The second half of the 2016-2017 Pro B season is fast underway and as always new players coming and going is as common now in the season as Houston Rocket James Harden racking in those double doubles to nobodies amazement and two new faces entered the court Sunday night in the BCM in Frankfurt as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had reeled in 26 year old 201cm American Rilwan Bakare who had played at four different schools in his career before starting his professional basketball career in 2014 in Germany with TuS Breckerfeld (Germany-2.Regionalliga) where he averaged 19,9ppg and 10,5rpg in 18 games and last season he showed his raw abilities with BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL): 18 games: 11.2ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 57.8%, FT: 58.5%. He started this season in Finland with Pernion Urheilijat Basket (Finland-1st Division) playing 2 games averaging 20.0ppg, 11.0rpg, 1.0spg, before moving to Union de Santa Fe (Argentina-TNA) where he played 17 games averaging 4,5ppg and 3,4rpg and was teammates with American Mike Williams who probably had some rare Texas(NCAA) stories with future NBA players Daniel Gibson and Lamarcus Aldrige that he could pass on to his new teammates and have some of the young Germans some rare basketball facts to ponder about. The Licher Basket Baeren had brought in an American rookie with Blake Justice who had played six games at Akron before moving on Valdosta State8NCAA2) and having a fine career from 2013-2016 playing a total of 72 games and as a senior played 28 games averaging 15.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 79.3%. He had some big games against schools like Alabama Huntsville with 26 points and 25 points against Shorter. Both players came into the game wanting to display right away that they were worth every buck and the Lich scoring duo of KK Simmons and Lamar Mallory who were averaging 40 points a game combined wanted to keep up their unstoppable play, but only combined for 28 points and couldn´t withstand the hot hand and timely shooting of Travis Thompson who broke the game wide open drilling four three´s in the third quarter and notching 14 points which broke the back of the guests and propelled the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to the 88-76 victory.
Rilwan Bakare couldn´t make his debut with Frankfurt as he wasn´t cleared to play yet, but Blake Justice did scoring 14 points in his professional debut and was excited about finally getting that first game of his back, but at the same time disappointed in the loss. “I felt a little rusty as this was my first game in 7 months, but felt good to get into the flow. I have only been here 5-6 days so I have to get used to how the my teammates and team play. We had too many turnovers and let Frankfurt get too many easy baskets and put backs, stressed Ohio native Blake Justice. Fraport Skyliners Tim Oldenburg was sporting a new Jutsin Biberish type of hairdo, but that didn´t seem to get messed up in the overall physical game. “Both teams had a lot of energy. It was only too bad that the refs didn´t know what kind of line they would call. It was nice to play together with Stefan Ilzhoefer and Niklas Kiel. We were individually stronger than usual with this lineup and we played well together as a team for many phases”, stressed Fraport Skyliners Juniors forward Tim Oldenburg. “We got beat on the glass all night long. We gave up something like 40-50 points on offensive rebounds and turnovers. You can´t beat anyone like that when your giving up that many points. We beat ourselves, but we did fight until the end”, added Licher Baskets Baeren guard Kareem Jamal Simmons.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn´t waste anytime taking advantage of their lethal lineup breaking out for a quick 11-2 lead. Lich failed to convert on their first three possessions while Frankfurt rolled out on a 6-0 lead as Isaac Bonga made the first bucket and Frankfurt then converted on two easy buckets inside as 19 year old German Armin Trtovac made a put back and Niklas Kiel made a hard two handed dunk. Ex Cuxhaven guard Jeffery Martin then got Lich on the board with a jumper to cut the Frankfurt lead to 6-2. Frankfurt continued to attack inside as Kiel found Trtovac back door for the easy lay up and ex Ludwigsburg guard Stefan Ilzhoefer dropped a three pointer testing his poor 18% three point shooting percentage, but Frankfurt led 11-2. They don´t call basketball a game of runs for nothing as the Licher Basket Baeren gave Frankfurt some of their own medicine blasting off on a 9-0 run to dead lock the