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Eric Palm(Giessen 46ers) When We All Were Clicking In Our Own Ways, We Couldn´t Be Stopped

May 29, 2015

Eric Palm is a 27 year old 185cm guard form Illinois that is playing his second season in Germany and first with the Giessen 46ers. He started his basketball career at McKendree (NAIA) in 2005 where he played until 2009 and as a senior played 35 games: 20.6ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 41.6%, 3Pts: 38.3%, FT: 85.2%. He started his professional basketball career in 2010 with Thor AK (Iceland-D1) where he played until 2012 and in the 2011-2012 season played 11 games: 26.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.7apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 84.5%. In 2012-2013 he played for IR Reykjavik (Iceland-Dominos League) playing 22 games: Score-3(26.5ppg), 4.3rpg, 3.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT-1(93.9%).Last season he played for BV Chemnitz 99 (Germany-ProA) playing 30 games: 15.8ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 84.1%. He spoke to German Hoops after winning the 2015 German Pro A title against the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg.

Eric thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on winning the 2015 German Pro A title. The Giessen 46ers couldn´t have won this series against Wurzburg in more exciting fashion. What does this victory mean to you in terms of titles that you have won in your career? You reached some Sweet 16 and Elite 8´s in your NAIA career, but I believe this is your first title.

Well winning the AMC Conference Championship my Junior year was pretty sweet because I hit a buzzer beater “and 1″ jumper to win it all on the road. However, this title is by far the sweetest of them all. Just knowing we had to grind out the whole season and to sweep the playoffs, could not get much better than that!

The Giessen46ers won both games by only a combined point total of three. What was really the main factor for Giessen being able to pull out this series like that?

For us it was about sticking to the game plan of solid defense and getting out in transition. As for the defensive side of things, you cannot stop Wurzburg completely so our mindset was to limit their runs in short spurts, don´t let them get an 8-10 point run and we are good.

The 77-76 win in Wurzburg didn´t mean so much, because all Wurzburg had to do was win by two points in Giessen. Once again despite the comeback by Wurzburg in the fourth quarter, Giessen never panicked. How important was not panicking this season for the Giessen 46ers?

It was really key for us, early in the season we would panic and go 1v1 a lot which cost us some games and we butted heads some with one another. As we grew together our mindset settled down and we understood what we needed to do to grind out tough wins.

In the last two minutes, Wurzburg didn´t score after the winning bucket from Yorman Polas sealed the win. The biggest strength all season defense once again was key for getting a win. If you look back at the season what really was the turning point where the team 100% trusted in each other on defense?

Well I dont think there was ever a time where our defense was wasn´t trusted. I think a couple of the losses we had like at Baunach really showed us we cant screw around in this league. When playoffs came around, it was like our defense really turned up 110% though.

You will never forget this last win in the Osthalle in Giesen securing the Pro A title, but will the fact that you were team top scorer with 17 points always be in your memory? You really came up big in the Wurzburg series averaging 15,5ppg.

Top scorer is fun, but the ultimate memory is going to be the celebrating with my team on the court after the game, we all were so drained from a long season, and to share the sighs of relief that we won it all will stick in our minds forever!

It is already difficult enough to win a title, but then to go 8-0 and lose no games, what made the 2014-2015 Giessen 46ers so special?

Personally I think it is how Denis and the organization put our team together. Not one of us players were exactly alike on the court. We all brought different strengths that complimented our games as a whole. When we all were clicking in our own ways, we couldnt be stopped it seemed. Then with all of us buying into Denis’s defensive strategy, we were a solid group together.

Giessen was sort of an underdog all season long as people really only talked about the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg as being the best team. How much did this small underdog effect help the team during the season?

We never really considered ourselves an underdog throughout the year. I believe we thought the only team that could beat us is ourselves. When we were not on point with our defense I feel we let ourselves get beat.

Two seasons many questioned the club bringing in Denis Wucherer a guy with little experience as a head coach. The incredible job he did the last two years now got rewarded with getting back to the Beko BBL. What in your opinion was his biggest strength that really allowed him to take two teams and develop further until the end reaching the Beko BBL?

He brings a lot of experience from having played in the BBL in his past. He has been around the game a lot and stresses the fundamentals a lot with us from start to end of the season. He didnt take lightly on us either during the season, he demanded a lot from us and we accepted his challenges.

You may agree the team MVP was the team, but who in your mind was the team unsung hero of the season?

Haha its hard for me to pick solely one person on our team really. It’s a new hero every game for us it seems, I’ll leave that up to the media and fans to decide for us .

One could see the Giessen 46ers really understood each other on and off the court. It would be a shame not to try to hold as many players and keep this success going at the next level. Is the Giessen 46ers one of your top choices for next season?

This team was one of a kind and hard to leave one another after having so much fun on and off the court. I am coming back to Giessen next year with the option to return in my contract. I wouldnt have wanted it any other way, another year in front of these fans in the BBL is a dream.

How surprised were you that the San Antonio Spurs lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers. Is that the end of a dynasty?

I was a bit shocked but at the same time the Western Conference is stacked with talent and successful teams. I feel they will have one more run with Timmy D, but it sounds like they may get Aldridge to take his spot in Free Agency.

Chris Paul has had much criticism recently about being too safe a player and watching more his turnover rate then trying to be risky on the court. Did his leadership in the Spurs series give him new respect in the NBA?

Chris Paul has been under the radar all season with MVP numbers as usual. He has just been overshadowed by Steph Curry and James Harden. He is still a top 3 PG in the NBA and is a leader for that team of course. Playing through that hamstring injury and doing what he did after was incredible.

What will be the first local eatery in your home town that you will find to get that food you have been missing for many months?

I think I got to hit up my Japanese spot JMK Nippons but fast food wise, I got to get some Taco Bell asap!

Thanks Eric for the chat.

Myles Hesson(Eisbaeren Bremerhaven) My Overall Understanding Of The Game Improved This Season Knowing What To Do And Where To Be At The Right Times

May 28, 2015

Myles Hesson is a 24 year old 195 cm forward from Birmingham, England and was one of the 12 best players in Great Britain in 2013 and was selected for the 2013 national team playing in Slovenia at the Eurochampionships. He currently is playing in the Beko BBL for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. Last season he played for the Giessen 46ers (ProA) playing 33 games: 16.1ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 30.1%, FT: 78.8%. Two seasons ago he played for Weissenhorn Youngstars (Germany-ProB, starting five): 20 games: 19.7ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.5apg, 1.7spg, 1.5bpg, 2FGP: 54.4%, 3FGP: 27.4%, FT: 65.6%, in Mar.’13 moved to Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany-BBL): 9 games: 4.2ppg, 2.8rpg. He started his professional career in 2009-2010 for  Birmingham Aces (EBL2) averaging 13.1ppg, 4.9rpg, 2FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 33.3%. In 2010-2011, he played for the Essex Pirates Basketball Club (BBL): 11 games: 9.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 68.4%. In 2011-2012 he played for Liverpool Mersey Tigers (BBL): 27 games: 15.1ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 61.5%. He spoke to German Hoops after the 2014-2015 season.

Thanks Myles for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on winning the The Syd Lipski International Award for top British performer on the global stage. What kind of value does this award exactly have to you?

Thank you, it means a lot to me to know that my hard work hasn´t gone unnoticed.

Another season has come and gone for you in Germany. Despite the less that team season did this season feel to progress slower than the successful playoff run last season with the Giessen 46ers?

It was a very different season to last, it was another learning experience for me.

Did the four game losing streak to end the season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven put a bad taste on how the team ended the season?

Yes for me it did because I thought we had come a long way as a team and we didn´t do ourselves justice loosing those games.

