The Fraport Skyliners Give Max Merz Retirement Present Win Over Alba Berlin 83-71

Around this time of year the last two seasons, the Fraport Skyliners were feeling that special rush of taking part in the playoffs again after having been idle for three seasons, but this time around the club was already looking forward to next season and off season dealings while the American players were already thinking about the first eatery that they will seek out at home when they land, but before that could happen there was still one last regular season game to play against Alba Berlin. It has been a season to forget for the Fraport Skyliners who were dearly missing Jordan Theodore from last season´s success and just didn´t have that consistent point guard with the killer instinct and after a better second half, were unable to compensate the poor first half of the season and the 3 last minute loses to Ludwigsburg, Bonn and Bayreuth denied them to slip into the playoffs. With one last regular season game before the long summer break, fans wanted to see their favorite players one last time, witness a few more crushing Mike Morrison dunks, a coast to coast sprint and dunk from Quantez Robertson and a lot of playing time for German wonder boy Isaac Bonga who seems to be slated for the back up point guard position next season, but after 40 minutes, it was Max Merz that fans cherished most in the game. Only 29 hours earlier, the German Merz had surprisingly announced his retirement, because of wanting to enter the business world and was playing his last professional game and helped the Fraport Skyliners dispose of 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin 83-71. The 23 year old Merz played five seasons with the Fraport Skyliners and was one of those players that developed, but at a slow rate. He finished his last game steering 10 points, four rebounds and four steals in 30 minutes and was near tears at the conclusion. After he said his farewell to the fans, he was comforted by teammate Quantez Robertson for 20 seconds as he had to let it all out. After all was said and done, the German was content for his decision. “I thank all the fans and it was an honor to play for them. I don´t want to talk too much, because I will start to cry again. I have a lot of passion for what I studied and I feel that I can be successful there also. My heart will always be with basketball, but I know that I will have fun with my new job and be able to do things there that I wouldn´t have been able to do as a player. I know that I will keep coming into the arena to watch the Skyliners play”, smiled Max Merz. “I didn´t think so much about it being Max Merz´s last game during the game, but in the last seconds, it became more emotional since I did spend 4 years with him”, added Stefan Ilzhoefer.

Alba Berlin wanted to secure that fifth place in order to have a playoff date with the big season surprise medi Bayreuth instead of slipping to position six and having an opening round clash with favorite FC Bayern Munich. The 8 time BBL champion hadn´t been playing good basketball in recent weeks having lost three of their last four games losing to playoff teams and only being able to defeat the lowly Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Alba Berlin did a fine job staying with the Fraport Skyliners in the first half, but lost focus in the third quarter as their defense couldn´t contain the Frankfurt offense and were trailing in double digits in the fourth quarter and just couldn´t get over the hump. “This was a big game, but we just weren´t focused. It has been a difficult situation with the coaching change. We played ok defense in the first half, but they got a good lead in the second half and we just had to keep fighting back. We had too many turnovers and just weren´t prepared to perform the way we should of”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Gerald Robinson. The Fraport Skyliners had nothing to play for except for pride and they gave their fans a very solid performance closing out the season giving them something to smile about before the long summer starts. “We gave everything tonight. You never know if this will be the last game you ever play. Tonight it wasn´t about us, but about the team. We played hard and as a team and got it done”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard AJ English.

4,900 fans wanted to see the last Fraport Skyliners home game as both teams were without their starting point guards Kwame Vaughn and Peyton Siva. The first 3-4 minutes didn´t look anything like a game at the end of the season, but more like pre season as both teams were making basic mistakes and missing easy shots. However after some of the opening minutes tension lifted, it was Max Merz who was provided with a sweet kick out pass from AJ English and nailed a trey. However Alba Berlin struck back quickly as they hit Frankfurt with a hard 8-0 run as 36 year old ex Hawaii (NCAA) guard Carl English supplied all the scoring power nailing two three´s and a pull up jumper for the 8-3 lead. Both teams would go on runs as now it was the Fraport Skyliners who retaliated with a 6-0 run to regain the lead back at 9-8. In the run, Frankfurt got three points from young German talent Niklas Kiel and a trey from ex Auburn(NCAA) player Quantez Robertson. Then it was time for Alba Berlin again to go on a run as they scored nine points to extend their lead to 18-11. In the run it was two time NCAA champion Nils Giffey who supplied 5 points and ex FC Bayern Munich center Bogdan Radosavljevic who scored twice in the paint. However Frankfurt came back getting a trey from Robertson and AJ English free throws to trail only 20-16 after 10 minutes. “Carl English got them going early, but we came back through our good defense”, stated Fraport Skyliner guard Stefan Ilzhoefer. Alba Berlin was shooting 57% from the field and 75% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 43% from outside. Alba Berlin had the 7-5 rebound edge and both teams had six turnovers a piece.

