Miles Schmidt-Scheuber Post game interview with Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ DiLeo in Frankfurt 2017
TJ DiLeo is a 26 year old 190cm guard playing his fourth professional season and first with the Telekom Baskets Bonn (Germany-BBL). He played the first three professional seasons with the Giessen 46ers playing 76 Pro A games from 2013-2015 and helping the team move to the BBL in 2015. Last season for GHiessen he played 19 games averaging 5.7ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 73.3%. . He played at Temple from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. In 2010, he played for the German U20 National Team in 2010 and played for the European Championships U20 in Croatia playing 9 games: 10.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP. He spoke to German Hoops before the Fiba Europe Cup game against Nanterre in Bonn.
TJ congrats on the 77-76 win against Nanterre in the Fiba Europe Cup competition. How did this win really feel considering your only half way to the Fiba Europe Cup top 4?
I think this win was really good for us mentally. We realize that we still have the second leg to play, but our goal was to go to Nanterre and get a win. Nanterre is a strong team that has played very well at home, so we are happy to be heading back to Bonn next week with a one point advantage.
Nanterre were in front for the most part of the first half, but shortly before the break you took the lead and would hang on to the end. How nerve-wracking was the second half for you personally?
It wasn’t too bad. During the game you forget about the nerves. Also, I knew we have some guys that really step up in important late game situations, so I had confidence.
In the last weeks do or die games as well as fascinating and breathtaking finishes like the unbelievable 75-73 win by North Carolina over Kentucky where Malik Monk´s last second shot was overturned by Luke Maye´s last triple with 0,3 seconds remaining to propel the Tar Heels into the 2017 NCAA Final 4 were as usual as it has been for ratiopharm Ulm winning and winning in the BBL this season, but also in the NBBL playoffs do or die games have been growing as last weekend the Igeko Falcons BC Nurnberg had to win at home against Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners to keep their season alive and did with a super performance as they won 63-51 stepping up their defense allowing 29 less points than in game one and carved the total points by German wonder boy Isaac Bonga and Cosmo Gruehn in half from 57 points to only 29 points and forced them to coughing up the ball 20 times with their aggressive defense. It hadn´t helped the cause of Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners that they were without their other strong performer Konstantin Schubert as he had been nursing an ankle injury. Both teams arrived into the game with their two star players Isaac Bonga who registered his first triple double in the Pro B a few weeks ago and is a projected 2018 NBA Draft Pick and Moritz Sanders who currently is averaging 7,2ppg in the Pro A and quietly developing further as a basketball player and were hoping to move on and face the International Basketball Academy Munich with their star player Oscar De La Silva. Despite being without second top scorer German Konstantin Schubert again for the third time in the series, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had enough other weapons and depth and took advantage of their home court despite some loud Nurnberg fans who had made the trip to cheer on the kids and escaped a last furious comeback by their opponent to slip into the quarterfinals with a satisfying 70-60 victory.
Isaac Bonga and Miles Schmidt-Scheuber: Postgame interview in Rhöndorf, December 2016
It was a game that Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners led from early on, but allowed Igeko Nurnberg Falcons BC very close in crunch time, but it was the overall sound team play and superb leadership by 17 year old Isaac Bonga that allowed the home team to preserve the win. After the quick win, Bonga had exactly one hour and five minutes before his next game in the BBL against the Telekom Baskets Bonn and was dripping with sweat outside the locker room and showed absolutely no panic about having to get to the Fraport arena in time and reflected about the victory and keeping a cool head at the end. “I knew from the start that I had to take responsibility today. That is my job as point guard. We were always awake in the game and stayed calm even in tough times”, stressed Isaac Bonga.
When Bonga was long gone and on his way to the Fraport arena for the 10 minute drive from the BCM gym, Cosmo Gruehn was still on the court stretching and found the right words for the win. “Rebounds was key today as we were the better rebounding team in the first half and also defense as we held them to 60 points. We also did a good job keeping Sanders and Hassfuerter in check. We didn´t have to rely as much on our outside shooting like in game two, but were able to penetrate more with success”, added ex USC Freiburg big man Cosmo Gruehn.