The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven finished in 15th place. With the solid roster and talented players you obviously felt you could have had a better season. What were the main reasons for the team not having a more successful season?

For sure we all feel as though we should have done better, it´s hard to say without pointing fingers.

You have played for coaches like Thorsten Leibenath, Denis Wucherer, Calvin Oldham and Muli Kazurin. What was the most significant thing that you learned from Katzurin in the few short months that he was in Bremerhaven?

I learned how important it is to execute plays and be less reckless on offense

You had a very strong season as you were second in scoring and rebounding on the team. What do you believe was the turning point early in the season where you knew that you could play in the BBL and be an important player for your team?

The turning point for me was when coach Katzurin gave me the opportunity to play more minutes and play a bigger role on the team

You finished the season strong scoring in double figures in 12 of 13 games. Your role changes under Muli Katzurin. How important was the coach in your further development in the last three months?

My overall understanding of the game improved this season, knowing what to do and where to be at the right times.

You and Moses Ehambe are two completely different players, but both are 198cm. What were you able to pick up form his game best besides his shooting?

I admire his professionalism and his work ethic

What is the next step for Myles Hesson? Bremerhaven have held on to Muli Katzurin. Is Bremerhaven a team where you could imagine returning to?

I am not sure yet, I will have to wait and see. I wouldn´t rule it out if it is the right step for me.

You played with many of the current 2015 Pro A champions Giessen 46ers last season, but if you had to pick one guy who your most happy for who would you chose?

I cant pick just one, I am happy for all of them, it is a great achievement and I am proud to have played with them.

Out of nothing the Artland Dragons have been erased from the Beko BBL. How did you take this news? What memories do you have playing against them?

I actually never knew about this until now. It´s a shock, I always thought they have had a good team but this year they underachieved.

What are your summer plans? How disappointed are you that Great Britain didn´t qualify for the Euro 2015? Will the national team be playing friendlies and will you be a part of the team?

My plans for the summer are to workout everyday so I can and improve my game. I am very disappointed we didn’t qualify, it would have been great for my personal development to play against the best players in Europe. We have one friendlily game against New Zealand this summer which I hope to play in.

What was the last DVD movie that you saw?

 

Home Alone.

Thanks Myles for the chat.

Darius Miller(Brose Baskets Bamberg)My NBA Wakeup Call Was Going In And Having To Guard Lebron James Who Woke Me Up

May 27, 2015

Darius Miller is a 25 year old 203cm forward playing his third professional season and first with the Brose Baskets Bamberg. He started his basketball career at Kentucky(NCAA) in 2008 and played there until 2012 reaching the final 4 in 2011 and winning the NCAA title in 2012. In 20012 he was drafted by the New Orleanes Hornets in the second round at #46. He played 97 games New Orleans from 2012-2014. He started this season with New Orleans playing 5 NBA games before moving to Bamberg a few months ago. Currently he is averaging 9,6ppg, 1,9rpg and 2,1apg while shooting 50% from outside. He spoke to German Hoops before game two in Ulm.

Thanks Darius for talking to German Hoops. Bamberg is still undefeated in the playoffs. What has been the secret to the playoff dominance?

We just have a very good team. We are playing with very high intensity and good defense which has made us successful.

Bamberg crushed Ulm in game one. The club did a good job against their inside presence. Is this something the team will continue to do to be successful?

Yes this is definitely something that we have to keep doing to be successful against Ulm as well as getting our big men involved.

You have been playing some time now in Germany. What has been your early impression of the European style of play?

It is a totally different game in Europe. There is more physical play overseas as well as the game is more team orientated. I like the play very much here and it helps when your playing for a good team.

Did you get any tips from ex teammate Brian Roberts who played some years in Bamberg about your new organization?

Yes Brian talked to me before I made my decision to come to Bamberg. He helped me suave my decision towards Bamberg.

There are some very talented players with Bamberg. Did you know any players coming in that have made the transition period easier for you?

I knew Trevor Mbakwe coming in. It was tough at first, but the team helped me get adjusted very quickly. They helped me get into rhythm quickly and it is always easier to get adjusted when your playing for a good team.

You are a very good spot-up shooter that moves well without the basketball. But what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?

That is a tough question and I don´t really know.

After two full seasons with New Orleans in the NBA, you played five games this season and then was shortly with the Los Angeles Clippers. Did you fully learn this season that the NBA is a business where the interests of a club comes before an individual?

Basketball is always a business. There is so much money in the NBA and the only objective is to win.

You played your first two seasons with New Orleans playing a total of 97 NBA games. What kind of experience was this for you? How difficult was for you as a rookie finding a place on an NBA team?

It was tough as a rookie as we had a very young team. There were no veterans that helped the young guys the ropes. However I liked my time in the NBA and it was a great experience that I will never forget. I learned a lot about the league in my short time.

What was your wakeup call to the NBA as a rookie where you knew ok I have really arrived in the NBA?

My wakeup call was having to go into the game and guard Lebron James. He woke me up.

You also played 11 games in the D-league for the Iowa Energy. How important was this experience as you worked your way back to the NBA?

Playing in the D-league was a big experience for me and just being able to see how the other side works. It was definitely a different experience form the NBA, but part of the game.

You played together with Austin Rivers for two seasons. He only played one season at Duke? Do you feel he came out to early? Can he still become a top notch NBA point guard?

Austin just had a strong playoffs. He will be fine.

You also played three seasons with Anthony Davis. Do you see him being the best center in the NBA soon and do you see him winning titles down the road?

Yes I see him doing all those things. It is amazing what kind of leap that he has done in the NBA in only a short time. He works very hard on the court and will get even better.

You played at Kentucky from 2008-2012 winning the NCAA title in 2012 against Kansas. What memories do you have from that game?

Winning that NCAA title was probably my best moment in basketball. The whole team was close and we won as a team. Plus I was a senior and it was my last game.

You had many great teammates at Kentucky(NCAA) but where would you rank him in your all-time best teammates there?

That is very tough. I had so many great teammates and I got a long with all of them. Everyone was a good guy that I couldn´t pick just one.

How did John Calipari get you best prepared for a professional basketball career?

He coached like an NBA team. The style that he brought on the court was similar to an NBA team. The way he handled practices also was similar to how an NBA team works.

You also played together with John Wall. Do you see him one day surpassing guys like Irving, Westbrook, Curry and Lillard at the point guard position or will he just be a top five best point guard in the future?

It is hard to tell, but he definitely has the ability to surpassing them, but you never know. I think he could. He is very talented and works very hard.

What memories do you have of the World Championships U19 in New Zealand in 2009? Is there any player form that tournament that still stands out?

That was a long time ago. I don´t recall any guy standing out from them.

Your exteammate Denadre Liggins said that he is ready to make a NBA comeback next season. Do you share his idea? Will you play NBA Summer League this summer?

I am not sure yet. I will go there where I get the best opportunity.

It looks like the Cavs will meet the Warriors in the 2015 NBA final. Who will win it all?

The Warriors are definitely good enough to win it all, but I would never bet against Lebron,

What was the last DVD movie that you saw?

The Avengers.

Thanks Darius for the chat.

Jesse Sanders(Walter Tigers Tuebingen) Igor Perovic Understands My Game Well And Correctly Assesses How I Can Help The Team

May 26, 2015

Jesse Sanders is a 25 year old 190cm point guard from Sugar Land, Texas that will play his fourth professional season with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Liberty where he played until 2012. In the 201-2013 season he started his professional career in Europe with Fileni BPA Jesi (Italy-Lega2): 25 games: 9.7ppg, 5.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 75.7%. In the 2013-2014 season he played down under with the Sydney Kings (Australia-NBL, starting five): 13 games: 10.5ppg, 4.7rpg, 3.5apg, Steals-2(1.8spg), FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 17.2%, FT: 89.5%. Last season he led the Belgium league in assists and played withLimburg United averaging 11,5ppg, 5,1rpg and 5,0apg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

Jesse thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying the early part of the summer?

I’m in Sugar Land visiting my parents. It has been great to be back and to introduce my daughter (Ava Michelle Sanders) to all of my family. Having some of our favorite Mexican food has been great as well.

You have signed with German beko BBL team Walter Tigers Tuebingen. How excited are you be playing in the fastest growing league in Europe?

This is an awesome opportunity and I’m really looking forward to getting over there and beginning work with the team!

Tigers head coach Igor Perovic has been observing you since years. What was the main reason for coming to this club?

From my talks with him I believe he understands my game well and correctly assesses how I can help the team. He is passionate about what he does and that is quality that I greatly value.

Did your ex teammate at Limburg Dane Watts give you any advice about coming to Tuebingen where he played for two years?

Yes, Dane is a great guy and he had nothing but positive things to say about the people and the club.

You will be replacing the best point guard that the club ever had with Bane Ratkovica and a guy who led the league in assists a few times. Do you feel more pressure or is it more a challenge for you?

I try not to get to much into comparing myself with other players. I don’t feel pressured but at the same time I have very high expectations for myself and for the team. I want to do whatever I can to help us win games.

Tuebingen manager Robert Wintermantel stressed you accelerate the game, are a good defender and quick passer. To what NBA player would you compare your game too?

Thats a tough one. I don’t know who I would compare myself too. I have a few guys who I greatly respect and value the way they play. Steve Nash has probably been my life long favorite player and I’ve always tried to watch the way he pushed the ball in transition and could get in the lane and create for others.

Your new coach Igor Perovic has said that you keep improving your game. However what is the biggest building block you will work on this summer with your game?

Its my personal goal to work as hard as I can every time that I step on the court. whether game, practice, extra shooting, or summer workouts. I will continue my personal routine and get as many ball screen reps and 3 point shots as I can. As well as devoting a lot of time to floaters and finishing with my off hand in the lane.

Last season you played for Limburg United of the Belgium league. The club finished with a solid 16-14 record, bit were in fourth place. How would you classify the season for a team that had just entered the first division?

I think it was a great year. We far exceeded the expectations other people around the league and maybe even the expectations of some of our own fans. It was a good situation there and I’m thankful for the time that I was able to spend as a part of Limburg United.

You led the Belgium league in assists. Has this been your biggest achievement as a professional basketball player so far?

I don’t know exactly what that would be. I’m thankful for the achievement and for the work we put in as a team. But it is important to realize that the assists number is just as much the finisher as the passer. I was fortunate to play with smart team mates who spaced the floor well and could finish in a variety of ways.

This season Limburg lost three of four games to Aalstar. The club held Rotnei Clark in check in one game, but in the other three wins he poured in 23 points twice and once 19 points. Was he one of the toughest players you played against last season?

Rotnei is a great player. I played against him in Australia the year prior to Belgium and he is actually a good friend of mine as well. He is tough to guard because he is such a deadly shooter but also has quick feet to get into the lane. He would definitely be one of the toughest players we played. Charleroi’s Zabian Dowdell and Pepinster’s Arizona Reid were two other players that I guarded and have a lot of respect for.

After a solid rookie season in Italy, you went down under to the Sydney Kings. What kind of experience was that for you and what was the most that you gained from this experience on and off the court?

It was a great experience. My wife and I were able to see a completely different part of the world. The people were great and the country was beautiful! I really enjoyed how friendly their culture was and how easy the adjustment was to living there.

As a rookie you played for Fileni BPA Jesi (Italy-Lega2. What was your wake up call to being a professional in Europe where you knew that I am in a totally new place far away from the States?

Yes, it was a major transition. My wife and I were married 8 days before arriving so we were new to everything! Living in Europe, pro basketball, being married, trying to speak a different language, but we learned a great deal about ourselves and about life overseas.

Was American Ryan Hoover who played at Notre Dame in the 90s and 11 seasons in Italy a type of mentor in your rookie season? What was the most important thing that you learned from him and learned to appreciate on and off the court?

Yes, Ryan was a good friend and really helped me out in a lot of ways. He brought a great deal of experience and perspective with him. I still keep up with him and his family. Great people! He had a good mindset. His confidence in himself didn’t waiver even in a losing streak or poor shooting performance. That was something I saw in him and have tried to emulate in my own game.

You played four years at Liberty(NCAA). How did Dale Layer prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

Coach Layer has always had a strong edge. He greatly valued hard work and demanded a high level of effort and accountability. Those characteristics can carry you even when you may not be playing your best ball or hitting every shot.

You are the only player in NCAA history to have had a triple double in each season. Which one was the sweetest?

Either the 1st one because I was so young. It was awesome to have my first triple double as a freshmen against a conference rival. Or the one my senior year because there was so much hype about me setting the record. I had had 4 or 5 games that year when I was like 1 assists or 2 rebounds away from getting it so there was a lot of buildup.

Who was the best player that you battled against in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?

CJ McCollum. He was at Lehigh and we played them in a tournament at Liberty. He was a very talented scorer who could get his points in a variety of ways.

When you look back at your Liberty days, who won a one on one in practice you or John Sanders?

Haha JC and I have had a lot of battles. My older brother Thomas played at Gardner-Webb and the 3 of us play every summer. Its a pretty even game and each guy has his own strengths and weaknesses. Highly competitive games though!

What does it feel like that NBA legends like Hakeem Olajuwon, Tracy Mcgrady and Robert Horry come from Sugar Land. Have you ever seen them around town?

I was a huge fan of them growing up! I work out at Lifetime Fitness in Sugar Land and from time to time Hakeem will be in there. We got him to play 3 on 3 with us last summer and he was still killing it.

Do you see the Houston Rockets reaching the final and what will be necessary to get past the Golden State Warriors?

That is a great series! 2 close games so far. Its tough being down 2-0 to GSW but you can never count the Rockets out after what they did last series. This is a tough one for me because I love the Rockets but I’m also a fan of Steph Curry. His game on the court and his humility and faith he shows off the court are things that I really admire.

What was the last movie that you saw?

American Sniper.

Thanks Jesse for the chat.

2015 Beko BBL Semi-Final Playoff Preview Alba Berlin-FC Bayern Munich 3-2

May 24, 2015

With the first beko BBL semi-final finally set, fans will see two of the leagues power houses with one time BBL champion FC Bayern Munich that lives by their physical nature against eight time beko BBL champion Alba Berlin that also knows how to bang when they feel it´s necessary. This series could be like in the manner of the 80´s playoff atmosphere between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers where there was no love lost between both teams as the hot topic before and after each game was who was more physical and what was the physical play of the game. Another hot topic in this best of five series which starts Sunday will be the battle between the ex Alba Berlin players Heiko Schaffartzik, Nihad Djedovic, Lucca Staiger, Yassin Idbihi and Bryce Taylor and Jan Jagla(only player who wasn´t with winning team last season) who are seeking to defend their title from last season and go two for two against Alba Berlin. However the most interesting aspect of this series will be, can this series be as physical as an amateur bout at the local boxing club in Detroit or will this series go to the extreme punch like during a Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield in the 90´s, but not including any ear play. It is no secret that both teams like to tear up the paint the way an Egyptian goose does it´s territory when other birds get in their way. Alba Berlin love to defend aggressively and with Clifford Hammonds or Akeem Vargas one has two of the most fierce defenders in the back court while down low a Marko Banic or Leon Radosevic don´t shy away from anyone. FC Bayern Munich show their special defined physicality with John Brant and Vladimir Stimac who won´t stop getting to the hoop or getting by 2-3 opponents until the ball is safely in the bucket or them getting to the free throw line. The inside play of FC Bayern Munich wasn´t always clean in the playoff series against the Fraport Skyliners as Danilo Barthel witnessed in game three as he got a taste of the elbow of Nihad Djedovic. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert was less than pleased of Djedovic and even let out his frustration with a verbal tirade in front of 6-7 Munich employees and coaches following the game four loss in Frankfurt. After the loss, Herbert gave to record that the play of Djedovic in game three was uncalled for and that he should have been suspended. Herbert also didn´t understand why the league didn´t value the video evidence as it was clear that Barthel was punished by Djedovic unjustly in the paint. After the loss, Herbert had his view to this playoff series and what could happen if these two teams play dirty instead of fair. “IF FC Bayern Munich play against Alba Berlin with the same physicality that they played against us, then I think that a brawl could ensue on the court”, stressed Gordon Herbert. The beko BBL can only hope and dream of a more clean series, but especially when the stakes are so high, a team will do anything to win a game no matter what.

