The Fraport Skyliners Give Max Merz Retirement Present Win Over Alba Berlin 83-71

Around this time of year the last two seasons, the Fraport Skyliners were feeling that special rush of taking part in the playoffs again after having been idle for three seasons, but this time around the club was already looking forward to next season and off season dealings while the American players were already thinking about the first eatery that they will seek out at home when they land, but before that could happen there was still one last regular season game to play against Alba Berlin. It has been a season to forget for the Fraport Skyliners who were dearly missing Jordan Theodore from last season´s success and just didn´t have that consistent point guard with the killer instinct and after a better second half, were unable to compensate the poor first half of the season and the 3 last minute loses to Ludwigsburg, Bonn and Bayreuth denied them to slip into the playoffs. With one last regular season game before the long summer break, fans wanted to see their favorite players one last time, witness a few more crushing Mike Morrison dunks, a coast to coast sprint and dunk from Quantez Robertson and a lot of playing time for German wonder boy Isaac Bonga who seems to be slated for the back up point guard position next season, but after 40 minutes, it was Max Merz that fans cherished most in the game. Only 29 hours earlier, the German Merz had surprisingly announced his retirement, because of wanting to enter the business world and was playing his last professional game and helped the Fraport Skyliners dispose of 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin 83-71. The 23 year old Merz played five seasons with the Fraport Skyliners and was one of those players that developed, but at a slow rate. He finished his last game steering 10 points, four rebounds and four steals in 30 minutes and was near tears at the conclusion. After he said his farewell to the fans, he was comforted by teammate Quantez Robertson for 20 seconds as he had to let it all out. After all was said and done, the German was content for his decision. “I thank all the fans and it was an honor to play for them. I don´t want to talk too much, because I will start to cry again. I have a lot of passion for what I studied and I feel that I can be successful there also. My heart will always be with basketball, but I know that I will have fun with my new job and be able to do things there that I wouldn´t have been able to do as a player. I know that I will keep coming into the arena to watch the Skyliners play”, smiled Max Merz. “I didn´t think so much about it being Max Merz´s last game during the game, but in the last seconds, it became more emotional since I did spend 4 years with him”, added Stefan Ilzhoefer.

Alba Berlin wanted to secure that fifth place in order to have a playoff date with the big season surprise medi Bayreuth instead of slipping to position six and having an opening round clash with favorite FC Bayern Munich. The 8 time BBL champion hadn´t been playing good basketball in recent weeks having lost three of their last four games losing to playoff teams and only being able to defeat the lowly Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Alba Berlin did a fine job staying with the Fraport Skyliners in the first half, but lost focus in the third quarter as their defense couldn´t contain the Frankfurt offense and were trailing in double digits in the fourth quarter and just couldn´t get over the hump. “This was a big game, but we just weren´t focused. It has been a difficult situation with the coaching change. We played ok defense in the first half, but they got a good lead in the second half and we just had to keep fighting back. We had too many turnovers and just weren´t prepared to perform the way we should of”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Gerald Robinson. The Fraport Skyliners had nothing to play for except for pride and they gave their fans a very solid performance closing out the season giving them something to smile about before the long summer starts. “We gave everything tonight. You never know if this will be the last game you ever play. Tonight it wasn´t about us, but about the team. We played hard and as a team and got it done”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard AJ English.

4,900 fans wanted to see the last Fraport Skyliners home game as both teams were without their starting point guards Kwame Vaughn and Peyton Siva. The first 3-4 minutes didn´t look anything like a game at the end of the season, but more like pre season as both teams were making basic mistakes and missing easy shots. However after some of the opening minutes tension lifted, it was Max Merz who was provided with a sweet kick out pass from AJ English and nailed a trey. However Alba Berlin struck back quickly as they hit Frankfurt with a hard 8-0 run as 36 year old ex Hawaii (NCAA) guard Carl English supplied all the scoring power nailing two three´s and a pull up jumper for the 8-3 lead. Both teams would go on runs as now it was the Fraport Skyliners who retaliated with a 6-0 run to regain the lead back at 9-8. In the run, Frankfurt got three points from young German talent Niklas Kiel and a trey from ex Auburn(NCAA) player Quantez Robertson. Then it was time for Alba Berlin again to go on a run as they scored nine points to extend their lead to 18-11. In the run it was two time NCAA champion Nils Giffey who supplied 5 points and ex FC Bayern Munich center Bogdan Radosavljevic who scored twice in the paint. However Frankfurt came back getting a trey from Robertson and AJ English free throws to trail only 20-16 after 10 minutes. “Carl English got them going early, but we came back through our good defense”, stated Fraport Skyliner guard Stefan Ilzhoefer. Alba Berlin was shooting 57% from the field and 75% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 45% from the field and 43% from outside. Alba Berlin had the 7-5 rebound edge and both teams had six turnovers a piece.

