The last time the Fraport Skyliners won a game, it was 2018 and some holiday lovers were still digesting their Christmas food while others were already in the gym working on shaving some pounds off their frames. Now a few weeks into 2019 the 2000 BBL cup winner Fraport Skyliners are still waiting for their first win in the new year as they were riding a hideous 5 game losing streak having lost twice to ratiopharm Ulm, to BBL cellar team Crailsheim Merlins, Eurocuo team Lok Kuban and top BBL team FC Bayern Munich. A big problem in their game is that they can´t play consistent as they demonstrated in Munich getting down by 20 points, coming back to cut the deficit to three points and then trailing in double digits again only to lose 80-71. Injuries continue to be a big worry and concern and the departure of Canadian Brady Heslip left a void in the offense, but not on defense. Their French opponent LDLC Asvell Villerbanne have had a great season up to now leading the France Pro A in the standings and came into the Frankfurt clash having a 2-0 record in Eurocup action and definitely not the type of opponent where the Fraport Skyliners would have good cards of winning. The Fraport Skyliners wanted to have some kind of success experience going into the big cup semi-final game on the weekend against 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin, but were unable to handle LDLC Asvell Villerbanne as they fell 70-58 moving to 0-3 in Eurocup action. After the loss, American Jason Clark did have a smile on his face as it was his birthday, but when the topic came to the loss, the 29 year´s demeanor shifted to disappointment. “We came out well and had defensive intensity in the first half. It was a low scoring game, but they broke away in the second half. They started to do things on offense that they couldn´t do in the first half. We stayed with them, but they ran away with it at the end. We are still fighting which is good. Nobody is giving in. We have that fighting spirit”, warned ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark. Despite winning the game and moving to 3-0 LDLC Asvell Villerbanne guard Demarcus Nelson who played at Duke(NCAA) form 2004-2008 wasn´t happy with the play of his team, but glad for the win. “Our fight got us this win. We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, but cut them down in the second half. We were able to run some things on offense better in the second half. This wasn´t one of our better performances, but it was an important win. Our experience was key as was that we have many guys that can do multiple things on the court”, added Demarcus Nelson.
Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert has seen tough times in Frankfurt, but none worse than what he has seen lately as loses and injuries have pilled up and felt as badly as all the firework rubbish around Central Park and Times Square on New Years Eve. The Frankfurt walked wounded list that sits at the side of the bench looks like the waiting room of a hospital which has effected the play of the club as well as the many games in a short time has also given the team fatigue and heavy legs as Crailsheim noticed with the ever growing short shots that Frankfurt was putting up. With the Fraport Skyliners stuck in a three game losing streak, basketball life doesn´t get any easier as 72 hours after their ugly loss to cellar team Hakro Merlins Crailsheim, the team had to continue to do double duty as they faced top Russian VTB team Lok Kuban who came into the Eurocup in Frankfurt with a solid 8-4 record in the VTB and were well prepared having polished off Stelmet Enea 73-41 and came to Germany with a lot of self confidence with ex NBA player Dorell Wright and Jajuan Johnson and nice role players Jamel Mclean, Trevor Lacey and Mateuz Ponitka. A great winning experience would have done the Fraport Skyliners wonders as they waited for some of the injured players to return and were looking for their first Eurocup win in the second stage as they lost the first game in Ulm. The Fraport Skyliners looked very sharp in the first few minutes, but then allowed Lokomotiv Kuban to play their game and take a big lead and maintain it to the end winning 92-69. The many injuries, turnovers and simply real serious inconsistency plagued the Fraport Skyliners all night long. After the loss ex Georgetown(NCAA) guard Jason Clark tried to explain why his team was unable to put some kind of scare into the Russian team. “We got outgunned tonight. We started out well. But then we had a three minute dry spell and allowed them into the game. I believe that if we had continued to play the way we started, it would have been a totally different game. We have way to many injuries and turnovers. We have been talking about this for weeks. We need to find a way to get it done. We have to find the energy and motivation to get it done”, stressed Jason Clark. The Russian side won their first game in the second stage to move to 1-1 and for long lengths of time displayed excellent team basketball and execution that helped them get the victory as 6 players scored in double figures. After the win ex North Carolina State (NCAA) guard Trevor Lacey reflected on the win and in his tone one could easily notice that it was just another day at the office for the team. “We had a short rotation with some guys missing, but we played together for 40 minutes and executed well down the stretch”, stated Trevor Lacey.
