often couldn´t get inside had to opt for finding his teammates and did with a no look pass. Ex Dragons Rhondorf forward Thomas Michel who has three BBL games with Bonn on his account dropped a trey ending the first quarter as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors led 19-12. “Frankfurt did a good job moving the ball and had good looks. Their aggressive defense gave them good opportunities on offense. They also controlled the pace well knowing when to slow down the game and when to run”, stressed ex Auburn(NCAA) guard Quantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners juniors shot 35% from the field and 29% form outside and had 9 rebounds and 1 turnover while the RheinStars Cologne shot 27% form the field and 17% from outside and had 11 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
In the second quarter the Fraport SkylinersJuniors were able to extend their lead into double figures and controlled thegame into half-time. Ex Bamberg center Leon Kratzer got Frankfurt on the boardfirst with a pretty old school hook shot. The Fraport Skyliners Juniorsexcellent defense sparked their offense which led to Freudenberg trey and Elijah Clarance´s energygave Frankfurt another push as he stuffed home a big two handed jam and sunk atrey as Frankfurt led 29-19. Frankfurt moved the ball well and were sparked byClarance´s high intensity while the RheinStars were unable to get good ballmovement and had to get by with individual feats as Michel spun his way to therim for a lay up and 20 year old German Flip Kukic scored in the lane.Frankfurt continued to keep their double digit lead as Hecker stayed hot fromoutside launching a missile that landed through the net and Kratzer scoredinside again retrieving the lob pass from Freudenberg for the 36-19 advantage.The Rheinstars then found some daylight and hit Frankfurt with a 11-3 run tocut their lead down to 39-30. Frankfurt had some defensive break downs whichthe RheinStars used to their advantage. Kukic scored in the paint, Yassin Koloplayed pick and pop dropping a trey and testing his 37% accuracy from down townand Van Laack made an offensive rebound and put back. Clarance took Frankfurtinto the break with a steal and run away two handed dunk as the FraportSkyliners Juniors led 41-30 after 20 minutes. “Freudenberg played wellrebounding well, hitting shots and playing good defense. Frankfurt also did agood job not just pressuring the guy with the ball, but everyone”, warnedQuantez Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 41% from the field and33% from the three point line and grabbed 20 rebounds and had 5 turnovers whilethe RheinStars shot 31% from the field and 30% from the three point line andgrabbed 21 rebounds and had 12 turnovers.
The third quarter was a tale of two halves asthere were two runs as the RheinStars matched Frankfurt´s intensity in thefirst five minutes cutting down their lead to only five points, but then gaveup a large nasty run to Frankfurt pretty much deciding the game after 30minutes. Both team´s offenses stalled in the first two minutes as both teamswere stumped on their first three possessions. The RheinStars then upped theirintensity and defense and rode out on a timely 11-5 run to cut Frankfurt´s leadto 46-41. In the run the guests had their long ball game working. Kolo nailed atrey as the big man continued to be a dangerous weapon inside and out, but thatdidn´t scare Frankfurt as they got back to back buckets inside using theirspeed as Len Schoorman scored with his left hand on penetration and Zeebfollowed with a high lay in off the glass as Frankfurt led 46-35. The doubledigit lead was quickly cut down drastically to 46-41 as the RheinStars gotmassive support form the three ball as ex Essen German Tim Van Der Velde who played48 Pro A games with the RheinStars dropped a trey and 17 year NBBL star ThomasFankhauser also connected from outside. The RheinStars overall aggressivenessalso sparked their play on the boards in this phase. But the Fraport SkylinersJuniors had seen enough and erased the RheinStars run with their own 13-3 runleading comfortably again 59-44 after 30 minutes. In the run, Cologne onlyreceived a trey from Van Laack as Frankfurt spent a lot of time at the freethrow line as Kratzer and Clarance combined for 9 points from there andSchoorman made a pretty reverse lay up from the wing and Kratzer also scored.“We need to play consistent defense for 40 minutes, but showed that we didn´tin this quarter. We continued to bring a lot of energy and always found ways tobe successful even when our shot wasn´t falling”, stressed Richard Freudenberg.