Even if the basketball life of professional players can be a “I am here today, but 1000 miles away tomorrow living and experiencing a new style of play and culture, basketball friendships tend to be built very easily and continue as time goes by as distance can a big factor in keeping them alive. With today´s technology group chat is something that many players live by as Shawn James who had his best years with Macabbi Tel Aviv, but even now after a stay in Spain with Bilbao and now with Euroleague power house Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) still maintains contact with his ex Macabbi players Devin Smith, Tyrese Rice and Ricky Hickman via that route. The most common way to develop a basketball friendship is by having a guy around daily not for just one season, but for many as current Fraport Skyliners Junior Marius Nolte and current Gotha(Pro A) assistant coach Steven Esterkamp had seeing the highs and lows of professional basketball from 2004-2009 with Paderborn as they moved up to the Beko BBL together in 2006 winning 50 games in a row and forcing Alba Berlin to a 5 game playoff series in 2009. Since then if you ask Nolte about Esterkamp, he would say that the Ohio native is one of his best friends as going on vacation with their respective families each summer is nothing uncommon. However the most unique friendship are those that continue to live on year by year as players continue to grow and move on from team to team with that same person. Fraport Skyliner guard John Little and Jason Boone share a very special friendship in that one could easily call them brothers. Boone and Little played together at BG Goettingen from 2008-2011 experiencing their best time there reaching the playoffs each season finishing 2009 and 2010 in second and third place as the club´s 40 minutes of hell on the court gave the BBL a new dimension, winning the Eurochallenge in 2010 and were on the same court playing against Allen Iverson in a Eurocup game in 2011 as he played for Besiktas ColaTurka Istanbul (Turkey-TBL). They then moved to the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg where they played together from 2011-2014 where they reached one playoff in 2012 kicking out Alba Berlin, but also having woes in their last season as the club finished in 17th place and moved to the Pro A. Of course along the way their head coach and mentor John Patrick played a role in their staying together. Last season Little played in Ludwigsburg and Boone had his first experience outside Germany with Torku Konyaspor (Turkey-TBL). This season Boone moved to Ludwigsburg to be reunited with Patrick, but at times it seems like Boone is a part of the Fraport Skyliners as he is seen as often as possible at games supporting his good friend Little making the 2 hour car drive as a sort of sixth man and good luck charm when he is free. Even last season he came from Turkey and supported Little at games as they beat Alba Berlin. Now for the first time in their career, they faced off as opponents as Boone who forms the Bully brothers in Ludwigsburg with Jon Brockman met the pit bull Little which charachterizes his aggressive defense as both teams fought until the end, but the Fraport Skyliners were able to grind out the win 83-78 as they executed in the last minute on offense and Ludwigsburg didn´t. One could of found countless adjectives to describe the game and ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore had no problem either finding the right words. “This was a tough, gritty, hard fought, down and out dirty game, with both wanting to win where both teams fought to the buzzer. A few days ago in Bayreuth we played cocky as if we had won a title or something where we let them dictate the game. Today we dictated the game and were able to pull it out at the end”, stressed Engelwood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore. 2010 Eurochallenge winner Jason Boone was happy to play against his friend, but disappointed with the result. “This wasn´t the most entertaining game to watch. A game can become ugly when two teams like to grind out the way we do. They grinded a bit harder than we did. I always try to go into the game with the same mentality. If you get too motivated it can be a disadvantage. Little is a real fighter and gets his team to fight harder. He never backs down against anyone”, stressed ex BG Goettingen center Jason Boone. Little lost two teeth, but it was worth it getting the win against his friend. “It was crazy playing the first time against him. He is one of my best friends and we are always rooting for each other. It wasn´t the best day for either as we were both in foul trouble. There will be a next battle in Ludwigsburg”, smiled Illinois native John Little. “We rebounded very well and got every loose ball which was the difference. We outworked Ludwigsburg which we didn´t do in Bayreuth”, said Aaron Doornekamp.