It isn´t slowly ten to midnight yet for the Dragons Rhondorf, but rapidly getting very close to the gong as the club is looking to be saved somehow of their poor season as they are caved into the Pro B south cellar with a record of 3-11. Shortly before Christmas the Dragons Rhondorf hauled in 36 year old basketball dinosaur Anish Sharda who came from ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga) after never averaging less than 18,9ppg in the last four years in the Regionalliga. The American who recently got the German citizenship brought 137 career Regionalliga and 116 Pro B games to the Dragons Rhondorf and scored 11 points in his first game in a loss to the RheinStars right before Christmas. Over the years he has had some nice battles against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and had a 4-3 record against them scoring in double figures in four of the seven games coming into the game in Frankfurt. Sharda could be that key new component that will help get the Dragons Rhondorf out of the cellar as his consistent scoring and strong playmaking will be a huge advantage. Sharda led the Dragons Rhondorf to Frankfurt and met a 9-5 team that have been playing good basketball as of late having won three of their last four games. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had won the first contest in Rhondorf 75-68 thanks to 11 three´s and a strong Pro B debut by Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance who scored 21 points while the Dragons owned the boards. In the first contest of 2019, both teams had their ups and downs during the course of the 40 minutes, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors controlled the game and allowed a massive fourth quarter come back by the Dragons Rhondorf, but were able to salvage an overtime period getting a last second sprint and bucket by Elijah Clarance for the 83-81 win. After the tough loss Dragons Rhondorf head coach Thomas Adelt had that look as if he had seen a basketball ghost as for the third time in a row his team was close to winning, but were denied again. “We had too many turnovers in the first half and got in a hole because we were too sloppy. In the second quarter we fought and pressed well and were in a good position to win the game. It´s tough to lose the game on a last shot. We have worked so hard to win these games, but then we lose. I think that in the deciding moments we aren´t there mentally”, warned Thomas Adelt. Frankfurt was lucky that they escaped with a win. “This wasn´t our best game. Our ball movement wasn´t consistent today. We started off well in the first few minutes, but then their press made us play hectic. We had more ups and downs in the second half. We were a little sloppy at the end, but came out with the win”, added guard Len Schoormann. It was only Anish Sharda´s second game and he still getting used to things, but he had his moments hitting for 8 points and making some nice plays at both ends of the court. “I thought that our press was great and it kept us in the game. But we could of overall executed better on offense”, added ex TV Langen guard Anish Sharda.
The holiday season is always a memorable one off the court for the players, but in the last week, it was anything but noteworthy as the Fraport Skyliners had to face ratiopharm Ulm twice in the easyCredit BBL and Eurocup and lost both games. The first game cost the club rookie Trae Bell_Haynes and Akeem Vargas who will be out for a long period of time. The 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner had had enough of the ratiopharm Ulm team and now had no other choice but to come home and have to take care of business with cellar team Hakro Merlins Crailsheim who came into a game with a 1-12 record while the Fraport Skyliners were doing their own type of balancing act in 12th place with a 5-7 record and three wins away from the last playoff place. The game also remarked the return of an old Skyliner friend Konrad Wysocki. The last time the German who played at Ivy League school Princeton wore a Skyliner jersey, Barack Obama was just beginning his first term as president, Derrick Allen was his teammate and still in his twenties and Dennis Schroeder was a huge basketball talent on the Braunschweig playgrounds. The 36 year old Wysocki played for the then Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-1.Bundesliga) playing 36 BBL games averaging 6.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 43.8%. He returned back to the Fraport arena having a BBL record of 3-2 against his old time since his departure in 2009. He was perfect with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg posting a 3-0 record and winning two nail bitters by two points, but had lost both contests with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. It was pretty much a game that both sides had to win badly with Crailsheim a tad more and did as the Fraport Skyliners despite having injury problems and fatigue gave an unsatisfactory performance losing to the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim 91-77. After the big win a relaxed Konrad Wysocki exited the locker room with a big smile and was right away greeted by his ex team attendant Wulle Buhr and after rapping about the good old days, he greeted me and commented on his return back once again after a few years in the Pro A. “Obviously the faces change over the years, but then you see some of the familiar faces from then and the memories return. This was a big win for us. It has been a tough season losing some close games. We really needed this win very much. Maybe this is the start of seeing more wins”, stated ex Fraport Skyliner Konrad Wysocki.
