Preseason duels for basketball teams dont only benefit the players finding a feel for each other on the court or testing their strength and weaknesses, but can also bring back some nostalgia to some fans who have been on board longer on the Skyliner train from Rhondorf. When looking back one might remember Ricardo Greer playing in the BCM four years ago for Strassburg in a test game against Murat Didin or just unleashing that famous Arsenio Hall phrase, things that make you go hmmmmmmm thinking what love the Greer brothers Ricardo and Jeff might have for France as they will be starting their 21 season combined in France this season. Ex Beko BBL veteran Louis Campbell who played in Paderborn, Giessen, Bremerhaven, Oldenburg and Tuebingen also belongs to the lets reminisce about the past as he stepped on the BCM floor the first time seven years ago with the LTi Giessen played against the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in a preseason joust as the Skyliners had just been gotten the new sponsor Deutsche Bank, Nino Garris was brought in from Alba Berlin as a type of Pascal Roller identity figure side kick and fans were starting to mope around about the loss of Americans Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis. Campbell was getting instructions from Stefan Koch and he was dishing the ball to Euroleague player in the making Chuck Eidsen, had NCAA champion Souleyman Wane inside and fan favorite Florian Hartenstein ready to make an impact off the bench. After a strenious 29 minute performance where the New Jersey native was shaken up after getting hit on the knee and being looked at by the trainer, he racked up six points and five assists and doused any signs of having his injury in the Beko BBL last season not being cured as he looked as quick as ever. After the game the American did some of his own reminiscing about the BCM training facility. The BCM is a familiar place for me. The smell was familiar. I just like to come back and play here, stressed ex Walter Tigers Tuebingen Tiger Louis Campbell.
When the reminiscing was finally done a basketball game was to be played and the fans got a tale of two halves as the first clearly belonged to SIG Strassburg while the second too the Fraport Skyliners. SIG Strassburg totally controlled the first half not letting the Fraport Sklyiners settle into their comfort zone as they were unable to find a rhythm and find a cure for their stingy defense. In the second half, the Fraport Skyliners got more into the game picked up their defense and started a big comeback that fell a little short in the last three minutes aS SIG Strassburg Prevailed 67-64. All in all, Fraport Skyliners head coach Muli Katzurin was pleased by the effort of his team. This was a good training game. I talked to them about showing effort at halftime and they reacted in the second half. They showed their true character then, stressed Fraport Skyliners head coach Muli Katzurin. SIG Strassburg let up a bit in the second half, but the Fraport Skyliners also picked up the intensity level on defense and the French PRO A team can be very happy that they won a game despite having 20 turnovers which was due to the Muli Katzurin trade mark tough defense. Frankfurt was missing some key players, but their young players stepped it up. We knew that they would come back in the fourth quarter. I am happy that we stayed together and could win the game. We are still learning to mesh, but that will come, added ex EWE Baskets Oldenburg guard Louis Campbell. Devin Gibson who hurt his knee and is expected to get back to team training next weekend was unable to play and had a perfect front row seat from the bench to observe the game. Strassburg took us out of the game for the first three quarters. We picked it up in the fourth quarter with our defensive pressure, drew fouls, got to the free throw line and hit big shots. We showed then what we are capable to do on the court when we are tuned in, commented Texas native Devin Gibson.
