Having big upsets during college basketball´s March Madness is no surprise as they are present each year like in 2012 when Norfolk State sent Missouri home, George Mason letting UCONN pack their bags in 2006, Virginia Commonwealth kicking out Kansas in 2011 or recently North Carolina State rudely dismissing top ranked team Villanova, but one thing that isn´t a surprise is seeing great point guard battles each weekend in the German Beko BBL. For Fraport Skyliner American Justin Cobbs being tested each game is a normal occurrence as he faced off against great point guards in the Eurochallenge like Brandyn Curry, Courtney Forston and DJ Cooper, but also in the BBL he faces off against the best. Everybody was looking forward to Los Angeles facing off against Detroit like Magic vs Thomas back in the day with Cobbs vs the pride of the Artland Dragons playmaking core with David Holston. Holston has been among the top point guards in Germany and is playing his third season in Germany. The great thing about the Cobbs vs Holston battle is that it would have pitted two spectacular point guards with a veteran facing a rookie and fans seeing a 23cm difference with Cobbs taking his 191cm to the court against the diminutive 168cm Holston who is like an adorable teddy bear in a toy store that is waiting to be bought as his smile gets everybody happy. Holston battled in the first meeting against Frankfurt in a big 83-74 victory against Richard Williams who stroked home 20 points while the Artland point guard contributed 12 points and five assists. With Williams having moved back to Vechta, Holston would have made his debut against Cobbs who has big aspirations of moving to the NBA, but this duel had to wait. This duel might not have been equal to Magic vs Thomas back in the day, but both guys have had their own special intensity that bring much flair to the court whenever they are present. Sometimes one can also dream about a great match up like this and it is so much sadder when a guy like Holston can´t play due to injury, but then it gives the chance to other guys like young German Bastian Doreth or veteran Terrell Everett who has played with more than one team in one season in six of nine seasons to showcase their game and battle a future NBA player like Justin Cobbs. Fans didn´t get disappointed in the point guard duels as Cobbs, Doreth and Everett had their moments and after 50 minutes and two overtimes, the only thing that divided both teams was an Antonio Graves buzzer beater that sent the Artland Dragons home with a big 90-87 victory and their playoff hopes remained alive. Fraport Skyliner forward Quantez Robertson who sometimes moonlights as a point guard observed how well Doreth controlled the first half over Frankfurt. “The German point guard did a good job controlling the tempo, making good passes and playing the pick and roll. He executed the offense well and also made his own shots. He was definitely a good replacement for David Holston”, added Cincinnati native Quantez Robertson. “Doreth can be a starter for many teams in the BBL. He always plays well in practice and took advantage of the situation with Holston being out. I like his confidence and how he controls the tempo. This type of play is normal for him, because he does it every day”, stressed Artland Dragon guard Antonio Graves. Fraport Skyliner center Mike Morrison came out of the locker room disappointed and one could feel it with his soft words. “We dug a hole throughout the game and didn´t have the energy at the end. OT is usually our time, but with a few mistakes made, good teams will make you pay. Both teams made plays so fans had to have loved this game”, commented Florida native Mike Morrison. “The game was fun. Both teams were competitive and executed well. The game was neck to neck with both teams fighting for the playoffs. It was a big road win for us, but I give a lot of credit to Frankfurt as they fought hard”, added ex Pittsburgh(NCAA) guard Antonio Graves.