contest at 11-11. In the run, Lich got vital production from American Kareem Jamal Simmons as he scored on the fast break and then dropped a beautiful three pointer that reminded one a bit of the shooting stroke of ex NBA star Jamaal Wilks. In the run, Lich also got a bucket from ex Ludwigsburg guard Simon Kutschschmar and free throws from ex Leipzig center Marian Schick. Frankfurt then got a huge three from ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb, but Lich continued to be able to match them with their offense as ex Ehingen forward Patrick Horstman scored inside and rookie Justice dropped his first professional three point field goal as Lich had their first lead at 16-14. “The German Pro B has more ball movement than what we had in the NCAA2. It is more up and down there and here more pick and roll and pick and pop”, expressed Blake Justice after his first impression of overseas ball. However the Fraport Skyliners Juniors closed out the first quarter with a 5-0 run as German Konstantin Schubert scored on the fast break and Zeeb got free again and nailed a trey giving Frankfurt the 19-16 advantage. Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert was in attendance keeping a close eye on his double license players Stefan Ilzhoefer and Niklas Kiel and was pleased with their game. “Getting good minutes with the Pro B gives them confidence. Ilzhoefer started good, but got a little hesitant after a while Kiel was very active rebounding and blocking shots. Kiel is a year behind in his development, but you can´t forget that he had issues with school last season. This is his first full year that he has been practicing with the BBL team. He will be a good BBL veteran in one and half years. He looks a lot more mature than 19, but we can´t forget that he is 19”, warned Gordon Herbert. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 40% from the field and 38% from outside while the Licher Basket Baeren were shooting 35% from the field and 25% from outside. Both teams had 12 rebounds apiece and Frankfurt had three turnovers and Lich five turnovers.
In the second quarter, fans witnessed both teams buckling down more on defense as less points were scored and mistakes led to more turnovers on both ends of the court. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors got a breath of fresh air as little used German Can Akbayir was parked in the corner and drilled home a trey to give Frankfurt the 21-16 advantage. However that didn´t impress Lich in the bit least as they retaliated storming back on a 5-0 run to even the game at 21-21. 17 year old 2013 JBBL rookie of the year Bjarne Kraushaar nailed a three pointer and ex Dresden Titan Daniel Krause got a steal and went coast to coast for the lay in. Lich regained the lead as Ohio native Lamar Mallory showed his unique athletic ability scoring on the fast break. Frankfurt head coach Eric Detlev made the right decisions inserting young German Cosmo Gruehn who had had 5 points the night before in the NBBL allstar game in Bonn sinking a trey and giving Frankfurt the 24-23 lead. Frankfurt continued to have the slim lead, but Lich continued to prey on their heels as Mallory made another shot tying the game at 28-28. Mallory then gave Lich the lead twice only to be stopped by Kiel who made back to back tip ins to dead lock the game again at 32-32. Down the stretch in the second quarter, Bonga made a steal and went coast to coast for the bucket while Kiel made a strong two handed dunk as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had the slim 39-36 lead at the break. “We made a lot of mistakes on both ends of the floor. We are still figuring out how to get the new guys involved”, stated ex Glenville State(NCAA2) forward Lamar Mallory. Gordon Herbert continued to watch the game and evaluate his players like 17 year old basketball wunderkind Isaac Bonga who finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. “It looks a lot easier than what it is when Bonga plays, but it´s fun to watch. He has a lot of natural ability and needs to practice more with the BBL team and get individual work. He has a great attitude and we can´t forget that he is only 17 years old”, stressed Gordon Herbert. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 42% from the field and 31% from the three point line while the Licher Basket Baeren were shooting 39% from the field and 29% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 24-17 rebound edge and both teams had nine turnovers apiece.