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.
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.
Alex Foster is a 24 year old 203cm forward that grew up in Portland, Oregon and also has the German citizenship and is playing his second professional season with the RheinStars(Germany-ProA). Last season as a rookie with the RheinStars he played 29 games averaging 9.6ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 41.3%, 3PT: 33.5%, FT: 78.4%He played at Emory (NCAA3) from 2011-2015 playing a total of 108 NCAA3 games and as a senior played 20.1ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 39.9%, FT: 79.8%. He was able to improve his scoring and rebounding average each season. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Thanks Alex for talking to German HoopsHow did you get into 2017 and did you have any new years resolutions or are you more a guy that doesn´t believe in that hype?
I brought in the New Year with friends here in Cologne, but didn’t make any big new years resolutions. I still have some goals from 2016 that I’m working towards.
This season the RheinStars didn´t have a long holiday break as you had a game on the 23rd of December against the ETB Wohnbau Baskets and on the seventh of January against Baunach. Do you feel this was more beneficial in keeping the team sharp or could a few more days rest helped the club?
Last season we only got two days off, so this year’s holiday break felt much longer. Unfortunately, we went into the break after a bitter loss. It was tough having to wait so long to play again, but once I put that loss behind me, I enjoyed the holidays with my family. As for the team, I think everyone came back from the break with some extra motivation for the second half of the season.
Brian Butler is a 25 year old 196cm German forward playing his second season with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen (ProB) where currently he is averaging 13,5ppg, 6,5rpg and 2,1apg. He started his basketball career with the FC Bayern Muenchen junior team (NBBL) and then moved to BG Illertal/Weissenhorn (ProB) where he played from 2010-2013 playing a total of 74 Pro B games. He then played two seasons with Erdgas Ehingen/Urspringschule (ProA) playing 65 Pro A games. He spoke to German Hoopsabout his season and being invited to the 2017 EasyCredit BBL allstar game slam dunk contest.
Brian thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on getting elected to the 2017 EasyCredit BBL Slam Dunk contest. What was your first response when you heard of this honor?
Thanks ! I was speechless! I did get a call from our manager past Friday after practice so my first reaction was what did I do wrong and then he told me that the BBL called and asked if I can compete in the slamdunk contest and that my coach and him agreed that I can. So I was really happy and thankful that they let me go.
How cool is it in general that the league makes an exception and invites a player from a lower league? Two years ago Weissenhorn German Marvin Omuvie was invited.
It’s really cool for me it’s an big opportunity to show my talent on a bigger stage of course it’s just dunking but yeah it’s what I can do best and I love doing.
On a saturday morning in mid July, basketball freaks in Germany could expect one or two basketball rumours to be surfacing online about a player heading to a Beko BBL, Pro A or Pro B team, but generally it’s too early for any team to give a press release as those tend to surface later in the afternoon. In the last 24 hours, there had been some basketball rumours being talked about like ex Beko BBL player Filiberto Rivera who has been out of Europe since 2011 and been playing in the Americas the last years or Kyon Anderson from TCU who was linked to medi Bayreuth, but the most surprising news of the early weekend and something that became reality was that a young man by the name of Makai Mason (185-G) had suddenly popped into the minds of basketball fanatics in Germany, but did anyone know him? At first glance, the name doesn’t really sound German and at second glance why would the German basketball federation announce a press release with his name? Apparently nobody really knew that he had ties to Germany and he came out of the wood work and notified the German basketball federation that he had a German passport and asked may I play for Germany? After his hello, the German basketball federation invited him to a training camp on July 21st in Wurzburg where he will meet possible new teammates for this summer. The German basketball federation had to react as they had some cancellations as Anton Gavel, Lucca Staiger and Konstantin Klein all withdrew from competiting this summer.