One of the many wonderful things about stepping on the court for basketball players is when two ex teammates meet again for the first time as opponents. This is a normal occurrence that happens often during the course of a season for each team in the Beko BBL. For two ex Beko BBL teammates to meet for the first time again after playing together may not be as emotional or as nerve wracking as the return of future NBA Hall of famers Brooklyn Nets Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce back in their old living room in Boston where they won their only NBA title in 2008. This season Ryan Brooks of the Telekom Baskets Bonn played against his ex team Frankfurt twice winning both games, Derrick Allen played against his ex team losing and ex Skyliner Konrad Wysocki and Dominik Bahiense De Mello swept their ex team. With the battle of Frankfurt against FC Bayern Munich, it was time for two ex teammates to duel even if they don´t play the same position. What do you get when you have big curly haired like teddy bear weighing 128 kilos that is known as big country and could probably carry ex teammate Per Guenther on his palm while batteling for position and a forward from Missouri that looks like a surfer boy that just arrived from Hawaii from the surf world championships? Well you get John Bryant and Dane Watts meeting again. They played together for one and a half seasons in Ulm reaching the Beko BBl final in 2012. Watts joined the Fraport Skyliners in January 2014 and was facing John Bryant for the first time since their days in Ulm. Even though they don’t play the same position, both guys were happy to see each other again, but on account Dane Watts suffering a broken nose in Ludwigsburg last weekend, he was unable to help the Fraport Skyliners upset the big mighty FC Bayern Munich 67-62, but rather watched closely from the bench as big John Bryant played in his new role with FC Bayern Munich. “It was nice to see him again and it is always fun to go against an ex teammate in a real game. Even if I didn´t play, I was just happy that we got the win. Bryant wasn´t so aggressive at the start, but he hit some big three pointers in crunch time. He was a league MVP twice for a reason. They have so many weapons that he just picks his spots”, stressed Missouri native Dane Watts. “I was sad that I couldn´t compete against Dane Watts tonight. He is a great guy and very smart player and it is always nice to see him”, added California native John Bryant.
FC Bayern Munich came into the game in first place with a record of 22-3 and having won eight of their last nine games. They also gave German basketball another giant boost with a massive win against Real Madrid in the Euroleague three days earlier. However they arrived in the Fraport arena and didn´t encounter some hapless team, but a club that had as much zeal on the court to perform like a daddy baboon in the zoo showing all the eager onlookers how good his flirting skills are with the females. FC Bayern Munich got slow out of the gates and played catch up basketball for 40 minutes and were unable to get over the hump as the Fraport Skyliners played an outstanding game for 40 minutes not letting FC Bayern Munich to get into a groove. “We were unable to make some shots that we normally make. They seemed to prepare very well for us and always knew what we were doing. They had the better flow and hit many tough shots. Their defense was very scrappy and successful. They are a lot better team than what their record shows. They really have constructed a team that can compete. Sometimes teams just don´t live up to expectations, but there are still many games left and they could still surprise more teams”, stated FC Bayern Munich forward Chevon Troutmann. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game with a record of 9-13 and in 14th place and still winless in 2014 with a seven game losing streak. They had nothing to lose, but had a fuller roster as Americans Jacob Burtschi and Jarred Dubois were back in the lineup after being injured. The Fraport Skyliners had a game plan, played an aggressive defense and hit tough shots when they had to. Fraport Skyliner Pro B Canadian Bryson Johnson competes in every practice and watches every game and was thrilled of the amazing effort of the Beko BBL team. “The team worked very hard in practice and its good to see that it paid off. They had more energy than Munich and just outworked them. They did a good job on the 50/50 balls and just did all the little things right. On offense the team stalled a bit and the shot clock was down, but all in all they hit tough shots and moved the ball well. When you capitalize on offense it can deflate a defense. They also did a good job cutting down on turnovers and got confidence early on defense which set the tone for them”, stressed Nova Scotia native Bryson Johnson. After the game German Johannes Voigtmann rubbed the head of Jacob Burtschi in the moment of victory and furious celebration as if he was rubbing a bottle expecting a genie to emerge and grant the next wish for a win against ratiopharm Ulm. “I didn´t feel like a genie in a bottle, but was more worried about Joe messing up my looks”, smiled Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners had their own Ramon Galloway who had a great game scoring 20 points and hitting timely big shots as if he had been released from a bottle like a curly haired genie to grant his team a wish for the win. “It was a blessing for me to play like this. I felt good and we played together as a team. I got open and my teammates found me and I thank them. It has been an up and down season for me. In some games you play well in others less well. I just try to go out and play with more confidence each game”, stressed Skyliner rookie Ramon Galloway.