The Artland Dragons were without their star point guard David Holston and the Fraport Skyliners were without Canadian national player Aaron Doornekamp who missed the game because his wife gave birth to a baby. 2,240 fans were in the Fraport arena for a rare Tuesday night evening Beko BBL game and saw a tight affair in the first five minutes until Artland went on a 12-2 run to get the comfortable lead, but Frankfurt fought back on a 7-2 run to cut the Artland lead down to 20-17 after ten minutes. Frankfurt had four leads on their first four scores only to have Artland tie the game again and then take a 12-2 run to get their first lead. German twin tower Johannes Voigtmann scored twice inside and hit free throws while other German Konstantin Klein hit a runner accumulating for the first 8 Frankfurt points. The Artland Dragons struck back four times with a Lawrence Hill dunk, ex TBB trier center Andreas Seiferth made a hook shot over Jacob Burtschi, and Doreth hit a jumper. The Artland Dragons then went on a 12-2 run to take the commanding 18-10 lead. Artland was playing fine inside out basketball getting support from their three point shooting as ex Braunschweig guard Brandon Thomas and Doreth connected for three pointers. The 2008 Beko BBL cup winner also got support from Seiferth who finished the pick and roll with a massive dunk, Hill hit a fade away jumper and ex Fraport Skyliner Anthony King hit a turn around shot. Frankfurt closed out the first quarter taking a 7-2 run as Mikko Koivisto buried a three pointer and Brookly New York native Sean Armand dropped a three pointer buzzer beater as Frankfurt trailed 20-17 after 10 minutes. “Artland did a good job clogging the lane and doing their scouting report on Johannes Voigtmann. Voigtmann can´t always have a big game like he did the last weeks. Artland also did a good job crashing the boards”, stressed medi Bayreuth sport director Kevin Koch. The Artland Dragons were shooting 60% from the field and 50% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 40% from outside. Frankfurt had the 8-7 rebound edge, but three turnovers while Artland had two turnovers.
The Artland Dragons continued to keep control of the game in the second to go on a nice run and go into halftime with the nine point lead. The Fraport Skyliners got on the board first as Sean Armand hit off the fast break again as he did finishing the first quarter tying the game at 20-20. However this quick bucket by Armand didn´t amaze the Artland Dragons as they cruised out on a 11-2 run to extend their lead to 31-22. Chad Toppert finished off a fast break after German David Mccray gave the ball to Everett who made a touch pass for the bucket. Toppert continued to bring that needed energy hitting a three pointer and ex Xavier(NCAA) center Kenny Frease smashed home a dunk off the Graves pass and Doreth made a floater. Artland was perfecting the pick and roll and also using the mismatches to their advantage. Frankfurt continued to fight and stay in the game as it was the general Justin Cobbs who took a lot upon himself on the offensive end hitting a floater and turn around jumper while Burtschi made a mid distance jumper cutting the Artland lead to 33-28. Despite the 7-2 Frankfurt run, Artland threw a 6-2 run right back into their face to go into halftime with the 39-30 lead. Artland let good defense lead to good offense in the last minutes. After Graves hit a jumper, it was Thomas who blocked Quantez Robertson which led to a Guido Grunheid dunk who won BBL titles with Alba Berlin and Cologne. Thomas then dunked over Voigtmann from the baseline. Justin Cobbs ended the second quarter with a jumper as the buzzer went off, but Artland still led 39-30. “Justin Cobbs wasn´t hitting any shots, but Frankfurt still defended pretty well giving up 39 points. Artland was defending very well as all were on the same page”, stressed Kevin Koch. The Artland Dragons were shooting 50% from the field and 30% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 23% from the three point line. Both teams had 19 rebounds a piece, but Frankfurt had five turnovers while Artland had only two turnovers.
In the third quarter the Artland Dragons continued to have the momentum and were able to keep their lead and lead by 12 points after 30 minutes. The Artland Dragons came out of halftime going on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 45-30. Doreth and King were the main forces in this run as Doreth hit a jumper and King made a tip in and jumper on the pick and roll with Doreth. Frankfurt also had a lot of misfortune as Sean Armand missed three consecutive free throws. Frankfurt continued to fight back going on a 7-0 run to cut the Artland lead to 45-37 as it was Los Angeles native Justin Cobbs that scored twice inside always hurting Artland with his penetration. The game continued to be a game of runs as Artland struck back going on a 8-0 run as Frankfurt continued to have problems bringing stability on the defensive end. In the run Artland crushed Frankfurt with three pointers from Toppert and Hill. Frankfurt did close out the third quarter with a mini 4-0 run as Robertson nailed a jumper in traffic and Voigtmann made a dunk. “Artland was more aggressive on the defensive end and got easy buckets”, stressed Quantez Robertson. “We continued to defend aggressively and rebounded the ball well”, added Antonio Graves. The Artland Dragons were shooting 45% from the field and 28% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 36% from the field and 20% from the parking lot. Artland had the 30-27 rebound edge and eight turnovers while Frankfurt had nine turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners never gave up and continued to come back and with two big defensive plays forced the game into overtime. The Fraport Skyliners knew that they didn´t have much time and didn´t waste any time starting the fourth quarter with a lot of intensity and going on an explosive 9-2 run to cut the Artland lead to 55-50. This might have been the best offensive spurt in the game up to that point as they were doing a bit of everything. Cobbs started the run with a floater, Robertson nailed a three pointer, Voigtmann scored inside as Cobbs snuck him a pass and Morrison made an offensive rebound and put back. Despite the game being tight again both teams tended to gamble as Everett flung up the perfect lob pass that Thomas rammed home for the ally op dunk and Cobbs came back and made a reverse lay up in traffic as Artland led 57-53. Frankfurt also had some fortune as they got some loose balls and Klein was able to drop a shot on his third consecutive shot cutting the Artland lead to 57-55. Graves then made a floater and Voigtman made a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound as Artland had the narrow 59-57 lead. King then drilled home a jumper off the pick and roll with Graves. With 1.20 to play Artland led 61-57, but Mike Morrison got two steals which led to a Morrison lay in as Klein fed him and Cobbs sent the game into overtime with his bread and butter the pull up jumper as calmness remained his middle name. “I made a steal on the first play on a good trap at the sideline which led to a basket and on the second play Burtschi and I switched and I got my hands on the ball. It was hustle plays that led to the steals”, stressed Mike Morrison. “Morrison played aggressive defense and Cobbs made a tough shot which is one of his normal shots that we expect him to make”, added Quantez Robertson. The Artland Dragons were shooting 43% from the field and 24% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 39% from the field and 19% from outside. Frankfurt had the 39-36 rebound edge and 12 turnovers while Artland had 14 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners didn´t waste anytime in the first few minutes of the overtime period and after hitting only four three pointers in the first 40 minutes hit four in a row in three minutes as Klein, Voigtmann, Cobbs and Robertson connected as Frankfurt led 73-64. However the Artland Dragons didn´t fret or let Frankfurt continue to nail shots, but recovered and went on a 9-0 run as Thomas and Toppert twice nailed three pointers to tie the game at 73-73. Robertson had the chance to win the game, but missed sending the game into a second overtime. “We weren´t talking on defense. We allowed them to get free and get good looks and we couldn´t get the loose balls”, said Quantez Robertson. “I have to give a lot of credit to coach who did an incredible job adjusting to the situation. We played four guards and one big man and spaced the floor. We played the high pick and role and our sniper Toppert hit shots”, said Antonio Graves. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 31% from the three point line while the Artland Dragons were shooting 44% from the field and 30% from the three point line. Artland led the rebound duel 43-42, but had 15 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.
In the second overtime period the Artland Dragons took control quickly until Frankfurt made one last comeback to fall just short at the end. The Artland Dragons went on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 83-75. The Artland Dragons remained aggressive as Frankfurt was unable to match their intensity on defense as their one on one defense got nonexistent. Everett started the run with free throws, King nailed a fade away over Voigtmann, Toppert made free throws, Everett a lay in and Graves also finished inside as he strolled to the bucket with ease. With time running out it seemed like Artland would close out the game with free throws and it seemed like it was taking that route as Graves and Thomas nailed free throws for the 87-81 Artland lead. After a Cobbs miss, Thomas missed two free throws. With 12.3 seconds to play Robertson scored on a coast to coast sprint which has become a thing he does each game and made the free throw as Frankfurt trailed only 87-84. Now there was hope again for Frankfurt fans and once again it was Morrison again who made a huge steal and Robertson nailed a three pointer tying the game at 87-87 and a third overtime period was looming, but there were four seconds to play. After an Artland timeout, Graves was the hero dropping a buzzer beater for the 90-87 win. “That buzzer beater was tough. Graves got a good look and Voigtmann got a hand up, but it was a bit too late”, stressed Quantez Robertson. “The buzzer beater was the best moment. As I released the ball, I knew it was on target and had the right distance and I am happy it went in”, stressed Antonio Graves. “I didn´t know it was going in. I didn´t want another overtime and am glad it went in”, smiled Terrell Everett. The Artland Dragons were led by Chad Toppert with 16 points. Anthony King contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon Thomas steered 12 points and Antonio Graves 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Cobbs with 23 points. Quantez Robertson had 20 points. Johannes Voigtmann added 17 points and seven rebounds. The Artland Dragons shot 47% from the field and 32% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners shot 39% from the field and 29% from the parking lot. Artland won the rebound battle 48-47, but had 20 turnovers while Frankfurt had 15 turnovers.