The Fraport Skyliners had difficulty scoring in the first four minutes as Alba Berlin were wide awake in the passing lanes and got 5 stops. Only Florida native Mike Morrison was able to secure free throws while Alba Berlin connected on offense with a lay in by ex Holy Cross (NCAA) forward Malcolm Miller who was fed the tough pass out of the double team from big man Radsavljevic and ex Enisey Krasnoyarsk center Elmeden Kikanovic made a lay after getting the no look pass from Ismet Akpinar for the 26-18 advantage, Frankfurt finally got their first field goal at the 5.55 minute mark as Niklas Kiel broke free inside scoring to cut the Alba Berlin lead to 26-20. Frankfurt slowly freed itself from their offensive slump clawing themselves on a 11-2 run to regain the lead again 29-28. In the run, AJ English did a lot of damage scoring two field goals and also dishing a no look pass to Mike Morrison for the massive dunk. Alba Berlin had totally lost concentration as Tony Gaffney threw an errant pass into no mans land that Niklas Kiel gobbled up and sprinted for the easy lay up and lead. Frankfurt was able to go into halftime with the lead, but it was AJ English that continued to be the offensive spark plug as he continued to have control making two runners. Kiel also connected on free throws as the Fraport Skyliners led 36-34 at the break. “We had too many turnovers in the first quarter. We did a better job cutting down on turnovers in the second quarter and put more pressure on them on defense which led to more easy baskets”, added Stefan Ilzhoefer. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 30% from the three point line while Alba Berlin was shooting 45% from the field and 43% from the three point line. Alba Berlin had the 18-13 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had 10 turnovers.

The turning point occurred in the third quarter as it was Fraport Skyliners identity figure and legend Quantez Robertson scored 13 points and led his team on a devastating 12-2 run to extend their lead to 48-36 and they would never look back. Robertson came out of the locker room on fire powering Frankfurt on a 6-0 run in 51 seconds. Robertson started off the third quarter with free throws and then Merz and Kiel steals led to easy Robertson fast break buckets. Frankfurt then kept the pressure on as Kiel dropped a trey and made a free throw as did Morrison. Alba Berlin didn´t totally lie down, but got a trey from Robinson and got continued offensive consistency from Radosavljevic who scored inside and hit his bread and butter 15 footer. However the Fraport Skyliners continued to keep that energy in their game as Robertson nailed a tip in dunk and made three free throws while English continued to excel in the scoring department making an acrobatic shot and firing a bullet pass inside to Kiel for the dunk as Frankfurt led 57-43. When everything is working well, then even the impossible shots go in as English displayed. Alba Berlin continued to battle and not totally lose their footing as Akpinar stayed aggressive getting to the free throw line and scoring a lay in while Giffey made a 20 footer, but Frankfurt continued to hit some very tough shots as Morrison made an off balance turn around shot and Finish national player Shawn Huff connected over Giffey from Helsinki taking Frankfurt to the fourth quarter with the 64-50 lead. “We had a big start and defense was the key. Tez was like a machine. His quick start and tip in dunk kept us going”, stated Stefan Ilzhoefer. “Robertson attacked and got his team going. We made quick turnovers and were trying to regain control”, stressed Alba Berlin Canadian Carl English. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 42% from the parking lot while Alba Berlin was shooting 43% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Alba Berlin had the 24-23 rebound edge, but 14 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.

Alba Berlin continued to not let go, but annoy the Fraport Skyliners with their come back attempts, but the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner hit big shots and connected from the free throw line to preserve the lead. Max Merz got the Fraport Skyliners going as he gave his team a 4-0 run with free throws and a lay in after gobbling up an offensive rebound as Frankfurt led 68-50. Alba Berlin fought back one last time going on a 12-3 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 71-62. Kikanovic remained aggressive in the paint getting two scores while ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Tony Gaffney made a tip in dunk and Akpinar dropped a pretty step back trey. Despite a AJ English three pointer. Alba Berlin was able to cut the lead to 10 points one more time as Giffey made a reverse lay up to trail only 76-66, but Max Merz closed the door on Alba Berlin personally leading his team on a 5-2 run to lead 81-68 as he nailed three free throws and put up the perfect alley-op pass to Morrison for that last season hard dunk. Carl English hit one more trey with a minute to go, but it was too little too late as Alba Berlin had a short plane ride home to think about their loss and how they would challenge the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg on Monday at home. “Our defense tonight was the way we should of played all season. We played team basketball in the last 25 minutes”, stated Stefan Ilzhoefer. “In the fourth they were playing free with no pressure and had it rolling and kept it going and we just couldn´t get over the hump”, added Carl English. The Fraport Skyliners were led by AJ English with 19 points, four rebounds and eight assists. Quantez Robertson produced 18 points while Niklas Kiel supplied 16 points and Mike Morrison had 15 points. Alba Berlin was led by Elmeden Kikanovic with 15 points. Bogdan Radosavljevic supplied 12 points and seven rebounds while Carl English added 11 points and eight rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 33% from outside while Alba Berlin shot 41% from the field and 38% from outside. Alba Berlin won the rebound duel 36-33, but had 20 turnovers while Frankfurt had 17 turnovers.

