A little less than three months ago, the Fraport Skyliners were playing a meaningless pre season game in Giessen and the big men were missing in action as Mike Morrison was out but watching his team play and for Giessen they were still testing their roster as big country John Bryant was still not in the mix, but would soon be signed. On the Giessen side there was also a big man who couldn´t display his game as he was only able to watch his team and parade around the Osthalle sporting his big smile and one could only wonder if he will grey one day as quickly as his legendary father Rudi did. That 28 year old power forward was none other than Marco Voeller who had to sit out three months due to a doping ban. However in the last few months a lot has happened in his basketball career as he went to hardly playing in Giessen to catching on with the Fraport Skyliners and playing a very vital role in their game as the club had been seemingly hit harder by the injury plague than The Dallas Mavericks loss plague this season. In Giessen Voeller had been a steady role player last season for head coach Denis Wucherer averaging 3,1ppg and 1,7rpg in 14 minutes of duty, but this season never found his way into the Ingo Freyer rotation as he had played only eight games averaging 1,0ppg and 2,3rpg in 7,5 minutes of action. The rapid move to the Fraport Skyliners was a beautiful Christmas present for the ex Gotha player as he has shone in his first two games against Bremerhaven and Alba Berlin where he came off the bench getting big minutes. Especially in the win against Bremerhaven he had a fairytale like Frankfurt debut scoring eight points, hauling down five rebounds and dishing out three assists in 14 minutes of action. Voeller made his return back to Giessen and into a very noisy and energetic gym, but was also prepared to battle his ex teammates and also seek to show his old coach that it had been a mistake for not giving him a real chance. Voeller produced four points and three rebounds, but that was a mere side note as the main story was the horrible display of basketball that the Fraport Skyliners displayed in the second half scoring a measly 22 points and being whipped out of the Osthalle arena 83-59. Despite having left Giessen, Voeller still had many youth fans there as 15 minutes after the end of the game, he stood patiently for 10-15 kids for a selfie and then explained his sad return back to Giessen. “The return wasn´t as nice because of the loss. I came in with a neutral mind and gave my best, but this loss really hurts. We didn´t have the correct energy and intensity and Giessen hit everything”, expressed ex Gotha forward Marco Voeller. One guy who had the last laugh was German Mahir Agva who has finally found a BBL home in Giessen with head coach Ingo Freyer. He didn´t get a real chance with Frankfurt and plastered his ex team with 8 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. “I didn´t have an extra special focus going in because it was my ex team. I go into every game with the same focus. I still have many friends in Frankfurt and keep contact. Klaus Perwas congratulated me after the game telling me I played well. I just went in bringing energy, getting offensive rebounds and trying to hit my shots. When you have a guy like John Bryant on the court, it really opens a lot up and makes it easier”, smiled Giessen center Mahir Agva.
At the end of August, a quick and flashy point guard by the name of Dee Davis was testing out the Osthalle floor in his new Giessen home against the Fraport Skyliners in a pre-season game and wasn´t impressing anyone. The American with two professional seasons under his belt was taking hurried low percentage jumpers and driving to the hole into a brick ball and missing shots on a regular basis and the first moans were surfacing and cries for Cameron Wells to return who had been an important piece to the rapid ascension of the club the last years from the Pro A back to the BBL and almost to the playoffs. One could easily observe that Davis had a lot of talent, but was a little wild. He did make some acrobatic shots and made some fine kick out passes finding the open man, but after that game nobody was really convinced he could fill the shoes of Wells. Three and half months later nobody in Giessen is remembering that early pre-season game against Frankfurt anymore and possibly not reminiscing all to much anymore about Wells. One can say now that never rate the ability of a player after one game or two or maybe three especially if it´s the pre-season where teams and players are still working on finding their game within the team structure. Davis is a 24 year old 183cm point guard from Bloomington, Indiana that has overcome early question marks and is making the grade with the Giessen 46ers. Davis is one of many guys that enter the BBL each season looking to make the next step in a much higher and skilled league coming from a lesser league. Sometimes players pan out and sometimes they don´t as the Frankfurt Skyliners found out with Jimmie Hunt who couldn´t make it in the BBL coming as the top scorer with Kemoplast Alpos Sentjur (Slovenia-1A), but did go on to other countries finding his mark and is still playing today in Bulgaria at age 35. Just like Hunt, Davis played his first two seasons in Slovenia with Rogaska Crystal (Slovenia-Liga NovaKBM) leading the team to the final last season and leaving his mark as third top scorer averaging 16.3ppg, 2.9rpg, Assists-4(5.0apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 75.6%. The question was right away could the