5,002 patrons were in the arena looking to see if both teams had digested their holiday food well and did as both teams had to compensate the losses of Danilo Barthel, Rocdericy Trice and Tekele Cotton and both clubs played very aggressive from the start as defense outshone the offense by miles. The Fraport Skyliners got off to the 2-0 lead as German national player Johannes Voigtmann and ex Auburn star Quantez Robertson played the perfect screen and roll for the easy layup. Both teams were still finding their rhythm on offense and missing shots and it took Ludwigsburg until their 4th possession to get on the board as ex BG Goettingen forward Adam Waleskowski sunk a trey giving the John Patrick team their first lead. Scoring tended to be sporadic as both teams were being forced to tough shots as no team was giving any free handouts on the defensive end. Canadian national player Aaron Doornekamp gave Frankfurt the lead back at 5-3 with a three pointer. Ludwigsburg dead locked the game at 5-5 as ex NBA player Jon Brockman made a lay in on the fast break as quick footed ex Gotha guard Brad Loesing fed him the assist. Frankfurt now was able to break away momentarily as they were the better offensive team and Ludwigsburg was missing too many free throws. Frankfurt went on a 9-3 run to lead 14-8 as Theodore snuck inside finishing high off the glass, Voigtman scored inside and Lithuanian Tomas Dimsa dropped a clutch three pointer. Waleskowski then made a tip in and Dimsa scored back door getting the perfect pass from Voigtmann. At the end of 10 minutes, the Fraport Skyliners had the 19-13 advantage, but Ludwigsburg could easily been even or had the lead as they missed a couple give me´s inside and free throws. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 29% from outside while the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 25% from the field and 25% from outside. Frankfurt had the 11-9 rebound edge and three turnovers while Ludwigsburg had five turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners got off to a solid start, but lost focus in the last five minutes allowing the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg back into the game as their offense turned from team to individual. German national player Konstantin Klein got Frankfurt on the board first as he beat his man German/Spaniard Alvaro Munoz for the back door lay in as Theodore made the right passing decision. After having no pick and roll game in the first quarter, Munoz made amends for his previous mistake by executing the screen and roll with ex Chalon(France Pro A) Jon Brockman. Little then penetrated and kicked out to Doornekamp on the wing and he drilled home the trey and Ludwigsburg countered with their best ball movement up to that point as ex NBA player Mustafa Shakur who played three games for the Oklahoma Thunder hit from the parking lot, but the Fraport Skyliners still led 24-18. Florida native Mike Morrison extended the Frankfurt lead to 26-19 retrieving the bullet pass from Robertson for the easy bucket inside. Ludwigsburg then went on a 8-1 run to tie the game at 27-27. In the run, the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg got lay in´s from Loesing and Waleskowski and got free throws from Shakur and Finish national player Shawn Huff. Frankfurt became careless seeing the bigger lead and trying to be too individual which Ludwigsburg took to their advantage. Frankfurt ended the second quarter with a Doornekamp free throw and Theodore free throws as they led 30-27. “Frankfurt wasn´t hitting shots. Ludwigsburg played very physical defense and we lost focus doing too many individual plays”, stressed Paderborn native Marius Nolte. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 30% from the field and 20% from the three point line while the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 32% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Both teams had 19 rebounds a piece, but Ludwigsburg had eight turnovers and Frankfurt only four.
The third quarter remained tight as there were six lead changes as both teams were able to score more easily, but no team could break away as the Fraport Skyliners still led 56-53 after 30 minutes. Theodore got Frankfurt going first scoring a pull up jumper in Justin Cobbs manner who had signed with FC Bayern Munich earlier in the day. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg then strolled on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 32-32 as Munoz nailed a trey and David Mccray took apart the defense with a left handed lay in. Doornekamp stopped the run momentarily with a three pointer, but Ludwigsburg went on another mini run as Shakur made a pull up jumper and Munoz drilled another trey as Ludwigsburg had their second lead of the game at 37-35. Voigtmann then scored in bunches to give Frankfurt the 39-37 lead, but Brockman quickly erased that advantage with a tip in as both teams were seeing eye to eye 39-39. Voigtmann once again displayed his superior big man passing skills as he finished with 5 assists on the night tying the club lead in the game finding Doornekamp with an alley-oop tap in then nailing a three pointer as no one challenged him and Frankfurt led 45-41. Ludwigsburg then went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead at 48-45. They were helped with a Doornekamp technical foul. Huff nailed a three pointer and free throw, while Munoz free throws and Boone a free throw. The Fraport Skyliners had the better nerves in the down stretch time of the third quarter going on a 11-5 run to lead 56-53. Frankfurt got solid production from Theodore who hit a trey, Voigtmann made an incredible over the head shot in the double team with his back to the wall and then fed German Johannes Richter the no look pass for the hard two hand dunk. “Both teams played better on offense, but it was such a fight that nobody could get away from the other”, added Mike Morrison. “At this point in the game, we knew it was all about execution. We did a good job not letting Frankfurt go on a run”, stressed Sugar Loaf, New York native Jason Boone. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 40% from the field and 29% from the parking lot while the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were shooting 41% from the field and 42% from the parking lot. Ludwigsburg had the 27-26 rebound edge, but coughed up the ball nine times while Frankfurt did five times.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners went on a few small runs, but the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg kept fighting back until time ran out. The Fraport Skyliners came out hot going on a 7-3 run to extend their lead to 63-56. In the run, Frankfurt was lifted by Konstantin Klein with a three pointer letting out a wild scream that even the Lion King would have applauded, Robertson scored in traffic with a lay in and Doornekamp scored in the lane getting fed by Voigtmann. Ludwigsburg didn´t allow Frankfurt to run away with game slapping them with a 5-0 run as Shakur nailed a pull up jumper and Huff hit a three cutting the Frankfurt lead to 63-61. Frankfurt then went on another run of 8-2 led by Jordan Theodore who took command scoring inside twice and made two free throws as did Doornekamp as Frankfurt extended their lead to 71-63. Ludwigsburg showed a lot of moral and fighting spirit coming right back with an 8-3 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 74-71. Ludwigsburg got hot shooting from Loesing and ex Bonn guard David Mccray with three pointers and a pull up jumper from Huff. However whenever Ludwigsburg was threatening, it was Theodore who made crucial buckets this time with a difficult finger-tip roll lay in for the 76-71 Frankfurt lead. Theodore had 19 of his 24 points in the second half and had 12 in the fourth quarter and knew he had to take over. “It was my turn in the second half. I can do so many things with the ball and can score when I want to. It was my time to take over the game”, added Jordan Theodore. Ludwigsburg had one more push as Munoz nailed another trey and free throw to tie the game at 76-76. However Frankfurt closed out the game with a 7-2run as they got a key three pointer by Doornekamp and four three throws from Theodore. Brockman did make a lay in at the end, but missed two rebounds at the end that could have changed the game. “I love Aaron. I call him the old man, but the ultimate professional. I have learned so much from him in a short amount of time. Aaron is big on the little things that add up to the big picture. I knew he would hit that shot. I always joke with him saying he only hits when I pass him the ball”, smiled Jordan Theodore. “Theodore took over down the stretch. Little hit a big three pointer. We had break downs on defense. Anytime you allow a player to score in bunches, you don´t deserve to win”, warned Jason Boone. “Theodore found Doornekamp at the end. He is always taking shots all day long. We expect him to make those”, added John Little. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jordan Theodore with 24 points. Aaron Doornekamp added 18 points, Johannes Voigtmann 13 points and Konstantin Klein 10 points. The MHP Roesen Ludwigsburg were led by Mustafa Shakur, Shawn Huff and Alvaro Munoz that added 15 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners shot 46% from the field and 35% from outside while the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg shot 47% from the field and 50% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 33-30 and had six turnovers while Ludwigsburg had 11 turnovers.