Diante Watkins (Nurnberg Falcons BC) I Definitely Think I Can Play At The BBL Level And Make An Impact On A Team

Diante Watkins is a 26 year old 174cm point guard that finished his fourth professional season and first with the Nurnberg Falcons BC averaging 17,1ppg, 2,7rpg and 4,7apg. Last season an injury in pre season derailed his path playing for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He started his basketball career in 2009 with Daley CC (JUCO): 28 games: 26.5ppg, 5.8apg, 2.7rpg, 2.0spg, FGP: 44%, 3Pts: 38%, FT: 86%. He then played two seasons with Robert Morris (NAIA) and as a senior played 27 games: 24.4ppg, 7.4apg, 3.0rpg, 2.1spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3Pts: 38.9%, FT: 82.7%. In 2013-2014 he started his professional basketball career with SC Rist Wedel where he played 30 games averaging  16.2ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 86.9%. He improved his play in 2014-2015 with SC Rist Wedel playing 32 games: Score-2(21.3ppg), 3.8rpg, Assists-1(6.8apg), Steals-2(3.2spg), FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 87.4%. He cleaned up the Eurobasket awards winning Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Honorable Mention -14, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Player of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Guard of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Import Player of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -15, and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports Team -15. He gave German Hoops a season ending interview.

Diante thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been spending your post season time?

Hey Miles, im still in Nürnberg just relaxing I’ll stay in Europe until the end of the month and than go back to Chicago.

Nurnberg finished the season in 12th place with a 11-19 record. After reaching the Pro A playoffs last season, is it fair to say that this season was overall a disappointment?

I mean I don’t think it was a disappointment, but of course we wanted to make playoffs and have a better record, but we faced injuries which caused a lot of rotational problems so we were able to keep the team in ProA and that’s a positive.

Did losing six of seven games in October/November kind of set the tone for how the season would go in that it would be a struggle to reach the playoffs?

Yes those 2 months were tough for us and we lost a lot of really close games that we could’ve won.

The Nurnberg Falcons had one two game winning streak at the start of the season and one near the end. The club was simply to inconsistent. Why wasn´t the club a playoff team this season?

We just had ups and downs. It’s hard to say the exact thing.

 

I always felt that the team had the talent to score 80 points this season, but averaged only 73 points. Do you feel like the offensive potential was never really realized?

We just had games when we weren’t as consistent. From me to others.

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Deandre Lansdowne (Hamburg Towers) My Next Step Is To Be One Of The More Dominant Players In Pro A

Deandre Lansdowne is a 26 year old 187cm guard from Albuquerque, Mexico that completed his third professional season and first with the Hamburg Towers averaging 12,3ppg, 5,0rpg and 2,3apg. Last season he played with Hertener Loewen Basketball (Germany-Pro B) playing 27 games: Score-2(22.9ppg), 8.1rpg, 3.6apg, Steals-5(2.6spg), FGP: 61.5%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 66.5% He played college ball at Fort Lewis (NCAA2) and as a senior played 32 games averaging 15.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.1apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 50.7%. He then gained his first professional experience with Pioneros de Delicias (Mexico-Chihuahua Vive) before continuing career in Germany. He spoke to German Hoops after the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season.

Deandre thanks for talking to German Hoops! Where are you at the moment and how has your few days been after the end of the season with the Pro A Hamburg Towers?

Thanks for having me again. Right now I am gearing up to head back to America. The last week has consisted mainly of relaxing, and hanging out with teammates before we all go our separate ways.

The Hamburg Towers made a furious run in the last weeks and just missed the playoffs landing in ninth place. The ambition of the Hamburg Towers is the BBL and one doesn´t always know if the goal is very soon or if the management wants to be there yesterday? After reaching the playoffs last season, was this season a disappointment?