Roland Nyama is a 23 year old 198cm forward from Frankfurt, Germany that has the German/Cameroonian citzenship and recently finished his college career at Stony Brook(NCAA) after three seasons. He started his basketball career with the FTG Frankfurt junior team. He then got further valuable basketball experience with Eintracht Frankfurt (2.Regionalliga) in 2008. He then continued to play with Eintracht Frankfurt (2.Regionalliga) from 2009-2011 while also playing for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt II (Germany-ProB) where he played 6 games in two years. In 2011, he came to the United States and played for the Holderness School. He came to Stony Brook in 2013 and in his first full season played 34 games averaging 7.5ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 69.2%. In his last season he played 32 games averaging 10,3ppg, 4,4rpg and 1,4apg He spoke to German Hoops after announcing he would turn professional and before signing with German agency Scorers First.
Roland thanks for talking to German Hoops! You recently played your last college game against Illinois-Chicago. Did you know after the completion of 40 minutes that it would be your last NCAA game?
Hey Miles, thanks for having me. Yea I’ve known for a while that’s why I wanted to advance as far as possible in our season. I was actually sick that game and wanted to help contribute.
Last season Stony Brook made the last dance March Madness, but this season you lost the final ACE game too Albany 63-56. How crushing was it losing this game and did this loss have an effect on you deciding to leave school after only three seasons?
No the loss didn’t really have anything to do with it. Obviously I would’ve loved to go out winning the conference again but overall we exceeded expectations and had a successful season.
You recently announced that you were leaving school for going your last year of elegibility to turn professional. How did this whole process come about and how difficult or easy was it making this decision?
The first time I thought about leaving early was when I was hurt with my knee injury and realized that a basketball career can be over in a heartbeat. So I wanted to maximize my potential playing career but get my degree first. It was tough since I’ve made so many connections here and Stony Brook became my second home but at the end of the day I felt like it was the best decision to leave.
Even if they don´t want to admit it, guys like Travis Thompson, Garai Zeeb or Konstantin Schubert will never forget the massive one sided drubbing they got last season in the playoffs as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors got hammered by Weissenhorn in game one by 69 points, but for some reason, the club has had a knack of rebounding back from tough situations as they came back strong rebounding from that massacre and winning two do or die games in a row and advancing to the pro B finals where they were swept by Ehingen. This season, they had a do or die game on the last game day beating the Giants Nordlingen in fine fashion as they were led by Isaac Bonga who celebrated his first professional triple double. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors slid into the Pro B playoffs with a 4 game winning streak and a lot of momentum, but that came to a crushing halt as they were brought down to reality as they faced top Pro B north team Lok Bernau losing 75-64. German wunderkind Isaac Bonga was close to another triple double as he finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, but the overall team carelessness with taking care of the ball in the second half set their doom as they coughed up the ball 22 times while Lok Bernau has only 10 turnovers thus giving them 12 extra possessions. It was time for the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to rebound back again as they had another do or die situation, but they were at home in their own Basketball City Mainhatten living room and still had the memory of their big do or die win against the Giants Nordlingen two weeks ago and wanted to force another do or die game in Bernau and did setting the tone of the game early and breaking away in the second quarter and never looked back as the Frankfurt depth was too much for the Lok Bernau depth as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors brushed aside Lok Bernau 76-61. After the match, a content top scorer Travis Thompson was all smiles reminiscing about the big do or die win. “We came out good early and rebounded well. We moved ball better and Isaac Bonga hit some three´s. We were able to stop their run and were able to make our own run. We also hit many timely shots that helped us get this win”, stressed Alaska native Travis Thompson. After the loss, 31 year old BBL veteran Robert Kulawick who played 294 games in the BBL showed his role model style carrying the water bottles to the locker room something that usually is reserved for the kids was very disappointed with the performance of his team. “We slept at the start and didn´t have the needed intensity which punished us to the end. I have to compliment my team for the comeback, but it came down to not getting stops and then Frankfurt coming back and hitting a three. I have to compliment Frankfurt for holding us to 61 points. They did a very good job”, stressed 2010 Eurochallenge winner Robert Kulawick.