Alba Berlin is led by power forward/center Jamel Mcclean(13,9ppg, 6,5rpg, 1,9apg) who made his international break through this season in the Euroleague averaging 13,0ppg, 5,6rpg and 1,6apg and scored in double figures in 16 of 21 games. He belongs to the most dangerous inside scorers in the league with John Bryant. Alex Renfroe(10,9ppg, 4,7rpg, 4,3apg) who helped Bamberg win their last title in 2013 has given his new team much experience primarily being that energy player from the bench and explosive scorer. Reggie Redding(10,8ppg, 3,9rpg, 4,5apg) is the team´s third leading scorer and top assist man. His versatility is his biggest asset as he can play so many positions. He had some big games against FC Bayern Munich with 23 points and 27 points against Zalgiris. Leon Radosevic(10,1ppg, 4,2rpg, 1,1apg) continues to adjust well to the BBL in his second season and is that presence inside, but doesn´t shy away from placing the mid distance jumper through the net. The Croatian scored in double figures 17 times and had big games against Bonn and Bamberg netting 18 points a piece and had 16 points in the 80-70 win against FC Barcelona. Croatian Marko Banic(9,5ppg, 3,4rpg) also presents his inside out game to perfection, but especially inside is difficult to contain. He scored in double figures 15 times. American Cliff Hammonds(9,2ppg, 2,9rpg, 3,1apg) who balled at Clemson(NCAA) continues to be the top defender in the league and is just that reliable point guard that keeps an offense moving and netted 18 points against Frankfurt and Ulm. Two time NCAA champion with UCONN Niels Giffey(7,0ppg, 2,7rpg) has had a solid rookie campaign adjusting well to the European style and packed Alba Berlin roster. His best game was 17 points against TBB Trier, but on a team that is stocked with scoring power, he helps the team on defense and does small things not seen on the stat sheet. Alex King(6,5ppg, 2,5rpg, 1,2aapg) has matured unbelievably as a player who has gone from Murat Didin´s doghouse in Frankfurt 10 years ago to a respected Euroleague player. He is the team´s captain and an athletic bull that really can do so much well now from shooting to finding the open man. German Akeem Vargas(5,7ppg, 2,5rpg) started only seven games, but when one defensive pest in Hammonds took a breather then came in the next defensive pest in Vargas. Vargas is regarded as one of the most annoying players as he likes to use that physicality and had some good scoring games with 15 against Phoenix Hagen and 14 against Artland. German Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann(2,7ppg) got lost a bit in the big man shuffle this season fighting for minutes, but he is always an asset as he continues to develop. His best game was 10 points against BG Goettingen. The club also boast talented German Ismet Akpinar(3,2ppg) and veteran Jannik Freese(1,9ppg, 1,7rpg) who came to Alba Berlin in the second half of the season and went from practice player to rotation player.

FC Bayern Munich without a doubt have the deepest roster in the league and one would want almost each guy on your team as most would be starters on any other team in the league. The star of the team is John Bryant(13,5ppg, 7,9rpg) who played three seasons with ratiopharm Ulm and is the best center in the league as he is so difficult to stop, but the most valuable player on the team is Serb Nihad Djedovic(15,0ppg, 3,5rpg, 2,6apg) who is a high energy player that is so versatile that just does all on the court scoring in double figures in 19 of 24 games. After missing two months, he came back strong in April as if he had never been away. Head coach Svetislav Pesic has had his luck with picking the right Serb´s as Dusko Savanovic(11,6ppg, 4,6rpg, 2,1apg) was the hidden MVP as he is also a very mobile and versatile big man who is unselfish and belonged to the team´s best performers in the Euroleague. The guy with the biggest heart Bryce Taylor(9,5ppg, 3,1rpg, 1,3apg) was the team best three point shooter and as captain his team play was never missing. He came back slow from injury, but started going in February. Some just come and pay admission to see Anon Gavel(8,4ppg, 2,1rpg, 4,0apg) launch his line drive shots led the team in assists and can always haunt you with his bombs from outside. With Bryant taking a rest an opponent gets hit with the next bruiser with Vladimir Stimac(8,1ppg, 5,4rpg). There is nothing fancy about his game, but he gets the job done as Bonn witnessed as he poured in 19 points. The Serb connection continues with 2014 NBA draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers with point guard Vasilije Misic87,6ppg, 2,1rpg, 3,7apg) who is like an energizer bunny and is just a pest to deal with from the bench. Just when you thought that that was the roster, you still have six Germans on the team. Heiko Schaffartzik(6,9ppg, 1,6rpg, 3,4apg) started only seven games, but was the teams second best three point shooter at 41% and can scare anyone with his focused look on the court at all times. Robin Benzing(6,5ppg, 2,2rpg, 1,3apg) is playing his fourth season in Munich, but his scoring stats have fallen the last three seasons. His scoring average obviously will suffer on a team like Munich, but he is always good for some unexpected big plays. Jan Jagla(5,3ppg, 2,8rpg)still going strong at 33 and is always effective in the minutes that he gets. Paul Zipser(4,9ppg, 2,4rpg) is a guy that needs to fight for his minutes, but showed what he can do scoring 20 against Tuebingen and 13 against Valencia in the Eurocup. Yassin Idbihi(3,5ppg, 2,0rpg) can always give support from the bench with points and rebounds, but this season is more a cheerleader.

I did predict correctly that Alba Berlin would get by the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, but never in a sweep as I saw it going the distance, but the injuries of the 2015 Beko BBL cup winner were to extreme to make it a real competition, but they still did a good job holding their own. What would have happened if they would have had Nemanja Aleksandrov on board? Could that have made the difference? If Oldenburg had not let that 10 point lead slip away in the last five minutes in game one, they might have been able to go home win and have the 2-0 lead, but that never happened as Alba Berlin were challenged, but won game two and three comfortably by 10 points a game. Oldenburg was severely limited in game three as they only really had a six man rotation as the rest three were Pro B players and Julius Jenkins was out. Alba Berlin simply had the deeper rotation and experience factor which made the 3-0 series win look a lot more decisive than the scores did with all their injury problems. Nobody gave the Fraport Skyliners a real chance as people were speaking sweep from the start. Frankfurt actually did win one game at home in game two as they crushed FC Bayern Munich as they had a golden day while the opponent had a black day as their focus and effort were about as far away as the Allianz arena in Munich is from Frankfurt. Frankfurt had lost German national player Johannes Voigtmann after the game one loss in Munich and still were able to make such a performance and that had to be their best game of the season. However in game three and four the Fraport Skyliners had no chance as they were rocked 82-64 and 92-71. The biggest key´s for FC Bayern Munich advancing to the semi-finals was their consistency, rebounding, deeper bench, physicality, and better three point shooting of 18/43 while the Fraport Skyliners shot 9/39 from downtown.

Alba Berlin and FC Bayern Munich split the season series as the two games were only decided by a total of 5 points. Alba Berlin won the first game at home 83-80 as Americans Jamel Mcclean and Reggie Redding were on fire combining for 46 points with 23 points a piece. Alba Berlin only shot 4/18 from outside, but shot better from the two point range and rebounded better. In the return game in Munich, the home team pulled out a squeaker 70-68. Nihad Djedovic was the top scorer of Munich with 21 points and the game was literally decided on the free throw line as FC Bayern Munich hit 17 more free throws. When breaking down the team stats between Alba Berlin and FC Bayern Munich, Munich scorers more(88-85), rebounds better 38-36), and lets up only (10-13 turnovers) while Alba Berlin shoots better from the field(49%-47%), and better from the three point line with (37%-36%). Both teams stack up very well head to head and on paper. Both teams are deep and experienced, but in this regard I would put the slight edge with the Bavarian team. In this series the home court advantage could very much decide the series which Alba Berlin has. The key players to stop is Mr everything Nihad Djedovic and Mr energizer Bryce Taylor that exhibited his scoring in bunches against the Fraport Skyliners. The key players to stop for Alba Berlin is center Jamel Mclean who needs to be pushed out of the zone because he is unstoppable as soon as he has the ball and position and Mr versatile Reggie Redding who does everything for the team and fills up the stat sheet like no one else. Both teams are strong defensive teams and in this series defense will make the difference as effort and who really will do the little things will decide the series.

Beko BBL Semi-Final Preview Brose Baskets Bamberg-ratiopharm Ulm 3-1

May 22, 2015

Sometimes there are those kind of players where one is waiting for the big breakthrough and one waits and waits like a middle aged woman hoping for that marriage proposal year after year, but it never happens. For certain professional basketball players that don´t develop quicker tend to get a label especially if he has those boyish looks that don’t seem to go away. German 210 cm power forward/center Tim Ohlbrecht is still only 26, but for some may as well be only 22 as that is what it feels like as it simply took him a longer time to develop in the Beko BBL. In the BBL, he had the constant non ending comparisons to a big blond from Wurzburg that never went away and the big man surely could have had long talks with FC Bayern Munich forward Jan Jagla who had the same kind of comparisons years earlier. It still seems to be a riddle why his maturity went so slow in Germany where guys like Maik Zirbes or Tibor Pleiss rose a lot quicker than Ohlbrecht did and went to top teams in Europe. Whereas in the States Ohlbrecht made the NBA in just one year and won back to back D-league titles with the Rio Grande Vipers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He may have played only three NBA games with the Rockets, but there are only a hand full of German players that can boast that he played in the NBA. It is even harder to believe that Ohlbrecht won his first BBL title 8 years ago when he was only an 18 year old basketball baby in Bamberg with players like ex NBA players Casey Jacobsen and Vincent Yarbrough and was teamsmates with German legend Steffen Hamann and Bamberg legend Chris Ensminger. He also played in places like Bonn and Frankfurt and now 8 years after hoisting a BBL title with the Brose Baskets Bamberg, the only 26 year old Ohlbrecht will clash with his ex team. Even though Olbrecht played three seasons with the Brose Baskets Bamberg as well as with their cooperation teams Breitengussbach and Nurnberg, he only played 68 BBL games. He never got a real chance with Dirk Bauermann and co and after three seasons the team gave up on him. Maybe he had left the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (1.Bundesliga) too early in 2006 as his development hadn´t been ready for the drastic change. This season he has finally made his full breakthrough in the BBL as he has superb stats for the minutes he is getting as in the BBL he is averaging 12,5ppg, 5,5rpg, 1,2bs, in 21 minutes per game and an astounding 40,0% from downtown as his banning of taking the three as was the case in Frankfurt under Muli Katzurin seems nonexistent in Ulm. In the Eurochallenge, he was also very solid as he played six games averaging 10,8ppg, 4,5rpg, 1,2apg in 18 minutes. Even if Michael Koch has left the Telekom Baskets Bonn, Ohlbrecht was able to get revenge on his old team helping Ulm get by in five games and now he is more than motivated to finish off his ex team Bamberg the favorite.

The leading scorer of ratiopharm Ulm is German national player Per Guenter(13,4ppg, 1,6rpg, 4,9apg) who recently signed an extension to remain in Ulm. Guenther is the best German point guard playing in the BBL as he has become such a complete player scoring in double figures 23 times and being a scorer if needed in crunch time and is the teams best three point shooter at the moment. Tim Olhbrecht(13,0ppg, 5,5rpg) is back in the BBL after a two year stay in the States that brought him 3 NBA games for the memories. He has become a consistent player in the BBL having scored in double figures 24 times and registering 4 double doubles. Will Clyburn(12,9ppg, 7,7rpg, 1,9apg) belonged to the most improved players in the league , leads the team in rebounding, steals, third in scoring and third in assists. He scored in double figures in 23 games and had a masterful 28 points against Ludwigsburg. He is the teams MVP this season. Greek Ian Vougioukas(11,4ppg, 2,9rpg) brought his 62 Euroleague experience in March and will need to produce. Slovenian Jaka Klobucar(11,3ppg, 2,7rpg, 3,2apg) has been most valuable with his versatility and added scoring punch from the bench. Brion Rush(10,5ppg, 2,1rpg, 1,9apg) came in February and is another talented guard that gave immense support with his scoring in wins against Artland and BG Goettingen and is a pest on defense. Marten Leunen(7,7ppg, 3,7rpg, 1,7apg) is the glue that keeps the team together as the 2008 Houston Rocket NBA draft pick played the last five years in the Italian Serie A and shines with his experience, team play and is the teams current best three point shooter. Philipp Schwethelm(5,4ppg, 2,5rpg) already played his first BBL game at age 16 with Cologne and is still only 26 and is known for his aggressive defense, but can also be very effective as he showed scoring 22 points against the Fraport Skyliners with five three pointers. Isaiah Philmore(3,7ppg, 1,9rpg) is a rookie who doesn´t get many minutes, but plays effective for his 10 minutes per game and is another big body down below. Adam Hess(2,4ppg, 1,4rpg) is 34 and can still hit the three pointer and had strong games against his ex team Phoenix Hagen with 16 points and 12 against Crailsheim, but his worth is more his experience and vocal leadership as he gets limited minutes. Rookie Deonte Burton(1,8ppg) who had a stellar career at Nevada(NCAA) and played NBA Summer league with the Washington Wizards in 2014 has been lost in the roster mix with little playing time, but the experience he got playing with top players should help him with his career in Europe should he remain. He is another big scoring threat waiting to get on the floor.

The Brose Baskets Bamberg is led by American Ryan Thompson(13,8ppg, 2,6rpg, 2,4apg) who has had a great season after coming from the Belgium league has belonged to the most dangerous three point shooters on the team. He has scored in double figures 21 times including a 35 point explosion against ratiopharm Ulm. Brad Wanamaker(12,9ppg, 3,7rpg, 4,6apg) from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh(NCAA) is the teams MVP and has been the motor that has made the team so successful. He scored in double figures 23 times and was instrumental in the two wins against Alba Berlin scoring 21 points and 16 points. Ex Xavier player Josh Duncan(12,7ppg, 5,5rpg, 1,8apg) was troubled by injury this season playing only 18 games, but returned in April and will be key in the playoff run with his athletic inside out play. He had big games against FC Bayern Munich and Oldenburg with 22 and 21 points. EX Minnesota(NCAA) forward Trevor Mbakwe(10,5ppg, 7,0rpg, 1,0apg) who had 10 and 10 stats as a rookie with Virtus Roma has been a high flyer in the BBL and has been a regular on the highlight films this season as he is a beast on the offensive glass. He has scored in double figures 19 times including a 25 point 10 rebound game against Phoenix Hagen. Dawan Robinson(10,5ppg, 1,6rpg, 2,2apg) came in January and has been a vital spark from the bench giving his vast experience of 9 professional seasons as his physical stature gives him much advantage getting buckets inside while his outside shooting has been spot on at 48%. Latvian Janis Strelnieks(10,2ppg, 2,3rpg, 2,7apg) is the full package at the point guard position as he excels in pick and role and changing the tempo and has scored in double figures 20 times including a 31 point outburst against FC Bayern Munich. High energy player German Daniel Theis(10,2ppg, 5,2rpg, 1,3apg) who can play inside out with the best of them had a good start to the season then a lull in the middle and has finished strong scoring in double figures in the last five games including a 20 point game against ratiopharm Ulm. Ex NBA player Darius Miller(9,6ppg, 2,1rpg, 2,2apg)who played with the New Orleans Pelicans the last two years playing 97 games came very late to the team, but has been a reliable asset from the bench shooting 46% from outside. Ex Gonzaga(NCAA) player Elias Harris(7,0ppg, 3,2rpg) who played two NBA games with the Los Angeles Lakers forms the best power forward duo with Theis in the league. He has scored in double figures 9 times and has suffered a bit with the deep rotation, but he is always a dangerous player that can change a game. German Kartsen Tadda(3,5ppg, 2,1rpg, 1,1apg) has won the most of anyone on the team with 7 titles with Bamberg and is a real team player that is always capable of making a big play. Croatian Dalibor Bagaric(1,3ppg, 1,2rpg) who played three seasons with the Chicago Bulls is a 217cm 130 kilo center who doesn´t play much, but when he does no one really want to bump into inside. He adds to the vast depth on the team.

The Brose Baskets Bamberg advanced to the semi-finals with a comfortable 3-0 sweep of the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, but getting by Ludwigsburg was a lot more difficult than what the sweep scores showed. Bamberg averaged 87 points per game in the three game series while Ludwigsburg averaged 80 points a game. Both teams showed their offensive presence, but Bamberg just had a bit more fire power. Bamberg won the first game 87-79 was up 14 after 30 minutes and held on despite a late Ludwigsburg come back. Bamberg was led by the point guard duo of Philadelphia natives Dawan Robinson and Brad Wanamaker, shot better as a team and just slipped by on the boards 40-39. And they had the bit stronger bench and all around rotation. In game two, Ludwigsburg gave it their best shot taking the game into OT, but never could get over the hump as Bamberg always led in extra time. Statistically there wasn´t much difference of both teams as Bamberg shot a bit better while Ludwigsburg won the rebounding duel 40-34. Both teams showed their ability to have a different top scorer as John Little had 21 points and Daniel Theis had 17 points while ex NBA player Jon Brockman was in beast mode again getting a double double. In game three Ludwigsburg played a controlled and focused first half leading by seven points, but just couldn´t keep it up for 40 minutes as Bamberg powered home 52 points in the second half winning 87-79. Ludwigsburg won the rebounding battle, but the difference were the three pointers as Bamberg shot better. Wanamaker and Kennedy led their respective teams in scoring, but once again the deeper bench of Bamberg was a big factor why they could pull out another win.

The Ulm-Bonn series was the most exciting as it went the distance of 5 games. The first three games were all close affairs as the games were decided by not more than 12 points and both teams won their first games on the road and then the next two games each team won at home and game five Ulm was able to win in Bonn again for the third time in four games this season. Down 2-1, Ulm struck back at home winning 86-73. Ratiopharm Ulm won the quarter scoring in the first three and were in control for most of the game until giving 27 points in the fourth, but they scored 24 points and still could win with ease. Both teams shot well from the field, but poorly from outside and Ulm won the rebound duel and the 20 turnovers of Bonn hurt them. Ulm big man Ian Vougioukas led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Will Clyburn had 22 points and eight rebounds while the Bonn guard tandem of Richard Mcconnell and Eugene Lawrence combined for 31 points and 15 assists. Game 5 was a battle to the finish and after 30 minutes Bonn led 59-57 at home, but couldn´t withstand the Ulm power surge in the fourth as they dropped 29 points for the 86-79 victory. There wasn´t much that was separating both teams as the stats were very close. A big factor for Ulm was top scorer Greek Vougioukas who scored the most points for Ulm in the last three games. Per Guenther also found to his old strength scoring 13 points, dishing out six assists and getting three steals after not being at his best in the first games of the series. It was clear to see when the road team is able to win a do or die game on the road shows that Ulm just wanted it a bit more.

The Brose Baskets swept the season series as they crushed Ulm at home 101-74 and then won on the road 95-88. Ulm had no remedy for American Ryan Thompson who was in the zone with 35 points and Bamberg had five guys in double figures while Per Guenther led Ulm with 16 points. Both teams hit 8 three pointers while Ulm had six more free throws and Bamberg led the rebound battle, but the story of the game was the Bamberg 29 field goals which was 16 more than Ulm. In game two Bamberg won in Ludwigsburg 95-88. This was a wild game as Ulm scored 33 points in the first while Bamberg scored 33 in the second. Bamberg kept up their offensive strength scoring 49 points in the second half and winning. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, but Bamberg also did from downtown while Ulm sot 43% from outside. Both teams were relatively even with rebounding and turnovers, but the difference was that Bamberg had six guys in double figures as Theis had 20 points. When looking at the team stats, Bamberg leads each category against Ulm with points per game(84-83) Field goal(51%-46%), three point shooting(40%-36%),turnovers(12,2,13,0) and assists(17,2-15,3) and only rebounds is it even(34-34). Both teams match up pretty well in that both have long players, athletic players and good shooters. The duel of the series will be Wanamaker vs Guenther. Ulm will need Guenther to play very well to be successful while a Wanamaker does make his team go when he is on, but even if he has an off day, they have enough other weapons to keep the team going. However in the end the better defensive team will win and that is Bamberg. Bamberg will always be able to score against Ulm. Ulm has to play their best defense, but can they do it in three games stopping their fire power? Both have deep benches even if Bamberg´s is a bit deeper and Bamberg has more experience which will put them ahead to the final.

The Fraport Skyliners Never Conquered Their Injury Bug But Still Exceeded All Season Expectations

May 21, 2015

It has been no secret that there has been a type of injury bug curse upon the Fraport Skyliners for years now as bothersome as the current train strike situation in Germany as one never really knows when it will strike. Especially last season the walking wounded list of the Fraport Skyliners was as long as the candy list of Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose who has admitted having on going binges or eating two pounds of candy in one day and admitting he has a Skittles vending machine at home. In the 2013-2014 season the Fraport´s Skyliners injuries woes were severe as they had lost key players like ex NBA player Andrew Rautins, Quantez Robertson, Jacob Burtschi or Dane Watts for long periods of time. If one were to compare the last two seasons which was worse injury wise, one could even fly in a stats guru who probably wouldn´t be able to dissect the reasons or game to player missed stats any better. Especially this season the club had tough injuries to guys like Konstantin Klein, Richard Williams which were key positions in the first few months where the club had little resources to compensate those positions or to a guy like Danilo Barthel would was injured at a very inconvenient time in January where the team was playing key Eurochallenge games and once again the team wasn´t deep at the power forward position. St Peters Burg, Florida native Mike Morrison missed seven games which also hurt the center position. Another key time where the team couldn´t afford any injuries was in the FC Bayern Munich series where 2014-2015 most improved player Johannes Voigtmann was injured in game one and never returned to the series as Frankfurt had a big hole at the center position which then was feeding time for the Munich big men that totally took advantage of with their over aggressive play in the paint. At times it felt like there was team one and two watching the game as team one was on the bench and team two was behind the bench sitting in the first row and if one really had to could have even made a team three with all the players little kids wandering around that area. And if one had to give an award of best non-point guard of the year than that would have been given to Cincinnati native Quantez Robertson who often had to play point guard or at least use his ball handling skills and bring the ball up the court in the set offense. Robertson told me years ago he would love to act as a point guard one day, well this season he had that chance and even if he wasn´t as skilled as Cincinnati native the Big O(NBA legend Oscar Robertson) who was a combo guard, he definitely showed his zeal and effort was there and being second best assist man behind Justin Cobbs wasn´t self-evident. Despite all the untimely injuries this season and bad start, the team was mostly able to claw out of unfortunate situations with the superb guidance of the coaching team and then the timely acquisition of American Justin Cobbs.

