It is no secret that age often doesn´t play a role when it comes to doing what you love. In the entertainment business especially in music, you have had numerous groups that have decided to keep getting on stage to perform instead of sipping champagne nonstop and getting massages on resort islands. Groups like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd or the beach Boys keep coming back each year to perform for their fans instead of sitting back and watching their grand children grow up. It is no different in professional sports either as there are always so special sports dinosaurs around who keep returning season after season even though the muscles will be striking and yelling stop, get me off the court please. Famous athletes like tennis legend Martina Navratilova was still playing professional at the age of 49, ice hockey legend Gordie Howe played until he was 52 and at the end with his sons Mark and Marty. In 1997, Howe even played a shift at age 69. In the Beko BBL there are two fine examples of timeworn players that come back each season no matter what their bodies say and keep chugging away as Chris Ensminger and Bernd Kruel do. Ensminger is turning 39 and probably will play until he is 50, because he has that there is no stopping me attitude on the court. He may even keep playing until his sons are on the court. Bernd Kruel is a 36 year old 209cm power forward that still plays like a 28 year old. There is nothing spectacular about his game now, but he continues to be consistent off the bench and can give scoring and rebounding. He is playing his 16th season in Hagen and it is always a pleasure when he plays against his ex team Frankfurt where he had the most success winning the Beko BBL title in 2004 over Bamberg and reaching the final in 2005. Kruel returned back to his old stomping ground ready with his typical “mahlzeit” phrase as a greeting and helped Phoenix Hagen win a 107-102 shootout against his old team. He didn´t have much stats, but that doesn´t mean that his presence on the court isn´t important. “Bernd is a wonder. He doesn´t have to do much on the court to be important. He always remains calm and is so smart. He is one of the top five smart players in the league. What he can´t do with his body anymore he does with his head. He gets smarter each season. I played with him here in the 90s. I wonder who will play longer him or Chris Ensminger. It was never about the money. Playing in Hagen is so important for him”, stressed Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt. Basketball expert Steven Clauss coached Bernd Kruel in the 90s and has fond memories. “I coached him back in the German U-22. He was like a storch early in his career and reminded me of a Henning Harnisch. But he really bulked up through the years. Smaller players usually lose speed, but big guys usually can play longer because they don´t lose strength as quickly and that is what has kept him going”, stressed Stephan Clauss.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game riding a three game losing streak and were in desperate need of a win. They had kept opponents to an average of only 60 points in the first five games, but defensively fell apart against Phoenix Hagen giving up an unacceptable 107 points. Phoenix Hagen is known as a run and gun team and the Fraport Skyliners let them dictate the game and play their game. “We played absolute no defense tonight. Once you let a team like this get confidence then it is very difficult to beat them. They played run and gun and beat us at their game. We let them play their game which was a big mistake. We totally collapsed on defense in this game. Nobody did their job”, warned Fraport Skyliners forward Dion Dowell. It was a huge victory for Phoenix Hagen as it not only brought them closer to the playoff places at position nine, but the club finally got the monkey off their back winning their first game in their short history against Frankfurt after losing the first six games in a row. “This was a big win for us mentally on the road at this point in the season. This was a hard fought game and for the most part they were in front, but we never let up, but tagged along. Frankfurt played very aggressive, but in the second half we got more aggressive on offense and defense which turned the game in our favor”, added Phoenix Hagen head coach Ingo Freyer.