The Fraport Skyliners had difficulty scoring in the first four minutes as Alba Berlin were wide awake in the passing lanes and got 5 stops. Only Florida native Mike Morrison was able to secure free throws while Alba Berlin connected on offense with a lay in by ex Holy Cross (NCAA) forward Malcolm Miller who was fed the tough pass out of the double team from big man Radsavljevic and ex Enisey Krasnoyarsk center Elmeden Kikanovic made a lay after getting the no look pass from Ismet Akpinar for the 26-18 advantage, Frankfurt finally got their first field goal at the 5.55 minute mark as Niklas Kiel broke free inside scoring to cut the Alba Berlin lead to 26-20. Frankfurt slowly freed itself from their offensive slump clawing themselves on a 11-2 run to regain the lead again 29-28. In the run, AJ English did a lot of damage scoring two field goals and also dishing a no look pass to Mike Morrison for the massive dunk. Alba Berlin had totally lost concentration as Tony Gaffney threw an errant pass into no mans land that Niklas Kiel gobbled up and sprinted for the easy lay up and lead. Frankfurt was able to go into halftime with the lead, but it was AJ English that continued to be the offensive spark plug as he continued to have control making two runners. Kiel also connected on free throws as the Fraport Skyliners led 36-34 at the break. “We had too many turnovers in the first quarter. We did a better job cutting down on turnovers in the second quarter and put more pressure on them on defense which led to more easy baskets”, added Stefan Ilzhoefer. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 50% from the field and 30% from the three point line while Alba Berlin was shooting 45% from the field and 43% from the three point line. Alba Berlin had the 18-13 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Frankfurt had 10 turnovers.

The turning point occurred in the third quarter as it was Fraport Skyliners identity figure and legend Quantez Robertson scored 13 points and led his team on a devastating 12-2 run to extend their lead to 48-36 and they would never look back. Robertson came out of the locker room on fire powering Frankfurt on a 6-0 run in 51 seconds. Robertson started off the third quarter with free throws and then Merz and Kiel steals led to easy Robertson fast break buckets. Frankfurt then kept the pressure on as Kiel dropped a trey and made a free throw as did Morrison. Alba Berlin didn´t totally lie down, but got a trey from Robinson and got continued offensive consistency from Radosavljevic who scored inside and hit his bread and butter 15 footer. However the Fraport Skyliners continued to keep that energy in their game as Robertson nailed a tip in dunk and made three free throws while English continued to excel in the scoring department making an acrobatic shot and firing a bullet pass inside to Kiel for the dunk as Frankfurt led 57-43. When everything is working well, then even the impossible shots go in as English displayed. Alba Berlin continued to battle and not totally lose their footing as Akpinar stayed aggressive getting to the free throw line and scoring a lay in while Giffey made a 20 footer, but Frankfurt continued to hit some very tough shots as Morrison made an off balance turn around shot and Finish national player Shawn Huff connected over Giffey from Helsinki taking Frankfurt to the fourth quarter with the 64-50 lead. “We had a big start and defense was the key. Tez was like a machine. His quick start and tip in dunk kept us going”, stated Stefan Ilzhoefer. “Robertson attacked and got his team going. We made quick turnovers and were trying to regain control”, stressed Alba Berlin Canadian Carl English. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 54% from the field and 42% from the parking lot while Alba Berlin was shooting 43% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Alba Berlin had the 24-23 rebound edge, but 14 turnovers while Frankfurt had 12 turnovers.

