The night of June 21 will be a big night for Isaac Bonga as well as for Fraport Skyliner fans who might take a holiday day, sick day or go to work with only a few hours of sleep not wanting to miss exactly where the German basketball talent will be drafted. He could be the third player drafted in the Skyliners club history after Croatian Mario Kasun in 2002 and Senegal center Malick Badiane was in 2003. The 18 year old Bonga who is a 205cm guard could be the youngest player drafted this season and belongs to the top German talents at the moment and has decided to stay in the draft. He had declared for the 2018 NBA Draft recently, but had the option to withdraw his name until June 11th in order to wait another year, but instead he will try his luck this season. Bonga recently completed his second professional season with the Fraport Skyliners playing 34 BBL games averaging 6,0ppg, 3,1rpg,2,2apg and 1,0spg while shooting 33% from outside. There was speculation that the German would withdraw as his name had disappeared from many of the early mock drafts and return to the Fraport Skyliners for another season of grooming to improve his chances of becoming a first round pick in 2019. It looks like Bonga will go in the second round this year and that is something he can live with if that guaranteed contract is in the package. Keeping his name on the NBA draft ballot only becomes risky if he isn´t sure that he will be drafted. Chances are that he has received a promise from an NBA team.
The German who started his career with the Post SV Luetzel Baskets Koblenz junior team was already in Frankfurt in the 2016-2017 season playing for the Fraport Skyliners youth team while also getting experience with the Koblenz Regionalliga team. He made his BBL debut as a 16 year old and was the fifth youngest player to ever play a BBL game against Brose Bamberg. In the 2016-2017 season he was already high on many of the NBA mock drafts behind the Real Madrid wonder boy Luka Doncic and was seen as a top 10 first round pick. After a solid, but not explosive 2017 World Cup U19 in Cairo (Egypt) where he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.3apg, 1.6spg, his stock started to fall a bit in the mock drafts in the 2017-2018 season.
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.
It is that time of the year again where the biggest basketball talents meet and show their abilities on the court in Trevisio, Italy at the 2017 Adidas Eurocamp. Germany is in good company as it will be represented by guys like Karim Jallow of FC Bayern Munich, Louis Olinde of the Brose Baskets Bamberg and Kosja Mushidi of Mega Leks, but also from two other huge talents with Isaac Bonga and Richard Freudenberg from the Fraport Skyliners will also be present. At the 3 day camp from June 9-11, the young hopeful talents will play in front of current and former coaches and players like Thon Maker of the Milwaukee Bucks) and Russian legend Andrei Kirilenko. The players will be able to showcase their skills in drills as well as compete against each other in games. Well known players that played at the Adidas Eurocamp in the past have been 93 first and second round draft picks, including NBA standouts Serge Ibaka (208-C/F-89) (Toronto Raptors), Danilo Gallinari (208-SF-88) (Denver Nuggets), Goran Dragic (190-PG-86) (Miami HEAT), Brandon Ingram (206-SF-97, college: Duke) (Los Angeles Lakers), Jaylen Brown (201-F-96, college: California) (Boston Celtics), Dragan Bender (213-PF-97) (Phoenix Suns) and Thon Maker (216-C/F-97, college: High School) (Milwaukee Bucks). Forty-three former EUROCAMP participants currently hold NBA contracts and 64 currently play in EuroLeague Basketball.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Isaac Bonga after a Fraport Skyliners win in Rhondorf in 2016
Isaac Bonga comes into the camp as one of the biggest talents in Europe at the moment from the year 1999 and at only 17 years of age and 205cm still has a huge upside in his development and could use this camp as another opportunity to raise his NBA draft stock for 2018 as he is already for many experts seen as a top 10 draft pick.
