Can Jacob Burtschi and Co Help Lead The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven Back To The Beko BBL Playoffs?

It always a delight when a Beko BBL team returns to face off against an ex teammate. In the last years the Fraport Skyliners had to tangle with former players like Derrick Allen who continued to ballerina Skyliner players dizzy like a kid trapped on a merry go round, Koko Archibong who seemed like an even more foreign on body each passing year with his further stations in Duesseldorf, Giessen and BBC Bayreuth denying Dashaun Wood a win despite a big win, Ken Johnson being a menace swatting away balls with Bonn or Max Weber who has been a Beko BBL traveler having played in Giessen, Goettingen and now the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg getting in a laugh in the first game of the season beating his ex team. This Sunday the Fraport Skyliners have a basketball date with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven and ex player Jacob Burtschi. Burtschi wasn´t only a great player with his short stay with the team after coming in December 2011 for the NBA departed Jon Leuer and without the Oklahoma native might never have had such a successful second half of the season just missing the Beko BBL playoffs with a last game loss in Bonn. Burtschi might be the most charismatic player in the 14 year history of the Frankfurt Skyliners. Burtschi was a guy that brought a positive attitude to the club on and off the court. He enjoyed competiting, playing hard, giving 180% and diving for the ball until he was black and blue, but retaining that boyish look and charm. Who could forget his interview session at the Skyliner tuxedo fitting day where he grabbed the mic and interviewed Skyliner players and made it look easy and seemed to be like a Carson, Leno and Letterman in one 198cm body. He is a player that can can do it all on the court which is shoot, rebound, play defense and lead a team. As the team started 0-3, he led his team to a whipping of the LTi Giessen 46ers 114-80 where he was top scorer where he was all over the court and the only thing missing was him interviewing Giessen mascot Fabius and being critical asking him why he hadn´t given more effort firing up his team. His hidden strength is his passing and he loves monopoly which he played with a passion as he was a member of Phoenix Hagen. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have gotten off to a slow start at 1-3 and have missed the Beko BBL playoffs the last years and if there is one guy that can help lead the team back to the promised land of the playoffs then it is Jacob Burtschi. Bremerhaven is a handful of decent clubs hoping to get back there. It doesn´t matter who you talk to, every person has only positive things to say about the Oklahoma native. Last season with the Frankfurt Skyliners there was the debate if he was better kept playing the three or four which ha dalso been an issue in 2008-2009 with Konrad Wysocki. “Jacob Burtschi is a very interesting young man. I saw him play with Phoenix Hagen. He is a tweener. I remember talking about Klaus Perwass. We had different ideas about where he should play, but as coaches you are always right. I think he is more a three, but he played the position four with Frankfurt and Hagen. It will be interesting to see how Doug Spradley plays him. I think he is better at the three since he has a good shot and can move well. At the position four he has to play more at the hoop and can have problems with more physical four opponents. He is a very good player and will be very motivated to play against his old team”, stressed basketball expert Steven Clauss. The ex teammates of Burtschi in Frankfurt also had good memories of the Oklahoma native. “I am looking forward to playing against him again. I remember him telling me where the best food places were in Frankfurt and he knew that already after  a few weeks there. He also always joked saying I stole his rebounds”, smilied Texas native Devin Gibson.

In the 2010-2011 season, the Eisbaeren finished the season in eighth place with a record of 18-16 as they beat out EnBW Ludwigsburg on the last game day sneaking into the Beko BBL playoffs.  they were able to reach the playoffs thanks to winning 5 of their last seven games. The team had very talented players with fan favorite Torrell Martin, inside duo Craig Callahan and Andrew Drevo and strong role players like German national player Philipp Schwethelm, John Allen, Jan Lipke and Sean Denison. However they had two problems with lingering injuries all season long as Martin missed the last three months of the season and a point guard problem as coach Doug Spradley played a special playmaking lottery at the start of the season with many guys coming in and departing as quickly as the polar bears do when the first warm air comes. “We had very much disturbances that season as players came and went”, stressed Bremerhaven head coach Doug Spradley. It is not always easy to get a positive expression from Spradley since his closet friends might be the only ones to see him smile since he is always very focused during games. The team did celebrate big wins against the Artland Dragons, BG Goettingen, Braunschweig and Oldenburg, but never was able to beat one of the big 3 teams with Bamberg, Berlin or Frankfurt. The season ended quickly as the Brose Baskets Bamberg swept them in three games.