The Fraport Skyliners were looking for their fifth preseason win in a row, but without the services of Americans Quantez Robertson and Devin Gibson as well as captain Marius Nolte, that this would be a difficult challenge against a potential French Pro A 2013 playoff candidate was no secret. It also marked the debut of new Skyliner Dion Dowell who had arrived in Frankfurt from Houston last Saturday and was still getting the jet lag off his back. The power forward started and got the first rebound for the Skyliners showing his presence. Strassburg started with a zone irritating the Skyliners and quickly jumping on a 4-0 lead with Campbell free throws who was very active in the eraly going penetrating and running like a mad man getting free for the open shots. Ricardo Greer then made an easy lay in after getting a no look pass from former Dirk Nowitzki teammate Alexis Ajinca. Johannes Herber who was absent in the last few games because of an illness was back with a bit scruffier beard than against Toyota Alvark and nailed a three pointer. Ajinca scored inside easily after getting an offensive rebound. Frankfurt stayed on their backs as it was Anthony Jones who is always free and parked in the corner when they need a big shot making a three pointer as Strassburg led only 6-5. However Frankfurt then lost their rhythm a bit as Strassburg rolled on a 9-0 run to lead 15-5. Strassburg showed all their class on offense displaying solid team basketball. Ricardo Greer scored inside twice, Axel Toupane caught the Skyliners napping twice scoring on a transition play. Despite this rude answer, it didnt scare the German dynamic duo of Konstantin Klein and Johannes Voigtmann who attempted their likeable give and go play as they have displayed this preseason, the big man found the point guard back door for two quick points. American Johnathon Jones hit a big three pointer from the parking lot, but the Fraport Skyliners still trailed 19-12 after one quarter. We looked dead and just didnt have enough energy, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Devin Gibson.
In the second quarter, 2005 PRO A champion SIG Strassburg continued to dominate the game and they could increase their lead and go into half time with a comfortable lead. The French team got rolling quickly jumping out on a 8-2 run to lead 27-14. Klein started the second quarter with two free throws, but Strassburg answered with 8 unanswered points as Jeff Green nailed a three pointer from the corner as he was wide open, Xavier Francois scored inside as he was fed by Jeff Greer (196-G/F-79, college: Rutgers) and then a ex Beko BBL combination of Campbell to Jeff Greer gave Strassburg the 27-14 lead. Strassburg was playing more clever, but at times one could see the obvious difference in individual talent as well as weight, size and strength. After German youngster Voigtmann scored a pretty lay in, he right way got a learning experience as ex NBA player Alexis Ajinca rolled over Voigtman like a lawnmower does easily over high grass as Frankfurt trailed 29-16. Herber and Ajinca traded free throws and then it was Voigtman again who made a huge bucket as he was able to finally get a lay in on the third attempt as Strassburg only led 32-20. However SIG Strassburg was able to close out the second quarter with a 6-2 run to lead 38-22 at the break. In this run, Toupane scored inside again, hit two free throws and Ricardo Greer punished Frankfurt with a hard penetration to the basket. The first half is always our strong play. We are fresh and click right away. We get problems when we get tired and we need to concentrate more as one saw in the second half, stressed Louis Campbell. We hit no shots in the first half. We didnt do a good job on offensive execution and we could of defended better, said Fraport Skyliners forward Dion Dowell. SIG Strassburg was shooting 46% from the field and 25% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting a miserable 21% from the field and 15% from outside. Strassburg had the easy 24-17 rebound edge. Strassburg had nine turnovers and Frankfurt six turnovers.
SIG Strassburg pretty much picked up where they left off in the second quarter by going on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 44-22. French big man Nicolas De Jong scored with a pretty turn around shot over Voigtman, Ricardo Greer scored easily inside getting a no look pass from Campbell and scored again inside. Strassburg was closing the lane well, but even when Frankfurt was kicking out passes couldnt get any open shots. With the lead getting bigger and bigger, the only bright spot and highlight for the Fraport Sklyiners at that point was Quantez Robertson jumping up from the bench and wiping away some sweat form the floor in front of the bench. The untypical burst of Super Tez energy may have given the Fraport Skyliners the needed boost that they needed at that time because they started to play with more spirit and slowly clawed there way back into the game. Frankfurt then went on a 8-3 run to cut the Strassburg lead down to 47-30. Anthony Jones scored on a lay in, Voigtmann made a fabulous baby hook over De Jong and then made free throws as did Herber. Campbell then made a dent in the run as he went hard to the hoop and scored. Strassburg led 49-30, but the Fraport Skyliners never threw in the towel, but buckled down and closed out the third quarter with a 9-4 run to trail only 53-39 after thirty minutes. The Fraport Skyliners now showed their annoying defense as they let their defense translate into their offense. Klein made a steal and forced a turnover in consecutive plays. Anthony Jones read a pass perfect jumped in between and fed Johnathon Jones who was off to the races and an easy lay in. The whole run belonged to the Frankfurt Jones clan. Anthony Jones then showed again why he is a pure scorer and guy who can score in bunches as he scored in the lane and then from downtown. Johnathon Jones then made four consecutive free throws. The only thing that put a dent into the run was a Hugo Invernizzi jumper at the buzzer. The third quarter continues to be our Achilles heel. We didnt play the basketball that we are capable of, stressed Louis Campbell. We had more energy, forced more turnovers and got into the game, said Anthony Jones.