Alba Berlin continued to not let go, but annoy the Fraport Skyliners with their come back attempts, but the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner hit big shots and connected from the free throw line to preserve the lead. Max Merz got the Fraport Skyliners going as he gave his team a 4-0 run with free throws and a lay in after gobbling up an offensive rebound as Frankfurt led 68-50. Alba Berlin fought back one last time going on a 12-3 run to cut the Frankfurt lead to 71-62. Kikanovic remained aggressive in the paint getting two scores while ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Tony Gaffney made a tip in dunk and Akpinar dropped a pretty step back trey. Despite a AJ English three pointer. Alba Berlin was able to cut the lead to 10 points one more time as Giffey made a reverse lay up to trail only 76-66, but Max Merz closed the door on Alba Berlin personally leading his team on a 5-2 run to lead 81-68 as he nailed three free throws and put up the perfect alley-op pass to Morrison for that last season hard dunk. Carl English hit one more trey with a minute to go, but it was too little too late as Alba Berlin had a short plane ride home to think about their loss and how they would challenge the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg on Monday at home. “Our defense tonight was the way we should of played all season. We played team basketball in the last 25 minutes”, stated Stefan Ilzhoefer. “In the fourth they were playing free with no pressure and had it rolling and kept it going and we just couldn´t get over the hump”, added Carl English. The Fraport Skyliners were led by AJ English with 19 points, four rebounds and eight assists. Quantez Robertson produced 18 points while Niklas Kiel supplied 16 points and Mike Morrison had 15 points. Alba Berlin was led by Elmeden Kikanovic with 15 points. Bogdan Radosavljevic supplied 12 points and seven rebounds while Carl English added 11 points and eight rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 33% from outside while Alba Berlin shot 41% from the field and 38% from outside. Alba Berlin won the rebound duel 36-33, but had 20 turnovers while Frankfurt had 17 turnovers.

Carlton Guyton (Basketball Lowen Braunschweig) Proving His BBL Season Was No Fluke

The German Pro A is filled with talented and skilled guards with a dime a dozen being an understatement, but moreover about as many players as there are Bulls fans in his home town of Chicago still unaware who new German shooting star Paul Zipser is and who still don´t know how to pronounce his name correctly as it isn´t like the zipcode, but moreover like Cipser if your saying the name from a German standpoint. Every club in the German Pro A have adept guards who are still looking for that big chance to make the next step up to the BBL or another top level in Europe as the list is as unending as the debate between Michael Jordan and Lebron James as who is really the best ever. There are guys like Cologne´s Richard Williams or MBC Marcus Hatten that have reached the big dance in Germany, but the again other players like Virgil Matthews of Chemnitz, Carrington Love of Kirchheim, Chase Adams of Paderborn, Eugene Harris of Hanau or Diante Watkins of Nurnberg who could surely get a shot at the BBL, but so far are still waiting for that golden opportunity. One guy who has been toiling in the Pro A for years is Virgil Matthews who continues to put up very solid stats filling up the stat sheet like a Nicolas Batum can and has scratched the triple double surface , but at the end of every summer, it was the same story as he ended up again in the Pro A getting passed up by BBL teams. However two guys that have made the jump to the BBL this season after years of being overlooked in the Pro A have been Carlos Medlock who played three seasons in the Pro A with Crailsheim, Wurzburg and Vechta and Carlton Guyton who also had to wait three seasons before making the BBL promised land playing in Ehingen and Gotha. For Medlock reaching the BBL this season was more than bitter sweet as he had been the point guard in charge the last three seasons helping his teams move up to the BBL, but wasn´t kept for the next season, while for Guyton it wasn´t as dramatic as he was rewarded for his good play in Gotha helping build a playoff team. Curiously both guys ended up with the same club this season with the Basket Lowen Braunschweig as German head coach Frank Menz believed in their abilities and both have shown that their BBL season has been no fluke. Playing with the older Medlock has been a blessing in disguise for Guyton. “It’s been a pleasure to play with Los! After competing against him for so many years I was very familiar with his game. We had our share of battles. Now us being on the same team, every night I know I can count on him to bring it! Also with him having more experience than me I try to learn his little vet tricks”, smiled Carlton Guyton.

The road to the German BBL has been a long one for Carlton Guyton and it had to start somewhere as even in teenager years, the current 26 year old 193cm guard had to prove himself which has been a standard procedure in the last 8 years.