It seems like it was only yesterday when Donald Trump was putting on the last final touches of his 2016 Presidential campaign and the NBBL season was just getting into swing, but after a few months the regular season is winding down and the playoffs are looming quickly. For one team, the playoffs were already booked while the other team was fighting for that last spot. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had a 10-3 record and sitting in position two despite having lost two of the last three games, but won their last game in Langen 92-68 where Cosmo Gruehn poured in 28 points. In their two previous games, they had lost to ratiopharm Ulm and Urspirng where they were missing their four top players and were led by players like Leon Pullen and Oliver Babitsch who usually get lesser minutes. On the other side of the court the Young Tigers Tuebingne arrived into the game with a 6-7 record and in fifth place battling Urspring for that last playoff spot who also had a record of 6-7, the Young Tigers Tuebingen had to win their last game in Frankfurt to reach the playoffs since they had won both regular season games against Urspring. However Eintracht Frankfurt had their allstar ensemble on board and wanted to cruise into the NBBL playoffs with full force and easily took apart the Young Tigers Tuebingen 75-52 on a wet Sunday afternoon. Only 16 hours earlier 17 year old German wunderkind Isaac Bonga had experienced his first big milestone as a professional registering his first triple double of the season with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win against Nordlingen propelling the Pro B team Fraport Skyliners Juniors into the playoffs. Bonga wasn´t as good against Tuebingen as he only had six points and six turnovers, but was solid on the boards with seven rebounds and had seven assists, but it didn´t really matter since his team had strong support from their three starters Konstantin Schubert, Cosmo Gruehn and Niklas Pons who combined for 44 points and young 16 year old German Alvin Onyia gave good energy from the bench netting 13 points. After the game Konstantin Schubert who is the clean cut guy who never looks like he broke a sweat, but looks more like a young banker in training understood that the club wasn´t totally consistent, but important that everyone was on board. “We had our ups and downs, but was a good preparation for the playoffs. We wanted to go into the playoffs with force and it was important that everyone could play together. We did a good job rebounding and had the height advantage and really took advantage of it”, stressed Konstantin Schubert.
The Young Tigers Tuebingen big highlight of the season was sweeping top German youth team Urspring, but lost both games to TV Langen probably costing them the playoffs, but head coach Manuel Pasios was still content with the performance of his team against a very strong Frankfurt squad. “It was a very scrappy game. Our three point shooting kept us in the game. We were at a big disadvantage under the boards as we couldn´t compensate their height. Frankfurt gave their all and wanted to go into the playoffs strong. We were able to annoy them only a little with our press, but that was it”, stressed Young Tigers head coach Manuel Pasios.
In the Second German Bundesliga also known as the Pro A, there is an influx of American point guards controlling the starting job positions as rapidly as men do the remote control on Sundays during the fall between the time of 1.00-7.00pm when the NFL season is in full gear and the only thing getting a man away from the couch is that unwanted bathroom stop or the quick five second sprint to the refrigerator for the next cold beer. When checking all the teams in the league, you will find all kinds of American point guards from the ones that have battled in the EasyCredit BBL like Richard Williams of the RheinStars Cologne or guys like Diante Watkins that had to first prove himself in the Pro B before making the step up and now belongs to the top 5 guards in the league or a guy like Chris Alexander who seems to have lived in the Pro A his whole career, but the least can believe how a guy like him went from being the Pro A top scorer with Essen in 2015 to signing the next season with a Regionalliga team FC Schalke. All in all, fans can witness the American talent at the point guard position each weekend as the names go on and one with guys like basketball globetrotter Marcus Hatten or a Carrington Love of Kirchheim or a Chase Adams from Paderborn or a Devin Moore from Ehingen. It is important to mention though that the top point guard this season in the Pro A isn´t an American or German, but is a 21 year old Slovenian by the name of Aleksej Nikolic who is averaging 18,1ppg and 6,9apg who is only practicing his talent in the Pro A as he gets further groomed by Brose Bamberg with whom he has a double license. With so many top talented American point guards in the Pro A, isn´t there any room for home grown German talent? Statistics won´t lie as there are Germans around, but most likely filling a back up position or still developing and too young to be getting anything more than garbage time. However there are a few German starting point guards in the Pro A holding their own like 26 year old Anthony Canty of the Hamburg Towers who is considered the best German point guard in the league averaging 15,2ppg and 4,0apg, 25 year old Till Joscha Joenke of the Hebeisen White Wings who is averaging 10,6ppg, 4,7rpg and 4,6apg and 27 year old Simon Schmitz of the Romerstrom Gladiators Trier who is averaging 10,9ppg and 5,2apg. All three have played in the EasyCredit BBL, but never accounted too anything except a back up role. “Till is a good young German point guard that one can learn from. He has a good drive and is physically strong. Till has already breathed BBL air and I think he will go his way into the BBL”, warned Daniel Mixich. They definitely have the talent to be on a BBL roster, but the question is if they want to have that back up roles again? Where is the new generation of German point guards in the Pro A. They are around, but are as abundant as finding a priest convention in Las Vegas. One of the biggest German raw talents in the Pro A is Daniel Mixich who is only 19 years old and started his first pro A season with 17 years with BV Chemnitz where he is now playing his third full season. Mixich is a very interesting player who was a member of the German U-20 team in 2016 and has a bright future ahead of him, but has one obstacle in his drive to get to the top in that he first needs to earn that secure starting point guard job in the Pro A.