“We made a good defensive run and hit three´s. But then Kolo and I got in foultrouble. We then lost some 50/50 balls and had the whistle go the other way andwe lost some of our momentum”, added Tucker Haymond. The Fraport SkylinersJuniors shot 37% from the field and 24% form the parking lot and had 36rebounds and 7 turnovers while the RheinStars shot 28% form the field and 33%from the parking lot and grabbed 29 rebounds and had 16 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Fraport Skyliners Juniors continued to play with a high intensity at both ends of the court and executed well on offense while holding the RheinStars to 11 points. The first two plays of the game was a great example of what kind of a competitor Garai Zeeb is. He made a play that will stand in the stat sheet, but his hustle and never giving up on the play before is something that won´t be seen on the stat sheet. Zeeb lost the ball at mid court and instead of hanging his head, he chased his man down the court and made a big block making amends for his moment of lost concentration. That led to a Schoorman pull up jumper who had an excellent game with 10 points, 4 assists and 4 steals in 25 minutes while shooting a strong 67% from the field. The 16 year old had the best efficiency on his team with 17 something that surely was noticed by head coach Sebastian Gleim. After the RheinStars got three measly points off free throws from Kolo and Michel to cut the Frankfurt advantage to 61-47 and make the game somewhat interesting again, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors slammed the door shut on the RheinStars for good going on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 68-47. In the run, Frankfurt got another huge trey form Hecker and then got added support from the Dunk duo of Schoorman and Clarance. Schoorman who compares his game to De’Aaron Fox jumped into a passing lane made the steal and was off to the races making a hard one handed dunk and Clarance followed with a beautiful floater that was text book like. The Rhein Stars did get some three point support down the stretch from Haymond and young German Christ Theodore, but it wasn´t enough. Frankfurt also got some baskets from Armin Trtovac with a offensive rebound and put back, reverse lay up from Freudenberg and a trey from Hecker closing out the game. “We were fresh and kept our energy going and made pressure for 40 minutes. They got a little tired, but we continued to paly our game”, warned Richard Freudenberg. “Their defensive pressure really hurt us. They are a deep team and had two good units. Even if their second unit it always score, but they did a good job from keeping our unit form not scoring. Their defensive intensity was strong no matter who was on the court”, stressed Tucker Haymond. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Elijah Clarance and Felix Hecker with 14 points apiece. Leon Kratzer added 11 points. The RheinStars were led by Yasin Kolo and Tucker Haymond with 11 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 41% from the field and 29% from outside and hauled down 50 rebounds and had 14 coughed up balls while the RheinStars shotb23% from the field and 30% from outside and hauled down 38 rebounds and had 20 coughed up balls.
After eight games the Wiha Panthers Schwenningen and the Fraport Skyliners Juniors may have had an identical 6-2 record in this year’s Pro B competition. But apart from the record Schwenningen and Frankfurt don’t have much in common. While Frankfurt has a roster full of german talents and primilary uses the Pro B as a platform to develop players for their first division team, Schwenningen mainly counts on experienced players and tries to establish basketball in the Black Forest. On Gameday 8 Schwenningen hosted Frankfurt at the Deutenberghalle and 850 spectators witnessed a commanding 68-48 start-finish victory of the home team.
In Schwenningen the fans are used to see their team winning. Since 2015 the club has won the vast majority of its home games and established a growing fan basis. After winning the Regionalliga title in 2016/17 the Wiha Panthers became one of the main talking points in german basketball. The club was not happy about the foreigner rules in Germany’s third-tier level league and threatened to initiate legal actions. In Pro B competition at least three german or so called local players have to be on the court at anytime. Schwenningen did not want to part ways with some of their european top performers and declared that the practiced rules may not be in accordance with european regulations. A process that could have dramatically changed the foreigner rules in german basketball ended abruptly before it even started. Due to a procedural error in their application documents the Wiha Panthers could not make the jump from the Regionalliga to the Pro B. Schwenningen’s head coach Alen Velčić still believes the decision of the Zweite Basketball-Bundesliga was mainly politically motivated to keep his club out of the competition. But Schwenningen did what they do best, competed for another year in the Regionalliga Südwest and could again win the championship with just one loss in 28 games. This time the club declared to play by the rules and accepted the existing foreigner regulations.
If some wise man had predicted at the beginning of the Pro B South season that after seven games you would have the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and Fraport Skyliners Juniors at one and two, people would have not called you a genius, but a fool while fans in Elchlingen would have flipped you the bird as how could the multi talented and 2018 Pro B champion not be anywhere but at the top. Ok so the ScanPlus Baskets are near the top in third place with a record of 6-2, but are at the moment breathing up the backs of Leverkusen and Frankfurt waiting to prance on them like a famished cat waiting for their mistakes. It has been a very refreshing season for the German BBL title record holder Bayer Giants Leverkusen as they have built up an offense led by German Tim Schonb born and Frenchman Ron Mvouika and American Nick Hornsby that average 87 points per game and also have found chemistry on the defensive end allowing only 70 points per game. They also have gotten good support from their German role players and are also the best rebounding team in the league. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were born in 2009 and have put together their best start in their history going 6-1. They have continued to uphold the Frankfurt basketball tradition of having a strong defense and have sparked their offense along the way as they average 77 points per game. The young German´s know each other since years and have added the needed athleticism with Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance, sniper power from American JT Roach and German young big men Aaron Kayser to make a deep squad that is hungry for success. The two top teams met in Frankfurt on a mild autumn Saturday night and the Bayer Giants Leverkusen demonstrated why they went into the game undefeated and why they returned home unbeaten. They simply did everything a tad better than the Fraport Skyliners Juniors like shooting and rebounding, moved the ball better, made the smarter plays, took Elijah Clarance out of the game and got the big shots from Tim Schonborn and Nino Celebic who also controlled the game for the guests. “We struggled at the start of the game on defense, but knew that they were a good scoring team and picked up our intensity. We did a good job on Clarance and also on Zeeb, but he still played a great job. Dennis Heinzman did a great job getting the rebounds”, added ex Giessen Rackelos forward Nick Hornsby. After the 17 point loss the players escaped to the dressing room, but returned and were horrified by their poor defense. “We weren´t happy with our defense. We gave up way too many easy baskets. They did a good job taking Clarance out of the game and hit many tough shots”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior forward Konstantin Schubert.
EasyCredit BBL team Fraport Skyliners are in their 20th anniversary season while their farm team Fraport Skyliners Juniors that have stood for top youth development since years bringing up top players like Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Isaac Bonga and making them to Euroleague and NBA players. The farm club was started in 2009 and they are also celebrating an anniversary with their 10th season in the German Pro B league. Over the years besides helping young and dedicated German talents develop, they also have had success as they reached the Pro B final in 2016. A big problem with the success rate of this club is simply that they don´t always have all their players to choose from in any given game simply because there are a handful of double license players on board that often are with the easyCredit BBL team. So far their anniversary 10th season has began quite well as in the first time in their history the club has started perfect and have a 2-0 record. They began the season with a hard fought victory in Rhondorf 75-68 where their three point precision stood out with 11 three´s and a week later they returned home for a duel against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg and ex Frankfurt Pro B head coach Erik Detlev that also was a difficult win to achieve as they pulled out a 74-68 victory against their ex coach. They didn´t shoot as well as in Rhondorf, bit rebounded better and especially picked up their defense forcing Wurzburg to 25 turnovers, but in a way were also lucky despite 13 turnovers less and over 20 more shots eked out the win. Also a new shooting star from Sweden was born with Elijah Clarance who is averaging 19,0ppg and now they were up for the next battle against neighbor Giessen Rackelos that is the farm team of easyCredit BBL team Giessen 46ers. The Hessen neighbor started came into the