Not only were the 5,002 sold out crowd excited for FC Bayern Munich, but also the Fraport Skyliners were keen to play against FC Bayern Munich as in warm ups, Marius Nolte was back in the roster at home after being out for almost a year and as he ran through the tunnel between the cheerleaders, he bumped Max Merz so fiercely that the poor German fell back almost as drastically as Coby Karl in Ludwigsburg last weekend and African Aziz Ndiaye finally played against a German basketball team that he actually had heard of and possibly was so excited that he almost went right through the wrong tunnel, but in the last second went left following his teammates in introductions. Frankfurt was without Dane Watts and FC Bayern Munich without Heiko SChaffartzik and Chevon Troutmann. When the game finally commenced, the Fraport Skyliners carried over the excitement into positive energy as FC Bayern Munich came out flat and possibly were still in deep thought of their amazing win against Real Madrid. After one minute and 12 seconds Frankfurt led 4-0 as Galloway stole a ball from Taylor´s hands went home for the dunk and John Bryant shot an air ball. It didn´t get any better for the most famous German sports team as Johannes Voigtmann made a mid distance jumper and Danilo Bathel made a thunderous dunk and followed with free throws as Frankfurt led 10-2. Frankfurt came out with more intensity and were playing very aggressive defense as FC Bayern Munich had to fight for every shot. Frankfurt was also playing very intelligent on the offensive end and banging the ball inside. However you can only keep FC Bayern Munich at bay for so long and they had their best run of the game getting out of their funk and going on a lightening 11-2 run to take their only lead of the game 13-12. California native Bryce Taylor was the energizer in the run making two dunks and getting a touchdown pass from Deon Thompson catching the Frankfurt defense napping and nailing a three pointer. Baltimore native Malcolm Delaney then came from the bench connecting on a three pointer making it look easier than making a free throw. However Frankfurt closed out the first quarter hot on a 8-0 run to lead 20-13. German Konstantin Klein hit a three pointer, Dubois found Ndiaye for a dunk and Jacob Burtschi nailed a line drive buzzer beater. “I joked with my teammates that I hadn´t shot in 12 months so I just had to shoot it. It gave us momentum and it carried over”, smiled ex Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi. “We came prepared, but Frankfurt was defending very well and they had prepared very well for us. Frankfurt was playing great team and individual defense”, stressed FC Bayern Munich youth coordinator Volker Stix. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 58% from the field and 50% from outside while FC Bayern Munich was shooting 38% from the field and 20% from outside. FC Bayern Munich had the 7-6 rebound edge and four turnovers while Frankfurt had three turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners continued in the second quarter to keep FC Bayern Munich at bay and were even able to extend their lead by annoying FC Bayern Munich with a 9-0 run to lead 29-13. Senegal center Aziz Ndiaye continued to be very effective and was a real offensive force something that one can´t await from him. He started the run with a pretty hook shot that Bryant and Idbihi just watched go in and then got the ball at center court and dribbled like a ppoint guard splitting the defense and getting an easy lay up. “I found some space and just went to the basket”, commented Aziz Ndiaye. Klein made free throws and Ndiaye then scored inside again. Frankfurt continued to defend first class and got support from all players as each guy was contributing. FC Bayern Munich fought back going on a 6-0 run profiting from some Frankfurt mistakes as Delaney nailed a pull up jumper, Lucca Staiger did what he does best dropping a three pointer and Idbihi hit free throws as Frankfurt led 29-19. Frankfurt kept breaking the back of FC Bayern Munich one bit more as Klein and Galloway connected for back to back three pointers as Frankfurt led 35-19. FC Bayern Munich closed out the second quarter with a 6-2 run to trail 37-25 at the break. Staiger scored inside getting a loose ball and Benzing and Idbihi hit free throws. “We still had the Real Madrid game in our heads. They didn´t let us get easy baskets and let us run. It makes it hard to play when we can´t do that”, stressed ex Bamberg assistant coach Volker Stix. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 48% from the field and 50% from the three point line while FC Bayern Munich was shooting 30% from the field and 22% from the three point line. Both teams had 16 rebounds and Frankfurt had five turnovers and FC Bayern Munich had six turnovers.
