The holiday season wasn´t one of the greatest for the Fraport Skyliners in terms of their basketball success. Off the court a Mike Morrison could of played the perfect Santa Claus for the kids with teammate Quantez Robertson as his handy Elf, but on the court the club was unable to get some much needed wins that could of secured a visit to the 2018 EasyCRedit BBL cup top 4 qualifying game. Overall the Fraport Skyliners have been their own plague on the road having lost four of their last five games. A day before Christmas eve, they played one of their worst halves of basketball in the last 10 years as they totally collapsed against their worst enemy Giessen. Eight days later, they must not of had digested their Christmas goose well as they couldn´t escape Wurzburg with a win as their usual trusty defense couldn´t get stops on a regular basis in the second half. The good news for the 2000 BBL cup winner Fraport Skyliners is that whenever they lost on the road, they were able to bounce back and win at home in their living room where they are 7-1 this season and are always very very difficult to beat. The Fraport Skyliners had a do or die game with the Telekom Baskets Bonn for a ticket and chance to reach the EasyCredit BBL top 4 qualifying game. The Telekom Baskets Bonn came into the first game of 2018 with a lot of self confidence having won three of their last four games and had beaten the potent Giessen 46ers at home. The stakes were high for both teams wanting to get into 2018 on a winning note and get closer to that cup qualifying game and fans saw a very exciting game that was played at a high intensity for 40 minutes, but the Fraport Skyliners were unable to close out the game as they controlled the game for 35 minutes, but allowed ex player Konstantin Klein find a quick rhythm which shifted the game in the direction of Bonn who nipped Frankfurt 81-76.
With the win, the Telekom Baskets Bonn are a step closer, but do have to defeat the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven this week to secure the cup qualifying ticket, but if they lose then the Fraport Skyliners will be in. The game had a very dramatic finish as Klein got on fire and a double technical on Gorden Herbert left a sour taste in the arena, but as always injured Skyliner Philip Scrubb had the perfect perspective to the outcome of the contest. “It felt like we couldn´t really lose the game as we controlled it for the most part, but a few plays and calls gave Bonn the lead back. Every time we played them this season the games were very close. It was a tough game and we fought hard. I thought we did a good job despite all the injuries playing for each other”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Philip Scrubb. After the big win, most of the Telekom Baskets Bonn players remained in the locker room celebrating somewhat as only one player exited to get in some stretching with ex Giessen guard TJ Dileo. One could see from his demeanor that it had been a hard fought game, but from the twinkle in his eyes that he wouldn´t rather be in any other place then on the court and play the game he loves. “It was a battle until the last minute. This is how an important game should be played. It could have gone either way. Our bench made big plays with Hill, Curry and Klein. All the fighting we did throughout the game paid off at the end”, smiled ex Temple(NCAA) guard TJ Dileo.
5002 patrons came to the Fraport arena and saw a walking wounded list at the end of the Frankfurt bench with Scrubb, Freudenberg, Wolfarth-Botterman, Bonga and Kiel and a very hard fought first quarter as defense played a central role as no team could get away from each other. The first quarter had five lead changes and the Telekom Baskets Bonn got on the board first as Dileo dropped a trey. Frankfurt couldn´t get into their sets well in the first minutes so relied on the individual qualities of ex Nebraska(NCAA) guard Tai Webster to create for his self as he scored two buckets giving Frankfurt the 4-3 lead. Ex Giessen athletic freak Yormon Polas nailed a trey for the Bonn lead only to see Finish national player Shawn Huff tie the game with a 10 footer from the wing. Morrison and Polas then traded buckets as the game was deadlocked at 8-8. After a Julian Gamble free throw, both teams couldn´t hit the ocean as Bonn held the lead for a while until Mr instant scoring AJ English dropped a trey as Bonn was nonchalant for only a second giving him the necessary room to drop the trey for the 11-9 advantage. The Frankfurt lead didn´t last long as Dileo demonstrated his quick first step making a finger tip roll to tie the game 11-11. Huff and Ron Curry who played at JMU (NCAA) traded three pointers as the game was even at 14-14 after 10 minutes. “Both teams were playing defense at a high intensity and it was hard getting open shots. Both teams were still feeling each other out”, added Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 43% from the field and 36% from outside and had nine rebounds and four turnovers while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 36% from the field and 38% from outside and had seven rebounds and two turnovers.