Yes it’s always a disappointment when you don’t do as well in the standings as the season before. It took this team I think awhile to click, since there were only 3 returners.

How often do you feel will the bitter 82-81 loss to Crailsheim resurface in your memory? A win in Crailsheim could have been your ticket to the playoffs.

Yes it plays in my head from time to time. It hurt a lot, because that could’ve heighten ed our great late season playoff push. But as I say, that’s basketball. We had a lot of close games this season, some went out way, and some went the other. I wouldn’t say our season was defined solely off of that play.

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Hans Beth Lives For Bringing Awareness To Basketball Aid

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber doing play by play commentary in english at the 2016 Gezeiten Haus Cup in Rhondorf in support of the 2016 Basketball Aid international tour.

After two playoff appearances in a row and the Fiba Europe Cup title last season only the third club title in the 18 year history of the Fraport Skyliners, this rapid success of the team could have kept a good majority of fans content this season as that third playoff showing didn´t happen as the season was at best average. There weren´t too many highlights to remember this season for the 2004 BBL winner that one will take into dream land when one is stuck on the German autobahn in the dog days of summer wanting to reach Salzburg, Austria in time for afternoon coffee and fluffy Nockerl at Cafte Mozart. Some things that stand out was the impressive rookie season of American Shavon Shields, the AJ English buzzer beater in Tuebingen, the magnificent 35 point performance and 8 crushing dunks by Florida native Mike Morrison against Pinar Karyisaka in Champions League action or the signing of another young gun for Gordon Herbert´s stable with 18 year old Richard Freudenberg who looks a tad like the young version of Zack Morris aka Mark Paul Gosselaar from 90s American TV show Saved By the Bell.  So with one game remaining on the Fraport Skyliners schedule against 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin in the Fraport arena one has little to look forward except for observing a good hard fought game and seeing some last great plays this season like Quantez Robertson feeding a Mike Morrison for the felt like 1000 alley-op of the season or asking a Nils Giffey in warm ups for the 20,000 time what it was like playing together with Kemba Walker at Uconn and where he stores his 2 NCAA rings. Not only what is on the court is worth observing, but also people who are roaming the Fraport arena. In Los Angeles you have Jack Nicholson courtside wondering when his Lakers will ever be good again, in New York it can be Spike Lee wondering who will be in the tabloids first the next morning him or Carmelo Anthony and in Frankfurt you have Hans Beth. Beth may not be as prominent as the Hollywood actors, but in the Fraport arena everyone knows his face as he is at every game sitting a few rows up behind the scorers table and is always flashing that charming smile and never seems to lose his dapper look and still has the combined look of James Bond star 007 Roger Moore and Dynasty star John Forsythe minus the grey. Beth shakes almost as much hands during a game as Don King does in any Boxing ring from New York to Tokyo and Fraport Skyliner CEO Gunnar Wobke and is always ready to bring further awareness to his baby Basketball Aid. This Saturday he will be talking to numerous people and could be bringing further life to the Basketball Aid international tour something he has been supporting and been in charge of the last years.

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Carlton Guyton (Basketball Lowen Braunschweig) Proving His BBL Season Was No Fluke

The German Pro A is filled with talented and skilled guards with a dime a dozen being an understatement, but moreover about as many players as there are Bulls fans in his home town of Chicago still unaware who new German shooting star Paul Zipser is and who still don´t know how to pronounce his name correctly as it isn´t like the zipcode, but moreover like Cipser if your saying the name from a German standpoint. Every club in the German Pro A have adept guards who are still looking for that big chance to make the next step up to the BBL or another top level in Europe as the list is as unending as the debate between Michael Jordan and Lebron James as who is really the best ever. There are guys like Cologne´s Richard Williams or MBC Marcus Hatten that have reached the big dance in Germany, but the again other players like Virgil Matthews of Chemnitz, Carrington Love of Kirchheim, Chase Adams of Paderborn, Eugene Harris of Hanau or Diante Watkins of Nurnberg who could surely get a shot at the BBL, but so far are still waiting for that golden opportunity. One guy who has been toiling in the Pro A for years is Virgil Matthews who continues to put up very solid stats filling up the stat sheet like a Nicolas Batum can and has scratched the triple double surface , but at the end of every summer, it was the same story as he ended up again in the Pro A getting passed up by BBL teams. However two guys that have made the jump to the BBL this season after years of being overlooked in the Pro A have been Carlos Medlock who played three seasons in the Pro A with Crailsheim, Wurzburg and Vechta and Carlton Guyton who also had to wait three seasons before making the BBL promised land playing in Ehingen and Gotha. For Medlock reaching the BBL this season was more than bitter sweet as he had been the point guard in charge the last three seasons helping his teams move up to the BBL, but wasn´t kept for the next season, while for Guyton it wasn´t as dramatic as he was rewarded for his good play in Gotha helping build a playoff team. Curiously both guys ended up with the same club this season with the Basket Lowen Braunschweig as German head coach Frank Menz believed in their abilities and both have shown that their BBL season has been no fluke. Playing with the older Medlock has been a blessing in disguise for Guyton. “It’s been a pleasure to play with Los! After competing against him for so many years I was very familiar with his game. We had our share of battles. Now us being on the same team, every night I know I can count on him to bring it! Also with him having more experience than me I try to learn his little vet tricks”, smiled Carlton Guyton.