FC Bayern Munich had the better start in the third quarter going on a 5-0 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 37-30. They took advantage of two Klein turnovers as Bryce Taylor made a free throw and Nihad Djedovic stole the ball and made an easy lay up after 40 seconds. Djedovic than made another steal going coast to coast as FC Bayern Munich was playing transition basketball something they strive on. A good thing on this day was that the Fraport Skyliners never let FC Bayern Munich go on a big run as they usually had an answer and were able to keep the opponent somewhat at bay. Klein caught FC Bayern napping send a touch down pass to Quantez Robertson for the easy bucket. Bryant and Galloway then exchanged baskets as Frankfurt led 41-32. Galloway would remain hot in this quarter as after ex TV Langen forward Robin Benzing hit a three pointer, it was Galloway that answered with a runner as Frankfurt led 43-35. Both Benzing and Galloway had their own shooting onslaught as the rest watched as both exchanged buckets again as Benzing nailed a pull up jumper and Galloway from the corner as Frankfurt great ball movement made FC Bayern Munich somewhat dizzy as Frankfurt led 46-37. Frankfurt also made some huge defensive plays as Voigtmann stuffed Bryce Taylor coming in from the wing for a dunk and Ndiaye blocked Benzing. Klein hit free throws and Jarred Dubois found Ndiaye free for the easy dunk as the Fraport Skyliners still had the overwhelming momentum and 50-40 advantage after 30 minutes. “Those defensive blocks got our energy going and it was a big boost for our defense”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 42% from the parking lot while FC Bayern Munich was shooting 31% from the field and 25% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 25-24 rebound edge and only 11 turnovers while FC Bayern Munich had 8 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, FC Bayern Munich gave their best to get over the hump, but the Fraport Skyliners showed immense resistance and just closed out the game in bravour fashion something they had been unable to in places like Oldenburg and Ludwigsburg. Bryant got FC Bayern Munich on the board first with a mid distance jumper, but German Danilo Barthel hit his most toughest shot in the game with two seconds on the shot clock made a fade away from the baseline over Benzing and proved that he can make difficult under pressure shots and doesn´t always need to penetrate to the hoop on every play. Bryant answered with a three pointer as FC Bayern Munich continued to threaten and hang on the door step of Frankfurt trailing 53-47. Voigtmann then scored inside getting the perfect pass from Galloway as Frankfurt led 55-47, FC Bayern Munich then received a technical foul. Whenever FC Bayern Munich scored, Frankfurt had an answer making their comeback in crunch time so much more difficult with their energy already dwindling. Barthel and Djedovic traded baskets, but Frankfurt still led 62-53. FC Bayern Munich made it really interesting in the last few minutes as they got as close as three points capitalizing on Frankfurt mistakes as Staiger hit a three pointer cutting the Frankfurt lead to 62-59. However who needs an Andrew Rautins when you have Ramon Galloway who came through once again nailing a three pointer as Frankfurt led 65-59. Bryant responded once again with a three pointer as Frankfurt led only 65-62 with under a minute to play. However FC Bayern Munich would not score again as Delaney missed and Taylor shot an airball and Galloway and Barthel closed out the game with free throws. “We made critical mistakes and they capitalized on them. There were some times where I thought that we could win, but when they made good plays, we came back and made bad decisions and they capitalized getting the lead back to 10 again. We had a few chances to take control, but we bummed it”, stressed Chevon Troutmann. “We didn´t have as many turnovers as usual and Ramon Galloway stepped up. Chasing down rebounds at the end was also huge. This was the best we have started a game since I have been here and we need to continue to play like this. ”, stressed Dane Watts. “We didn´t come prepared to win and didn´t play anything close to what we did against Real Madrid. They outplayed us and our pick and role defense broke down at the end”, stressed Malcolm Delaney. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ramon Galloway with 20 points. Aziz Ndiaye had 11 points and eight rebounds while Konstantin Klein and Danilo Barthel chipped in with 10 points a piece. FC Bayern Munich was led by John Bryant with 12 points. Malcolm Delaney and Nihad Djedovic added 10 points a piece. Frankfurt shot a spirited 47% from the field and from outside while FC Bayern Munich shot 35% from the field and outside. It was the fewest points that FC Bayern Munich scored this season as the Fraport Skyliners showed that if you play defense right than even a FC Bayern Munich can stumble. “We played together as a team and we talked and came up with many loose balls. We were sick of losing”, explained Jacob Burtschi. Gordon Herbert as always had the same expression on his face even after the biggest win of the season, but was most proud of his players. “I am so proud how the guys came back after the fiasco in Ludwigsburg. We had a stressful week, but we respected them. I am proud that we had no fear and we made major strides as a team. Galloway was our difference maker”, warned Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert.