Four months ago, the Fraport Skyliners were about as far away from the Beko BBL playoffs as Jack Black is from having a sensual love scene with Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson at the same time in a movie, Peyton Manning from winning a Super Bowl again with his first NFL team Indianapolis Colts or the New Orleans Saints from regaining any kind of respect again in the next years. Back in early December, Frankfurt fans were wondering if a long winter in the Beko BBL cellar was to happen making early Christmas shopping and wondering if Jon Leuer would leave for the NBA. Now more than four months after the 83-65 win in Hagen and 27 point performance from Jon Leuer, Phoenix Hagen continue to be fighting to stay in the Beko BBL while the Fraport Skyliners continue to make a late season run for the Beko BBL playoffs and showed a powerful display of offense and defense totally dismantling Phoenix Hagen 92-47 holding a Beko BBL team under 50 points for the third time this season. The way the Fraport Skyliners play now then compared to early December is like night and day and that has to do mostly with coach Muli Katzurin, the team as a whole and a player that can play Monopoly with the best of them. “I think a big part of the success in Frankfurt has to do with Jacob Burtschi. He does all the little things that keep a team together and he is the glue guy. The way he plays makes the team get better. It also took some time for the team to mesh and understands the coaches defensive style. “We expected them to be a lot better than four months ago. There defense is a lot better, but that is because they know each other better. Their size and athleticism are the same, but whats different is that the Skyliners are clicking”, expressed ex Duesseldorf Giant Marc Anthony Carter. “I think that my non stop style has helped the team. I don´t have to score as much as in Hagen, but can do other things like rebound and find my teammates”, added ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. “Frankfurt play more together now than then making the extra pass and just doing things that good teams have to do”, stated Phoenix Hagen American Adam Constatine.
The Fraport Skyliners entered the game in ninth place and had been playing strong basketball the last weeks beating teams like Artland, ratiopharm Ulm and Oldenburg, but had a little mini wipe out at home against BG Goettingen. The team didn´t want another slip up to happen and pretty much had easy game at the end of the first quarter where they slowly broke away and never looked back. “I think we showed with our body language in warm ups and right at the start that we were focused. The Goettingen loss was like a blessing in disguise. This was a big win for us. I remember winning by 40 points last season against Oldenburg, but also losing by much in Frankfurt. It was great winning against my old team, but at the same time, I feel for them. I hope they can get it going and win some games and stay in the league. It took some time to find our rhythm on offense, but we still did a good job on defense allowing 11 points. Our three quick baskets in the second quarter got us going and held until the end”, stressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. For Phoenix Hagen, nothing has been going right and the team lost their 12th game out of the last 13 games and continue to show that there defense is not on the same page with their offense giving up an average of 90 points per game this season. “We didn´t play well on offense. You have to give Frankfurt a lot of credit on defense. We got behind early and it was tough coming back. I think that if we could of made more shots early, we might have had a chance, because we can be dangerous on offense when we get going. The absence of Jonusas also hurt, because he gives us size and can make shots”, commented Marc Anthony Carter.