With the heavy rain outside, if a fan had quickly jumped out to the Mcdonalds to grab a big mac and been delayed because of a long cue of people who had more looked for shelter from the down pour might not have believed their eyes if they had returned and seen a 53-39 for Strassburg turn into a 56-55 lead for the Fraport Skyliners. However there was no error, the Fraport Skyliners started an incredible comeback to start the fourth quarter as they paralyzed Strassburg going on a 17-2 run to lead 56-55 as possibly one of the least likely candidates made a huge contribution to the run with PRO B player Larry Wright. Larry Wright started the attack with a big three pointer which was met by Alexis Ajinca who seemed to have steam coming out of his nostrils as he did a stinging running dunk coming from the free throw line. Ajinca who played a total of 70 NBA games and was a teammate with Dirk Nowitki in Dallas in 2010-2011 looked like an infant Shaq making that dunk. If there was one body on the court that looked like a typical NBA body then it was that of Ajinca and no player disagreed. He is one of the biggest guys that I have ever played against. He is 7.2 and all 7.2 players have NBA bodies, smilied Larry Wright. Devin Gibson didnt have to confront Ajinca in the zone, but could just watch and be amazed. He is really skilled and good. That dunk was good, joked Devin Gibson. Dowell wasnt surprised by the dunk. He is supposed to do that, added Dion Dowell. After not being able to throw a ball into the ocean in the first half, now the fortune of the Fraport Skyliners seemed to change 180 degrees as they could throw a ball of a small narrow brick wall 10 meters away. They were hitting their shots better. Dowell hit a big three pointer which got the crowd going as if the BCM had turned into a Ballsporthalle like atmosphere. Johnathon Jones then scored on a pretty penetration as Frankfurt trailed only 55-49. Strassburg looked as if their hands were tied as they couldnt hit anything. The spirited play of Larry Wright continued as he hit a huge three pointer to cut the Strassburg lead to 55-52. Wright will be starting his second season for the PRO B team, but has found extra time on the Fraport Skyliners mainly due to a shortage of players, but he made the most of his minutes in the fourth quarter and was very calm after the loss. The fourth quarter was very exciting. I just wanted to come in and catch my rhythm, pick up the defense intensity and just give a spark, said Larry Wright. After two Johnathon Jones free throws, it was youngster Johannes Voigtman who made a lay in giving the Fraport Skyliners their first lead 56-55. However the fourth quarter just had too much minutes left as the Fraport Skyliners seemed to have lost some gas after getting the lead. Strassburg went on a 10-2 run to lead 65-58. Ricardo Greer continued to be a pain as he scored inside. De Jong used his strength inside scoring twice. The Fraport Skyliners had lost Voigtmann, Barthel and Dowell and just didnt have the needed punch inside to make big stops when they needed to. The Fraport Skyliners had one last straw of energy as Anthony Jones nailed a big three pointer to cut the Strassburg lead down to 65-61. However it was Jeff Greer who decided the game with a three pointer as Frankfurt now had little chance of regaining the lead as they led 67-61. Defense helped pick up everything in the fourth, but I helped on roll and left Grier out. I should of contained more instead of helping, stressed Larry Wright. Klein made a three pointer at the buzzer giving the 67-64 loss a strange taste. We started to hit shots. IF you play good defense down the stretch, then usually that will get you the win, added Louis Campbell.