Braydon Hobbs (ratiopharm Ulm) FC Bayern Munich Was A Tough Loss But We Have Responded In The Right Way

Braydon Hobbs is a 27 year old 196cm point guard playing his third season in Germany and first with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he played for the  Giessen 46ers playing 33 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.8apg, Steals-3(1.7spg), FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 86.8%. Two seasons ago he played for  rent4office Nuernberg (Germany-ProA) where he averaged 11,9ppg, 4.1rpg, Assists-4(5.9apg), Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 82.4% . He started his basketball career in 2008 with Bellarmine (NCAA2) playing a total of 133 games. He turned professional in 2012 and played for Caceres Basket (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 35 games: 7.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 87.9%. In 2013-2014 he played for Alba Fehervar (Hungary-A Division, starting five): Eurocup: 10 games: 11.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 52.3%; Hungarian League: 32 games: 9.1ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-2(2.3spg), FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 72.7%. He also played three summers professionally in Australia. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners.


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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Braydon Hobbs when he played for NBC in the Pro A in Giessen after a playoff game in 2015

Braydon thanks for talking to German HoopsYou have spent your third Easter in a row in Germany. What have you learned to appreciate most about Easter in Germany that you haven´t had in the States?

Easter is always a good time of year, whether I’m in the US or in Germany. I appreciate the time I get with my family here in Germany though. A lot of the stores are closed on Friday and then again on Monday so it gives me a lot of time to spend with the family at home.

After winning 26 games in a row, you lost to FC Bayern Munich recently, but since beat Wurzburg and Giessen. Is basketball life back to normal in Ulm?

Basketball life is definitely back to normal after the loss. It was a tough loss, but I think we have responded in the right way.


Being Patient With The Process Has Finally Paid Off For Vincent Sanford

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miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Vincent Sanford after scoring 10 points, hauling down four rebounds, dishing out three assists and getting three steals against Pro B team Dragons in Rhondorf.

There is one thing you can´t take away from Vincent Sanford and that is his unending drive like a starved kitten who is shyly and timidly strolling down a city alley looking for any tiny scraps of food preferably tuna fish or it´s abandoned mother to keep chipping away at not only being the best player that he possibly can, but too also never lose that fierce desire to play at the best level even if it has been a slow process. He definitely doesn´t have the same route like a Malcolm Delaney or Brian Roberts who played at high levels like the easyCredit BBL and then made the jump to the NBA, but the American who lists Mr cross over Kemba Walker as his hardest opponent in the NCAA has had to toil in lower leagues in Europe, but now has reached the EasyCredit BBL in Germany. Sanford is a 26 year old 190cm guard from Lexington, Kentucky that has continued to battle the odds and now with possibly the help of a coaching change with s.Oliver Wurzburg and has reached one of the top leagues in Europe in Germany with the EasyCredit BBL by accident even if he has the talent. Four months ago, the basketball life of Vincent Sanford looked a lot different.


Richard Freudenberg Watches The Fraport Skyliners Three Point Crunch Time Party Overpower Science City Jena 69-61

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber´s first encounter with Immanuel Mcelroy in the locker room after he won the 2005 BBL cup with Rhein Energie Köln in Frankfurt


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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing BBL identity figure Immanuel Mcelroy of Science City Jena after 69-61 loss in Frankfurt

The highlight for Easter for any child is too be able to go into the yard and explore and hunt for those chocolate easter eggs that are already melting in their mouth, but if you are an old school BBL basketball fan in Frankfurt the gigantic highlight on Easter Monday is entering the Fraport arena and seeing two real professional basketball dinosaurs playing together and still playing the game they love with Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy. Which one of these BBL legends would come away with the most chocolate eggs if they would have a contest is difficult to determine, but it would definitely be a very competitive match. You obviously cant compare these two BBL veterans to future NBA legends, but their longevity, importance and play in the German BBL can be compared to the likes of the Lebron´s and Melo´s of the league. These two BBL players just keep coming back and don´t want to retire. Jenkins is 36 and Mcelroy is 37 and still going strong. Their longevity speaks for itself as combined they have played up to this season a total of 630 BBL games and 201 international club games and share 10 titles between them. The massive experience doesn´t end there as there is also Wayne Bernard who rounds out the trio as he is 35 and is only playing his 5th BBL season but 9th straight season in Germany and can boast 136 BBL games going into this season. Jenkins and Mcelroy have been BBL identity figures for over 10 years and it will be a sad day in German basketball when these two retire, so there were probably quite a few Skyliner fans that were hoping that this wasn´t their last appearance in Frankfurt. However the Frankfurt fans only had Immanuel Mcelroy to observe as Julius Jenkins was out with an injury and saw how Science City Jena dominated in the first half, but fell apart in the second half as a hot shooting Jenkins was dearly missed as they lost 69-61. After the defeat, Mcelroy was stretching his sore muscles and if his words of retirement were really genuine after the loss was hard to tell, but if he keeps battling guys like Quantez Robertson on a regular basis who make him go to his limit then this might have been his last game in Frankfurt. “It is always fun to play  against a competitor like Robertson who does everything on the court. I respect him a lot and how he competes at both ends of the court”, stressed ex Alba Berlin guard Immanuel Mcelroy. For Quantez Robertson, it is no different in that he is only 4 years younger than Mcelroy, but has had numerous battles with the ex Braunschweig player over the years. “It is always fun to play against him, because he competes at both ends of the court. We both know each others moves well and try to trick the other one”, stressed ex Auburn star Quantez Robertson.