When looking at the season in review, The Fraport Skyliners goal was to reach the beko BBL playoffs and they were able to do that despite a horrible start and the injury woes. The club came into the season seemingly ready with a solid roster, but there was no guarantee to make the playoffs as their budget was in the lower one third of team budgets in the league and with the competition factor rising each season making the playoffs wasn´t necessarily as a matter of course as many people saw Frankfurt ending anywhere from 6-15. However the first five weeks of the season, the season went a totally different course as they started the season 1-7 and even the most loyal Skyliner fans were starting to wonder when the team was finally going to slip out of their season opening slump funk. Many were questioning the signing of Richard Williams who wasn´t bad or great, but solid and not being that exceptional floor general leader that team really needed. Konstantin Klein was injured and soon after Richard Williams went down and the club had no beko BBL point guard on the roster. In the 94-59 drubbing in Aalst Belgium in their first Eurochallenge game the team played with only a six man rotation and three Pro B players. It got worse two weeks later as they nearly beat Boras of Sweden in Eurochallenge play as they lost on a last second buzzer beater from Adama Darboe despite Frankfurt playing only with a starting five and two pro B players and Pro B player Kyle Fossman in the starting lineup and Quantez Robertson playing point guard. After a win at home against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen the turning point came on November 29th in Leipzig in a game against the Mitteldeutscher BC where the beko BBL saw the birth of Justin Cobbs who had a long three months before as a rookie training with Laboral Kutxa Vitoria (Spain-Liga Endesa), then being the last cut of the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) as his dream had cracked and then his first stint in Europe with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL) was a misunderstanding as nothing fell in place with him and the coach. The amazing thing about Cobbs is that he was brilliant for a long time from the start until March where he seemed to tire a bit, get a small turnover phobia and teams seemed to have found out how to defend him better with time and experience and video analysis. He scored in double figures in 20 straight games as he led the team to a 18-3 record as he scored in double figures in 21 straight games and the team had a 18-3 record in BBL and Eurochallenge play. The only game where he didn´t score in double figures was his first in Leipzig against the Mitteldeutscher BC where he had just arrived to the team a day earlier. Cobbs is a guy like Dashaun Wood in that can score in bunches and become explosive whenever he decides to turn on that Cobbs switch. He looks so controlled out on the floor most of the time and is a master of changing speeds. He gave Frankfurt so much stability something they didn´t have previously this season. Even though his stats may suggest that he is a scoring point guard, he actually is a pass first guard even if its hard to believe. When that night came when his shot was cold, then one would have seen his passing qualities come to light. You could have been trapped in the bathroom and missed the game and not known who had won after Cobbs exited the dressing room because he always had that same expression. The guy was always focused and was just all business. He didn´t want to be the best guard in Europe, but battle with the likes of Paul, Curry and Wall in the NBA. In these three months, Cobbs was the main reason for the team going from the bottom to a playoff contender and to the Eurochallenge final four. With the bitter 76-70 loss in Bonn on March 7 where the team led by 10 points late, but gave it away was when the Cobbs play started to suffer a bit, but not of that of the team as they finished with a record of 7-3. In his last 14 regular season games Cobbs had seven games of five turnovers.

Another strong point of the team since the arrival of Cobbs was their ability to win close games. Especially their ability to have the nerves and win in two double overtime games in Eurochallenge play against Den Bosch and Avtodor on the road showed great class. They also beat Den Bosch at home with 75-70, and beat Enisey 77-74 at home and then won 85-80 as they made a miraculous comeback of 19 points down at halftime which was their best and most exciting win of the season. In this time they also beat Alba Berlin in overtime 87-80 and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg 83-81 in overtime and squeezed out a thriller at home against medi Bayreuth 90-89 even if one could have described the cover of the game as ugly. Another big reason why the Fraport Skyliners were so successful was the coaching staff. Head coach Gordon Herbert has always had the ability to do the best possible with what he has to work with. Even then when adversity arises, he is brilliant with making the needed adjustments to be able to compete as well as beating top teams. He might not have made the best decision with Richard Williams, but he made it good again with getting Justin Cobbs who turned the season around. He stayed true to his continued belief of developing the big three of Danilo Barthel Johannes Voigtmann and Konstain Klein as well as giving more minutes to a Johannes Richter, Stefan Ilzhofer or Kevin Bright. There is no better German big man tandem than Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel in the BBL than then. Herbert also had the guts to give them minutes from the start something one haven´t seen any other teams do as the Americans are seeded as much as are peanuts for the average baseball fan at a game. Another strength that the club had which helped them be so successful was their special value and attention to team basketball. This was something cemented by Gordon Herbert and the team stuck to it. It was mostly a pleasure to watch the team play as you had the extra pass at every position. Cobbs who seems to be a scoring point guard is actually pass first guard. Sean Armand exhibited great passing qualities even though he is a sniper. At the forward position Quantez Robertson used to be the main recipient of ally-op passes, but this season may have actually given the most to Mike Morrison as Tez was watching more this season then actually flying to the basket. There are seldom less selfish players than Jacob Burtschi and Aaron Doornekamp who loved the extra pass and at the center position with Johannes Voigtmann you have one of the best passing centers in the league if not the best and third best assist man on his team. Danilo Barthel wasn´t too shabby himself as watching Voigtmann and Barthel set each other up was at times worthy of ohhhs and ahhhhs. Their inside passing too each other was amazing. At the end the Fraport Skyliners had to meet FC Bayern Munich and with Voigtmann out after game one, it was close to impossible to win the series. They gave their best, but at the end experience, deepness, rebounding and physicality was too much for them to compete over 40 minutes. All in all it was the best season since the final run in the 2010-2011 season. The only damper was losing both games in the Eurochallenge, but sometimes in basketball life when opponents are well matched up, it comes to the little things and that was exactly what happened as Frankfurt lost by only eight points combined against Nanterre and Rovinari.