contest with a 1-1 record with a tough 87-71 loss on the road against very ambitious new team Schwenningen and then returned home last weekend and let out all their frustration crushing the Dragons Rhondorf 102-56 nailing 12 three´s, controlling the boards and forcing the opponent to 21 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors wanted to keep the 0 in the loss column and did getting by Giessen Rackelos 80-72 and moving their record to 3-0. It wasn´t a perfect game from Frankfurt, but as usual they had the right answers from their deep roster and certain moments in the game. “We didn´t start well giving up easy baskets. We got a good lead in the second quarter with good ball movement and fast break points. In the second half we did a good job with defensive rebounds and keeping up defensive pressure not letting them get into their sets”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Konstantin Schubert. Giessen was undermanned and played a good game, but just couldn´t get the big stops in big situations. “We started well, but then let them push us around which we couldn´t recover from. We weren´t as aggressive or as confident as we needed to be to be able to win. When things got rough, we tried to do too much and didn´t stay within our system. We were too disorganized and didn´t have the juice to beat a deep team on the road”, stressed ex Cal-San Diego (NCAA2) guard Adam Klie.
Last Weekend a new star was born in the Pro B with Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance who hit the Dragons Rhondorf on the road for 21 points and really demonstrated his wide array of offensive skills, but what really stood out was his amazing and unending athleticism that the opponent was unable to come to terms to. His shooting which tends to be off the radar functioned well as did his rebounding and passing game, but his dunking most likely remained in the minds of many. At the start of the third quarter, he scored back to back buckets in a span of 30 seconds. His second basket was a lay up, but the first one was a hard left handed dunk with authority that captured the attention of his teammates on the bench as they jumped off their seats so quickly after the jam as if someone had secretly filled their seats with hot coals. His quick first step and getting around his man paved the way for the “good night” feeling right before he flew to the basket with the dunk. He didn´t score 40 points, but just the way he played and handled himself displaying a type of special self confidence and finishing so strong at the rim made his performance really stand out. Even though he is mainly seen as playing for the farm team, one has to honestly ask how long it will still be before he makes his BBL debut for Gordon Herbert. He has had some very good test games for the BBL game and sky is the limit for the 20 year old. After he helped lead the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to their first win of the season on the road, he returned home to the BCM to show the home town fans some more added stellar play. Not only was Clarance a theme to the game, but also Wurzburg head coach Eric Detlef who was returning to an old stomping ground as he had coached the Fraport Skyliners Juniors from 2012-2017. After 40 minutes the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had squeezed out a hard fought 74-68 win against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg. After the match Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance was happy the team got the win, but one could sense in his tone and body language that he wasn´t pleased with the play of the team. “They came out with a lot of energy and played well. We matched their energy well in the first quarter, but not so well in the second and third quarters. We picked it up at the end of the third again and kept it a bit in the fourth. We took care of the ball well and executed at times, but made mistakes”, warned Fraport Skyliner Junior Elijah Clarance. Wurzburg head coach Eric Detlev was smiles after the loss, but was also content how well his team kept up with the much stronger Frankfurt team on paper. “I was happy to be back. I had good times here. I told the guys if Frankfurt plays well together then nobody can beat them, but if they don´t play well together than there is a chance. They had 22 more shots. Usually you would lose by 20 points when that happens. Guys like Clarance and Freudenberg are too good for the Pro B. This loss was a good lesson for us. Our mentality is very good. One could see that we were frustrated. With a little luck we could of won, but we couldn´t handle the pressure”, stressed head coach Eric Detlev.