Last season Instead of making a summer cleaning session exchanging players for new players the same way Boston Celtic legend Larry Bird was able to always pick a new pigeon on defense to make look like raw meat when scoring baskets, Doug Spradley was able to identify that guys like Torrell Martin, ex NBA playmaker and big guard Jamison Brewer who left during the season going back to the States and scoring guard Terrell Everett would be adequate for the foundation of the new team. Spradley brought in a strong trio for the front court with 2010 Eurochallenge winner Chris Mcnaughton, versatile forward and playoff experienced Jason Cain and second year man Zachery Peacock who had a solid rookie season in Giessen. German Jermaine Raffington was also hauled into help under the boards and Beko BBL rookie Mike Smith who is a fantastic rebounder at 198cm. Sharp shooter ex Giessen 46er Anthony Smith was also brought in to help strengthen the athleticism in the team. Due to the departure of Jamison, the team added experienced Alex Gordon at the guard spot. Gordon is a 27 year old 182 cm guard from Pensacola, Florida that Displays great speed and quickness along with tremendous range from the perimeter. Brings a competitive flavor to the floor. He played at Vanderbilt (NCAA) from 2004-2008. In his first three seasosn as a professional, he played in Turkey and France. Is the team better now with Gordon than before with Brewer. The team looks solid on paper, but Doug Spradley knew that the Beko BBL gets stronger each season and the playoffs always more difficult to reach. “It was very difficult to reach the top 8 teams. 12 -13 teams hadrealistic chances of making the playoffs”, warned Doug Spradley. However the departure of Brewer proved to be vital as the team missed the Beko BBL playoffs finishing in 11th place as that classical point guard to lead the time at vital moments was missing. In 2010-2010, the team was known for its scoring, but less known for their defense as they averaged giving up 79 points per game. “We had to improve on defense”, added Doug Spradley. With Torrell Martin being possibly one of the most athletic players in the league, the club hopes to boost its output on defense with athleticism which will be bolstered with the new players. However Martin has been injured for some time. “They have had a lot of injuries and made some changes as well. It is tough when a key player gets injured and when you make constant changes all the time to a roster to find a rhythm”, stated ex TBB Trier guard John Bynum. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven lost seven of eight games in the second half of the season which hurt their chances of reaching the playoffs. The 83-82 loss in Berlin where the 8 time Beko BBL champion made  a furious comeback in the last minuteswhich Bremerhaven should of won kind of set their downfall. They also lost a close game in Wurzburg 71-69 which didn´t help their cause either of making the Beko BBL playoffs.

This season the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven did a full face lift as they only kept young players and back up point guard Anthony Canty and Jermaine Raffington releasing nine players and signing eight new players. Doug Spradley who has been known for being very picky about his point guards having replaced them in recent years the same way Paris Hilton does sunglasses. He has been known for not only having to hear from player agents how incredible the player is but also calls the players himself. He spoke with new point guard Stanley Burrell 8-10 times before knowing that he was the right choice. “I need to have a good relationship with my point guard. He plays hard and wants to win”, stressed Eisbaeren Bremerhaven head coach Doug Spradley. The team got talented German national player Philipp Zwiener who made the next step with TBB Trier and now is more or less the identification figure on the team. The team also added shooting power at the wing with Alex Harris who had two strong seasons in Ludwigsburg. Stanley Burrell is the new point guard who has European experience playing in Belgium and had  a strong season in Poland last season.  The team recently picked up Stefon Jackson who also played in Belgium the last years and had double figure point totals in Eurochallenge play. The glue guy will be Jacob Burtschi who is currently the teams top rebounder. The team picked up hot shooter Justin Stommes who comes for the PRO A and has adjusted nicely to the Beko BBL so far. The club also has a strong big man tandem with Scott Morrison and Keith Waleskowski. Morrison has extensive experience in Europe and wont shy to go there where it hurts as he experienced in a Giessen rout breaking his nose. Waleskowski is a solid man form the bench that gives valuable minutes and he played in Spain and Italy for years. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven will be very strong at the position 1-3 and will play a more aggressive fast style. Despite the slow start, the roles seemed to be clearly evident in the Giessen win. “Doug Spradley likes to play aggressive defense. He is very disciplined and always does intense scouting. Bremerhaven plays disruptive defense as they like to destroy the opponents offense. He likes to practice automatic and counters. He is always thinking how the team will react when something is taken away”, warned Steven Clauss.

Since The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven entered the BBL in 2005-2006, they have had some interesting battles with The Skyliners. Bremerhaven have had the number of Frankfurt in the first four season posting a 6-3 record. In the first two seasons, Bremerhaven totally dominated Frankfurt with a 4-0 record. Who could forget the stunning 89-88 Bremerhaven win in their first meeting ever in the fall of 2005 as Brian Jones won the game with a buzzer beater. The Eisbaeren won the return date in Bremerhaven 94-78 as ex Skyliner Nino Garris played one of his few good games for Frankfurt dropping 20 points. However in the 2007-2009 seasons, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have had a positive record of 3-2 and were 2-2 at home. The curious thing is that the two games at home were decided by one point. In the 2007-2008 season, Frankfurt lost 82-81 in the Ballsporthalle and last season Frankfurt nipped Bremerhaven 66-65 with 16 points and 11 rebounds from ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon. In the 2009-2010 season, both clubs played seven games including five games in the playoffs. Frankfurt won the season series 4-3 last season posting a 2-1 record in the Ballsporthalle and posting a 2-2 record in Bremerhaven. The two wins at home remain unforgettable as Frankfurt won the season game 70-69 as Pascal Roller led the charge with 15 points and game two 84-83 as Aubrey Reese poured in 18 points. In the 2010-2011, Frankfurt won 81-66 at home as Dashaun Wood and AJ Moye led the charge with 19 points a piece and they also won in Bremerhaven 71-56 as Dashaun Wood had a Lebron James type game with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Since the Eisbaeren entered the Beko BBL in 2005, the series between both teams jha steh Eisbaeren Bremerhavne with the 11-9 advantage. In the first meeting this season, the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven came to Frankfurt winning 63-55. Torrell Martin hit some big shots leading his team with 19 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Gray and Jermareo Davidson with 14 points a piece. In the second game in Bremerhaven, the Fraport Skyliners lost 76-70 thanks to a strong 28 point second quarter sparked by a 25 point Anthony Smith night in which the Skyliners couldn´t recover from. Jimmy Mckinney led the Fraport Skyliners with 16 points and Tim Ohlbrecht and Devin Gibson added 12 points a piece.

The Fraport Skyliners have a two game losing streak and currently have  a record of 1-3. They are desperate for a win as they got mauled in the second half in Trier. Once again they were unable to find a healthy rhythm on offense as they were unable to find a cure about getting by the aggressive Trier defense that liked to double team and had a fury of help defense always ready. Frankfurt also turned the ball over too much and had problems on giving up offensive rebounds. “Bremerhaven has a very good roster and Frankfurt has to play their game. Frankfurt has to be careful that Bremerhaven doesn´t do the same as MBC taking away their rhythm and breaking them”, stressed Steven Clauss. Bremerhaven is coming off a huge 114-80 rout in Giessen and will be very motivated to win their first game in the Eisbaeren cage. Frankfurt has to gte back to what they do well. “We have to play defense the way we know how. If we can do that than our offense will come from its self”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Devin Gibson. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven host the Fraport Skyliners October 21st.