American make the next step in the BBL. He certainly wasn´t lacking in self confidence as in June after being acquired by Giessen he already was sprouting bold predictions about not only making the grade, but more than that. “Of course, I believe in any league I could make an impact”, warned Dee Davis. He has held on to his warning and stat wise totally panned out and helped Giessen be a team currently in the hunt for the playoffs something Giessen isn´t expected to do.” I would describe myself as an aggressive playmaker who’s does what he has to, to help his team win”, stressed Dee Davis. Aggressive he has been and helped lead the team to some big wins. After 11 games he is averaging 14,8ppg, 2,3rpg and 4,7apg, 1,5spg and is shooting a respectable 33% from downtown in 31 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in nine of his first 11 games. Right away in his second game he held his own against top team Brose Bamberg having them near the brink of defeat losing 87-84 as he steered 11 points, dished out eight assists and had three steals. A week later he helped Giessen beat dark horse title favorite Ludwigsburg 83-81 producing 16 points, grabbing four rebounds and getting five dimes while picking his spots and having sound shot selection. Another game that showed he had landed in the BBL was his 20 point and 10 assist game in the 107-99 win against MBC. But one also has to give head coach Ingo Freyer a lot of credit as he has been known for years to bring in those underdog type guards and helped them mature as he showed with Davin White, Zamal Nixon and Brandon Jefferson when he coached Phoenix Hagen. “I believe I can adjust to whatever style of play, but I enjoy getting up and down the court”, added Dee Davis. And that he has and it will be interesting to see where the rest of this season´s journey will go for the ex Xavier standout as so far he has been a refreshing new face to the BBL that has made the most of his opportunity.
It may only be preseason, but the majority of the EasyCredit BBL teams not only have the core of their roster battling in preseason games in order to get tuned up for the upcoming season, but also five to seven import players on the stat sheet to help get their chemistry rolling except for the Fraport Skyliners who like every August/September in the last years have had to scramble through the preseason with their few import players that had stayed on board and the rest of their young kids rounded out by some of their farm team players from the Pro B. It wouldn´t have been half as bad had their three veterans Quantez Robertson, Mike Morrison and Jonas Botterman-Wolfarth been present, but they were missing in action and one suddenly had to rely on the future with kids Isaac Bonga and Richard Freudenberg. The good news was that Mr Canada Philip Scrubb was back after missing last season on account of injury and had personal expectations as high as Mount Logan and was as hungry as a famished tourist in Ottawa getting ready to chow down at the trendy eatery Fauna and his stellar play showed. The trio of Scrubb, Bonga and Freudenberg may not have the experience of a Mayo, Gamble or Klein of the Telekom Baskets Bonn, but they are like a fountain of youth as the other three teams at the Giessen weekend tournament of Bonn, BG Goettingen and the 46ers could only dream of having young talent like that on their roster. The Fraport Skyliners weren´t rewarded for their furious comeback against the Telekom Baskets Bonn losing 82-76 a day earlier as 17year old German wunderkind Isaac Bonga made his first real serious breakthrough in a BBL setting as he filled up the stat sheet like a Lebron scoring 16 points, hauling down 10 boards and dishing out five assists. On Sunday the Fraport Skyliners were playing for pride in the game for third place facing home team Giessen 46ers who stunk up the building a day earlier losing by almost 40 points to BG Goettingen, but on this day the troops of head coach Ingo Fryer not only came to play, but played a well rounded consistent game that Frankfurt couldn´t combat despite their second half comeback losing 102-90. After the game ex NC-Greensboro (NCAA) forward Kayel Locke was relaxed doing his postgame stretching and even though he didn´t lead his team in scoring, his overall energy level at both ends of the court infected his team to totally rebound form their embarrassing performance the day before. “We were too sluggish against BG Goettingen and against Frankfurt we came out with more energy especially on the defensive end where one could see each man was trusting each other to help each other. We didn´t get good shots against BG Goettingen, but better one´s against Frankfurt and made them”, stressed KB Bashkimi Prizren (Kosovo-SuperLeague) forward Kayel Locke. The Fraport Skyliners lost their second game in a row of the Preseason and at times there wasn´t a player over 20 years of age on the court and second year man Canadian national player Philip Scrubb transformed into the leader with so many veterans absent and played his heart out especially in the second half leading his team back into the game, but the club just was unable to step up together as a team when it needed it most in crucial moments of the game. “This was our second game in a row where we didn´t start out well and weren´t focused on defense with no communication. In the second half, we communicated better on defense, got defensive stops which led to easy buckets on transition. We showed a good sign in the second half, but we need to bring it for 40 minutes”, warned Philip Scrubb.