The game marked the first time that Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi would play against his ex team and already in warm ups, the American was showing his trademark big jovial smile as he was chatting with his ex teammates like Dominik Spohr, Bern Kruel and the rest of the German young guns that had been his teammates last season. Burtschi also had extra gotten a haircut for his ex team. Jordan Hasquet who scored 38 points against FC Bayern Munich was sporting along hair dew and looked like a mix of Chris Ensminger and German soccer player Christoph Metzelder. American Adam Constatine was still sporting his Mr T mohawk look. Two years ago, where Phoenix Hagen was in the same situation fighting to stay in the league, a Michael Jordan outburst couldn´t turn the teams fortune around in the game and now with the fierce look of Constatine, one may of thought he could of given the team the much needed Mr T toughness in words, but instead got a nice compliment from Skyliner Justin Gray about his mohawk. “I do what I can to help the team win, which means doing the dirty work if it is playing defense or diving for loose balls. I feel that I have no earned the right to be the vocal leader yet. I lead by action. Davin White is our leader and knows how to correct us without negative criticism”, warned Adam Constatine. The game was on a untypical wednesday and only attracted 3,500 patrons. Phoenix Hagen got on the board first with a Marc Carter free throw and Davin White layup high off the glass. The Fraport Skyliners countered with a Tim Ohlbrecht bucket getting fed by a pretty Michael Thompson no look pass. Phoenix Hagen found their rhythm quickly on offense as Montana native Jordan Hasquet scored on a runner over Tim Ohlbrecht, but at this time the Skyliners were a one man scoring team as it was Ohlbrecht again scoring on a dunk as Burtschi showed his passing skills. Constatine then made an ally-op dunk, but it was Ohlbrecht again with a tip in to knot the score at 7-7. Canadian Tristan Blackwood then found ex Skyliner Bernd Kruel for a quick bucket, but it was American Devin Gibson that dribbled all ove rthe court until he was under the hoop where no one challenged him and he finished himself with an easy lay up as the score was 9-9. At this point, the Fraport Skyliners were not as concentrated as they might have been getting five turnovers already. After coming back four times to tie the score, the team then took their first lead going on a 8-4 run to end the first quarter with the 17-11 lead. Frankfurt got a Jermareo Davidson step up jumper over Constatine that almost looks as if he could do it in his sleep and then two easy transition baskets from Robertson who dunked and Devin Gibson who scored as the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter. “Frankfurt seemed a bit nervous which led to unnecessary turnovers. Tim Ohlbrecht had a good start which helped the team. The Skyliners found their rhythm with good defense. Phoenix Hagen should of pressured more at the start”, answered Fraport Skyliner junior Jan Novak. “We didn´t start well on offense, but stayed with our defense which got our offense going. When we play good defense, then we can play with anyone”, stated Skyliner center Marius Nolte. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 0% from outside while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 42% from the field and 0% from outside. Frankfurt had the 8-7 rebound edge and five turnovers while Phoenix Hagen had six turnovers.
After a good end to the first quarter, the Fraport Skyliners continued their solid play in the second quarter going on a 6-0 run as Davidson hit a step up jumper, German national player Johannes Herber nailed a pull up jumper and Skyliner captain Marius Nolte scored inside being served a bullet over the shoulder pass from Robertson as Frankfurt led 23-13. Frankfurt continued to score getting to the free throw line and with the 27-15 Frankfurt lead came the first of two Quantez Robertson play of the games as he blocked American Davin White from behind on the fast break setting the Fraport arena into a frenzy. “White tried to cut me off as I came to the basket, but I was able to jump a little higher and was able to time my block perfect to his shot”, commented Quantez Robertson. The block of Super Tez Robertson led to a Tim Ohlbrecht dunk as Frankfurt led 30-15. The second quarter continued to belong to the Fraport Skylners as they rode into halftime on a 18-4 run. Both teams were going inside with the only difference that Phoenix Hagen was missing easy lay ups and their in and outs seemed to be like a disease. After a Gibson jumper, Jimmy Mckinney hit consecutive baskets as Frankfurt led 37-17. Davidson and Burtschi then had consecutive tip ins as Phoenix Hagen trailed 41-19. Davidson then took the major mismatch against Davin White hitting a shot over him and Robertson dunked and Johannes Herber hit a jumper at the buzzer. “It seemed like Phoenix Hagen had already given up in the second quarter just from their body language. They didn´t seem to know what to do against the Skyliners defense. Frankfurt showed quickly that they would have a good scoring day”, added Jan Novak. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 59% from the field and 40% from the three point line while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 35% from the field and 0% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 18-12 rebound edge and only six turnovers while Phoenix Hagen had 13 turnovers.