The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven are led by Stefon Jackson. Jackson is a 27 year old 196cm guard from Philadelphia that is playing his first season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. He played at the University of Texas-El Paso from 2005 and 2009 playing a total of 122 NCAA games. Finished career as UTEP and Conference USA’s all-time leading scorer with 2,456 points. He played in Turkey and Greece as a rookie in 2009 and in Belgium the last two seasons. Last season he played for  Generali Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-D1, starting five): EuroChallenge: 12 games: 11.5ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 23.1%, FT: 83.3%; Belgian League: 33 games: 11.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 72.4%. He won the Belgium cup last season. Scott Morrison is also playing his first season with Bremerhaven. He is a 26 year old 212 cm center from Canada and Germany is his fourth country as a professional . He has great size and he can really run. He brings a good understanding of the game. A skilled and agile player for his size. He played at Portland State from 2004-2008 playing a total of 119 NCAA games.  Finished career as PSU’s all-time leader in blocked shots (187), second in all-time field goal percentage (.543), fifth in rebounding (666) and 12th all-time in scoring (1,098 points). Also, finished third all-time in the Big Sky Conference in career field goal percentage (.575). He played in Hungry, Ukraine and Estonia in his first three seasons. Last season, he played for Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five): 38 games: 10.6ppg, 5.7rpg, Blocks-5(1.3bpg), FGP: 63.4%, FT: 63.4%.

Stanley Burrell is a 28 year old 190cm point guard from Indianapolis, Indiana playing his first season for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. Burrell played at Xavier from 2004-2008.He reached the NCAA Elite 8 in 2008He had five pre game work outs with NBA teams. He played in Bosnia, Belgium and Poland as a professional. Last season he played for Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five): 39 games: 15.6ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.8apg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 81.9%. Jacob Burtschi is a 28 year old 198cm forward from Chickasha, Oklahoma who is playing his first season with the Bremerhaven Eisbaeren. He played as a rookie for Phoenix Hagen in 2010-2011 averaging 14.2ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.5apg, Steals-3(1.5spg), FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 82.2%. He played at the Air Force from 2003-2007. In his senior year, he played 35 games averaging 13.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3Pts: 39.0%, FT: 77.3%. He had offers to play in the NBA, but served in the Air Force the last three years and could only play club ball. Some achievements that he got in the NCAA were  All-MWC Honorable Mention -05, MWC Regular Season Runner-Up -06, All-MWC 2nd Team -06, 07, NABC All-NCAA District 13 2nd Team -07, and NIT Final Four -07. Last season he played for  CAI Zaragoza (Spain-ACB, starting five): 9 games: 2.6ppg, 2.4rpg; left in Nov.’11, in Dec.’11 moved to Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-BBL): German League: 22 games: 8.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 87.5%; EuroCup: 2 games: 5.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg. He won the 2011 Beko BBL three point shooting contest.

