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.
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.