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.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance who led the Fraport Skyliners with 21 points in the win
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.
Miles interviewing Miles! Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing TG s.Oliver Wurzburg guard Miles Jackson-Cartwright after dropping 21 points in a 75-69 loss to the Fraport Skyliners Juniors in Frankfurt
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.
A little more than two months ago, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed another great performance on the road taking apart the Bayer Giants Leverkusen for the second straight year as German wunder kid Isaac Bonga led the charge with 26 points last season and 19 points this season. Like so often this season, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were unable to give a very good performance for 40 minutes as they have proven this season to have been underachieving despite having a very solid guard rotation of Alexander Blessig and Marvin Heckel and two potent import inside players with Bruce Beckford and Donovan Jack and all rounder CJ Oldham. The biggest problem has been their inability to defend at a high rate on a consistent level as they allow 80 points per game while scoring 78 per game. The club reacted at the start of 2018 bringing in talented 26 year old 196cm small forward Ron Mvouika from France who after a roller coaster ride from Sheridan JC (JUCO) and Missouri St. (NCAA), he finally landed with St Johns in his senior season 2015-2016 where he captained the team for legendary 1992 Dream team player and now coach Chris Mullin who treated him like a pro from day one. Leverkusen landed a coup with Mvouika as he prompt led the team on a two game winning streak. They did lose last weekend to Iserlohn as their lackluster defense reared it´s ugly head again on the court losing 95-84. However Mvouika who compares his game to Paul George has been more than just a fresh breath of air, but been a lot more as he has taken the Pro B by storm and proven to be a very versatile player that can do it all on the court as through three games he was averaging 19,0ppg, 5,0rpg, 4,0apg, 1,3 and is shooting 47,1% from outside. He has never had it easy in his career, but he has always believed in his abilities and his road up the basketball ladder continues now with Leverkusen. “I am a very confident person because I know the work I put in every day. Basketball is not a sport to me, it’s my life so me not finding stability since coming out of college never really made me doubt myself or anything else. I was just working very hard every day, waiting on the right opportunity to present itself, an opportunity where I could express myself and show the world what I can do and Bayer was the perfect marriage. I don’t feel or add any pressure, if anything, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time so now its time to show all the work that I was putting behind close doors”, warned Ron Mvoiuka.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Ron Mvouika of the Bayer Giants Leverkusen after dropping 11 points in the 81-65 loss to Frankfurt
The French man came with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen to Frankfurt and was looking to start a new winning streak while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were looking for their second victory in a row in 2018 and they overcome a quick start by the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and controlled the game from the second quarter until the 40 minutes had eclipsed playing consistent offense and playing with passion on the defensive end winning 81-65.
Five weeks ago the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were at their peak and seemed invincible. After being rattled for three quarters by the Dragons Rhondorf who had arrived at the game in Frankfurt more than fashionably late and got on the court five minutes after tip off, the home team finally snuck out of their 30 minute funk controlling the fourth quarter outscoring their opponent 20-9 and winning 84-77. At that moment the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were riding a four game winning streak and had a positive 8-5 record. However since then they have fallen off their peak like a novice mountain climber who shouldn´t be attempting to scale to the peak, but rather be chilling in a mountain chalet in front of a fire sipping hot chocolate munching on some crisp delectable biscuits discussing where American politics will go in 2018. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors currently were wrapped up in an annoying three game losing streak having lost to Iserlohn, FC Bayern Munich and the ScanPlus Baskets and were sporting a 8-8 record. Injuries and always changing rosters on account of BBL games where their double license players are sometimes unavailable has affected their play and chemistry from not properly developing. The organization was reeling for a successful experience to get back on track to gain their first victory in 2018 and what better way then for the doormat of the league to visit them. KIT SC GEQUOS Karlsruhe arrived in Frankfurt with a desolate 2-14 record having only defeated FC Bayern Munich and Iserlohn, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors couldn´t take this game as a cakewalk as they had narrowly escaped Karlsruhe earlier this season with a 73-70 win where they allowed 12 three´s, but did a good job taking care of the ball coughing it up only 8 times. KIT SC GEQUOS Karlsruhe had revenge on their minds and it looked good for a half as they controlled the game, but in the second half the Fraport Skyliners Juniors staged a massive comeback and were led by Garai Zeeb who powered home 13 points in the fourth quarter leading to the 76-69 victory. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed a lot of heart in the fourth quarter and stuck together as a team in hard times and after the win, German U-20 national player Garai Zeeb was happy the club got the win. “We didn´t have the right intensity in the first half. We were a bit tired from the morning practice, but that shouldn´t be an excuse. We gave up too many open shots and didn´t rebound well in the first half. In the second half, our intensity was better, we fought harder and made big hustle plays. We got more stops and were able to play transition and got to the hoop better making better decisions”, stressed Fraport Skyliners Juniors guard Garai Zeeb. In the first half, KIT SC GEQUOS Karlsruhe looked like a playoff team, but in the second half, they showed why they have belonged to the worst teams in the Pro B south as they continued to defend solidly, but their offense totally collapsed. After the loss, German point guard Aaron Schmitz explained why the team had to suffer another loss. “Our problem is that we can play one good half of basketball, but are unable to play the way we want to for 40 minutes. We fought the whole game, but the Frankfurt run in the third quarter erased our whole good first half. Our offense wasn´t good anymore in the second half, we suffered too many turnovers and allowed too many easy baskets”, added ex BG Karlsruhe guard Aaron Schmitz.
