In every basketball game there are so many exciting and detailed things that one can observe like how a team reacts to the words of their head coach after a timeout, if the dance team is dancing insych during a timeout, the certain delicate procedures at the foul line of players concentrating, who has the better advantage of the mismatches, which team has better time management during time outs or how a mascot goes about its business during a game. There are so many more things to observe on the court, but one thing that is always present during games is the matchups on the floor. It is always interesting to see who Quantez Robertson will guard, if ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson was in the mood to defend last season or how intensive the Edward scissor hands of Devin Gibson will be functioning on the court. One interesting duel in this game was the center duel between Zach Peacock and Johannes Voigtmann against John big country Bryant. It wasn´t even sure if the American from Miami Peacock was going to play because of injury, but he did play. Peacocok is more a position four player, but has had to fill in at the five in Frankfurt this season. Bryant is a 208cm center who is as physically difficult to move from the zone as it is David Ortiz is from the batters box. But it wasn´t only Peacocok who had to battle Bryant, but also young German Voigtmann who was inserted into the starting five because Marius Nolte was suffering from a shoulder injury. Bryant consistently brings good stats and Peacock and Voigtman had to be at the top of their games to somewhat get Bryant out of his game and they did helping lead the Fraport Skyliners to a surprising, but also very convincing 78-62 win. Bryant finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes which is about half his average. Peacocok came from the bench and amassed amazing 18 points in 16 minutes despite not being 100% and hitting a good percentage of his shots and didn´t have to guard Bryant too much. In his days in Giessen he was known as the mad baller because as a rookie he was so focused and didn´t want to make any mistakes. In the game against ratiopharm Ulm, he was all business and had that game face on with make no mistakes written all over his face. “I was the mad baller today. The only difficult thing today for me was that I was a bit winded. I am a professional and one week of not practicing won´t change how I play. I only really had one possession where I guarded him and he passed the ball out. The other times, he was more outside which was more my advantage. We caught him at the wrong spots which helped”, stressed Zach Pecocok. Voigtmann played a superb game against the 2012 Beko BBL MVP making eight points and five rebounds and was happy for the match up against Byrant. “It was a great experience playing against Byrant. I like playing against the more massive players than the shorter quicker players. Our help defense really helped me and it was key keeping him far from the basket. It was just a great challenge playing against him today”, added Johannes Voigtmann. It was especially the play of Peacock which was lauded by his teammates after the game. “He was in his special zone. He is just tough as nails. Once he hit that first shot, it was over. He just played big”, stressed American Ted Scott. “Zach played very aggressive which had been seen all week in practice. He knew that we were short at the big position and he just thought I will try to play and everybody saw what he did after 40 minutes”, commented Fraport Skyliner captain Marius Nolte.
Ratiopharm Ulm had come into the game into the game in Frankfurt off a huge 96-66 win against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and were looking to keep their position at the top of the Beko BBL standings, but were rudely awaken to a tough as nails Skyliner defense that gave the ratiopharm Ulm offense fits all day long. At halftime the team already had 13 turnovers and after 40 minutes it was 23 turnovers as the team was never able to find a consistent rhythm in their offense. At times one could sense astonishment on the faces of ratiopharm Ulm as they had absolute no cure of the Skyliner mix of traps and full court presses. “I don´t have any good memories of Frankfurt the last two years as I have lost each time. Frankfurt played very aggressive forcing us to too many turnovers. They made us do things that we didn´t want to do in our offense. Frankfurt simply played spectacular”, stressed Ohio native Steve Esterkamp. For the Fraport Skyliners, each game is a survival act of 40 minutes as they were sitting near the bottom in 15th place with an unsatisfactory 3-5 record and were coming off a miserable performance in Berlin where they had only given a 40% effort according to head coach Muli Katzurin. But like it is so often, when a team is the big underdog, special strength and energy is often exerted as the Fraport Skyliners held ratiopharm Ulm to 27 points under their average as they showed the Katzurian school of defense driving the opponent crazy for 40 minutes. “Frankfurt gave a great team effort. The best team in the league came in and we stepped up the defense and our defensive intensity helped us win the game. The team knows that they can compete with any team in the league. If the team defends like that then they can beat anyone”, warned Larry Wright. The Fraport Skyliners entered the game giving up 72 points a game and will have to continue to defend like this if they want to achieve further success. “Defense wins championships. Defense will be key for us in every game if we want to win”, warned Zach Peacock.
