It was June 17th, 2010 and the tension and excitement couldn´t have been any more extreme in Bamberg as it was game 5 of the finals between Brose Bamberg and the Deutsche Bank Skyliners from Frankfurt and with a few seconds to go captain Pascal Roller who for years was one of the better free throw shooters in the BBL was unable to sink free throws to keep the game going and Bamberg won their third BBL title and first in the Chris Fleming era 72-70. There were two players on the court with one screaming pure joy out with Brian Roberts and the other experiencing his first big tough loss in his rookie season with Quantez Robertson. Nine seasons later both guys are still grinding away and have had great careers as Brian Roberts made it to the big show playing five seasons in the NBA and registering 320 games for three teams with New Orleans, Charlotte and Portland while the other Quantez Robertson now 33 is in his tenth season with the Fraport Skyliners and has given the name lifer a new meaning and now belongs to the top identity figures with Rickey Paukding having played with only one team in their careers in Germany. Last season Roberts returned back overseas and played with Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) and this season is balling with Unicaja Malaga(ACB Spain) and still going strong at age 32. The two exceptional players that had many battles in the BBL returned and faced each other for the first time in more than six and a half years as their last meeting was on April 3rd 2012 in Frankfurt as the Fraport Skyliners whipped Bamberg 76-68 as Robertson finished with 12 points and Roberts with 13 points. Quantez Robertson may have won their last meeting, but Roberts has the 7-4 lead in overall meetings and more importantly won that BBL title that Robertson is still chasing. Both met again in Frankfurt on a mild autumn night and fans saw a game of runs and a massive Fraport Skyliners comeback that wasn´t rewarded as they fell to Spanish side Unicaja Malaga 84-78. Unicaja Malaga moved to 6-1 and Frankfurt to 4-3 in Eurocup play. “We talked a bit. It is crazy that he has been in Frankfurt so long. I joked with him asking why he doesn´t have a German passport yet. He has put in good work here. He still plays the same and hasn´t lost a step”, stressed ex NBA player Brian Roberts. “Tez did a good job on Roberts. He didn´t score until late in the game”, added Jason Clark. Frankfurt played out their hearts and saw the real break through of some of the young kids Garai Zeeb, Elijath Clarance and Trae Bell Haynes in the third and fourth quarter as the club was carried by them. “We showed growth tonight. Some of our main players struggled, so we put in our young guys and they showed that they can play. They showed a lot of heart and that was the reason why they were in the game. The young guys did what they were supposed to. A big congrats to them”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Jason Clark. Unicaja Malage came into the game remembering their big 90-64 rout at home, but this time it wasn´t as easy on the road. “We had our ups and downs and it wasn´t easy playing against them. Playing small ball was an advantage for them. They played good transition and we made too many turnovers which helped them come back. We moved the ball well in the second and third quarters, but they played more aggressive in the fourth quarter and were able to come back”, stressed Polish national player Adam Waczynski.
The return Eurocup game between the Fraport Skyliners and Fiat Turin had two major stories involved that separated 50 years. The one major news story before the game was the return of 78 year old head coach Larry Brown who had been back in the states for a month on account of health issues and had been cleared to return and the other story was a buzzing one of 28 year old ex NBA player Erik Murphy who may never ever be close to being on the shooting level of a Dirk Nowitzki, but knowing the genuine character of the big German, he would surely have praised the American for his almost spotless shooting in the last two games had he witnessed it. “It was good to see coach Brown again on the sidelines. You never want to see a coach or player be out because of health problems. He looked healthy and had high energy. It is always nice seeing someone doing what they love”, stressed ex Chicago Bull Erik Murphy. Murphy hasn´t just been hot in the last 48 hours, but has been severely red hot. He led the Fraport Skyliners to the 83-79 win at home against the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he produced 22 points and then stormed on to the court in Turin and gave an unforgettable Eurocup performance dropping 33 points in the comfortable 85-75 victory. ”We came out ready to play and had a good first half letting the defense set the tone. We were focused and were able to take things away from what they do well. Despite some runs of them and shots made, we were pretty much in control of the whole game”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Erik Murphy.
His two game total stands at 55 points while shooting an amazing 20/26 from the floor.