It had been a very long off season for Dragons Rhondorf fans coupled with an extremely shaky pre-season that left some uneasy question marks as big as an overgrown pumpkin in the minds of many, but as the season opener against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors was finally here, some of that tension building up was simply relieved by the fact that the team was 0-0 and it was a home clash in a place where in the last season often good things had happened. The opponent Fraport Skyliners Juniors also rang a sweet bell in that last season the Dragons Rhondorf had supplied the home court fans with one of the most exciting games of the season with the unforgettable and magical Kameron Taylor buzzer beater where he sank a beautiful step back jumper over the out stretched hand of Jules Akodo and this master piece of a shot and ending couldn´t have been produced any better if the hero then would have been a Jordan, Lebron or Durant. It was one of those incredible endings that at that time really sparked the club and gave them the needed self confidence that they could win really nail bitters at any time. This season there was no Kameron Taylor who had fled to Hungary to continue his career, but still a lot of hope that something magical could happen this season simply because that is how most feel at the start of a season where the cards are newly stacked and extra confidence brewing in that opening game. As always the Fraport Skyliners Juniors arrived in Rhondorf with their young German bucks as their youth program continues to build and develop guys further and this season seem like a real dangerous squad on paper. Many of the usual suspects were on board like Garai Zeeb, Konstantin Schubert and Armin Trotovac who combined boast more than 40 BBL games, but also had three new exciting faces on board from three different countries. The most interesting Swede Elijah Clarance who was top scorer at the 2018 European U-20 championships, young German big man Aaron Kayser who could be the next Johannes Voigtmann or Danilo Barthel and American JT Roach who is a rookie from Concordia-Irvine(NCAA2) and as usual one of those guys that Frankfurt reels in every season that has a lethal shot and will help the young kids. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors came into the game as huge favorites on paper, but after 40 minutes there wasn´t such a big difference between the two teams as Frankfurt squeezed out a hard fought 75-68 victory as the Clarance and Roach show combined for 41 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed inconsistency which isn´t surprising in the first game of the season while the Dragons Rhondorf were also rusty, but showed superb fighting qualities and had the heart of a lion. After the win Fraport Skyliners Juniors Swedish sensation Elijah Clarance was happy the club could escape wit a win. “I thought it was ok since it was the first time we played together as a team. We were shaky on offense, but great on defense. We played hard, stuck together and had good chemistry”, stated 2018 U-20 European champions top scorer Elijah Clarance. The Dragons Rhondorf played a spirited game, but there were two area´s where the club had huge deficits. “We had problems on the pick and roll defense and ball screens. We also had too many turnovers and I take blame. I had too many for a point guard”, stressed ex North Carolina Ashville guard Raekwon Miller.
The first quarter was an ugly affair as one could see the opening day jitters that were rampant with both teams. Many misses on offense and turnovers were more prevalent in the first minutes than the beautiful sound of swishes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors raced out to a quick 6-2 lead as Armin Trtovac gave his presence in the zone and Clarance dropped a trey. However the Dragons Rhondorf didn´t put their heads in the sand, but fought back and took the 7-6 lead getting a Julian Jasinski lay in who has played 21 BBL games with Hagen and Bonn and a trey by Miller who shot 47% in his senior year in the NCAA. The game was very even then as there were seven lead changes with ex St Johns forward Richard Freudenberg scored a runner, Lithuanian Zygimantas Riauka scored in the paint, Freudenberg made a two handed stuff, Miller made a finger tip roll in like Tiny Archibald back in the day, Brit Jules Akodo sunk free throws, 17 year old German Marc Klepser snuck inside back door as Riauka served up the sweet dime and ex Hanau center Tobias Jahn made a lay in as fans were offered some minor mouth dropping plays in the first few minutes.