There are always interesting things to observe before a game and against ratiopharm Ulm it was no different. One could watch small compact American Lance Jeter who from a distance could pass for a Jeff Gibbs clone practicing his dribbling against John Bryant who displayed suitable footwork, German U-20 national players Danilo Barthel and Daniel Thies catching up before the game and German national player Per Guenther dropping jumper after jumper in warm ups as if Skyliner legend Pascal Roller was magically in his shoes. When the game finally did start, 4220 person were in attendance and the Fraport Skyliners were without top scorer Ted Scott and Marius Nolte who were out due to injuries. Ratiopharm Ulm jumped out on a quick 5-0 lead as ex NBA player Allan Ray hit a three pointer and then used his quickness to get by Dion Dowell for an easy lay up. However the Fraport Skyliners then stepped up their defense as they came back as Devin Gibson hit a off balance jumper in the lane and Voigtmann a mid distance jumper. The score was knotted at 5-5 as ratiopharm Ulm was getting an early taste of the aggressive Frankfurt defense as Bryant had some easy misses inside and the club was making hurried decisions. However Ulm recovered and raced out again on a run of 7-0 as Ray and Guenther scored inside as Frankfurt trailed 12-5. However the Fraport Skyliners were slowly finding their offensive rhythm as they went on a 10-1 run to lead 15-13. Barthel fought for an offensive rebound and put back, Gibson did what he does best with a penetrration lay in and Johnathan Jones nailed a three pointer. The spectacular run was somewhat dampened by a last second three pointer from Dane Watts as ratiopharm Ulm led 16-15 after one quarter. “Frankfurt did a good job taking Ulm out of their offense with their aggressive defense. They also did a good job making it hard for John Bryant to get the ball. I thought the Ulm defense was ok”, stressed ex ratiopharm Ulm player Emeka Erege. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 42% from the field and 50% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 14% from outside. Ulm had the narrow nine to eight rebound edge, but seven turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, there were a few lead changes, but the Fraport Skyliners then were able to take the lead and keep it until halftime. Devin Gibson locked the score at 16-16 with a free throw. Dane Watts then made a tip in giving ratiopharm Ulm the 18-16 lead. The Fraport Skyliners continued to do a great job making ratiopharm Ulm work for every shot. Peacock and German Sebastian Betz then traded baskets as Frankfurt trailed 20-19. German Danilo Barthel then got Frankfurt going on a 10-0 run and the 21-20 lead with a nice pick and roll with Gibson and an easy lay up. Jones then sunk a three pointer, followed by a Dowell three pointer and a Voigtman ally-op tip in as the Fraport Skyliners led 30-20. Sooner or later a strong scoring team like ratiopharm Ulm will have success on the offensive end and did with a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 30-25. German Per Guenther who had been kept quiet then exploded finding that open space and using his weapon his quickness getting an easy bucket. Bryant than got an offensive rebound and put back. Both teams traded some free throws before American Dion Dowell connected from downtown again giving Frankfurt the 35-28 advantage. Missouri native Dane Watts then followed up his own miss with a reverse lay up as the Fraport Skyliners led at the break 35-31. “Ulm continued to be very surprised by the pressure defense by Frankfurt which continued to force Ulm to easy turnovers. Frankfurt capitalized on the mistakes with transition baskets. The three guard system by Frankfurt worked well as did their help defense”, stressed Emeka Erege. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 27% from the three point line while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 40% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Ulm had the 20-14 rebound advantage, but had 13 turnovers while Frankfurt only had six turnovers.