The last months have been like a long and never ending sweet dream for 2018 Los Angeles Lakers second round draft pick Isaac Bonga as he has been experiencing what life is like being part of one of the worlds most known basketball organizations. The new G-league season started a few days ago and until it did Bonga was able to catch NBA games at the end of the Lakers bench and experience the amazing atmosphere of the Staples center. For most it must be unimaginable what it must be like having conversations on a daily basis with the current greatest player on earth Lebron James, the best point guard of all-time Magic Johnson and Mr triple double Rajon Rondo at the Lakers training facility not to mention learning added vital basketball skills from South Bay player development coach once known as Ron Artest and now known as World Metta World Peace and head coach Coby Karl. Only four years ago Karl played his last professional season in Ludwigsburg as Bonga was a raw talent In Koblenz, Germany and a year away from starting his flight to the NBA via Frankfurt. Sometimes it is very interesting how basketball paths once so far away come together in only a few years. In the NBA and G-League world there isn´t much time to dream and get caught up and be distracted by all the legends walking around, but just focus on the game. That is something that Bonga has surprisingly done well despite the tender age of only 18 years. He had a non spectacular Summer league playing 7 games averaging 2.1ppg, 1.0rpg. His lack of minutes didn´t discourage him as he continued to work hard in the summer keeping the work ethic that he had in Frankfurt. He had his moments in the pre-season dropping 12 points, hauling down 9 boards and dishing out 5 assists against the Golden State Warriors. It was no surprise when he was sent to the Lakers G-League affiliate South Bay Lakers for grooming.
After the bitter 72-64 loss at home against 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen the Fraport Skyliners sneaked back into the locker room as the only thing missing was hiding themselves with huge super market paper bags as they had given the name stinking up the room a new definition. Last season the week of preparation would have felt like a nasty eternity having to wait so long, but not this year as the Fraport Skyliners can rebound quickly after a loss and take revenge during the week in international competition. A week ago they had escaped Vechta with a win, but didn´t get the win in a pretty fashion and made amends with a huge win in Lithuania getting by Rytas Vilnius. This week the Fraport Skyliners were home again for Eurocup action after having been on the road the last two weeks in Malaga and Vilnius and were searching for their third win in the competition. They met top Montenegran team Mornar Bar who currently have a 8-2 record in their home league and were founded in 1974 and are a four time cup finalist and won the cup in 2004 and are defending league champs in their country league. Quantez Robertson also was looking forward to the contest as he met his ex teammate 30 year old Antabia Waller from Auburn(NCAA) who was a junior when Tez was a senior in 2008-2009. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game with a 2-1 record while Mornar Bar rode into the Fraport arena with a 1-2 record, but had defeated Italian squad Turin who had been without legendary coach Larry Brown who had traveled back to the stats to seek medical attention. The Fraport Skyliners rebounded very well from their poor loss on the weekend to 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen finding their groove and Brady Heslip In the zone early destroying KK Mornar Bar 95-78 moving to 3-1 in Eurocup play. They scored 63 points in the first half, but cooled down in the second half scoring only 27 points, but nobody cared as most of the damage had been done in the first half. Things got a little heated in the post game press conference as KK Mornar Bar head coach Mihailo Pavicevic criticized the Fraport Skyliners organization for not having court time in the days leading up to the match. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t take the criticism well as he defended his organization and
disapproved of the manner of which the opponent handled themselves. It is also not the way the Fraport Skyliners handle themselves as they are a respected organization tha tconduct themselves in a professional manner. That was the only heated exchanges that night as the Frankfurt players themselves were calm and happy with the turnaround of the play. “The reason for the win was defense, defense, defense. We played together, communicated better and switched better. We took away their game plan which was getting on them off the screens and didn´t give them open looks. On offense we shared the ball and hit open shots”, stressed Jason Clark. The KK Mornar Bay players exited one by one with their heads sunk and seemed a bit shocked by their sad showing. “They hit three´s all night long. Heslip got them going and it went on. It was a very good shooting night for them”, commented ex Seton Hall guard Khadeen Carrington.
Ok after six games it is obvious that Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark won´t be stealing Jared Jordan´s nickname Mr Pass anytime soon, but the ex Georgetown standout supplied the needed energy and scoring punch when the team needed it most helping carry the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup winner to it´s second Euro Cup win over Rytas Vilnius 70-61 as it´s record grew to 2-1. You have those pass first point guards and you have the scoring point guards and Clark definitely belongs to the latter. So far this season he has shown his moments in the playmaking category and been that scorer he was brought in for scoring 16 points against Turin and Vechta. There has been criticism that the club has a point guard problem, but does it really? The season is young and the team continues to find ways to win and in the second half it was the point guard duo of Clark and Bell Haynes that took control and were vital in the team escaping with a win. The American who made a name for himself in Belgium playing most of his professional career there and is on the way of doing the same thing in Germany now was in good spirits shortly before boarding a plane in Lithuania back to Germany the day after and was content about the victory “The key to the win was our defensive intensity. We brought it from the start and did a good job continuing to do it in the second half”, said Jason Clark.