The Fraport Skyliners continue to struggle through the season and it showed most against the lowly Hakro Merlins Crailsheim as they had good moments on offense, but their defense continues to be their achilles heel as they can´t rely on this part of their game. Of course the many injuries as well as the many games they have had in recent weeks have had their toll on the club, but still showing effort is something that doesn´t take the most talent and is something any team can always display, but that is something the club has had problems sticking to. After the loss ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark had a long face as he tried to digest another loss after losing back to back games in Ulm and explained what went wrong this time. “We can´t give fatigue as a reason why we lost this game. Every team goes through stretches like this where they have injuries, but this is what we play for. We have to find a way to win these games. Yes were tired, but we can´t have a performance like this. We have to do the little things right and show effort. I have a lot of respect for Crailsheim and they played a hell of a game, but at the end of the day we are a way better team than what we showed. We have to win these kind of games. This game was winnable”, warned Jason Clark. After the huge victory, the diminutive 180cm point guard Dewayne Russell who seems like a few centimeters smaller felt a lot larger than he was after the game even if he didn´t show it as his hot shooting third quarter where he scored 15 points carried the team to the win. The ex Grand Canyon(NCAA) stand out was as humble as could be about the performance of his team. “We played well. This was one of the few complete games we have played this season. Coach did a great job preparing us and our veterans Wysocki and Turner kept our heads up. We did a good job staying together when they had runs. We executed very well what we wanted to against their different coverages”, stressed Dwayne Russell.
It was only a few minutes afterthe Fraport Skyliners had lost a bitter contest to medi Bayreuth and most of the players in uniform were already on their way back to the locker room hanging their heads wondering why the word consistency remains a foreign word in their vocabulary. Some of the Skyliner farm team players who play in the ProB and didn´t dress for the game were still at the bench hanging out while their teammates like Quantez Robertson, Brady Heslip and Shawn Huff were gettingchewed out by head coach Gordon Herbert behind closed doors. One of thoseplayers is a well built young man named Elijah Clarance who was in deep thoughtas he often is if one observes him on and off the court wondering when will itbe my time to shine on the floor, but he also had something else on his mind.The Swedish shooting star who had an incredible 2018 U-20 European championships tournament where he was top scorer with 22 points per game didn´t land somewhere in a high division and not even in a first division team, but rather in the German Pro B which is the third division. Ok so his deal has its advantages, but in a way he took a step back in hopes of making two steps a headin the next few years. He has the opportunity to get BBL minutes, but like any other talent that has come to Frankfurt, getting to the BBL happens via goodplay in the Pro B. The 20 year old Swede has some obvious reasons why he is so often in deep thought and just in another place. The young man is a huge talent that feels like he still has a lot to prove, but what probably is most on his mind is if he can conquer the basketball world having that Nydala toughness and giving back to his mom and dad. He lived four years in the states, but the reality is that Nydala is something that will never totally leave his mind. Nydala is a neighborhood of Malmo and not one of the safest places to live in Sweden. When one thinks of Sweden one thinks of a very safe place to live in and it generally is a safe place to live in, but when one hears about gang violence then one can only be shocked that something like that is around in Malmo. In 2017 Swedish police placed the Nydala neighborhood in the most severe categories of urban areas with high crime rates. Elijah Clarance becomes very reflective when talking about his home in Sweden and when you look into his eyes, you realize that he experienced things in his young life that he’d rather not see again. And that is why being a successful basketball player is so important to him, because he wants to be able give back to his parents for doing such a good job raising him in a tough area. “Nydala isn´t one of the best neighborhoods around. There is a lot of violence and drugs from where I came from. I went to the worst ranked school in Sweden. Growing up there, I had to be tough otherwise I would have been picked on. One of my main motivations for playing basketball now is to help get my mother get out of there”, stressed Elijah Clarance. His aggressiveness and self confidence that he shows for a 20 year old definitely has been noticed by his teammates. “You notice that kids who come from a tough area growing up tend to have a lot more toughness than others. You have to have a lot in your self to survive and he shows that on the court. If you don´t show confidence than that is a sign of weakness. You have to always keep that confidence with you and he has it”, warned Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark.