When you observe Jordan Burris for the first time, he looks like any other American player in the Pro B standing out a bit from the rest of the majority of German kids with his 201cm athletic build and dark features, but unlike many of his American peers in the league who played at smaller and lesser known NCAA schools or NCAA 2 schools, the California native actually has seen the biggest arena´s in the United States playing against top programs like Washington, Oregon, Arizona State or BYU to just name a few and played his home games in the beautiful state of the art arena Lawlor Events Center that has a capacity of 11,200. So when the American who finished his college career at CS San Bernardino(NCAA2) entered the tiny, but very enticing and pretty BCM gym where the Fraport Skyliners Juniors play their home games, he mostly likely had no idea he was bringing some NBA atmosphere to a place that also had it. Even if it took Burris a few years to reach Europe and still has a chip on his shoulder wanting to continue to climb the basketball ladder, he played against future NBA players in the NCAA and even was part of a commercial with NBA legend Kobe Bryant. He easily could have lured some more fans into the BCM with his Kobe Bryant story had they known about it. “ He’s been my favorite player since I can remember. So to meet him and be able to pick his brain was the experience of a lifetime. At one point he stopped the production of the commercial and gave me a personal lesson on his fade away. That’s a memory I will cherish forever. He’s also a big trash talker man. But I guess in 20 years of NBA basketball he’s heard it all. Yea so when he got there I told him “I’m Jordan I’m the guy that’s going to lock you down.” To that he said “that’s not what my 30,000+ points say.” After that I had nothing to say. But just being a huge fan of his, I admire his work ethic and tried to incorporate that into my game. Be the first one in and last one out as much as possible. A line that sticks with me from Kobe is “rest in the end; not in the middle”, stressed Jordan Burris. But Burris also could of heard some stories from Skyliner employees who can boast about their own NBA atmosphere in the BCM gym as over the years guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Arroyo, Jon Leuer and Alan Anderson have played there. Burris put his NBA stories and memories of Kobe on hold for 40 minutes as he and BBC Coburg came to battle the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and departed with a disappointing 76-73 loss which had head coach Derrick Taylor shaking his head after the buzzer sounded. The head coach wasn´t happy with the outcome as neither was Jordan Burris who reflected on the BCM gym and the loss. “I was in good company being in the same gym where Dirk Nowitzki had played in before. I have played in even smaller gyms than this in Germany. When I walked in here I noticed it was nice, but as soon as the game starts, I´m totally focused on the game. We fought hard tonight, but I have to give a lot of credit to Frankfurt. They are a great team for their age. They made a lot of tough three pointers. We played good defense in the first half, but weren´t finishing our possessions with rebounds. We rebounded better in the second half, but they also hit more shots which left fewer rebounds. They hit too many open three´s in the second half”, stressed ex Nevada(NCAA) forward Jordan Burris. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors controlled the game and as always were saved by their timely shooting in crunch time. After the big win which set a date with Bochum in the playoffs, German forward Konstantin Schubert reflected on the win. “We got many baskets inside at the start from Trtovac and in the second quarter Gruehn helped us with his good three point shooting, but we were never really able to get away from Coburg. We had some bad phases when they went to zone and we also gave up some easy baskets as well”, added Konstantin Schubert.
With the Pro B regular season winding down, one can pretty much predict well where the post season journeys of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and TG s.Oliver Wurzburg teams will take them. Frankfurt has booked a ticket for the playoffs while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg most likely will play in the playdowns to be able to book their ticket for the upcoming Pro B season. One thing that is never as predictable is what lineup the Fraport Skyliners Juniors will go with on account of their BBL license players and injuries having been a huge factor in the success they have had this season. With Isaac Bonga, one never knows will he suit up or not as he has been concentrating more on the easyCredit BBL this season and only played sporadically in the Pro B. Especially on weekends when the BBL team Fraport Skyliners are in action, his chances of playing become less, but this weekend the team was off as they had back to back games within the week. Bonga had played in the last home game victory against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and had been a vital factor for the success as he took over the game in many phases and finished with a career high 30 points. Fans weren´t disappointed when Bonga arrived in the BCM gym for warm ups and then was present on the court ready for battle again. He didn´t score 30 again like two weeks ago, but this time it was Garai Zeeb again who was the fourth quarter savior as like some weeks ago against KIT Karlsruhe, he had a horrible first half and stepped it up in the second half sparking Frankfurt with 13 points and this time powered home 8 points down the stretch against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg pacing the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to the 75-69 victory.