Game day! We would face the Austrian Champ Wels today. We have had a good shoot around this morning. Mike put at the end of practice a 10 Euro bill at the halfcourt line. And said first who is going to make a half court shot gets the 10 euros. We are shooting in an order. I was seventh though. Everybody in front of me was very close. Now it was my turn. Can you imagine, I just swooshed it in, did not even touch the rim at all. History in the making. I made the first half court shot of this new and young ratiopharm Ulm team. I felt honoured.
I have had a lot of time between practice and the game. We had to be in the gym at 6pm.
Wels wouldn`t be an easy test. Their Point Guard Moore used to play with Rip Hamilton at UConn and everybody knows that UConn won a championship with Rip Hamilton. They also had Jason Conley on the wing, and some guy who was playing at Illinois.
Well, it shouldn`t be easy but we made it look easy. We were dominating these guys right from the beginning. Everybody was playing well. Chris got into some foul trouble. But Nemanja Kekic was doing a great job off the bench, just like Basti (Sebastian Betz), who finished the first half with 12 points off the bench. We were really an offensive powerhouse.
The people in the gym did really like what they have seen. There were not too many. I guess probably about 500 people. I expected more for our first home game, but that will definitely change during the season.
I already checked in for Rocky in the first quarter. I have had a nice block against the back board. Our team rotation was very good and the block was very easy for me.
I was guarding Jason Conley. It wasn`t hard to check him. He is not the quickest anymore. He talks a lot on the court. Didn`t do anything against me in the first half though. I did see the floor for the last three minutes of the second quarter.
Kevin was playing well so far and he did hit me on a weak side flash. I finished strong with my left over the top of a defender. We were heading to the locker room with a comfortable 53-41 lead. 41-points are although a lot of points. That was also our focus point for the 2nd half: Being more physical at the defensive end.
We have had a good start into the second half. We always had a double digit lead. Conley hit a hurting three pointer in the corner. I got stuck in a screen and couldn`t get to him in time. That cut the lead to seven (74-67). We had the last shot in the third quarter. I grabbed the offensive board after Basti missed the shot, but I couln`t get a decent shot up in time. They never got closer than five points in the 4th quarter.
Ricky Moore did not have a good game so far. We never had the feeling that we would lose this game. Although Chris fouled out. Kevin picked up his 5th with four minutes to go. So Mike subbed me in. We have had some matchup problems. Basti was playing the four. I was doing a big time mistake. I realized the press break after foul shots of Wels too late. Lee had problems to get open and I was still at the half court. I tried to flash to the right side to get the ball. Lee was running into the same direction. He got the ball and bumbed into me. Loose ball! Lee kicked it somehow and Wels got the ball back. They hit a three after the inbounds and they were right back into the game trailing us with 5-points. Lee got fouled and I headed to Mike. He told me to stay cool and not to speed up things. Play smart and know what you are doing. He did a great move with subbing Nemo as a four man in for me, so Basti could play the 3 again. Nemo did hit a big shot from the right corner of a Rocky Trice drive. He told me afterwards that he though he is going to airball it. But it went in and it was also the neck breaking shot. We were up by nine I guess with 1:30 to go. Game, Set, Match: 100-83! It was such a great feeling to win this first home game. The crowd really loved it.
I guess they will also love it when we will kill Tübingen tomorrow. Ulm`s rival since day one. We are very heated up for this game. Especially me. My former team and class mate Andreas Kronhardt is on Tübingens roster and also gets some minutes. I am really looking forward to face him. We were talking and dreaming about games like this back in the days during class. We are still in contact and are still good friends. Cannot really wait till this game starts.
I want to win the first battle. Matter fact, we want to win the rivalry and the tournament!