A little more than a week ago German wonder boy Isaac Bonga saw the sides of two worlds once again as the sky is the limit for the 17 year special talent was able to broaden his horizons again something he has been able to experience time in and time out if it was playing in the basketball without boarders tournament in Lithuania or shooting the breeze with New York Knick Justin Holiday at the 2017 NBA allstar weekend in New Orleans. Bonga skipped off the sold out court in Ulm of 6,000 plus people having played the most BBL minutes this season with 26 contributing six points, four rebounds and three assists in a narrow 90-84 defeat to ratiopharm Ulm and 20 hours later, he was brought back down to reality that his basketball life isn´t only a bed of roses as he departed the floor in Munich a defeated young man as he had to accept the bitter 75-44 NBBL loss against the International basketball academy Munich with only 200 people in attendance and had ran around like a mad man leaving his heart on the floor having played 38 minutes filling up the stat sheet like a mini Lebron posting seven points, six rebounds, seven assists, four steals and one block. With his BBL season over, Bonga wanted to make his last season goal of reaching the NBBL top 4 in Frankfurt reality, but he as well as his teammates had to really show what they were made of, dig deep down within themselves and play with heart. Bonga wanted to avenge his unsatisfactory 3/18 shooting in Munich and at the same time force another do or die meeting with Munich and other German super talent Oscar Da Silva who dropped 59 points and 35 rebounds in the two game playoff series against Urspring and can continue to tell his friends that he will be attending Stanford next fall and play at the alma mater of ex Bamberg legend Casey Jacobsen. It was no secret that this special do or die game would bring out the best in Bonga and Da Silva as they combined for 40 points and 24 rebounds, but the International basketball academy Munich also known as IBAM came out on top escaping Frankfurt with a hard fought 61-60 victory. As the buzzer sounded, the few Munich fans that had made the trip jumped up in excitement as if lightening had struck them and star player and young phenom Oscar da Silva was calm, but one could see in his eyes that he was not only relieved, but also very proud for reaching the NBBL Top 4 tournament. “I am very happy about getting this win in Frankfurt. We never stopped fighting and played with high intensity. We came back through our good defense which helped us get transition baskets and that was key for the win”, stressed future Stanford Cardinal Oscar Da Silva. For Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners, it was a very successful season, but their goal of reaching the NBBL Final 4 in Frankfurt was not met and one could easily read the frustration of the players on their faces. Especially for team second top scorer Konstantin Schubert it was a disappointing way to end his NBBL career. “We knew that we could of won this game. Game one was depressing, but we had a different face today and defended very well against very good individual players. But when you only score 60 points, it will be difficult to win. We didn´t do much wrong on defense, but didn´t rebound well in the first half and when they couldn´t hit from outside, we were unable to stop their penetration”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Schubert. “They switched to zone in the second half which gave us problems and took us out of rhythm”, added Fraport Skyliner Isaac Bonga.
In the last weeks do or die games as well as fascinating and breathtaking finishes like the unbelievable 75-73 win by North Carolina over Kentucky where Malik Monk´s last second shot was overturned by Luke Maye´s last triple with 0,3 seconds remaining to propel the Tar Heels into the 2017 NCAA Final 4 were as usual as it has been for ratiopharm Ulm winning and winning in the BBL this season, but also in the NBBL playoffs do or die games have been growing as last weekend the Igeko Falcons BC Nurnberg had to win at home against Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners to keep their season alive and did with a super performance as they won 63-51 stepping up their defense allowing 29 less points than in game one and carved the total points by German wonder boy Isaac Bonga and Cosmo Gruehn in half from 57 points to only 29 points and forced them to coughing up the ball 20 times with their aggressive defense. It hadn´t helped the cause of Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners that they were without their other strong performer Konstantin Schubert as he had been nursing an ankle injury. Both teams arrived into the game with their two star players Isaac Bonga who registered his first triple double in the Pro B a few weeks ago and is a projected 2018 NBA Draft Pick and Moritz Sanders who currently is averaging 7,2ppg in the Pro A and quietly developing further as a basketball player and were hoping to move on and face the International Basketball Academy Munich with their star player Oscar De La Silva. Despite being without second top scorer German Konstantin Schubert again for the third time in the series, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had enough other weapons and depth and took advantage of their home court despite some loud Nurnberg fans who had made the trip to cheer on the kids and escaped a last furious comeback by their opponent to slip into the quarterfinals with a satisfying 70-60 victory.
Isaac Bonga and Miles Schmidt-Scheuber: Postgame interview in Rhöndorf, December 2016
It was a game that Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led from early on, but allowed Igeko Nurnberg Falcons BC very close in crunch time, but it was the overall sound team play and superb leadership by 17 year old Isaac Bonga that allowed the home team to preserve the win. After the quick win, Bonga had exactly one hour and five minutes before his next game in the BBL against the Telekom Baskets Bonn and was dripping with sweat outside the locker room and showed absolutely no panic about having to get to the Fraport arena in time and reflected about the victory and keeping a cool head at the end. “I knew from the start that I had to take responsibility today. That is my job as point guard. We were always awake in the game and stayed calm even in tough times”, stressed Isaac Bonga.
When Bonga was long gone and on his way to the Fraport arena for the 10 minute drive from the BCM gym, Cosmo Gruehn was still on the court stretching and found the right words for the win. “Rebounds was key today as we were the better rebounding team in the first half and also defense as we held them to 60 points. We also did a good job keeping Sanders and Hassfuerter in check. We didn´t have to rely as much on our outside shooting like in game two, but were able to penetrate more with success”, added ex USC Freiburg big man Cosmo Gruehn.
It was shortly before High Noon in the German Pro B league as the top 8 teams in the two brackets south and north were looking forward to battle it out in the Playoffs and wanted to end the regular season in fine fashion while the bottom four teams in both brackets were looking to glide into the playdowns with some force hoping for their poor season showing to be rewarded with better play in the very important last weekends of the season determining who would stay in the Pro B or who would step down into the fourth league the regionaliga. The Giants Nordlingen came to Frankfurt with a lot less pressure as they knew their fate of having to play in the Playdowns while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors not only had a do or die game, but also had to hope for some help from team BG Karlsruhe who were playing against TG Wurzburg and or Weissenhorn who were battling the Dragons in Rhondorf. The only goal that the Frapoort Skyliners Juniors was to win and reach the playoffs would be a reality if at least one team Weissenhorn or Rhondorf lost. In the first meeting in Nordlingen, Frankfurt gutted out a nerve wracking 64-63 victory where German youngster Cosmo Gurehn once again showed his big man passing qualities finding other German Stefan Ilzhoefer for the winning bucket in the last minute. Back then, Frankfurt hadn´t hadn´t had their complete roster and hadn´t returned Alaska native Travis Thompson either, but still won. Thompson returned in December and has been anything short of brilliant, but his hot shooting has carried the team in his 13 games as he has scored in double figures in every game and had some huge games against the Dragons Rhondorf with 32 points on eight trey´s and scorched Leipzig last weekend for 33 points on almost perfect shooting going 8/9 from the parking lot. However the Giants Nordlingen had their own secret weapon in American rookie Terrence Smith who quietly is having a great season as well as he has scored in double figures in each game including explosions against Lich with 28 points and hit FC Bayern Munich for 24 points. In the first meeting against Frankfurt, the Russellville, Alabama native smith was close to a double double having had 16 points and nine assists in the bitter loss. Both Thompson and Smith were extra focused and motivated to carry their teams to victory, but Thompson had an off night as the stellar play and milestone belonged to Garai Zeeb who hit Nordlingen with 22 points while Isaac Bonga recorded his first triple double as a professional notching 10 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists leading the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to a massive 83-59 rout of the Giants Nordlingen securing a playoff meeting with top Pro B North team Lok Bernau while the 26 points of Terence Smith remained a side note.
After the win one of the first things Garai Zeeb does is go visit his family and friends in the stands and when he had gotten his last hug, had a big smile on his face about reaching his second playoff in a row with Frankfurt. “We came into the game knowing their strengthes and did a good job on one on one defense and when a man got beat our help was there. On offense we had too much running around in the first half, but had better structure in the second half and played calmer helping us get the win”, stressed ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb. The Giants Nordlingen wanted to get into the playdowns with some force and momentum, but couldn´t handle the unending offensive weapons of Frankfurt and just caved in in the second half. “Frankfurt made shots and spread it out on defense. We lacked communication and rotations were missing on defense. Frankfurt rebounded very well. When Frankfurt missed, they got the rebound”, stressed Alabama native Terence Smith.