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were able to free themselves of the tight affair they were undergoing with the Licher Basket Baeren as sharp shooter Travis Thompson gave the team massive breathing room as he heated up scoring 14 points and giving his team a comfortable 10 plus point cushion. Lich got on the board first as Simmons scored after collecting the pretty ball reversal pass from Mallory to tie the game at 39-39. Sometimes it doesn´t take the Fraport Skyliners Juniors long to demonstrate what their offensive arsenal is capable of as they went out on a 20-7 run to extend their lead to 59-46. In the run, Thompson got going dumping home three trey´s and a lay in which gave Frankfurt that much needed 10 plus point advantage which they would never really be in doubt of losing. Frankfurt also continued to do a super job getting to the free throw line as Bonga, Trtovac, Oldenburg and Jamin Knothe hit free throws. The Licher Basket Baeren didn´t do a good job keeping an eye on Thompson as they focused on other details on the defensive end and paid with the hot execution rate of Thompson. Justice did a fine display of scoring in bunches down the stretch as he hit a floater, free throw and trey for six instant Lich points cutting the Frankfurt lead to 61-52, but a Ilzhoefer jumper and fourth Thompson three of the third quarter kept the Frankfurt lead sturdy at 68-55. “Thompson was key in the third and after a long time he had another big quarter. I hope that got him awake. His shooting helped his self-confidence and he gave the team a push”, added German Tim Oldenburg. “We knew that Thompson could shoot, but we helped too much on the pick and roll and gave up too many open looks. If you give a guy like him too many open looks, he will make you pay. We had to have done a better job finding him on the court”, stressed ex Akron(NCAA) guard Blake Justice. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 47% from the floor and 50% from outside while the Licher Basket Baeren were shooting 36% from the field and 38>% from outside. Frankfurt had the overwhelming 35-25 rebound lead, but 11 turnovers while lich had 10 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors kept on the offensive pressure and never led by less than nine points as they kept their double digit lead intact for most of the fourth quarter cruising home with the win. The Licher Basket Baeren came out of the gate in the fourth quarter going on a 5-1 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 69-60 as Mallory scored inside and Schick and Simmons made free throws. However the Fraport Skyliners Juniors have an array of weapons and just when it seems like they need some new hero to step up, they do as Thompson came up big in the third, now it was time for ex Paderborn German big man Niklas Kiel to supply the crushing blow as he scored 8 unanswered points in the row as he got to the free throw line three times and also made a shot as Frankfurt led 77-64. Lich continued to fight back and would trade baskets with Frankfurt, but just didn´t have enough defensive intensity left to get some big stops. Simmons showed his brilliant one on one play hitting over Kiel and scoring inside, but Frankfurt was always able to match Lich as Kiel connected on a hard two handed dunk and made free throws and Ilzhoefer made the last blow nailing a trey giving Frankfurt the 85-69 lead with two minutes to play as every Lich comeback attempt was foiled by Frankfurt. Both teams made some last free throws as Frankfurt walked off the court victorious 89-75 and getting revenge for their loss in Lich earlier in the season. “Kiel got going. Lich couldn´t react after we hurt them inside, we also scored from outside. The Lich defensive weakness coupled that they couldn´t score at all times hurt them as they knew no matter what they did, they couldn´t get back into the game”, stressed Tim Oldenburg. “We made mental mistakes in the fourth quarter. Every time they got an offensive rebound it was like they stuck a fork in us making us play defense for 24 seconds again”, added Blake Justice. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were led by Travis Thompson with 21 points. Niklas Kiel added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Isaac Bonga and Garai Zeeb contributed 11 points apiece and Stefan Ilzhoefer had 10 points. The Licher Basket Baeren were led by KK Simmons with 16 points. Lamar Mallory and Blake Justice supplied 14 points apiece and Jefferey Martin had 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors shot 42% from the field and 43% from the parking lot while the Licher Basket Baeren shot 38% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 41-34 and had 15 turnovers while Lich had 16 turnovers.