It was two guards with Devin flash Gibson and Mark Mr fantastic Dorris that helped spark Phoenix Hagen to the victory. White who is a scoring point guard that gets lost a bit in the guard shuffle in the Beko BBL in that he plays in a smaller market, but he had a supper game scoring 23 points, grabbing six rebounds and getting five assists. In the first half, he penetrated to the hoop at times as if he was in practice playing against a PRO B team. In the second half, the Fraport Skyliners contained him better, but his quickness really was amazing and reminded one of the Dashaun Wood quickness. When asking two friends Mark Dorris and Quantez Robertson as to who is faster, you ahd mixed responses. “The style that Ingo Freyer plays suits Davin White. He has his freedom here. If Dashaun Wood is the road runner like you always say then Davin White is the flash”, smiled Mark Dorris. Even though it was the 28th birthday of Quantez Robertson, he had time to answer questions and was more than sure who was faster. “White did a good job getting into the lane and was very hard to stop. White is quick, but I played a whole season with Dashaun Wood and saw how quick he was. Wood is quicker”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
In the past the Frankfurt Skyliners used to have more 15:00 games, but in the last years these games have been less frequent and only 3,240 fans wanted to come witness the game. The Fraport Skyliners continued to be without top scorer Ted Scott, but had captain Marius Nolte back in the lineup. The first quarter already showed early what kind of game it would be as there were seven lead changes. Phoenix Hagen jumped early on the Fraport Skyliners leading 5-2 as American Dino Gregory scored with a short range jumper and Adam Hess got going early nailing one of fove three pointer son the day. The Fraport Skyliners stormed back taking their first lead of the game 6-5 as Johnathan Jones showed he can penetrate like his teammate Gibson. Phoenix Hagen got the lead back as American Larry Gordon dropped a three pointer and Adam Hess connected with a catch and pop jumper from the wing and Phoenix Hagen had the 11-8 lead. Zach peacocok kept Frankfurt close with jumpers. Phoenix Hagen continued to keep their nose in front as Larry Gordon scored inside for the 14-12 lead. The Fraport Skyliners then went on an unanswered 6-0 run to lead 18-14. Frankfurts cored inside three times including two lay ins from Marius Nolte who had come from the bench. The Fraport Skyliners kept the lead as American Larry Gordon hit two timely jumpers. Mark Dorris closed out the first quarter with a lay up as the Fraport Skyliners led 24-21. “Phoenix Hagen was playing exactly how they wanted to with their run and gun game. Frankfurt had problems with the transition defense”, explained BIG writer Carsten Schroeter. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 60% from the field and 0% from outside while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 60% from the field and 100% form outside. Frankfurt had the huge 9-2 rebound edge, but three turnovers while Phoenix Hagen had only two turnovers.
The game continued to be very even in the second quarter as the Fraport Skyliners continued to have the lead, but could never really get a big lead since Phoenix Hagen continued to score at ease while the Skyliner defense was unable to produce more consecutive stops. Adam Hess cut the Frankfurt lead to 24-23 as he had a second opportunity while the Frankfurt big men watched. Jones and Robertson scored inside, but Davin White continued to draw fouls to keep Phoenix Hagen in the game. Davin White then made a pretty no look pass with Dorris coming from the wing and getting an easy lay up as Phoenix Hagen trailed 30-29. The play reminded one of the 2010-200 season when Dashaun Wood often found Quantez Robertson coming from the wing and slamming home the ball. Konstantin Klein then made a pretty, but unorthodox over the head floater for the 32-29 lead. Phoenix Hagen retrieved the lead 33-32 as White scored on a coast to coast run with a lay up. Devin Gibson then scored three consecutive baskets in the lane as he was dueling with White as to who could penetrate more and score as Frankfurt led 39-35. White then scored again coast to coast as Frankfurt led 40-38. Frankfurt then went on a 4-0 mini run as Nolte scored inside as did Klein getting a steal as Frankfurt led 42-38. Frankfurt seemed to breaking away a bit in the last minute as they led 48-40, but ex Artland Dragon Adam Hess silenced the Fraport arena with consecutive three pointers including a buzzer beater as the Fraport Skyliners led 50-46. Frankfurt found their rhythm on offense, but Adam Hess hurt them at the end with three pointers. Frankfurt was playing a risky game, because Hagen likes to score and were letting Hagen play their game”, stressed BIG writer Carsten Schroeter. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 58% from the two point range and still 0% from the three point line while Phoenix Hagen was shooting 50% from the field and 63% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 17-16 rebound edge and only five turnovers while Phoenix Hagen had seven turnovers.