With the Christmas goose digested and the new year celebration a little less than a week ago, it was time for the German Pro B to get rolling again as the 3 week layoff did seem to move along slowly even through the holiday season. It is always seems like a lottery with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and FC Bayern Munich 2 as to which BBL license players will be present or not. It was a good bet that all Fraport Skyliners Juniors could be present because the BBL team played at home the next day against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, while FC Bayern Munich was on the road the day after in Weissenfels, about a two and a half hour car ride from Frankfurt. One of the hottest players at the moment in the Pro B is German FC Bayern Munich swing man Karim Jallow who had scored 20 plus points in his last six games averaging 25,0ppg and is always a treat to see in the Pro B while for Frankfurt one of their top players American Alex Fountain had been in a little slump as after scoring in double figures in his first 8 games has done it only once in his last five games. FC Bayern Munich 2 entered the game having won all three games in the young head to head competition in the Pro B with Frankfurt, while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had been playing spirited basketball as of late having won four of their last five games. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were motivated and very focused to finally win their first game in the Pro B against FC Bayern Munich 2, but were rudely denied getting mauled 81-58 as their turnover disease of 31 paced the visitors to the victory.
After the victory one would have thought that all was good with the winners FC Bayern Munich 2, but apparently not as head coach Oliver Kostic disallowed Karim Jallow to talk to this reporter as the German was interrupted halfway through explaining the keys to the victory. “We saw that Frankfurt was weak without many players, but we took them seriously. We wanted to win big, but fell apart in the second quarter. At halftime coach got loud in the locker room with us, but that was expected”, stressed Karim Jallow. It is a shame that Jallow couldn´t talk more, but apparently coach Kostic thinks the Pro B is the NBA? After a few surprised faces had witnessed the abrupt departure of Jallow and Kostic, a disappointed Niklas Pons of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors explained the demise of his team. “We didn´t have the strength to win today. The second quarter was good, but we let up in the third quarter. We had a nice run at the end, but it was too late. We should of played like that earlier. We didn´t move the ball well and just couldn´t play our game. They defended very aggressively and we were irritated by them”, said ex TV Langen guard Niklas Pons.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Kameron Taylor after dropping 28 points and hauling down 12 rebounds in 84-77 loss in Frankfurt
After being on the road for weeks which must have felt like an eternity as something like that is rather untypical in the Pro B basketball world, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were finally back home again, but even if they didn´t want to admit it were facing a type of double whammy at home even if it was more a mental thing that they had to contend with. The last time the Fraport Skyliners Juniors stepped off the court in their own smug living room they had left with hanging heads as they had suffered every player´s nightmare having been hit and shattered by a last second buzzer beater shot by ScanPlus Baskets guard Hayden Lescault that not only put a piercing dagger into the hearts of Frankfurt, but also had the audacity not to go through the netting in the usual way with a beautiful swish, but had the nerve to bounce around the rim for seemingly minutes and then trickle through somewhat delaying the celebrations by the visitors. That was the first whammy that Frankfurt had to encounter and the second one was having to face the Dragons Rhondorf again as the last time they faced them in October in the Dragon Dome in Rhondorf, they also had to exit the floor as the losers on a last second buzzer beater by Mr “it´s Seton Hill not Seton Hall” Kameron Taylor who had nerves of steel in the last 9 seconds and the slick self confidence of a clutch crunch time player like Michael Jordan back in the day as he took Jules Akodo to the cleaners with a pull up jumper that found nothing but net and put the Dragons Rhondorf into basketball heaven for a night. The good news was that the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were coming off a big win in Schwelm where German Garai Zeeb had supplied the heroics supplying a game winning shot and three seasons ago Frankfurt beat Rhondorf in Frankfurt with a Kyle Fossman buzzer beater. With so many buzzer beaters swirling around in everybody´s minds, one could only have figured that this game would experience another shocking fate at the end, but it didn´t as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors won their fourth game in a row after staging a comeback in the second half winning 84-77.