It got a lot worse in the third quarter as the Fraport Skyliners didn´t come out unfocused but turned their offense up a notch winning the quarter 31-12. The Fraport Skyliners had so many numerous weapons and it helped that their shots were falling as nicely as snow would on Christmas eve in Miami. Thompson hit a pretty jumper as he waited until White committed himself while Davidson got two easy put backs buckets as Phoenix Hagen trailed 54-25. Of course whenever an offense is rolling, it seems to turn on other players as Thompson got hot nailing a three pointer and then unveiling his gorgeous floater as the Fraport Skyliners led 63-27. Then the stage was set for Quantez Super Tez Robertson to follow up his block from the first half with a thunderous dunk where he could give the name Air Tez a new meaning as he was in the air which seemed like minutes dunking between Brandon Brooks and Dominik Spohr and giving the Frankfurt fans a new highlight reel for the ages. “That dunk has to be in my top 5 that I have ever done with the Skyliners”, smilied Quantez Robertson. “That was not the best dunk of Tez. There have been so many. I thought his block on White was better. One could see just how well he can jump and how much athleticism that he really has”, stated St Louis native Jimmy Mckinney. Herber then hit a three pointer and little used German Danilo Barthel scored with a runner to end the third quarter with the Fraport Skyliners leading 72-32. “It is never easy to stay focused when your up by so much. Coach kept us focused. We played three good quarters and were a bit lackadaisical in the fourth quarter”, added Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 36% from the parking lot while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 33% from the field and 0% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 30-23 rebound lead and only 10 turnovers while Phoenix hagen had 18 turnovers.
With the 40 point lead, the game was more than decided, but Frankfurt still had a flow on offense with Devin Gibson connecting on a three pointer and Herber making a fad eaway jumper as Phoenix Hagen trailed 80-36. Skyliner captain Marius Nolte also took advantage of the lax Hagen defense doing something for his points account as he did damage inside as Constatine wasn´t showing his Mr T face allowing the German to walk unscathed to the hoop. Gibson then scored consecutive baskets as there was absolutely no defense as the game turned more to a streetball game as Frankfurt led 84-40. With Frankfurt leading 86-44, Skyliner head coach Muli Katzurin inserted Germans Fabian Franke and Falko Thelig. For Hagen fans, just waiting for the game seemed to be like an eternity as the clock was still ticking as Thompson and Spohr hit some buckets at the end. The game finally did end as Tim Ohlbrecht led the team humba chant as Marius Nolte took a breather from his usual duty as he wasn´t totally fit vocal wise. “This was a real character test for us. We had beat many top teams in the last weeks, but had had problems with the lower teams. We knew how important this game was and we were able to take their wind out of their sail rather quickly”, stressed Marius Nolte. “The Skyliners play together on defense. They pack in the paint well and it is hard to finish around the paint. The small guards all seem to have their hands on the ball”, added Marc Carter.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Devin Gibson with 16 points. Jermareo Davidson contributed 14 points and eight rebounds. Tim Ohlbrecht added 13 points and eight rebounds. Michael Thompson had 11 points and Johannes Herber chipped in with 10 points. Phoenix Hagen was led by Devin Gibson with nine points. Adam Constatine and Jordan Hasquet added eight points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners shot very well from the field at 51% while Phoenix Hagen shot 32% from the field and a miserable 0% from the parking lot. Frankfurt dominated the rebounding41-37, points in the paint 17-3, points in the paint 46-32, second chance points 20-12, fast break points 21-8 and turnovers 11-20. Even though that defense is the strength of the team, it was offense that struck a chord with Jimmy Mckinney. “Our biggest strength tonight was that we made a lot of shots”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. Phoenix Hagen continue to fight to stay in the league and didn´t get any help from TBB Trier who lost in Giessen. “My ex team needs to find some fire. They played well in the first four minutes, but then were flat until the end and it seemed like they didn´t want to be on the court. I hope that they find the fire in the last games”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. “They are an offensive team and they should just continue to stick to what they do best, but they have to play some defense as well”, added Jimmy Mckinney. The hope for the playoffs continue on Sunday as the Fraport Skyliners play in Trier. The Fraport Skyliners lost the first game at home against TBB Trier 64-54 and nobody will be expecting an offensive game. “This is going to be another defensive battle”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. TBB Trier host the Fraport Skyliners on Sunday April 15th at 17:00.