SIG Strassburg was led by Ricardo Greer with 17 points and eight rebounds. Axel Toupane and Alexis Ajinca added 10 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Anthony Jones and Johnathon Jones with 14 points a piece. Johannes Voigtman added 10 points and nine rebounds. American Dion Dowell gave his debut playing 18 minutes and scoring four points, grabbing four rebounds, getting two assists and coughing up the ball twice. He is positive that he will show more in the games too come. I arrived three days ago. I will play better. I want to get in better shape, be efficient and learn the plays, added Dion Dowell. SIG Strassburg shot 48% from the field and 25% from the three point line while the Fraport Sklyiners shot 33% from the field and 30% from the three point line. Frankfurt lost the rebound battle 39-29 and had only 12 turnovers while SIG Strassburg had 20 turnovers. Despite losing the rebound battle badly and shooting poorly, there was one highlight. We fought no matter what tonight. That was our best strength, warned Devin Gibson. The defense continues to grow and new Skyliner Dion Dowell is thrilled about the play of his new team. We can build off the second half of this game. WE have a good team. If we dont let our effort level go down and always play hard then we will have a good season, stressed Fraport Sklyiner Dion Dowell.
Alex Foster(202-F-92, college: Emory) 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: 3... [read more]
Alex Foster (202-F-92, college: Emory) 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 Eurobasket about basketball.
Thanks Alex for talking to eurobasket.com. How 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.
How important was the win against Baunach to start 2017 after the bitter loss to Essen before Christmas in having the team have the right focus going into the Hanau game? It was important for us to get back to winning. There aren't that many games left in the regular season so very win comes at a premium.
Just like last season, winning is Hanau didn't happen, but the club came out with a lot better effort at home against them. What in your opinion is always most difficult when playing Hanau? They always come in with energy and confidence, which makes them a tough team to beat, but we kept their offence in check and made enough plays ourselves to get the win. The game was no easy matter as it was tight going into the fourth quarter.
What do you feel was key in the fourth quarter for pulling out the win and getting your second win in a row in 2017?
We tightened up our defense in the second half and played together offensively. We're starting to develop a win-at-all-costs identity and I think that showed against both Baunach and Hanau.
Kruize Pinkins had another typical strong game with 23 points and 10 rebounds. You have faced him 4 times now. Why in your opinion is he such a tough guy to stop? He's great around the rim and his teammates do a good job of finding him in scoring areas. Defending him, you have to stay engaged on defense at all times.
The RheinStars are in eighth place with a record of 9-9. What was your first half summary of the season?
We dug ourselves a deep hole, but are climbing out.
How much potential is in this season's team? The team is eighth best in points scored and points let up? In what area does the team have the most potential to do harm? I think we have the potential to go all the way. Ultimately, we want to hold down our home court for the rest of the season and start knocking off teams on the road.
How valuable was the pick up of former BBL player Anthony King? What does he give the team most besides experience at that low post presence? AK brings a calm sense of confidence to our team. He's a player you want with the ball when the game is on the line. Plus, he helps bring out the best in his teammates.
It seems like Richard Williams has been playing a bit under his expectations, but he hasn't been totally fit. How soothing is it knowing that when he breaks out, the club will be even more dangerous? I think Richie's done a great job learning and running the offense in such a short time. I was amazed by how fast he picked up all of our sets. He's made winning plays since he first got here, which I'm sure will continue throughout the season.
How content have you been with your game? You pretty much have the same stats as last season, but your playing 10 minutes less. Do you feel like you have become more of an efficient player this season?
Our roster is stacked with talent, so I didn't expect as many minutes as last season, but I know that for our team to be great, I need to play my role well. I've also gotten a better feel for European game since I got here, which helps my game.
Your right near the 40% mark from outside. How content are you that you can make that plateau in the second half of the season?
I expect that of myself.