The Giessen 46ers jumped all over the Fraport Skyliners right off the bat gaining the 7-2 lead as their two main offensive threats Kayel Locke and Austin Hollins scored and new American and ex E.Carolina (NCAA) forward Jamar Abrams showed his shooting expertise nailing a pull up jumper.
Austin Hollins is a 25 year old 195cm guard from Tennessee that is the son of ex NBA player Lionel Hollins and will be entering his fourth professional season and first with the Giessen 46ers. He started his basketball career at Minnesota (NCAA) in 2010 where he played until 2014 playing a total of 136 NCAA games. As a senior he played 38 games averaging 12.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.4apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 77.1%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) playing 35 games averaging 8.5ppg, 1.7rpg, FGP: 62.1%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 76.9%. In the summer of 2015 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Brooklyn Nets): 3 games: 2.0ppg and Las Vegas (Brooklyn Nets): 6 games: 7.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 42.9%. In the 2015-2016 season he remained with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) playing 34 games averaging 12.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 76.6%. Last season he played with Karhu Kauhajoki (Finland-Korisliiga) playing 47 games averaging 17.2ppg), 4.7rpg, 2.6apg, Steals-3(1.8spg), FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 78.4%. He spoke to German Hoops about Basketball.
Austin thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer coming along?
I am in Memphis, Tennessee right now which is my hometown. My summer is coming along well. I have been enjoying my time off as well as working out and trying to get better.
Congrats on signing with the German team Giessen 46ers. After a stellar season in Finland, were you swamped with offers or did you pretty much take one of the first offers that came with Giessen?
There was some interest from some teams and some offers and I could’ve waited a little longer to see if more teams would come along. But, I felt this was the best fit for me. It felt right so I ran with it.
What do you know in general about German basketball and the country? Some of your former teammates at Minnesota like Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins have played in Germany. Did you get some feedback from them?
I don’t know a ton about German basketball but I know that it is a very good league and a high level of competition. 2 of the 3 guys mentioned had short stints in Germany but I’ve gotten positive feedback from all of them about their experiences and I’m excited for the upcoming season.
You will be joining a very ambitious club with Giessen that are rich in tradition, but haven’t won a league title since the 70´s. they also have a new head coach with Ingo Freyer who likes to play run and gun and where giving up 100 points isn´t a rarity. Do you see yourself being the defensive enforcer this season?
I’m excited for what Gießen is building and I’m glad to be a part of it. I love to play defense so I will try my best to help the team in that area.
Dee Davis is a 23 year old 183cm point guard from Bloomington, Indiana playing his third professional season and first in Germany with The Giessen 46ers. He played as a rookie with Rogaska Crystal (Slovenia-Telemach League) playing 18 games averaging 13.2ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.6apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 29.0%, FT: 76.9%. Last season he remained with Rogaska Crystal (Slovenia-Liga NovaKBM playing 35 games: Score-3(16.3ppg), 2.9rpg, Assists-4(5.0apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 75.6%. He played at Xavier and as a senior played 35 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 6.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.0%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 70.4%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Dee thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been going?
Hello at the moment I am home spending time with my family and friends in Bloomington Indiana when I’m from. Having a good start to my summer.
Congrats on signing with German EasyCredit BBL team Giessen 46ers. What do you know in general about the German basketball and it´s country?
I’ve heard that the German league is very competitive and is has regarded as one of the better leagues in the world to play professionally basketball. I’m very excited for the this opportunity.
After two strong seasons in Slovenia, you have made the next step to the higher league EasyCredit BBL. What were your main reasons for signing with Giessen?
It was a good opportunity to further my pro career in a respected league. Also it’s less stress throughout the summer worried about what team I’m going too
Did you have any talks with new head coach Ingo Freyer? What kind of impression did you get of him?
I haven´t had a chance to talk to him yet.