The Fraport Skyliners are currently 2-2 in three competitions and a few days ago witnessed an ugly 91-64 loss in Malaga, Spain in Euro Cup play. Is it time to worry and start erasing the band wagon feeling that I have had since pre season where the amazing, talented and experienced roster that head coach Gordon Herbert put together so early this season something that hadn´t been seen before in recent years? No it´s not time to worry yet. The leaves are still turning red, there have been some warm days that could suggest that summer is coming back and Halloween is still more than two weeks away. The 2018-2019 season is still in its baby faze and there is still so much basketball to be played. Canadian sniper Brady Heslip was all smiles after the exciting cup win against ratiopharm Ulm, but one could see in his eyes that he was positive, but at the time also hesistant not to get to euphoric after two tight wins against Torino and Ulm. “We are coming together fast now after two games. We are figuring out how to win games now”, added Brady Heslip. People were obviously excited about the two close wins and wanted to see more in Malaga 72 hours later, but instead were brought back to reality quickly with the crushing loss. Despite the blowout loss in Malaga, the club had shown good things before the loss and will surely return back to it in Vechta on Saturday. “I think that we have done well so far. Winning the close games has been good as we will have these type of games all season long. Our chemistry is good and every player knows its role. We are all competitive and want to win. When your on the same page and want to win then that will go a long way”, warned Jason Clark.
15 minutes after the massive Eurocup win against big favorite Fiat Torino Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark most likely didn´t have any real specific play of the 45 minute battle in his head anymore, but moreover was still in awe after waiting in line for the traditional handshake. He congratulated big time players like two time NBA champion James Michael Mcadoo or ex NBA players Jamil Wilson and Tyshawn Taylor and probably didn´t even notice that another ex NBA player and Olympic Gold medalist Carlos Delfino of Argentina didn´t even make the trip because of an injury, but it was only normal that the American was only focused on one person, the legend Larry Brown. When he finally reached the ex NBA and NCAA champion Brown with Detroit and Kansas which must have felt like an eternity waiting in line that one could have wished to just bowl down the line of players with a huge bowling ball to finally get to the basketball legend. Clark wasn´t disappointed as the head coach uttered the flattering words which Clark will never forget with “That was a great game and you’re a hell of a player”. After a big win like that and getting possibly the most amazing compliment in his life, how does one return 72 hours later and react in the next huge game against ratiopharm Ulm in a do or die cup game where there is no return game, but that win or go home result. After the disappointing opening season loss in Ludwigsburg, the Fraport Skyliners returned and gave an impressive showing against highly favorite Fiat Torino winning 88-85. Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t have much time to let his players come down from that huge high over Brown and now they had to follow that up with a cup duel. The good news was that the Fraport Skyliners entered the game with a lot of momentum after the victory against Larry Brown while ratiopharm Ulm had lost their first Eurocup game against Crvena Zvezda 88-73. It is always a big battle when these two teams face off as who could forget the Frankfurt three OT win in 2012 in Ulm or the Ulm playoff series win in 2016. This cup dance was once again a vicious battle as it went to the wire and the Fraport Skyliners had numerous key figures executing like the duo of Heslip and Murphy who combined for 39 points and a rejuvenated Quantez Robertson who had been cold for three quarters and came alive down the stretch, but it was rookie Trae Bell-Haynes who gave the club incredible support in the last minute playing like a veteran and making key baskets to help Frankfurt reach the cup quarterfinals. After the big win a very content Jason Clark reflected on the 40 minute battle. “Both teams went at each other and it was a game of runs. We did a good job staying composed and staying solid on offense and defense. We had our ups and downs, but stuck together. Tez struggled, but came alive and Heslip and Bell-Haynes were huge. We did what we had to do as a team to get the win”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Jason Clark. Ratiopharm Ulm fled slowly out of the locker room to the bus and ex Radford(NCAA) standout Javonte Green was upbeat despite the loss and saw positives. “I thought we played well despite this being our third loss in a row. We played more together as a team tonight. We just didn´t put it together at the end. We had mental lapses on defense that cost us the game”, said Javonte Green.