A team will very rarely be able to totally dominate a John Bryant as sooner or later he will get going some way and did in the third quarter helping keep his team in the game. The Fraport Sklyiners also made three difficult shots at the start with hands in the face which kept their lead going despite the Bryant better play. Bryant and Voigtmann exchanged baskets as Frankfurt still led 37-33. Quantez Robertson then hit a tough three pointer over Steve Esterkamp and Ray once again was able to score inside as ratopharm Ulm trailed 40-35. Gibson then nailed a difficult three pointer giving Frankfurt the 43-35 lead. Ratiopharm Ulm then went on a sudden 7-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 43-42. Bryant was able to score consecutive buckets inside using the pick and role once with Guenther. German national player Philipp Schwethelm then dropped a three pointer. However this sudden Ulm attack didn´t ruffle the feathers of the Fraport Skyliners as they exploded out on a 12-0 run to lead 55-42 as it was Zach the mad baller Peacock who what ever he touched turned to gold as he hit three shots. Dowell also made a three pointer. Watts and Peacock then traded buckets at the end of the third quarter and the Fraport Skyliners led 59-44 after three quarters. “We had too many turnovers in the third quarter. Frankfurt hit five or six shots in a row to help get the big lead while we hit nothing”, expressed ex Bremerhaven forward Steve Esterkamp. “We didn´t lose our focus in the third quarter, kept up our composure and just continued to pressure them”, stated Larry Wright. “We spread it up good in the third quarter. It wasn´t so much our offense, but we just had good traps which led to the fast break and easy lay ups”, added Devin Gibson.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners kept up the pressure on defense continued to score at their leisure on offense and never let ratiopharm Ulm get closer than eight points. Robertson got the Fraport Skyliners on the board first with a step back jumper, but ratiopharm Ulm had some instant energy going on a 5-0 run to trail only 61-49 as Bryant made a tip in dunk and Ray hit another three pointer. Despite some nice dunks by Robertson and Barthel, ratiopharm Ulm just didn´t want to disappear as they continued to stick with them as ultimate role player German Sebastian Betz got some extra playing time from Thorsten Leibenath scoring inside twice as ratiopharm Ulm trailed only 65-54. Ratiopharm Ulm made one more run at a comeback cutting the Skyliners lead to 69-61 as Lance Jeter hit a three pointer and Ray made a pretty cross over and scored with his left hand. However that was the end of the ratiopharm Ulm comeback as the Fraport Skyliners closed out the game with a 9-1 run to easily win against ratiopharm Ulm. In the last few minutes, the Fraport Skyliners continued to play offense with a lot of cleverness, uniqueness and lust. Peacock found Gibson with a pretty back door pass, Barthel scored inside as did Peacock with a second effort. “Ulm had a little run, but we kept our composure, didn´t let up and stuck to the game plan. The German kids really helped a lot”, added Larry Wright. “We tried to make adjustment, but were unable to. We had many options, but Frankfurt just got into us. We played too much individual basketball. We are team orientated, but Frankfurt didn´t allow us to play like that today”, expressed Steve Esterkamp. “We got outplayed. Frankfurt played harder and were more aggressive”, stressed ex Boston Celtic Allan ray.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Zach Peacock with 18 points and six rebounds. Devin Gibson contributed 17 points, three rebounds and six assists. Dion Dowell and Quantez Robertson chipped in with 10 points a piece. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Allan Ray with 18 points. Dane Watts mustered 11 points and eight rebounds and John Bryant contributed 10 points and six rebounds. The Fraport shot 48% from the field and 30% from the parking lot while ratopharm Ulm shot 43% from the field and 29% from the parking lot. Ratiopharm Ulm won the rebound battle 35-30, but had no cure against the aggressive Frankfurt defense coughing up the ball 23 times while Frankfurt did 12 times. One of the sore points this season for ratiopharm Ulm continue to be their defense. They were giving up close to 85 points a game in the first five games, but had cut it down to 76 points the last games. If they had been able to be around their game average of 89 points in scoring then they would of won, but if they can´t score, then the defense should be able to keep the team in games, but that wasn´t the case in Frankfurt. “Our defense is inconsistent. When we have break downs on our help or ball screens then we have problems. It is the little things which good teams take advantage of”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm forward Keaton Nankivill. Fraport Skyliner Ted Scott didn´t play, but had a good view of the game form the bench and was able to break down the 40 minutes well. “We executed our offense well, moved the ball well, made the extra pass and just played good team basketball. Our pressure and trapping defense was key to getting the win. But the biggest plus was just that we were all together on the court”, added Ohio native Ted Scott. The Fraport Skyliners host the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg December second at 15:00.