Playing against the big 3 B´s of Bamberg, Berlin and Bayern Munich are the season highlights not only for the Fraport Skyliners, but for every other club in the easyCredit BBL, but battling the Giessen 46ers in the Hessen Derby each season would easily come in as a close fourth as the most anticipated games each season. The two cities Frankfurt and Giessen are only 65 kilometers apart and both clubs possess special fans that get extra motivated for the two season duels each season. Giessen fans won´t forget the last game in Giessen as almost two months ago, the Giessen 46ers finally won in their living room against the Fraport Skyliners again something they hadn´t done since 14 years dating back to 2002. The last time Giessen was able to depart the court in Giessen with a win, current Giessen Americans Dwayne Evans and Justin Sears weren´t even in high school yet. In the memorable victory on November 19th, the Giessen 46ers gave their best defensive performance of the season as they held the Fraport Skyliners too only 52 points while they were led by Canadian national player Thomas Scrubb who steered home 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals to the historic win. This coming summer his brother Philip might carefully kid him that that loss might not have happened had he not been injured, but then again the Scrubb brother mentality never centers about them, but moreover what the team can do or not. The Fraport Skyliners entered the contest with a two game winning streak having celebrated big wins on the road in Jena and Tuebingen including an amazing buzzer beater by ex Iona(NCAA) guard AJ English while the Giessen 46ers came into the game having last suffered a tough 87-83 road loss in Vechta. Once again fans had to wait again for the professional head to head battle debut of the Scrubb brothers, but that didn´t damper the breathtaking Hessen derby atmosphere as 5,002 fans were in the loud Fraport arena witnessing a classic game that the Fraport Skyliners were able to grind out in Crunch time 65-61 getting their third win in a row in the BBL.
After the victory, the Fraport Skyliners practiced their first Humba ceremony which is to get on the floor and get up and dance around something hat the team practices on occasion after a home win. American Kwame Vaughn who has gained professional experience in countries like Italy, France, Belgium and Israel and learned the basketball game at Cal State Fullerton the same school that produced explosive ex BBL player Bobby Brown looked a bit confused and perturbed after the Humba victory dance had been completed. “The Humba was new for me. I had never seen something like that before. I think having a dance like that is engaging for the fans. You can see something like that in the NCAA, but it depends on the school. We did a good job in this game staying the course, fighting hard, executing which allowed us to come out with a win”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Kwame Vaughn. Giessen 46er Thomas Scrubb couldn´t repeat his strong effort from the first game against Frankfurt and scored only 9 points this time around and was disappointed by the team effort, but enchanted by the breathtaking atmosphere in the Fraport arena. “Our offense wasn´t great. We didn´t get in a flow on offense and our shots weren´t falling and we didn´t get out on transition. Our defense was ok, but we made a few mistakes and they capitalized on them which cost us the game. The atmosphere was great and one could feel the passion of the fans. I really felt the intensity in the arena and it felt good coming down at the end”, added Canadian national player Thomas Scrubb. “The atmosphere was great. I wish it could be like that in every game. I am thankful that I could be a part of it, but most important was that we got the win”, explained ex Iona(NCAA) guard AJ English.
Skyler Bowlin is a 27 year old 190cm guard from Paragould, Arkansas playing his sixth professional season and first with the Gießen 46ers. Last season he played for the Sodertalje Kings (Sweden-Basketligan) playing FIBA Europe Cup: 12 games: 10.8ppg, 2.3rpg, 4.9apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 58.8%; Swedish Basketligan: 42 games: 14.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 4.3apg, Steals-5(1.6spg), FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 40.6%, FT: 78.3% He played with Horsens IC (Denmark-Ligaen) from 2012-2015 winning the league title and cup. As a rookie he played for BG Topstar Leitershofen/Stadtbergen (Germany-Pro A) playing 28 games: 12.4ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.3apg, Steals-2(2.0spg), FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 80.5% and then played with Ringwood Hawks (Australia-ABA): 18 games: 18.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 3.7apg, 2.8spg, 2FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 80.5%. He started his basketball career with Missouri So. (NCAA2) in 2007 until 2011 playing atotal of 118 games and as a senior played 31 games: 18.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.7apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 82.7%. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Skyler thanks for talking to German Hoops. The Christmas season has come and gone and in the past you have seen it in places like Austria, Denmark and Sweden. What did you really enjoy from this years Christmas time in Germany?
Theres not much like Christmas in Germany. The Christmas Markets are of course always a lot of fun to go and visit so that was probably the best part about Christmas here.
You are playing your first season with the Giessen 46ers and currently the club is currently in eighth place with a record of 8-8. What is your summary of the team season so far?
I think if you would have asked a lot of people before the season if they thought we would be in the playoff hunt halfway through the season they would have thought you were crazy. However, as a team we know that we are very dangerous when we play our style and can compete with anyone. We have had a lot of close games against top teams that we let slip away so we feel like we still have a lot to prove in the second half of the season.