The road to the German BBL has been a long one for Carlton Guyton and it had to start somewhere as even in teenager years, the current 26 year old 193cm guard had to prove himself which has been a standard procedure in the last 8 years.

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Chris Miller (Giessen Pointers) I Had To Mature Faster Than The Average Rookie

Chris Miller is a 23 year old 193cm guard from Brooklyn, New York that completed his rookie season in Germany with VfL Bensheim (2.Regionalliga). Before coming to Europe, he got semi-pro league experience in the states with the jamestown jackals. He played college ball at Salem international University and graduated in 2015. He spoke to German Hoops about his rookie season in Germany and before he signed with the Giessen Pointers.

Chris thanks for talking to German HoopsWhere are you at the moment and how is professional basketball life treating you as a rookie.

Hello, and thank you for having me. I am Currently in New York City In the gym crafting my game for next season. I am blessed, I get to do what I love and earn money from it, not many people can say that.

You have had a long rookie season as you went through the Ron Howard Hoops program last season and prompt got signed by German rRgionaliga two team Bensheim. Did your rookie season full fill your expectations of what it would be like in your first professional season?

It was a long journey to get to VFL Bensheim but overall I am happy with the way I have handled this year. I came in with the mindset to prove that I belong in this profession and I believe I achieved that goal.

Bensheim finished in ninth place out of 12 team and had a 10-12 record. You had a great rookie season being the MVP. Did your great stat season help lessen the tension of having a losing season?

Our season was very rough. In the beginning we had a full team and were seen as a contender. As the year went on we lost 7 players and a coach. I had to increase my level of play tremendously for my team to have a chance to win. I was looked at to score a bulk of the points, defend, assist. Basically be the “MR. Everything ” of the team kind of like Russel Westbrook this year. The outcome doesn’t look pretty on paper, but given the situation I was put in I feel I did a pretty good job.

What do you feel was missing from the Bensheim team that could have ended the season higher up in the standings?

Even being under manned we still found a way to compete. One of our biggest problems was scoring. Almost the whole season the opposing team would play box and 1 denying me the ball. We had trouble punishing teams with when they did that. I feel if we had one more guy who could go get a basket and another big man we would of won the league no question.

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Chase Adams (Uni Baskets Paderborn) I’ve Been On The Rollercoaster Ride Since College And I’m Ready To Keep Climbing

Chase Adams is a 28 year old 188cm point guard from Baltimore, Maryland that completed hiss econd season with the Uni Baskets Paderborn averaging 11,9ppg, 4,1rpg and 5,6apg. He started his basketball career at Centenary (NCAA) in 2006 where he played three seasons and a total of 89 NCAA games. As a senior he moved to Pittsburgh (NCAA). He turned professional in 2001 and played briefly in the ABA and in the UBL before making Germany his home as he played for teams like Dortmund, Bochum, and Science City Jena. He spoke to German Hoops after the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season.

Chase thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how have you been able to digest the end of the season?

Still here in Germany switching gears directly into off-season grind mode. It was tough at first but realizing all that we accomplished in 2 seasons with the same roster is something special in itself. It’s best not to dwell on what “could’ve-would’ve-should’ve happened”. I’ll take all the positives and build on that momentum for my next steps.

Days after the season ended you were in the gym again with talented German Til Gloger. I guess you didn´t want this season and nice Paderborn run to stop?

It felt like we were just getting started and just like that it ended abruptly in the last two games. Only way to distract myself from that disappointment, at this point, is to start working on my weaknesses and health in this down time. The Paderborn run is a testament to what consistency , faith, and patience can do for you.

Congrats on helping Paderborn to their best season since 2012. In the end, you just missed reaching the playoffs. Do you feel like if the season would have had a few more games more that you would have reached the playoffs?

I wish we did have a few more games, I believe we would have been a sleeper in the playoffs. There was a lot of gas still left in the tank and we were still getting better.

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