In the last years a meeting between Frankfurt and Ludwigsburg in the latter half of the regular season could have had top game billing in the easyCredit BBL, but now nearing mid February the two teams came together for a showdown and when looking at all the games this weekend, this particular battle was just be a normal game. There is always great interest in the two men in black coaches Gordon Herbert and John Patrick who like to done black suits. So much can happen in a season when two teams personal changes and suddenly the usual wins that both clubs have been used to suddenly change as loses rain down like afternoon showers in the dog days of summer in Waco, Texas. Both clubs have been playing under expectations as the Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t have his magic wan like in recent seasons as new players didn´t mesh while with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, John Patrick once again produced a very deep roster, but the club hasn´t been consistent and was still looking for a very sound team chemistry. That led to a nine and six game losing streaks and an early departure form the Basketball Champions League where they reached the playoffs the last two seasons and even got to the Final 4 last year. The Fraport Skyliners haven´t meshed together either, but the massive injury bug has plagued them as they still haven´t found that team chemistry that can lead a team to success. They did play well in the Eurocup reaching the next round, but then bowed out in ugly fashion with a 0-6 record. The duel on Sunday in Frankfurt was a season changer for both teams as a victory could be that needed push to get both teams going again. Both teams gave a fierce battle as runs were on the menu all day long and at the end it came down to one last possession that the guests made winning 96-94. After the big win, game top scorer Marcos Knight was calm and not overly excited, but when your coming off a big losing streak, one has to take everything slowly including taming one´s own emotions. “We played as a team and fought hard for 40 minutes. We managed to play good defense when times got tough. We did a good job exploiting the mis matches. We have to build off this win as we go into the next games”, stressed forward Marcos Knight. For the Fraport Skyliners it was another game of many this season that they could have won, but in the end just couldn´t make that one vital stop to get into good position to win the game. “We fought hard and matched their intensity in the first quarter. It worked well until the second quarter where it got to us. They took us out of our offense and forced us to take tough shots. I felt we were able to handle their intensity and pressure well as we had many guys taking the ball up. Coach Herbert told us before the game that this game wouldn´t be about x´s and o´s, but more about playing against their 1-1 play. They really got to us when we switched and they were able to attack our big guys. We didn´t do a good job helping each other”, warned ex Georgetown(NCAA) guard Jason Clark. Not to forget the combined 51 points of Crawford and Knight earning them their own show name was key for the win as well as their individual abilities of scoring the ball one on one is something seldom seen as dominantly in the BBL as they displayed yesterday.
Basketball buzzer beaters are a rare occurrence and as seldom as DeMarkus Cousins hitting a three, but when they do happen, they often find a very strong hold in the hearts of those that were affected by it. It is even rarer for a guy playing his first ever home game for his new team being a part of a buzzer beater and witnessing the electricity of the arena as the ball splashes through the netting as the buzzer sounds. Rookie Tra Holder experienced this recently in Frankfurt for the Fraport Skyliners as teammate Skyliner lifer legend Quantez Robertson who is in his 10th season with the team hit first ever professional buzzer beater. In the last years there have only been a few buzzer beaters in the Fraport arena as Justin Gray nailed one in 2011 helping Frankfurt defeat Wurzburg while Antonio Graves hit two buzzers beaters one with Artland against Frankfurt and then dropped one with Frankfurt against Ludwigsburg. But none was as exciting and had as much meaning as the one Quantez Robertson hit over the EWE Baskets Oldenburg last weekend. The team were in the midst of a 8 game losing skid, were down by 10 points to the second place team and then to come back and win in buzzer beater fashion was a very special moment in the clubs 20th season. Holder was on the court and witnessed the whole thing. He was parked in the corner and could of got the ball, but American Tyler Larson had little time and his only safe option was Tez as he is called by everyone in Frankfurt except for maybe the passport control at the airport. “ It looked like it would go in. I fell to the ground when he took it and was so happy he made it. It was really cool, because it was my first home game, we were in a drought and we were able to beat the second best team. It was simply spectacular. I hope it can jump start our season”, stated Trae Holder. Seeing that amazing buzzer beater brought back special memories for Trae Holder as he looked back on his younger days and also what he has seen other guys do. “I have made two buzzer beaters. I made one in high school where we won the title. I also made one against USC with Arizona State. The one against USC was similar to the Frankfurt one. Against USC, we were down by 10 points, but had only 1,30 minutes to play. I also remember the one Kyrie Irving hit with the Cavs beating the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA finals”, stressed Tra Holder. The first week with the Fraport Skyliners has been very thrilling for the rookie while the first part of his rookie season battling injuries and never playing a game for Fiat Torino was rather unpleasant, but the guard wants to finish the season strong and help his new club as much as possible. He came into his rookie professional season having a great career at Arizona State overcoming some hardships along the way, but he learned to block out negativity and continued to work hard to achieve success.
The last weeks have been extremely painful for the Fraport Skyliners and fans as the team has been losing and losing so much that it´s almost February 2019 and they were still seeking their first victory in the new year. Currently the club was hiding behind an embarrassing 8 game losing streak and desperately looking to crawl out of their always growing hole, but the opponents didn´t get any easier as they had to battle 2015 easyCredit BBL cup champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg. They have witnessed an amazing season as withdrawing from international club duty this season has done wonders as they have been able to concentrate on the BBL and came into Frankfurt with a 13-3 record and sitting in second place behind FC Bayern Munich with the second best offense and defense in the league. For some Skyliner fans coming to see their team may not have been high on many wish lists, but to see Rickey Paulding step on the Fraport arena floor again and do his magic was definitely worth the ticket. Time continues to fly even on the basketball court and the Detroit native isn´t 30 anymore, but 36 and still playing like a 28 year old as he is in his 12th season with the club. A few days ago the seven time BBL allstar who had many battles in Frankfurt with his friend Jimmy Mckinney in the last years was rewarded with a contract extension and handed a loyalty ring for his faithfulness and loyalty to the EWE Baskets for never leaving the club. The American BBL identity figure came to Frankfurt having played 460 BBL games and amassed a total of 6,242 BBL points and was ready to not only battle the Fraport Skyliners again, but also against their identity figure Quantez Robertson who is in his 10th season with Frankfurt and both combined for 29 points and dropped some amazing shots over each other, but the guy standing tall and having the biggest smile after 40 minutes was Quantez Robertson who led a comeback and slapped the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the face with a buzzer beater 75-74 win. After the big win Robertson was content and not eagerly emotional since he had left all his energy on the court after the buzzer beater, but he still had enough gusto to talk and smile about his duel with Rickey Paulding. “We battled all day long. I made a couple tough shots over him and he did the same against me. It´s always fun battling a guy like that”, stated ex Auburn(NCAA) standout Quantez Robertson. After the loss, EWE Baskets Oldenburg legend Rickey Paulding hid out in the dressing room together with teammate Franz Massenat and one could of thought they might never come out, but actually they were waiting for teammate Karsten Tadda who had been occupied with doping controls. As always Paulding was very professional the way one should be after such a bitter loss. “I know what Tez brings to the table. I am happy for his career in Frankfurt. I hope he can play longer with Frankfurt than I did with Oldenburg. The people in Frankfurt really like him”, stressed Rickey Paulding. “I could really feel those two guys going at it. There is a reason why Paulding has played so long and we see Tez make those shots every day”, warned Trae Holder.
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.