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.
There are many great things to observe when entering the Brose arena in Freak city Bamberg like the overwhelming and amazing atmosphere that the fans give the players or seeing ex NBA player Dorrell Wright make that next amazing highlight reel memory or just sitting back and reminiscing about the good old days when Marcus Slaughter was finishing alley-op dunks with authority, ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen dropping clutch three´s from the corner or fans spelling Kyle Hines name wrong with Heinz. However at anytime in good times back then or in even bad times now as the Trinchieri era ended recently, fans are always served up a delectable menu with great players during the Euroleague season. Almost every opponent has at least one ex NBA player on board and many great European players. When the big name teams like Real Madrid and Panathinaikos enter the Brose arena you may get lost in the smorgasbord of fancy names or get wrapped up in a tasty German hog dog or pizza slice or even smuggled something in from the REWE supermarket under the arena, you may even mix up a name or two if your NBA knowhow isn´t that advanced the classic Lebron, Steph or Russ names. However sometimes that simple error can arise like recently when Spanish top team Unicaja Malaga played in Bamberg and one read the name Mccallum. For the NBA amateur´s one may have thought that CJ McCollum had taken a break from his scoring tantrum´s and taken a rest from the NBA and moonlighted to Europe, but at closer watch, it was the name Ray McCallum who also played in the NBA, but didn´t reach the notoriety of a CJ McCollum of the Portland Trailblaziers that easily belongs to the top 10 shooting guards in the NBA currently averaging 21,4ppg. Sometimes reading a name right and seeing that only an A and a O separate the names of two players is beneficial as the NBA worlds of CJ McCollum and Ray McCallum are currently about as far away as the Boston Celtics are from winning an NBA title this season with the absence of Kyrie Irving. Mccollum has helped lead the Portland Trailblazers to the third best record in the west behind Golden State and Houston at 49-33 while Ray Mccallum is playing in the best country league in Europe in Spain with Unicaja and trying to lead them to a ACB title. This season Bamberg swept Unicaja Malaga in the Euroleague and won in Bamberg 93-88 despite 13 points from Mccallum. The American remembered his first experience with German basketball 7 years ago. “I definitely remember playing in the World University games with Draymond Green and Darius Miller. I’m happy to see those guys are doing well and having a lot of success in the NBA. Germany along with the other teams in the tournament were challenging. That was my first experience with the physicality of European basketball”, stressed Ray Mccallum. After 4 professional seasons in the States and three in the NBA, Mccallum came overseas to try something new, but like any other player that has gone this path still has the NBA in his rearview mirror. “I feel I belong in the NBA and that’s where I want to be, but at this point in my career I knew that coming to Malaga was the best decision for my career”, stressed Ray McCallum. But before his European basketball vacation started, he first had to mature as a player in the NCAA and get valuable NBA experience that will help his game further in Europe.
Kyle Fogg is a 27 year old 190cm guard playing his fifth professional season and first with Unicaja Malaga (Spain-Liga Endesa). Last season he led the German BBL in scoring with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (Germany-BBL, starting five): 33 games: Score-1(18.5ppg), 3.7rpg, 3.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 89.7%. He started his basketball career with Arizona (NCAA) in 2008 an dplayed 138 games in his 4 year career and as a senior played 34 games averaging 13.7ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 40.1%, 3PT: 44.1%, FT: 79.5%. He started his professional career in 2012 with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (D-League) playing 43 games averaging 5.8ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 39.5%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 80.2%. In the 2013-2014 season he started with the Delaware 87ers (D-League), in Dec.’13 signed at Lapuan Korikobrat (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 29 games: Score-1(27.0ppg), 6.4rpg, Assists-4(4.6apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 84.2%. In the 2014-2015 season he played with Port of Antwerp Giants (Belgium-Scooore League): 32 games: 15.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.4%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 81.9%; EuroChallenge: 12 games: 16.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 75.5%. He spoke to German Hoops before the do or die Eurocup game against FC Bayern Munich.
Kyle thanks for talking to German Hoops Do or die in Munich for the rights to advance to the Eurocup semi-Finals. How excited are you for this game? Where do you rank this game in importance in your career in Europe?
Very excited this is definitely one of the biggest games of my career in Europe.
Do you have any friendly wagers going with your ex Arizona teammate Nick Johnson?
Haha nah we don’t have any wagers on the game but bragging rights are on the line.
You probably keep tabs on your ex teammates, but seriously is there that extra special competitive flair between you and Nick Johnson now on the court. You guys came off the bench in the first game and both started in the second game and in both games the stats were almost similar
I follow all of my ex teammates from Arizona, but Nick and I have been close friends since we played together in college. We battled every day in practice, and I expect the same on Wednesday.
FC Bayern Munich have rebounded very well in both games, but key was the Malaga defense in game two in Spain. What adjustments did the team make in game two and what will be key in getting the win in Munich?
For us it was a do or die game. I think we played with a lot more energy and a sense of urgency. We have to bring that same intensity on Wednesday especially playing in their gym. Trying our best to keep them off the glass will be a key factor in the game.