Justin Stommes is a 24 year old 200cm swing man from Cold Spring, Minnesota. After a strong season in the PRO A for the  Webmoebel Baskets Paderborn, he has made the jump to the Beko BBL getting the trust from Doug Spradley. Stommes played at E.Kentucky (NCAA) form 2007-2011 never shooting below 40% from the parking lot in his four year career. He played a total of 119 NCAA games and in his senior year played  27 games: 11.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 43.4%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 81.5%. As a rookie last season for the  Webmoebel Baskets Paderborn (Germany-ProA) he played  29 games: 16.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 72.5%. Phillip Zwiener is a 27 year old 198cm forward who started his basketball career as a 17 year old in 2002 for TSV Lesum-Bremen (2Bundealiga). In 2004-2005, in his last season for TSV Lesum, he played 29 games averaging 14.4ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 57%, 3FGP: 28.1%, FT: 77.3%. He then got rewarded by getting signed by German power house Alba Berlin. Zwiener didn´t take off like an Albatros as he played on the  Spree for five years playing only 114 BEKO BBL games, 15 ULEB Cup games, 4 Eurocup games and 2 Euroleague games. He never was able to develop into a important player because the club had so many talented players and always had the pressure to have to win. He was able to win 2 BEKO BBL cups and 1 BEKO BBL championship with Alba Berlin. Despite not playing so much in Berlin, German national coach Dirk Bauerman always had an eye on him and invited him to play at the 2008 Olympics in Bejing. “I am not surprised by the development of Phil. He just didn´t get much time in Berlin. He got valuable experience and now is got his chance to shine in Trier. His time in Berlin was very valuable as he was playing for one of the most respected teams in Europe and was able to play behind some great players and learn from them and play Euroleague. He will only get better”, warned John Bynum. “Phil never had a real chance in Berlin, because there were so many talented players there. He is a good player and is proved it  with TBB Trier. If he keeps working then he will improve. I am sure his goal is to return back to the German national team”, warned Dru Joyce last season. “Zwiener is currently one of the best in the league. He is running the team and has done a good job. He just needed the chance to play which he didn´t get in Berlin and now he is getting that chance”, commented Quentin Pryor. Last season for TBB Trier, the German played 1 games: 12.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 72.5%.

Keith Waleskowski is a 32 year old 204cm power forward/center that is from Dayton, Ohio and playing his first season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. He is a strong inside player, who can score and has timing for the rebounds. Has the ability to involve teammates with his leadership and passing skills. He played at Dayton from 2000-2004. He has had much joy of having a strong basketball career in Spain and Italy the last 8 years. He played in Spain five years and in Italy the last three years. Last season, he played for ezenis Verona (Italy-Lega2, starting five): 19 games: 10.3ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.4spg, FGP: 62.3%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 84.4%. Alex Harris who is a 26 year old 196cm guard from Mission Viejo, California that is playing his first season in Bremerhaven. He grew up in Alameda, California and played at the University of California/Santa Barbara from 2004-2008 and in his senior year, he played games: 20.2ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.0%, 3Pts: 42.3%, FT: 81.2%. After college, he played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 8.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 34.5%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 66.7%. In 2008-2009, he turned professional and played in Poland the last two seasons. In 2008-2009, he played for Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-DBE, starting five): Eurocup: 6 games: 6.8ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0apg; Polish League: 34 games: 7.3ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 82.7%. In 2009-2010, he played for Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five): 30 games: 9.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 38.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 81.5%. He played in the Polish Allstar game 2010.He played for EnBW Ludwigsburg form 2010-2012. Last season for Ludwigsburg, he played 32 games: 12.4ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 76.9% He played at the 2011 Beko BBL Allstar game in Trier. Jermaine Raffington is a 27 year old 205cm power forward/center German. He played at TSG Ehingen from 2002-2005. He played at Southeastern CC from 2005-2007 and then returned back to Germany. He played at BV Chemnitz 99 (2.Bundesliga) in 2007-2008 playing 30 games: 12.6ppg, 5.7rpg, 2FGP: 53.4%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 59.3%. He played for BBC Bayreuth from 2008-2010. In 2009-2010, he played 30  games: 10.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 72.7%. In 2010-2011 for BG Goettingen, he played : EuroCup: 7 games: 3.4ppg, 1.1rpg; German League: 23 games: 2.5ppg, 1.2rpg. The Germna is back in Bremerhaven for a second season. Last season for the Eisbaeren, he played 32 games: 3.2ppg, 1.4rpg2012-2013: Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (BBL). Anthony Canty returns for a third season to Bremerhaven. Canty is a 21 year old 183cm point guard from Germany. In 2010-2011 he played 15 games for Bremerhaven averaging 2.2ppg and also played at Cuxhaven BasCats (ProA): 22 games: 5.6ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 74.3%. Who could forget his spirited game in Frankfurt where he had to play a bulk at the point showing his three point shooting savoy and playmaking skills.

 

 

 

 

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