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.
Rilwan Bakare is a 26 year 201cm forward from Chicago,Illinois playing his third professional season and first with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors after starting the season with Pernion Urheilijat Basket (Finland-1st Division) and then moving to Union de Santa Fe (Argentina-TNA). Last season he played for BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL) playing 18 games averaging 11.2ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 57.8%, FT: 58.5%. As a rookie he played for TuS Breckerfeld (Germany-2.Regionalliga) playing 18 games averaging 19.9ppg, 10.5rpg. He played his college ball at four schools including Columbus State Community College (NJCAA), Danville Area Community College (NJCAA), Campbellsville (NAIA) and Texas Wesleyan (NAIA): He spoke to German Hoops after the game 3 loss to Lok Bernau ending his third professional season.
A tough loss to Lok Bernau ending the season. How much of a basketball culture shock was it coming from the big beautiful Mercedes arena to the tiny Bernau gym for game 3?
It was a difference I just had to adjust very quick.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors took only 8 players. Did this already put some pressure on the players knowing that total aggressive defense could have put guys in early foul trouble?
Just felt a little pressure but we had to just work harder and play as a team.
How key was the quick 9-0 Lok Bernau start for the rest of the game? They jumped on the Fraport Skyliners Juniors right off the bat. Did this fast start already have an effect on the team mentally for the rest of the game?
I will say yes or no we knew they were going come out strong we just didn’t adjust fast enough to stop the run.
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.
Rilwan Bakare is a 26 year 201cm forward from Chicago,Illinois playing his third professional season and first with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors after starting the season with Pernion Urheilijat Basket (Finland-1st Division) and then moving to Union de Santa Fe (Argentina-TNA). Last season he played for BK Iskra Svit (Slovakia-SBL) playing 18 games averaging 11.2ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 57.8%, FT: 58.5%. As a rookie he played for TuS Breckerfeld (Germany-2.Regionalliga) playing 18 games averaging 19.9ppg, 10.5rpg. He played his college ball at four schools including Columbus State Community College (NJCAA), Danville Area Community College (NJCAA), Campbellsville (NAIA) and Texas Wesleyan (NAIA): He spoke to German Hoops about his season with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors.
Rilwan, thanks for talking to German Hoops! You played at many schools in the states and in many places in the world, but please explain what kind of feeling it was setting foot in the beautiful huge Mercedes and what kind of atmosphere it was?
It was a great feeling I never played in gym like that a lot of lights and the atmosphere was amazing and a different feeling.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors arrived in Berlin earlier in the day. What was your impression of the city in the few hours that you were there?
Very beautiful I had never been to Berlin so the city was really nice and the skyline buildings were beautiful. I told myself I would love to live here it’s just like America.
The Fraport Skyliners Juniors suffered a tough 75-64 loss in game one against Lok Bernau. Lok Bernau defended very well, but how key were the 22 team turnovers for losing this game?
We started off strong and the second half we tried to force a couple of passes that hurt us. We should of stayed calm and played like we did in the first half. We have to get better so those turnovers won’t happen again.
One never wants to make excuses, but how would the result of the game looked like if Mahir Agva, Niklas Kiel and Stefan Ilzhoefer had been on board who could of drastically changed the dimension of the game?
I believe we would have been stronger because those are great players that add strength to our team, but it wouldn’t have been a difference we still have to play hard and win has a Team.
It seems like it was almost yesterday where a young German talent by the name of Filmore Beck was practicing in the BCM gym which is the practice gym od EasyCredit BBL team Fraport Sklyiners and the game gym of pro B team Fraport Skyliners Juniors, but his short stay in Frankfurt was from 2009-2011 where he was seen as a huge talent, but after a satisfying first season where he averaged 13.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 76.9 in the Pro B, he was unable to develop further as an injury cost him the second half of his second season and the next season which quietly ended his career there. In the last five seasons, he has had a solid but quiet Pro B career having played in Hanau and in Langen, but for TV Langen was fired in the 2014-2015 season after only eight games after he served up a nasty sucker punch to Australian Paul Brotherson that gave him unending headaches and hospital bills for a while. However the German was able to resurrect his basketball career last season with the ScanPlus Baskets Elchingen (ProB) playing 23 games averaging 10.0ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.9apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 42.7%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 59.3%. This season he is holding his own in a team stocked with unending explosive offensive power and averaging 9,2ppg and serving as the ultimate role player. He came back to Frankfurt with gigantic ambition as last season, he lit up his ex team with 28 points, but walked off the court on the short end of a 91-80 loss. The German who can shoot out the lights on any night wanted revenge for the loss last season, but didn´t as he lost again 82-71 against his ex team despite scoring 13 points. After the loss, the German reflected on coming back and having to experience another loss. “It isn´t nice to come back here and lose again. I loved playing in Frankfurt the most. It gave me a lot of motivation to play against my old teammates Tim Oldenburg and Max Merz”, stressed ex TV Langen guard Filmore Beck. Oldenburg contemplated about his ex teammate Flimore Beck and what he wished he had from him. “It is always nice playing against an old teammate. He is really the only good shooter on his team and when he gets hot, he can hit from all over the place. I wish that I had his shooting ability”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior Tim Oldenburg. With EasyCredit BBL team Fraport Skyliners off, the Pro B team almost had their complete roster except for Isaac Bonga who was in New Orleans at the NBA Allstar weekend taking part at the Basketball Without Boards Global Camp and after a tight battle in the first half, the Home team ran away with the win in the second half. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half and only gave up three in the second half. It was a total team performance where everyone brought energy. Everyone plays for the team especially Travis Thompson which isn´t always typical for an American. On defense our game plan was to let them shoot and not let them get easy baskets inside and rebounds”, added Fraport Skyliners Junior Mahir Agva.
The ScanPlus Baskets came into the game overwhelmed by the deep Frankfurt roster with unending BBL license players and fell apart in the second half. “It was tough playing against this smart tough squad that had many BBL players we couldn´t scout. We had many ups and downs in the game and Frankfurt closed out the third quarter well which was the turning point of the game. They had the momentum and kept it up in the fourth quarter”, said St Louis, Missouri native Brandon Lockhart.