The Fraport Skyliners have played a whirlwindof a season so far as their results and play in the Eurocup and easyCredit BBLhave been like day and night. Injuries as usual has been a huge factor whilethe chemistry has stalled in it´s growing, but that isn´t any different withother teams like an Alba Berlin who lost three guards, but continue to keepwinning. The Fraport Skyliners lone bright spot this season has been theirstellar play in the Eurocup as with two games remaining, the club has alreadyqualified for the next round having a record of 5-3. Even if they have playedunsatisfactory at times, the difference to the BBL has been that they havefound ways to win. In the easyCredit BBL that hasn´t been the fact as they cameinto the Braunschweig game in 14th place with a record of 2-5 anddesperately need some kind of success to get them out of their current rut.After starting 1-1, they lost four of their last five games and lost their lasttwo homes games in crunch-time games they most likely would have won underother Gordon Herbert teams. The team at times have lacked the needed intensityand passion at both ends of the court. The Basketball Lowen Braunschweig areplaying a solid season and have a record of 3-5 considering that for them it isalways an uphill battle with their limited budget. They like the FraportSkyliners have been like night and day as they began the season in the cellarlosing their first five games, but recently found an uphill trend having wontheir last three games. That winning streak was started by something teamshaven´t done in years which is beat top team Brose Bamberg. They then finishedoff Wurzburg and MBC and arrived in Frankfurt with a lot of confidence andmotivation led by top BBL center Scott Eatherton. The Basketball LowenBraunschweig almost made it four wins in a row, but were unable to handle theolder Gents of the Fraport Skyliners suffering a tough, but hard fought 81-77loss. It was another game where Frankfurt didn´t play well for 40 minutes, butfound a way to win. Canadian rookie Trae Bell Haynes carried the FraportSkyliners in the first half to a 49-30 lead as his penetration effectivenesstore apart Braunschweig, but a weak third quarter of scoring only 12 points andallowing 31 points in the fourth quarter almost cost them the contest. “We arestill waiting for playing a full game well. We started hot, but became cold inthe third and fourth quarters. We stayed together at the end despite themmaking seemingly every shot. We did a good job on defense for the most partletting them take only one shot and rebounding well and getting out ontransition. We didn´t do a good job guarding the three point line in the fourthquarter and I had bad turnovers. We have to take better care of the ball”,warned Trae Bell Haynes. The Basketball Lowen Braunschweig played with a lot ofheart and made an amazing comeback in the fourth quarter only to drive homewith the loss as they couldn´t make key stops at the end. “The first quarterwas close back and forth. In the second quarter Bell Haynes carried them and wealways seemed a step to slow and weren´t physical enough getting beat by lay upafter lay up. We knew coming into the third that we were a well rounded teamand never believed that the game was over. We fought until the end, but at theend just couldn´t pull out the win”, stressed ex Hamburg Tower DeandreLansdowne.
On the weekends Quantez Robertson plays againsttop guards in the easyCredit BBL and this season during the week he playsagainst the top guards in the international competition Eurocup and in the pastweek the ex Auburn(NCAA) standout had a few meetings which players he oncedueled against in the BBL in his illustrious 10 year career. Only a week ago,he battled ex NBA player Brian Roberts who lasted five years in the big show NBAand had a positive 7-4 record against the Cincinnati native and won a titleover him in his rookie season. This week the freak athlete didn´t have one but potentiallytwo top guards who he had faced with DJ Seeley and Chris Kramer. He faced DJSeeley only once and that was in his rookie season when he was balling with medi Bayreuth and the ex Cal-Fullerton guard came away with the hard fought 72-64 win in Frankfurt. With Kramer it was a totally different story as he played against the ex Purdue guard from 2011-2017 12 times and had a negative 5-7 record against him. They had some unforgettable battles as five of the 12 games ended by only a two point difference. Not only did Quantez Robertson wantto come out on top again, but also his team Fraport Skyliners who have beenstinking up the easyCredit BBL the last weeks having lost four of their lastfive games. They had a huge motivation to win again especially in the Eurocupwhere a win would have brought them to the next round. Quantez Robertson onlyhad to face Seeley as Kramer didn´t make the trip and helped lead his team to ahard fought 65-63 victory reaching the next round. Robertson finished with 12points and 9 boards including mixing it up in the paint securing 6 offensiverebounds and always loves the challenges of facing the top guards. “It isalways fun battling talented guys. Playing against a Roberts and Seeley showswhere my defense is at. It also shows that I can score with them going bucketfor bucket”, smiled ex Auburn(NCAA) star Quantez Robertson. The FraportSkyliners played a poor first half, but played a lot better in the second halfand Canadian sniper Brady Heslip recovered from his 48 seconds of hell and crawledout of his hole in the fourth powering the Fraport Skyliners to the tough win.After the win an exhausted Jason Clark who played 24 minutes and had logged thefourth most minutes on the team reflected on the grind out win. “It was a verytough win. We were getting beat bad in the first half, but we never gave upfighting. We wanted to make a statement in the second half. Everybody wanted towin. We were more aggressive on defense and had more pressure on the ball whichhelped us take them out of their offense”, stressed ex Georgetown guard JasonClark. The Lithuanian team Rytas Vilnius played a solid game, but couldn´t keeptheir consistency at both ends of the court in the second half. “I thought thatwe played a good game. We had very good moments and some bad moments. We just couldn´t pull out the win at the end. We played good defense and executed aswell as we could on offense”, stressed ex Cal-Fullerton(NCAA) guard DJ Seeley.