Now it´s time to give player grades and speculate if a player will stay or depart. Johannes Voigtmann gets an A and completed his third season with Frankfurt and was able to improve his scoring and rebounding each season. His stats in the BBL were 12,2ppg, 5,9rrpg and 2,4apg and scored in double figures 21 times with three double doubles. He was even better in Eurochallenge play as he played 17 games: 16.0ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 64.8%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 79.4%. He scored in double figures in 15 of 17 games including big games with 26 points against Tartu Rock and Enisey. He was awarded with Eurobasket.com All-EuroChallenge Center of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-EuroChallenge, European Player of the Year -15, Eurobasket.com All-EuroChallenge 1st Team -15, and Eurobasket.com EuroChallenge All-Europeans Team -15. For many he was the teams MVP and made his breakthrough. He should be a full time German national player in 2-3 years. He has a contract with the team. The team MVP was Justin Cobbs who was a rookie and gets an A and played 27 BBL games averaging 14,4ppg, 2,5rpg and 4,4rpg. He scored in double figures in 20 games including a 27 point effort against Ludwigsburg. In the Eurochallenge he played 12 games: 16.3ppg, 2.9rpg, Assists-4(6.1apg), FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 40.6%, FT: 83.1%. He scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games notching 23 points against Den Bosch. Who knows where the Fraport Skyliners would have been without the arrival of Cobbs. He led the team into the BBL playoffs and Eurochallenge final four. Cobbs will try to reach his dream of the NBA via the summer league with the Charlotte Bobcats. If he doesn´t reach the NBA, he will return back to Europe and get bigger bucks elsewhere. Cobbs won´t return. Sean Armand was a rookie out of Brooklyn New York and gets a B and played 36 BBL games averaging 12,8ppg, 2,9rpg and 2,4apg and shot 37% from downtown. He scored in double figures in 25 games including a 27 point effort against Phoenix Hagen In Eurochallenge play he played 16 games averaging 13.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.0apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 43.7%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 88.2%. He scored in double figures in 11 games including a 31 point outburst against Avtodor and 23 points against Enisey. He became a top sixth man in the league and showed just how lethal he could become as a shooter. With his play as a rookie, he could be the next David Bell in the BBL. He showed that he was a good passer, but was inconsistent with taking care of the ball as at times turnovers were a problem. He has a contract option. 50/50 chance he will stay. The minister of defense Quantez Robertson completed his sixth season with the team and gets an A-. He had his best scoring average and assist average in his professional career. In the BBL he played 37 games averaged 11,1ppg, 4,4rpg and 3,3apg.He scored in double figures in 22 games including 22 point games against Artland and Tuebingen. In Eurochallenge play he played 17 games: 10.9ppg, 4.6rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 55.2%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 76.2%. He scored in double figures in 10 games including a 30 point effort against Avtodor. Tez does it all on the court energizes the team and could play a 7OT game if he had to as his motor only is empty when his daughter makes him weak by her presence. He showed he can score on a consistent basis and just having his presence on the court on defense was golden. His only knack is he tends to get out of control with his one on one. In Oldenburg its Paulding burg and in Frankfurt its Tezfurt. Tez will end his career in Frankfurt and have his number #13 next to Pascal Roller under the rafters one day. Canadian Aaron Doornekamp finished his fifth professional season and second in Germany after play with Braunschweig last season. He gets a C as a grade. He played 37 BBL games averaging 6,8ppg, 4,0rpg and 1,6apg. He scored in double figures in nine times including a 28 point game against Ludwigsburg and 22 points against Oldenburg in big wins. In Eurochallenge he played 17 games: 6.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 71.4%. He scored in double figures three times including a 21 point effort in the 94-92 OT win in Den Bosch. One thought he would be more of a scoring threat, but he wasn´t. At times one thought he was in a shell and was trapped not being able to get out and perform the way he knew how. However he was a glue guy and hard worker under the boards. He did many of the little things that weren´t visible on the stat sheet. He has an option to remain. 40% chances that he will stay.

Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi came out of semi-retirement and returned back to Frankfurt for the third time after Frankfurt came calling needing a replacement for the injured Danilo Barthel. Burtschi gets a B. In the BBL he played 15 games averaging 7,3ppg, 3,8rpg and 1,8apg. He scored in double figures three times including his best point game in his career as he smacked Bremerhaven with 36 points and ten three pointers. In Eurochallenge he played 8 games: 8.6ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 42.5%, FT: 66.7%. He scored in double figures three times including a 17 point effort against Avtodor. Burtschi was also a glue guy who did everything for the team and also did much that one didn´t see on the stat sheet. The Fraport Skyliners may have to choose between him and Doornekamp. Burtschi has no contract for next season. He is a guy that gives the same effort be it 5,10,15,20 or 25 minutes a game. He is the ultimate team player. Frankfurt most likely will take Doornekamp over him meaning he probably won´t return. 30% chance that Burtschi will return. Heidelberg native Danilo Barthel completed his fourth season with Frankfurt and gets a C+. In the BBL he played 30 games averaging 9,3ppg, 4,6rpg and 1,1apg. He scored in double figures in 14 games including a 22 point game against Braunschweig and 22 points against Crailsheim. In Eurochallenge he played 10 games: 10.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 81.0%. He scored in double figures in seven games including 16 points against Aalstar. The German had a solid first half, but was injured in January which put a damper into the second half as he missed two months. He had a slow return. He was a big factor in the club success in the first half. He still has a contract. After Belgium, Cyprus and Finland Mike Morrison came to Germany. He gets a B-. He played 32 BBL games averaging 7,4ppg, and 3,4rpg. He scored in double figures 11 times including a 23 point game against Phoenix Hagen. In Eurochallenge he played 12 games: 6.3ppg, 3.3rpg, FGP: 69.6%, FT: 73.3%. He scored in double figures three times including 14 points against Nanterre. He had a solid season being the perfect back up to Voigtmann as their games compliment each other. He often brought much needed energy from the bench which got the team going in difficult situations. At the end of the season he was making his ally-op dunks as normal a procedure as a John Bryant put back. Morrison has an option on his contract and there are 70/30 chances that he will remain. German Konstantin Klein completed his third season with Frankfurt and was ready to make his complete breakthrough, but had two injuries cutting him to 16 BBL games where he averaged 6,7ppg, 2,6rpg and 1,8apg. He gets a C+. He scored in double figures in four games including 16 points against FC Bayern Munich. In Eurochallenge play he played 6 games: 6.7ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 44.4%, 3PT: 52.9%, FT: 83.3%. He scored in double figures in two games including a 11 point game against Tartu Rock. His injuries slowed him down. His known aggressiveness play and scoring was there at times. He still has a contract and will be more than hungry to return next season with vengeance. After many years in Finland the ex Kyle Hines teammate at NC-Greensboro (NCAA) Mikko Koivisto played his first season in Germany. He gets a C+. In the BBL he played 15 games averaging 5,5ppg and 1,4rpg. He scored in double figures four times. In Eurochallenge play he played 6 games: 2.7ppg, 1.2apg. He showed specs of brilliance scoring 14 points against FC Bayern Munich and the Walter Tigers Tuebingen as he scored 14 points a piece nailing four three pointers a piece. He was gotten early in the season as the team fought injuries, but later as more came back, he was the odd man out as the extra international player. He had an excellent character and never once complained about his situation. Everybody would have liked to see him play more. Despite his overall good character he won´t return. Johannes Richter was one of the big surprises on the team. He gets a B. In his first full season he played 24 BBL games averaging 2,3ppg, and 1,4rpg. He scored 10 points against Bamberg and in Eurochallenge play he played 11 games: 3.8ppg, 2.2rpg. He scored 15 and 10 points against the Bakken Bears and was crowned as the Bakken Bears honey spoiler. He made big steps through hard work in practice and playing against the best each day in practice like a Johannes Voigtmann. He has a lot of potential in the next years. He has option and will stay in Frankfurt. The double license players played too few minutes to get grades, but get a season summary. Stefan Ilzhofer played 13 BBL and 6 Eurochallenge games. He always showed hustle, good movement away from the ball and fought for open shots. He had a good development. He has an option and will stay. Kevin Bright played 15 BBL games and four Eurochallenge games. He was an aggressive player on offense and didn´t shy away from running up against Physical players. He didn´t play as much as he may have liked as he was usually with the BBL teams. More than 4 Pro B games surely would of helped his development. He has option on his contract. 50/50 chance for him to stay. Max Merz played 10 BBL games and 6 Pro B games. It was pretty much a lost year for him. He had a long injury and then had a semester in Australia where he practiced against professional players. He returned back for the FC Bayern Munich playoff series as he had a semester break. He has a contract and will return.

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