‘Ich Bin Ein Oldenburger’ Rickey Paulding Remains Their Kennedy Staying Until 2019

The well known speech from John F Kennedy in Berlin where he uttered the famous and unforgetable words “ich bin ein Berliner” may be more than 53 years old, but that remains something that every kid learns about in the history books from Brooklyn, New York to Perth, Australia and yesterday Rickey Paulding (196-F/G-82, college: Missouri) let “Ich bin ein Oldenburger” slip his tongue and got standing ovations for minutes in the EWE arena in Oldenburg. Paulding’s 4 words won’t ever get the world wide press or rememberance as Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner”, but in Oldenburg Paulding will always be their Kennedy.The reason for the long standing ovations and fuss about Paulding was on account of the announcement that he will remain in Oldenburg until 2019 which would give him 12 years in the BBL with one team which is as seldom seen in the BBL as it is teammate Brian Qvale attempting more than one trey a game which he did against the Telekom Baskets Bonn this season and hit both and brings his total of three point attempts in 6 professional seasons to only 14. It is just not a given in todays age of where money rules and the game is a business that a player will remain with one team for that long a period. At the end of this contract extension he will have eclipsed the longevity of Fraport Skyliner legend Pascal Roller who was 11 years with Frankfurt.


De´mon Brooks (medi Bayreuth) I Try To Focus On Things That Don’t Show In The Stat Sheet

De´Mon Brooks is a 24 year old 202cm forward from Charlotte, North Carolina that is playing his third professional season and first in Germany with medi Bayreuth. He started his basketball career in 2010 with Davidson (NCAA) where he played until 2014playing a total of 123 NCAA games. As a senior he played 24 games averaging 17.3ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 56.4%, FT: 75.3%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with Givova Napoli Basket (Italy-A2 Gold): 17 games: 17.5ppg, 8.2rpg, 2FGP: 58.9%, 3FGP: 32.4%, FT: 77.6%, in Feb.’15 moved to Galil Gilboa (Israel-Winner League): 14 games: 9.3ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 57.5%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 69.6%. Last season he played with Orsi Derthona Basket Tortona (Italy-Serie A2, starting five): 39 games: 15.7ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 82.3%. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners in Bayreuth.

Demon thanks for talking to German Hoops. A tough 83-65 loss against Brose Bamberg. How much did the big 28-18 first quarter kind of set the path for the visitors to victory?

Bamberg is a great team. They did a good job controlling the speed of the game and making us work hard for every shot on offense. We knew coming in that we needed to start strong. We just a trouble getting into a rhythm.

How disappointing was this loss? Medi Bayreuth played Bamberg tough in the first game losing only by 4 points and had chances to win. Bamberg won the rebounding battle, but you had 5 extra possessions with only 8 turnovers against a very tough defense. Where do you feel was this game lost?

It is always tough to lose no matter who the opponent is. Bamberg did a good job moving the ball getting great shots. Their efficiency on offense is what stood out this game.

If everything goes to plan then you should finish 4-1 or at least 3-2. Will that be enough to secure home court advantage in the playoffs?

Our goal right now is to take one game at a time and finish the season as strong as possible to obtain home court advantage. We have some tough opponents coming up, and in the BBL nothing is certain.