Four and a half months ago, the 2017-2018 NBBL season commenced with the best young German players and also from other countries going head to head to capture the best record possible, and now on the last game day of the regular season some teams are smiling and getting excited for the playoffs while other teams are looking to have successful playdown games. For Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners they have had a good push to the playoffs having won four of their last five games while Team Bonn/Rhondorf after a terrible begin to the season where they lost their first four games have played a lot better basketball in the last weeks having won five of their last seven games. In the first meeting of the season, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners won on the road against team Bonn/Rhondorf 76-65. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners did have their difficulty keeping the Team Bonn/Rhondorf away from the glass losing the rebound battle 41-28, but it was their aggressive defense that carried them for 40 minutes to the win. They forced Team Bonn/Rhondorf to an outrageous 30 turnovers and had 16 extra possessions which was instrumental in helping Frankfurt get the victory. Both teams met on Sunday afternoon in Frankfurt at Basketball City Mainhaiten and fans saw a tight first quarter, but Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners broke away in the second quarter and never looked back riding into the playoffs with an easy 82-54 win against Team Bonn/Rhondorf. After the game a content 15 year old German Len Schoormann who was top scorer in the game with 17 points and once again displayed his versatility with scoring, passing, rebounding, making steals and sheer athleticism was beaming with joy and was thrilled with the performance of the team. All 11 players of Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners scored and left the floor as happy winners. “That was our best game of the season. Our defense was really good. Our strong defense got our offense rolling. Coach really had us motivated and played good team offense and defense. When we are all communicating is when we play as a team. When we aren´t communicating is when we play more 1-1. Our ball movement was very good and everybody felt comfortable having the ball in their hands”, stressed Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners guard Len Schoormann. Team Bonn/Rhondorf played a solid first quarter, but then couldn´t get adjusted to the pesky Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners press defense and couldn´t stop their penetration. After the game a pooped Jona Thiel was disappointed with the effort of his club. “We lost our consistency from the first quarter. We just weren´t mentally there from the second quarter until the end. We had a game plan for their press defense, but mentally couldn´t cope with it. We usually play man, but played zone against their athleticism, but we didn´t defend well and they shot well against our zone. Their athleticism and deny defense was too much for us”, added Team Bonn/Rhondorf center Jona Thiel.
The NBBL regular season is slowly winding down as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners with a record of 8-4 are going down a straight path to the playoffs while the RheinStars Cologne were caught in quick sand early on losing three of their first four games and couldn´t react properly and are going down a different path without the playoffs. In their first meeting in Cologne in November, Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners gave a solid performance over 40 minutes winning 84-65 despite coughing up the ball an unacceptable 22 times. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners relied on their consistent defense, depth as German Denis Machlab who isn´t known as a scorer contributed 16 points and six boards in 24 minutes and on their rebounding as they outrebounded the RheinStars 42-30. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners was unable to keep Colognes top prospect Tillmann Woerner who showed his versatile and unselfish play netting 20 points and dishing out seven assists. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners relied on their deep roster in the first win in Cologne as they had four guys scoring in double figures with Machlab, Maxi Begue, Niklas Pons and Leon Puellen. Both teams met in Frankfurt in the pretty BCM gym in the return game which has welcomed NBA players like Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Arroyo and Alan Anderson over the years for an early 1.00pm Sunday matinee. Fans witnessed an exciting ending as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners squeaked out a nail bitter 68-64 as they cruise into the playoffs. Even if the game seemed decided at half time, the RheinStars never gave up and stepped up their game in the second half and could even have won the game on their last possession, but in the end Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners had the better nerves. The Fraport Skyliners have been known for years to not only developing young talent, but also finding those young 13-14 year old kids and reeling them in. The next big talent Len Schoormann has been tearing up the JBBL(U-16 league) where he once scored 42 points in a game, but he also has adjusted to the NBBL(U-19 league) and had his real breakout game netting the RheinStars for 26 points showing everyone his world on the court and doing absolute everything on the court and filling the stat sheet like a Russell Westbrook. After the win, the 15 year German reflected on the win and his break out game and was very eloquent and seemed very at ease talking basketball. “We lost our rhythm a bit in the third quarter. We had the needed energy and we knew we had to win to get the home court advantage in the playoffs. Overall we moved the ball well and our good offense gave us more energy to play good defense. I have gotten better into the team the last weeks. There is a difference to the JBBL as here the guys are bigger, understand the game better, have more experience and the skill level is higher. It was important for me that I started off well hitting my first shots which brought me self confidence”, stressed Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners guard Len Schoormann. The RheinStars Cologne played their hearts out and gave everything despite not having their two top scorers on board. After the loss, one could see the disappointment on the faces of the young players and 16 year old 200cm German Thomas Fankhauser was sad, but also proud of his teammates who never gave up. “We slept at the start, but heightened our game in the second half. We gave a great team effort. We fought hard and it was too bad we couldn´t pull it out at the end. We did a good job compensating the loses of two top players. I felt we moved the ball well and did what the game gave us well”, added RheinStars forward Thomas Fankhauser.
Even if Philip Scrubb has been the big story with the Fraport Skyliners as his magical scoring has produced one or more fans for the quiet Canadian, but also the steady emergence of Isaac Bonga at the guard positions as well as Jules Akodo and Garai AZeeb who have been carrying the Pro B team Fraport Skyliners Juniors with their important leadership as well as their hot and timely shooting this season. However there is another highly talented player in the Fraport Skyliners organization that is looking to follow in the footsteps of these German guards with Maxi Begue. The 16 year old 192cm point guard that started his career with BC Darmstadt and could get mixed up with Tai Webster just from their hair style has been on fire the last weeks. In two of three games, he was the key figure in crunch-time propelling Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners past Leverkusen and the Metropol Baskets Ruhr with his good decision making and precision shooting. He exploded for 30 points in Hagen, but the club lost a nail bitter, but other than that the German U-16 national player has been moving along steadily with his development. He hit the floor in his living room against Roth Energie BBA Giessen 46ers looking to help his team get revenge for the loss in their first meeting where he didn´t play, but had to content with talented young German point guard Bjarne Kraushaar who like Isaac Bonga belongs to their EasyCredit BBL team and had to watch how Kraushaar took apart his team in the fourth quarter as he exploded for 17 of his 29 points leading Roth Energie BBA Giessen 46ers past Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners 68-54. After the contest, Kraushaar was pouring with sweat, but still had enough energy to sport a smile after playing 38 minutes only 16 hours after helping the BBL team win in Braunschweig where he steered 8 points. “We didn´t defend well in the first half not playing team basketball, but in the second half we hustled better, played team basketball and hit shots”, added 2013 JBBL rookie of the year Bjarne Kraushaar. After the game Maxi Begue exited the locker room after his seven point game and reading disappoint on his face was an understatement. “We didn´t come out the way we wanted to from the start. We weren´t aggressive on defense or moving the ball the way we wanted to. We made bad decisions and when only two guys do the bulk of the scoring, you have to find a way to stop it”, stressed Maxi Begue.
Last season Maxi Begue already had his chance to breathe some NBBL air as he was placed into nine games, but saw the brunt of the action in the JBBL(U-19 league) where he led the team into the JBBL final 4 in Frankfurt. The NBBL last season was filled with many guards so he could learn from many including the highly talented Isaac Bonga, but with the 18 focused on his career and making the next step in the BBL, the 16 year old who will be turning 17 next year has been shoved into a big role, one he probably wouldn´t have had had Bonga not developed so nicely and was still playing in the NBBL this season. In the last two weeks, Begue has progressed immensely accepting that role of having to take much more responsibility and also coming through with success on the court. Three weeks ago, he had his big breakthrough scoring 30 points in Hagen, but wasn´t rewarded with a win as Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners lost 75-72, but two weeks ago had a big success moment after he showed what he was made of not having a good first half as the club was struggling, but breaking through in the second half and leading his team to a massive comeback and getting the 64-58 win against TSV Bayer o3 Leverkusen as he found his scoring stroke especially at the end as he nailed a big shot from the baseline helping secure the win. It will be interesting and exciting to see where his journey will go this season as his development process continues with every new game. Begue took his 4-2 team and met another 4-2 team with the Metropol Baskets Ruhr on a typical early Sunday afternoon game and did it again being masterful in crunch-time like against Leverkusen two weeks ago helping power his team to the 78-70 victory as he took in the last minutes supplying seven points as he finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. After the contest he seemed a little bashful in having to talk about his game once again. “My first six points today came quickly, but then for along time I didn´t score. In crunch-time I just did my thing which is to score. I did a good job hitting my mid distance shot out of the pick and roll while it was harder during the zone”, stressed Maxi Begue. Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners remained unbeaten at home and continued to develop as a team for 40 minutes as well as keeping their nerves intact in crunch-time. “Our strengths today was our defense, team basketball and ball movement. WE rebounded well, but also gave up a lot if offensive rebounds”, reflected Maxi Begue. After the loss a disappointed Till Hornscheidt who was the Metropol Baskets Ruhr top scorer on the loss, but was still content with how his team played. “I think that this was one of our best games this season. Frankfurt was the clear favorite, but we were at eye level with them. It hurt us that Fin Fleute was missing especially under the basket and I feel that he would of given us another option on offense”, stressed 16 year old Metropol Baskets Ruhr point guard.
It is that time of the year again where the biggest basketball talents meet and show their abilities on the court in Trevisio, Italy at the 2017 Adidas Eurocamp. Germany is in good company as it will be represented by guys like Karim Jallow of FC Bayern Munich, Louis Olinde of the Brose Baskets Bamberg and Kosja Mushidi of Mega Leks, but also from two other huge talents with Isaac Bonga and Richard Freudenberg from the Fraport Skyliners will also be present. At the 3 day camp from June 9-11, the young hopeful talents will play in front of current and former coaches and players like Thon Maker of the Milwaukee Bucks) and Russian legend Andrei Kirilenko. The players will be able to showcase their skills in drills as well as compete against each other in games. Well known players that played at the Adidas Eurocamp in the past have been 93 first and second round draft picks, including NBA standouts Serge Ibaka (208-C/F-89) (Toronto Raptors), Danilo Gallinari (208-SF-88) (Denver Nuggets), Goran Dragic (190-PG-86) (Miami HEAT), Brandon Ingram (206-SF-97, college: Duke) (Los Angeles Lakers), Jaylen Brown (201-F-96, college: California) (Boston Celtics), Dragan Bender (213-PF-97) (Phoenix Suns) and Thon Maker (216-C/F-97, college: High School) (Milwaukee Bucks). Forty-three former EUROCAMP participants currently hold NBA contracts and 64 currently play in EuroLeague Basketball.
Isaac Bonga comes into the camp as one of the biggest talents in Europe at the moment from the year 1999 and at only 17 years of age and 205cm still has a huge upside in his development and could use this camp as another opportunity to raise his NBA draft stock for 2018 as he is already for many experts seen as a top 10 draft pick.
The 2017 NBBL final was not even 30 minutes old and if one was roaming the catacombs in the Fraport arena, one would have observed intense sadness as IBAM players had their heads sunk low and others were feeling the sorrow even more like Johannes Klughardt as it was sinking in slowly. 19 year old Klughardt who started his career with TUS Uhrspringschule was in tears and was hugging his teammates like a 8 year old would their parents with that first overnight summer camp departure. He had made a clutch jumper and steal in the last minute to secure the IBAM win against Alba Berlin in the semi-final and the final was the last game for the German in the NBBL with this special group of guys as many will be too old to compete in the NBBL next season. Not only was Klughardt unhappy with the 94-71 NBBL final defeat at the hands of FC Bayern Munich as he also let some frustration out on an empty plastic bottle lying on the floor, but also his teammate 16 year old 186cm shooting guard and game changer Joshua Obiese who had a great semi-final game from the bench against Alba Berlin was feeling the grief of playing a last time with a very unusual group of guys and was near tears as he described playing that last game with Stanford bound Oscar Da Silva. “This last game was very emotional for me. I had a very special relationship with Oscar. We spent a lot of time together training together a lot during the afternoons. It is really hard to let go”, stressed Joshua Obiese. However for some fellows the frustration and down period after a tough loss escapes a mind quicker as others like Oscar Da Silva was already in future mode as he had an intense talk with German U-18 head coach Alan Ibrhimagic for about 10 minutes listening about how he should prepare for the summer national team time and one could of orchestrated a wet tee shirt contest next to him or had Lebron James walk by him and the 18 year old would not have flinched or lost concentration with his matter at hand. The young German is all business and already has the type of strong mentality that will carry him far at the professional level. For Da Silva, it was just another big game with many more too follow as he produced 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals and filled up the stat sheet like a Russell Westbrook. On the other side of the coin, the winners FC Bayern Munich were celebrating like no tomorrow, but one player won´t only remember the win, but also playing that last youth game against Da Silva. “It is always entertaining to play against Oscar. I never had as much fun as today as this was my first final. A guy like Oscar makes me so much better as you always have to play at a high level against him or you get eaten up”, warned FC Bayern Munich guard Nelson Weidemann.
The 2017 NBBL final was a tale of two halves as the fans saw a very balanced and even game in the first 20 minutes, but in the last half witnessed a fatigued IBAM team fall apart and be unable to withstand the constant FC Bayern Munich pressure on both ends of the floor. IBAM was fatigued and FC Bayern Munich knew that and used it to their full advantage.
A little more than a week ago German wonder boy Isaac Bonga saw the sides of two worlds once again as the sky is the limit for the 17 year special talent was able to broaden his horizons again something he has been able to experience time in and time out if it was playing in the basketball without boarders tournament in Lithuania or shooting the breeze with New York Knick Justin Holiday at the 2017 NBA allstar weekend in New Orleans. Bonga skipped off the sold out court in Ulm of 6,000 plus people having played the most BBL minutes this season with 26 contributing six points, four rebounds and three assists in a narrow 90-84 defeat to ratiopharm Ulm and 20 hours later, he was brought back down to reality that his basketball life isn´t only a bed of roses as he departed the floor in Munich a defeated young man as he had to accept the bitter 75-44 NBBL loss against the International basketball academy Munich with only 200 people in attendance and had ran around like a mad man leaving his heart on the floor having played 38 minutes filling up the stat sheet like a mini Lebron posting seven points, six rebounds, seven assists, four steals and one block. With his BBL season over, Bonga wanted to make his last season goal of reaching the NBBL top 4 in Frankfurt reality, but he as well as his teammates had to really show what they were made of, dig deep down within themselves and play with heart. Bonga wanted to avenge his unsatisfactory 3/18 shooting in Munich and at the same time force another do or die meeting with Munich and other German super talent Oscar Da Silva who dropped 59 points and 35 rebounds in the two game playoff series against Urspring and can continue to tell his friends that he will be attending Stanford next fall and play at the alma mater of ex Bamberg legend Casey Jacobsen. It was no secret that this special do or die game would bring out the best in Bonga and Da Silva as they combined for 40 points and 24 rebounds, but the International basketball academy Munich also known as IBAM came out on top escaping Frankfurt with a hard fought 61-60 victory. As the buzzer sounded, the few Munich fans that had made the trip jumped up in excitement as if lightening had struck them and star player and young phenom Oscar da Silva was calm, but one could see in his eyes that he was not only relieved, but also very proud for reaching the NBBL Top 4 tournament. “I am very happy about getting this win in Frankfurt. We never stopped fighting and played with high intensity. We came back through our good defense which helped us get transition baskets and that was key for the win”, stressed future Stanford Cardinal Oscar Da Silva. For Eintracht Frankfurt/Fraport Skyliners, it was a very successful season, but their goal of reaching the NBBL Final 4 in Frankfurt was not met and one could easily read the frustration of the players on their faces. Especially for team second top scorer Konstantin Schubert it was a disappointing way to end his NBBL career. “We knew that we could of won this game. Game one was depressing, but we had a different face today and defended very well against very good individual players. But when you only score 60 points, it will be difficult to win. We didn´t do much wrong on defense, but didn´t rebound well in the first half and when they couldn´t hit from outside, we were unable to stop their penetration”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Schubert. “They switched to zone in the second half which gave us problems and took us out of rhythm”, added Fraport Skyliner Isaac Bonga.