Opel Skyliners of Frankfurt have built on their good start in Group B with a second consecutive victory on Thursday, but it was a much closer game than expected against visiting London Towers, victim of blowouts in their previous two games. Frankfurt survived a defensive battle by a slim margin, 61-57, but it was good for a 2-1 record that equals the German club's victory total of last season. Virgil Stanescu led Frankfurt with 16 points and Marcus Goree added 15 for the winners. London, which falls to 0-3 but can at least count its best effort so far, was led by John White with 15 points.
London showed character in the first half despite the game having begun with two early fouls to one of its key players, John White, who had to sit then. But London survived by doing what its best to obtain easy baskets: rebounding, passing out and getting fastbreaks. With that formula, London led 10-11 after seven minutes and forced a Frankfurt timout. It took a basket by Virgil Stanescu to allow the home team to tie the score 16-16 going into the break between quarters.
White returned with a bang for London in the second quarter, dropping a really long-distance three-pointer that gave London its biggest lead of the whole season, 16-21. Frankfurt reacted by tighteneing up its defense, but the hosts continued to miss shots until a 6-0 run and a spectacular dunk by Stanescu put the home team back in the lead at 27-25. Marcus Goree joined the fun, making it 29-25 on a nice layup, but London again did what it had to, and reacted by freeing up shooters for a pair of open attempts to get the deficit down to 33-31 at the half. Three-pointers played a big role to that point, with London having made 4 of its 12 attempts, while Frankfurt was stuck at 0-for-8 after 20 minutes.
The third quarter was a real turnover festival as neither team seemed interested in scoring points. After five minutes, Frankfurt pulled away by 41-37 and the first three-pointer for the home team, by Pascal Roller, made it 44-37. Another three by Alexander Lokhmanchuk made it 49-38 and the Towers looked dead. The visitors had one more bucket before ending the quarter down 49-40.
The fourth quarter went similarly, without many highlights, even an anti-highlight, Goree missing an easy dunk by hammering the ball off the rim. Just when the game seemed decided, at 55-44 with 4:00 left, London scored back-to-back three-pointers to close within 55-50. When time was running out at the end and both teams fouled to stop the clock, London almost tied the game. The score was 59-56 when the Towers made one free throw and then missed the next on purpose to try for the rebound and two more points. The plan failed as Frankfurt grabbed the rebound and Lokhmanchuk made two final free throws to end it for the home team.
Thursday, October 25, 2001