What are your personal continued goals for this season as a player? On what things are you working on on the defensive end to become a better player? Right now, my focus is on helping my team get to the playoffs. On defense, I want to be able to stop my man one-on-one and help my teammates within the concept.
In December you watched a game of your friend Will Trawick in Rhondorf. How much do you miss playing with him? At Emory (NCAA3) you played three years together. He's carved out a good spot for himself in Rhondorf and it was fun to watch help play live. I'm sure we'll have a chance to play together this summer back at Emory.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you? It as good as any player has every ran the floor and shot the ball.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now? Lebron and Curry are NBA Champions, so Russ still has some work to do.
EasyCredit BBL team S.Oliver Wurzburg have reeled in ex NBA player Mustafa Shakur (192-PG-84, college: Arizona) Mustafa Shakur is a 32 year old 192cm guard from Arizona that brings 8 seasons of European experience, 25 NBA games and knows the BBL as last season he played for the MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL): 15 games: 14.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 26.4%, FT: 77.1%; Eurocup: 11 games: 14.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.9apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 82.8%. He started this sea... [read more]
EasyCredit BBL team S.Oliver Wurzburg have reeled in ex NBA player Mustafa Shakur (192-PG-84, college: Arizona) Mustafa Shakur is a 32 year old 192cm guard from Arizona that brings 8 seasons of European experience, 25 NBA games and knows the BBL as last season he played for the MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL): 15 games: 14.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 26.4%, FT: 77.1%; Eurocup: 11 games: 14.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.9apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 82.8%. He started this season with Afyonkarahisar Belediye (Turkey-TBL) where he played 10 games averaging 10,8ppg, 2,8rpg and 5,3apg. "He is a very experienced guard that will give us stability at both ends of the court. We will have a strong trio at both guard positions with Jake Odum, Maurice Stuckey and him", stated head coach Dirk Bauerman. The American got a one year deal.
He started his basketball career in 2003 at Arizona)NCAA) where he played a total of 130 NCAA games and as a senior played 31 games averaging11.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 6.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3Pts: 32.5%, FT: 78.8%. He started his professional basketball career in 2007 with the Sacramento Kings (NBA), only pre-season, in Nov.'07 moved to Prokom Trefl Sopot (Poland-DBE): Polish League: 26 games: 7.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.3apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 36.8%, 3PT: 46.2%, FT: 66.7%; Euroleague: 7 games: 7.6ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 38.1%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 66.7%. In the 2008-2009 season he moved to Tau Ceramica Vitoria (Spain-ACB): 14 games: 3.4ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.2apg; Euroleague: 10 games: 5.5ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 76.0%; in Jan.'09 moved to Panellinios Athens (Greece-A1): Eurocup: 6 games: 6.3ppg, 1.2apg, 1.0spg. He started the 2009-2010 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), in Apr.'10 assigned to Tulsa 66ers (D-League): 51 games: 19.0ppg, 4.5rpg, 6.7apg, Steals-3 (2.2spg), FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 74.9%. In the 2010-2011 season he went to the New Orleans Hornets (NBA), only pre-season, then moved to Rio Grande Valley Vipers (D-League) playing 23 games: 16.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 5.0apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 71.1%, in Jan.'11 signed with Washington Wizards (NBA): 22 games: 2.3ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.1apg. In the 2011-2012 season he played for the Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) playing French League: 6 games: 9.7ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 7.1%, FT: 88.2%; EuroChallenge: 1 game: 0pts, 2reb, left in Nov.'11, later that month moved to Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 21 games: 16.0ppg, 3.8rpg, Assists-5 (4.3apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 26.6%, FT: 79.6%. In the 2012-2013 season he played for Sidigas Avellino (Italy-SerieA): 17 games: 11.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-5 (1.9spg), FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 23.3%, FT: 72.0%, in Mar.'13 moved to Erie Bay Hawks (D-League): 7 games: 17.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 5.6apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 80.0%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for the Erie Bay Hawks (D-League): 23 games: 18.9ppg, 5.0rpg,