In the second quarter there were four lead changes as the game remained a close duel and the Telekom Baskets Bonn led by as much as five points, but relinquished their lead again to Frankfurt. 208 cm forward Tomislav Zubcic who was drafted by the Toronto Raptors and Quantez Robertson traded three´s as the game was even again 17-17. Ex Aubrun guard Quantez Robertson displayed scoring in bunches making a step back while sniper Malcolm Hill who learned his basketball trade at Illinois (NCAA) made a turnaround shot. The difference in the qualities of the shots was that Frankfurt had more open shots while Bonn had to fight for every shot. The Telekom Baskets Bonn continued to chip away and went on a 8-3 run to extend their lead to 27-22. In the run they got good all-around basketball at both ends of the court as ex Ludwigsburg center Martin Breunig made a hustle play securing an offensive rebound and put back while Curry continued his inspired play from the bench making a hard two handed dunk on transition and then draining a trey. However this first run didn´t faze the Fraport Skyliners as they had their own version of Steph Curry in Shawn Huff who connected on three three´s in a row to give Frankfurt the 31-27 lead back. The big story in this phase was how Bonn was getting their production from the bench as Gamble and Mayo were no factor. The Fraport Skyliners would hold on to the lead until halftime and continued to get steady production from Robertson who understood that he had to be a factor on offense. They also got a huge basket from Pro B player Jules Akodo giving Frankfurt the 37-31 advantage. “Jules has been practicing since he got here. We are confident that when he gets in that he will play tough defense and hit shots. He looked good today and looks comfortable at this level”, stressed Philip Scrubb. AJ English had been kept quiet as he was being guarded well, but he did find some daylight scoring inside. However Gamble and Mayo got out of their funk finding the basket and scoring, but the Telekom Baskets Bonn still trailed 39-36. “A key coming into the game was trying to limit Gamble and Mayo. We did a good job not giving Mayo open shots and being physical on Gamble. We got big baskets from Shawn Huff that kept us ahead”, added Philip Scrubb. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 48% from the field and 67% from the three point line and had 17 rebounds and seven turnovers while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 47% from the field and 38% from the three point line and had 15 rebounds and six turnovers.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners made some mini runs, but couldn´t shake the Telekom Baskets Bonn as they remained at their doorstep continuing to attack and stay in the game. The Fraport Skyliners stopped Bonn on their first three possessions, but couldn´t get more than a Robertson lay in for the 41-36 lead. Gamble had found his rhythm and was playing his game at both ends of the court as he made a tip in and made a steal, but Frankfurt stayed in front as Florida native Mike Morrison made a lay in and Huff made an off balance shot for the 45-40 Frankfurt lead. Gamble scored again in the paint as Mayo found him with Frankfurt leading only 45-42. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were exactly where they wanted to be having Gamble and Mayo in rhythm and waiting for a Frankfurt down phase to pounce on them. Gamble explained how he is able to produce strong stats with 15 points and 10 rebounds after 40 minutes against Frankfurt. “Teams don´t allow me to play 1-1 or in the post. My game is going to the offensive rebound, running the floor and setting screens and getting to the basket I can be more efficient this way and it´s been working for me”, stressed ex Miami Hurricane Julian Gamble. The Fraport Skyliners were able to extend their lead to 50-44 as they were really getting easy baskets and open looks as Webster nailed a trey and ex Giessen center Marco Voeller scored inside. Bonn had many weapons on this day as their bench stepped up, but so did many other players like Montenegran Nemanja Djurisic who played at Georgia (NCAA) came up big in the continued Bonn comeback making a lay in and trey keeping Bonn on Frankfurt´s heels as they trailed 52-49. Huff and Robertson made free throws to keep Frankfurt ahead while Gamble scored over three Skyliners down low and Hill made a lay in in traffic as Frankfurt led 56-53 after three quarters. “It was a battle and even game. Both teams were getting good shots and you can never fully shut down a guy like Gamble for a whole game. We did a good job on the other players”, stressed Philip Scrubb. “Our bench stepped up and we were hustling very well”, added TJ Dileo. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 50% from the parking lot and had 24 rebounds and 12 turnovers while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 50% from the field and 35% from the parking lot and had 22 rebounds and 13 turnovers.