Chemnitz: Basketball-Bundesliga ProA. BV Chemnitz 99 (Niners) vs. Baunach Young Pikes Daniel Mixich Foto: Peter Zschage
Mixich may be a 182 cm point guard and only 19, but has already experienced a lot of basketball at a young age and at times when seeing his name in the Pro A box scores the last years, one may have thought he would be in his early twenties to mid twenties, but he is in fact still a teenager that has a lot of basketball in front of him and like any other young German player wants to get to the top. A big advantage for him who is a player that plays beyond his age is that he was introduced to the men´s game when just about every other kid his age was playing Batman Arkham City or Portal 2 on Play Station or going to watch the big men play basketball in some huge 10,000 plus arena in Berlin or the small school gym´s where German Pro A, Pro B or Regionaliga games take place.
The expressions on the faces of the players of the Dragons Rhondorf and TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were like night and day last weekend as the two teams fighting for the right to play in the playoffs continued with the Dragons Rhondorf losing a bitter game in Frankfurt while the Bavarian team Wurzburg slapped the top ranked team PS Karlsruhe. After the 91-82 loss in Frankfurt, Rhondorf beast Aaron Nelson was lying on the floor in front of his own bench feeling as worn out as a antelope who has been chased around and beaten all day long by cheetah´s in the jungle. Nelson had had another typical day at the office scoring 33 points and securing nine rebounds, but still lost on the road in Frankfurt. About 120 kilometers away TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were having a serious slugfest with the top ranked Pro B team PS Karlsruhe and somehow managed a 89-86 win where they took apart the leagues number one defense scoring 53 points in the first half. In the fourth quarter, they showed real heart and discipline withstanding all PS Karlsruhe comebacks never letting them get the lead back and also showed their German consistency as they had the majority of the load scoring most points as the American tandem of Barksdale and Sanford produced only one bucket. Both teams need wins as the season is winding down with a month left and both teams are fighting for a playoff place as both have 14 points and identical 7-10 records, but Rhondorf currently has the eighth and last playoff spot while Wurzburg was in ninth place. The Dragons Rhondorf won the first meeting of the season on the road 81-71 as they had their problems rebounding and taking care of the ball, but the fact that Wurzburg connected only on two tries from downtown sealed their fate. TG s.Oliver Wurzburg took the court in Rhondorf wanting revenge for their loss at home while the Dragons wanted to take advantage of their home court and fans saw an exciting basketball game that was filled with runs and a massive comeback by the Bavarian team, but the home team Dragons Rhondorf had nerves of steel in crunch-time overcoming TG s.Oliver Wurzburg 84-77.
After the win, a thrilled Mike Lucier who hit the last four free throws of the game explained the secret to sweeping TG s.Oliver Wurzburg. “We both needed the win and we knew that they would come out and play well. They fought well and made a nice run at the end, but we did a good job not losing control and closing out the game strong. Viktor Frankl-Maus was huge at the end, getting the steal, basket and making the no look pass to Wendeler for the basket. He has been doing it all season long and we can always count on him when he has the ball in his hands”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf forward Mike Lucier. After the contest a disappointed Vincent Sanford was trying to analyze why they lost and also found some positives. “We had problems executing and finishing around the basket. We didn´t do a good job handling their runs and had bad phases on defense. I thought we played defense as hard as we could and did a pretty good job on Aaron Nelson”, stressed ex Georgetown guard Vincent Sanford. “This was a super win and I am very happy. We had some dumb mistakes, but tomorrow nobody will remember that. It was important that we won and stayed together without Aaron Nelson who left the game hurt”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski.