With the Pro B regular season winding down, one can pretty much predict well where the post season journeys of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and TG s.Oliver Wurzburg teams will take them. Frankfurt has booked a ticket for the playoffs while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg most likely will play in the playdowns to be able to book their ticket for the upcoming Pro B season. One thing that is never as predictable is what lineup the Fraport Skyliners Juniors will go with on account of their BBL license players and injuries having been a huge factor in the success they have had this season. With Isaac Bonga, one never knows will he suit up or not as he has been concentrating more on the easyCredit BBL this season and only played sporadically in the Pro B. Especially on weekends when the BBL team Fraport Skyliners are in action, his chances of playing become less, but this weekend the team was off as they had back to back games within the week. Bonga had played in the last home game victory against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and had been a vital factor for the success as he took over the game in many phases and finished with a career high 30 points. Fans weren´t disappointed when Bonga arrived in the BCM gym for warm ups and then was present on the court ready for battle again. He didn´t score 30 again like two weeks ago, but this time it was Garai Zeeb again who was the fourth quarter savior as like some weeks ago against KIT Karlsruhe, he had a horrible first half and stepped it up in the second half sparking Frankfurt with 13 points and this time powered home 8 points down the stretch against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg pacing the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to the 75-69 victory.
A little more than two months ago, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed another great performance on the road taking apart the Bayer Giants Leverkusen for the second straight year as German wunder kid Isaac Bonga led the charge with 26 points last season and 19 points this season. Like so often this season, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were unable to give a very good performance for 40 minutes as they have proven this season to have been underachieving despite having a very solid guard rotation of Alexander Blessig and Marvin Heckel and two potent import inside players with Bruce Beckford and Donovan Jack and all rounder CJ Oldham. The biggest problem has been their inability to defend at a high rate on a consistent level as they allow 80 points per game while scoring 78 per game. The club reacted at the start of 2018 bringing in talented 26 year old 196cm small forward Ron Mvouika from France who after a roller coaster ride from Sheridan JC (JUCO) and Missouri St. (NCAA), he finally landed with St Johns in his senior season 2015-2016 where he captained the team for legendary 1992 Dream team player and now coach Chris Mullin who treated him like a pro from day one. Leverkusen landed a coup with Mvouika as he prompt led the team on a two game winning streak. They did lose last weekend to Iserlohn as their lackluster defense reared it´s ugly head again on the court losing 95-84. However Mvouika who compares his game to Paul George has been more than just a fresh breath of air, but been a lot more as he has taken the Pro B by storm and proven to be a very versatile player that can do it all on the court as through three games he was averaging 19,0ppg, 5,0rpg, 4,0apg, 1,3 and is shooting 47,1% from outside. He has never had it easy in his career, but he has always believed in his abilities and his road up the basketball ladder continues now with Leverkusen. “I am a very confident person because I know the work I put in every day. Basketball is not a sport to me, it’s my life so me not finding stability since coming out of college never really made me doubt myself or anything else. I was just working very hard every day, waiting on the right opportunity to present itself, an opportunity where I could express myself and show the world what I can do and Bayer was the perfect marriage. I don’t feel or add any pressure, if anything, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time so now its time to show all the work that I was putting behind close doors”, warned Ron Mvoiuka.
The French man came with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen to Frankfurt and was looking to start a new winning streak while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were looking for their second victory in a row in 2018 and they overcome a quick start by the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and controlled the game from the second quarter until the 40 minutes had eclipsed playing consistent offense and playing with passion on the defensive end winning 81-65.
Five weeks ago the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were at their peak and seemed invincible. After being rattled for three quarters by the Dragons Rhondorf who had arrived at the game in Frankfurt more than fashionably late and got on the court five minutes after tip off, the home team finally snuck out of their 30 minute funk controlling the fourth quarter outscoring their opponent 20-9 and winning 84-77. At that moment the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were riding a four game winning streak and had a positive 8-5 record. However since then they have fallen off their peak like a novice mountain climber who shouldn´t be attempting to scale to the peak, but rather be chilling in a mountain chalet in front of a fire sipping hot chocolate munching on some crisp delectable biscuits discussing where American politics will go in 2018. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors currently were wrapped up in an annoying three game losing streak having lost to Iserlohn, FC Bayern Munich and the ScanPlus Baskets and were sporting a 8-8 record. Injuries and always changing rosters on account of BBL games where their double license players are sometimes unavailable has affected their play and chemistry from not properly developing. The organization was reeling for a successful experience to get back on track to gain their first victory in 2018 and what better way then for the doormat of the league to visit them. KIT SC GEQUOS Karlsruhe arrived in Frankfurt with a desolate 2-14 record having only defeated FC Bayern Munich and Iserlohn, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors couldn´t take this game as a cakewalk as they had narrowly escaped Karlsruhe earlier this season with a 73-70 win where they allowed 12 three´s, but did a good job taking care of the ball coughing it up only 8 times. KIT SC GEQUOS Karlsruhe had revenge on their minds and it looked good for a half as they controlled the game, but in the second half the Fraport Skyliners Juniors staged a massive comeback and were led by Garai Zeeb who powered home 13 points in the fourth quarter leading to the 76-69 victory. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed a lot of heart in the fourth quarter and stuck together as a team in hard times and after the win, German U-20 national player Garai Zeeb was happy the club got the win. “We didn´t have the right intensity in the first half. We were a bit tired from the morning practice, but that shouldn´t be an excuse. We gave up too many open shots and didn´t rebound well in the first half. In the second half, our intensity was better, we fought harder and made big hustle plays. We got more stops and were able to play transition and got to the hoop better making better decisions”, stressed Fraport Skyliners Juniors guard Garai Zeeb. In the first half, KIT SC GEQUOS Karlsruhe looked like a playoff team, but in the second half, they showed why they have belonged to the worst teams in the Pro B south as they continued to defend solidly, but their offense totally collapsed. After the loss, German point guard Aaron Schmitz explained why the team had to suffer another loss. “Our problem is that we can play one good half of basketball, but are unable to play the way we want to for 40 minutes. We fought the whole game, but the Frankfurt run in the third quarter erased our whole good first half. Our offense wasn´t good anymore in the second half, we suffered too many turnovers and allowed too many easy baskets”, added ex BG Karlsruhe guard Aaron Schmitz.
With the Christmas goose digested and the new year celebration a little less than a week ago, it was time for the German Pro B to get rolling again as the 3 week layoff did seem to move along slowly even through the holiday season. It is always seems like a lottery with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and FC Bayern Munich 2 as to which BBL license players will be present or not. It was a good bet that all Fraport Skyliners Juniors could be present because the BBL team played at home the next day against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, while FC Bayern Munich was on the road the day after in Weissenfels, about a two and a half hour car ride from Frankfurt. One of the hottest players at the moment in the Pro B is German FC Bayern Munich swing man Karim Jallow who had scored 20 plus points in his last six games averaging 25,0ppg and is always a treat to see in the Pro B while for Frankfurt one of their top players American Alex Fountain had been in a little slump as after scoring in double figures in his first 8 games has done it only once in his last five games. FC Bayern Munich 2 entered the game having won all three games in the young head to head competition in the Pro B with Frankfurt, while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had been playing spirited basketball as of late having won four of their last five games. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were motivated and very focused to finally win their first game in the Pro B against FC Bayern Munich 2, but were rudely denied getting mauled 81-58 as their turnover disease of 31 paced the visitors to the victory.
After the victory one would have thought that all was good with the winners FC Bayern Munich 2, but apparently not as head coach Oliver Kostic disallowed Karim Jallow to talk to this reporter as the German was interrupted halfway through explaining the keys to the victory. “We saw that Frankfurt was weak without many players, but we took them seriously. We wanted to win big, but fell apart in the second quarter. At halftime coach got loud in the locker room with us, but that was expected”, stressed Karim Jallow. It is a shame that Jallow couldn´t talk more, but apparently coach Kostic thinks the Pro B is the NBA? After a few surprised faces had witnessed the abrupt departure of Jallow and Kostic, a disappointed Niklas Pons of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors explained the demise of his team. “We didn´t have the strength to win today. The second quarter was good, but we let up in the third quarter. We had a nice run at the end, but it was too late. We should of played like that earlier. We didn´t move the ball well and just couldn´t play our game. They defended very aggressively and we were irritated by them”, said ex TV Langen guard Niklas Pons.
After being on the road for weeks which must have felt like an eternity as something like that is rather untypical in the Pro B basketball world, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were finally back home again, but even if they didn´t want to admit it were facing a type of double whammy at home even if it was more a mental thing that they had to contend with. The last time the Fraport Skyliners Juniors stepped off the court in their own smug living room they had left with hanging heads as they had suffered every player´s nightmare having been hit and shattered by a last second buzzer beater shot by ScanPlus Baskets guard Hayden Lescault that not only put a piercing dagger into the hearts of Frankfurt, but also had the audacity not to go through the netting in the usual way with a beautiful swish, but had the nerve to bounce around the rim for seemingly minutes and then trickle through somewhat delaying the celebrations by the visitors. That was the first whammy that Frankfurt had to encounter and the second one was having to face the Dragons Rhondorf again as the last time they faced them in October in the Dragon Dome in Rhondorf, they also had to exit the floor as the losers on a last second buzzer beater by Mr “it´s Seton Hill not Seton Hall” Kameron Taylor who had nerves of steel in the last 9 seconds and the slick self confidence of a clutch crunch time player like Michael Jordan back in the day as he took Jules Akodo to the cleaners with a pull up jumper that found nothing but net and put the Dragons Rhondorf into basketball heaven for a night. The good news was that the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were coming off a big win in Schwelm where German Garai Zeeb had supplied the heroics supplying a game winning shot and three seasons ago Frankfurt beat Rhondorf in Frankfurt with a Kyle Fossman buzzer beater. With so many buzzer beaters swirling around in everybody´s minds, one could only have figured that this game would experience another shocking fate at the end, but it didn´t as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors won their fourth game in a row after staging a comeback in the second half winning 84-77.
Sometimes one does realize how time flies when a player returns back to a place he once played in almost two seasons ago as players have come and gone and even the floor was redone in the BCM gym in Frankfurt, but with all the traveling to different arena´s in the last years, it wouldn´t be a surprise if Hayden Lescault didn´t notice this. In the 2015-2016 season, the 25 year old 192cm shooting guard from Folsom, California who had a stellar career at Point Loima(NCAA2) embarked on his professional basketball career to Germany where he suited up for BG Karlsruhe and had a solid rookie campaign averaging 13.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 36.2%, FT: 71.8%. After a season away from Germany, he got a taste of a new style of basketball with the Glasgow Rocks (United Kingdom-BBL), but also witnessed a whole new kind of life in Scotland that was very much different than the carefree life in California that he had been used to. Lescault came back to Frankfurt for his second time as in his rookie season he helped beat Frankfurt at home scoring 27 points in a big 76-59 win, but couldn´t find a groove on the road losing 77-70 as he produced only 12 points in 20 minutes. Two seasons ago he was surrounded by veterans like Rouven Roessler, Jeremy Black and Marcus Smallwood and it´s no different this season as he has four guys on his team 30 or older and a fine mentor in 37 year old Marin Petric who has been a professional since 1997 and has played for 13 teams. The faces on the Frankfurt side had changed as only one player was still on the court with Garai Zeeb who had been instrumental in the win in Frankfurt in 2015 with 14 points and nine dimes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors came into the game playing up and down basket and were confronted with the best team in the Pro B south ScanPlus Baskets who entered the game with a 7-1 record sporting an offensive powerhouse averaging 85 points, averaging 37 rebounds per game and holding their own on the defensive end allowing 73 points per game. The guests had the huge advantage on paper, but with 17 seconds to go there was not big difference as the game was tied and the ScanPlus Baskets with the ball gave it to Mr moneyball Hayden Lescualt who like Kameron Taylor two weeks ago put another dagger in the hearts of the Fraport Skyliners Juniors winning with a buzzer beater 87-84. However there was one little difference. In Rhondorf, Frankfurt saw nothing but net, but in their own gym had to watch the ball dance on the rim for a few seconds feeling like an eternity before it trickled in wondering on who´s side the basketball God really was. “I wanted to be aggressive today. We had never won here and really wanted to win to get the monkey off our back. I have had one or two buzzer beaters in college, but this was my first professional one. We had a high ball screen and I was supposed to read what the defense gave me. My guy kept sagging off me thinking I might drive, but he gave me enough space to shoot it. When I let it go, it felt good, but then it trickled around the rim and went in finally. We had some luck from the basketball God. I love this gym today”, smiled California native Hayden Lescault.
It seemed like ages ago when the Fraport Skyliners Juniors last played an official Pro B home game as one has to go back more than six months ago where they actually beat Lok Bernau 76-61, but didn´t return back home as they were unable to move on in the playoffs as they were manhandled 88-59 in the do or die game in Bernau thus ending their season. The loss in Bernau also happened to be the last games for some key players last season as sniper sharp shooter Travis Thompson went east to the Dresden Titans getting a more lucrative offer and will face his ex-team twice this season, Stefan Ilzhoefer was unable to make his breakthrough in the BBL with the Fraport Skyliners and moved south west to the Gladiators Trier and will attempt his mission back to the BBL with a strong pro A season, Rilwan Bakare went back home to Chicago and is waiting by the phone for his next opportunity and the team identity figure Tim Oldenburg who had been with the club since 2010 and gotten a few minutes in the BBL, Eurochallenge and Fiba Europe Cup decided to hang up his jersey and retire to focus on his other career on the German police force. With the new season started, there were some new faces that fans had to get used as Isaac Bonga was still on board as he is continuing to develop into a top basketball professional, but some new faces included Richard Freudenberg who had won the 2015 NBBL title against Frankfurt with FC Bayern Munich and won MVP hitting his future team for 24 points and played 2 BBL games with the Bavarian side and last season had an uneventful season in the NCAA with St Johns as the club was stocked with too many shooters thus keeping him at the end of the bench. Another new face was American rookie Alex Fountain who takes the place of Bakare in the front court and played 104 NCAA games at Houston Baptist (NCAA) and as a senior averaged 7.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 37.3%, FT: 73.2%.Fountain didn´t suit up because he hadn´t been cleared to play by the league yet. Another new face was club Giessen who took the place of Lich who closed up shop and now is the official new farm team of BBL club Giessen 46ers. With some Fraport Skyliners like Quantez Robertson, Shawn Huff and Philip Scrubb on hand on break from a practice session gave support and witnessed a very entertaining season opener that showcased a tale of two halves as Frankfurt controlled the first half and then fell apart in the second half as Giessen stormed back winning 69-66 with great team defense. After the victory, Pro B rookie and ex Sacramento St. (NCAA) forward Nick Hornsby was all smiles after his monster game scoring 12 points, hauling down 10 boards, dishing out five assists and getting three steals. “We played aggressive and together and played with a lot of intensity and exceled at what we knew we were good at. We executed very well in the second half”, stressed Giessen rookie Nick Hornsby. For Frankfurt newbie and German veteran Tobias Jahn who played for teams like Hanau, Langen and Ehingen and spent 5 years in California in the NCAA2 with Cal Poly Pomona found some time to reflect why they were unable to play better in the second half. “This was our first time together tonight. We literally had our photo shooting and then our first game. We played ok in the first half, but in the second half us not knowing each other showed. We had many open three´s in the first half, but none more in the second half. When they figured us out in the second half, we were unable to find a solution. We didn´t collapse, but Giessen did a good job taking away our strengths and we didn´t find right decisions”, warned Tobias Jahn.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors didn´t waste any time in the first quarter jumping all over Giessen going out on a quick 11-2 lead.