It seemed like the Fraport Skyliners would cruise to victory and the cup qualifying game, but instead witnessed how ex player Klein came from the bench and hit Frankfurt for 8 points within minutes shifting the momentum to Bonn which let them close out the game with the win. Webster continued to show why he is such a potent penetrator getting inside again and scoring with ease lifting Frankfurt to the 58-53 lead. However the Telekom Baskets Bonn were wide awake and had no start problems into this quarter as Zubcic who runs the floor like a 208cm guard flew to the hole and scored and Curry showed his deadly shooting nailing a trey while Mayo supplied the dime to tie the game at 58-58. Frankfurt would grab the lead back as Morrison signaled at the top of the key that he wanted the ball and proceeded to the bucket and Webster lofted up the perfect pass which the big man tapped home for the 61-58 lead. Then came the big moment of Konstantin Klein. He was inserted a few minutes into the fourth quarter and had played only 8.32 missing one shot while playing aggressive defense. One couldn´t see Klein steaming on the bench, but one knew he was steaming within his mind as the fierce competitor in him didn´t want to go home having lost to his ex team, hardly played and not been a factor. He showed what an AJ English should do more often scoring 8 unanswered points in a few minutes giving Bonn the 66-64 advantage as he hit a difficult fall back shot over Morrison and two contested trey´s with one being a bank shot. After the game Klein was relaxed, focused and one would never have thought that he had been such a big factor with his extreme humbleness. “Even if it was my ex team, this was just a normal occurrence for me. I was on the bench and wanted to get in. I made a shot and my confidence rose and I made a few more shots. Our fans were great and I´m just happy we won ”stressed Konstantin Klein. “That is what Klein does. He always plays 100% on the court and great defense. He also can blow open a game quickly when he gets hot. He was very confident when he took those shots and motivated against his ex team”, added TJ Dileo. “Klein did a good job pressuring our guards and hit some big shots which changed the momentum of the game”, stressed Philip Scrubb.
The Fraport Skyliners would gain the lead one more time as English hit a trey for the 67-66 Frankfurt advantage. However the Telekom Baskets Bonn got big time production again from their bench as Gamble and Mayo were out as Curry hit a pull up jumper giving Bonn the 68-67 lead and they would never look back. Bonn head coach Predrag Krunic inserted Gamble and Mayo again at the 3.28 minute mark and they didn´t disappoint as the big man scored twice inside including a massive two handed dunk and Hill made an amazing off balance submarine shot under the basket that somehow went in as the Telekom Baskets Bonn led comfortably 77-71. With a little more than a minute left, then came the final exclamation mark from the Telekom Baskets Bonn as Mike Morrison fouled Klein which didn´t look like a foul from the Fraport Skyliners eyes, but more like a clever acting performance by the German which lifted Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert into a fierce rage where he stormed the court and was hit with two technical fouls. “Klein hit the floor hard and it seemed like Morrison´s feet were planted. It was a tough call. Coach came on the floor not wanting Morison to get hit with a technical as he was standing up for him. I think the ref reacted more to how hard Klein hit the floor than to how Morrison had his feet set”, stressed Philip Scrubb.
That set the stage for the Telekom Baskets Bonn to go home victorious as Mayo made two free throws for the 79-71 lead. Voeller and Webster would score, but it wasn´t enough as Bonn came away victorious. “A few baskets and calls decided the game and it could have gone either way. Curry and Hill hit big shots. I have to give credit to Bonn. They are a good team where anyone can step up at anytime”, stressed Philip Scrubb. “We never gave up and played solid from beginning to end. We put together stops and big shots which gave us the win”,added TJ Dileo. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Julian Gamble with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Ron Curry added 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Shawn Huff with 20 points. Tai Webster added 15 points while Quantez Robertson added 14 points and AJ English 12 points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 48% from the field and 39% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 14 turnovers. The Fraport Skyliners shot 49% from the field and 48% from outside and had 32 rebounds and 16 turnovers.