The third quarter belonged to the Fraport Skyliners as they led by as much as 11 points, but after 30 minutes Phoenix Hagen was only down by five points which helped set up their lightening run in the fourth quarter which sparked them to the win. The Fraport Skyliners exploded to start the third quarter going on a 9-2 run to lead 59-48. Peacock hit free throws, Dion Dowell hit a three pointer, Peacock then scored again inside and Dowell scored inside getting fed perfectly from Robertson. Phoenix Hagen never gave up chipping away at the Frankfurt lead as White connected with a bomb from outside and Dino Gregory did a monster dunk after getting a no look pass from Dorris. The Fraport Skyliners continued to keep their lead at 10 points as they continued to hurt Phoenix Hagen inside as Peacock scored and Gibson scored as Frankfurt led 68-58. Frankfurt gives the ball to Peacock when they need instant points and with Phoenix Hagen it is White who scored two more times on his power penetration as Frankfurt led 70-64. Larry Wright and Adam Hess then traded three pointers as Frankfurt still led 73-67. Adam Hess then got his second unsportsmanlike foul leading to his ejection. Mark Dorris scored a timely basket at the end as Phoenix Hagen trailed only 77-71. “We had a nice lead, but let them come back into the game with turnovers and easy buckets”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Devin Gibson.
The game continued to be in reach for Phoenix Hagen, but the only thing the game hadn´t had yet was that neck breaking run form one team to slip away and that is exactly what Phoenix Hagen did going on a scorching 17-2 run to lead 88-79 and take momentum of the game. White started the run with free throws, role player Abe Lodwick scored inside and Larry Gordon hit a three pointer as Phoenix Hagen had scored seven unanswered points to retake the lead at 78-77. Zach Peacock then gave Frankfurt the lead back at 79-78 with a lay in. However Phoenix Hagen then released the fantastic as Mark Dorris was lite and got on fire as quickly as Bo Jackson could get into the secondary in his football career. Dorris scored seven consecutive points with free throws a back door pass from Gordon for the lay up and a three pointer. “It was good to see Mr fantastic again. We went to a small lineup after the ejection of Hess, which sped up the game and is the style I like. This opened up the game”, stressed Mark Dorris. I was double teamed a lot, so I gave the ball to Dorris. He really came up big for us”, added Davin White. Sharpshooter David Bell then added two more as Phoenix Hagen led 91-80 as the game had completely turned. “That run really hurt us. We kept knocking on the door, but they continued to hit big shots”, added Devin Gibson. “We got more aggressive on defense in that run and did a good job against their full court press”, expressed Davin White. Phoenix Hagen continued to shoot at a high percentage as David Bell hit his third three pointer of the fourth quarter and Mark Dorris continued to score any which way connecting on a step back jumper as Phoenix Hagen led 99-88. Frankfurt then cruised out on an important 7-0 run to cut the Phoenix Hagen lead to 99-95 as Dowell dropped a three pointer, Klein scored inside and Peacock dunked on the pick and roll with Gibson. However time was running out and Phoenix Hagen got to the free throw line with David Bell. The Fraport Skyliners kept pushing the ball inside to Peacock who drew fouls, but untimely turnovers by the Skyliners hurt in their come back bid as it feel short at the end. “It was difficult playing against such an unorthodox team. 107 points was too much points to give up. We gave them too many open looks. They hit ok in the first half, but got hot in the second half. They sped up the game and got us out of our game then we did theirs and it showed at the end”, stressed Devin Gibson. “You know that I am a boxing fan. This reminded me of a boxing match as there were no knock out blows, but this game came to the latter rounds and we made the punch that we needed to win”, warned Cincinnati native Mark Dorris.
Phoenix Hagen was led by Devin White with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists. Mark Dorris added 22 points and four rebounds. David Bell and Adam Hess both added 19 points a piece. Larry Gordon chipped in with 17 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Dion Dowell with 24 points and seven rebounds. Zach Peacock had 21 points and five rebounds. Devin Gibson added 16 points and five assists. Johnathan Jones added 10 points and five assists. Phoenix Hagen dominated the game stats as they shot 52% from the field and 60% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 53% from the field and 25% from downtown. After leading the first half on the boards, Phoenix Hagen struck back in the second half winning the rebound battle 37-30. Frankfurt had 15 turnovers and Phoenix Hagen had 17 turnovers. Phoenix Hagen had 24 fast break points which speaks volumes. The only really two good points for the Fraport Skyliners was that they finally found an offensive rhythm and scored 54 points in the paint. Defense is a topic on the agenda for this week in practice. “We played no defense and weren´t good on transition where they got many baskets. They had very good guards that could finish at the rim and didn´t keep an eye on their open shooters. We gave up many long rebounds. We have to work on transition and ball screen defense this week”, warned Quantez Robertson.