In the world city of Hamburg were just counting swans on the Alster can be seen as a hobby as there are so many, there are many sport clubs with rich tradition like soccer team HSV that has been in service for 127 years, St Pauli have been around for 94 years and the Uhlenhorster hockey team have been competiting for 113 years and now the city Hamburg that was host of the 2010 U-17 World Championships in basketball where Giessen guard Besnek Bekteshi tore up the competition had a new professional basketball team going to start a new era in Giessen that has been around since 1846 as they played their first professional game in the infamous and loud Osthalle. It was a long pre season for the team as they played very much basketball with a roster that was put together in July. It was also not a surprise that both the makers of this Hamburg Towers project ex German national player Marvin Willoughby and Frankfurt Skyliners legend Pascal Roller were on hand to witness history. Despite a frantic and almost successful comeback at the end of the game, Pascal Roller who was sporting a stylish dark black shirt bearing the intials of the city Hamburg HH was more relaxed while the more suave looking Willoughby who is a mix between Denzel Washington and Tyson Beckford was a bit more nervous at the end, but with 0,9 seconds to go another missed Hamburg free throw was left rolling on the rim as no Giessen player seemed awake allowing Terrry „Air Canada“ Thomas to secure the rebound and seal the 66-65 win as both chefs smiled and escaped Giessen with a victory. 40 minutes after the narrow win, Marvin Willoughby was able to summarize the 40 minutes that he had just witnessed. „We found out at the end that you have to play for 40 minutes and not 39 minutes. If you give up 9 points in the last minute, you will get punished. We were lucky that we won, but I am very happy that we won. We had a good phase in the up and down moments to stick together as a team. I thought we played a pretty good defensive game, but lost focus at the end. We have very much potential on the defensive end to get even better“, stressed Marvin Willoughby. „We wanted to win that first game at home. We didn´t execute well in the first half, but in the second half we executed better on offense, but still had defensive break downs. I felt that every player gave 100%. We have to get better and shoot for two wins this week“, added Giessen forward Andre Marhold.
The noisy uncomfortable atmosphere in the Giessen Osthalle didn´t unrattle the Hamburg Towers as they jumped out on a 6-2 lead as Michael Wenzl quickly got going with two buckets and showed early that he was motivated and really no match for any guy Giessen head coach Denis Wucherer stuck on him. The Hamburg Towers got their rhythm quickly as Giessen was stuck to playing catch up basketball. TJ Dileo was the only bright spot for Giessen in the early going as he scored twice. Hamburg got free throws from ex Paderborn forward Vincent Kittmann and Terry Thomas showed that flying through the air isn´t the only thing that he can do as he sunk a three pointer for the 11-7 Hamburg advantage. Hamburg continued to try to keep ex ratiopharm Ulm big man Wenzl involved as he scored his third bucket of the first quarter with his left hand and ex Paderborn guard Will Barnes scored on the penentration something that would haunt the Giessen defense all night long as Hamburg led 15-8. Hamburg continued to get much production from everyone as the bench provided punch as well as ex Biola(NAIA) forward Andre Murrillo scored inside. American Eric Palm of Giessen hit a big three pointer at the end as Giesen cut the Hamburg lead down to 18-13 after one quarter. However at an early stage one could sense that the Hamburg Towers wanted to win more and their team basketball concept was more convincing than the game of Giessen. The Hamburg Towers were shooting37% from the field and 17% from outside while Giessen was shooting 33% from the field and 25% from outside. Hamburg had the 11-9 rebound edge and only two turnovers while Giessen had five turnovers.
The game got more even in the second quarter as the GIessen 46ers continued to fight hard and trail by only four points at halftime. Cameron Wells got the Giessen 46ers going in the second quarter hitting a pull up jumper as Hamburg still led 18-15. Hamburg continued to exclude three point shooting going for buckets inside as Barnes and Wenzl score das Giessen trailed 23-17. Giessen took the advice from Denis Wucherer and got stronger going on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 26-26. Bjoern Schoo whamed home a tip in dunk, Cuban Yorman Polas who was running to the hole on every occasion scored inside, Eric Palm nailed a three pointer and lost Giessen son Johannes Lischka got two easy points as he was served on a fine platter from Besnik Bekteshi and all of a sudden Pascal Roller was hearing that loud unwanted Osthalle again like in the unforgetable derby games with the Frankfurt Skyliners. Giesen took the lead again the first time since the DiLeo 2-0 bucket, but Hamburg countered as Dennis Schroeder friend Bazoumana Kone made a beautiful two handed dunk on a break away to knot the game at 30-30. Kone reminds one very much of the play of NBA player Dennis Schroeder as his calmness and then sudden explosiveness is one of a kind and he then stole the ball at mid court came down and missed the dunk, but Terry Thomas grabbed the rebound and layed it in for the 32-30 lead. Palm and Kone then exchanged baskets and Barnes took the teams into half time with free throws and the 36-32 advantage. „I saw 12 good minutes in the first half. Then we let up a bit in the defense“, added Pascal Roller. „Despite the game being close, we calmed down a bit in the second quarter ran our transition defense better and read the Giessen defense better“, explained Will Barnes. The Hamburg Towers were shooting 42% from the field and 14% from the three point line while the Giessen 46ers were shooting 41% from the field and 29% from the three point line. Giessen rebounded better leading the boards battle 20-17, but had 10 turnovers while Hamburg had 6 turnovers.
Both teams came out of half time a bit uneasy as scoring and mistakes took over the third quarter as only 21 total points were scored, but the Hamburg Towers had the comfortable 49-40 lead after 30 minutes. Hamburg got out on a 8-2 run to lead 44-36 as the enforcer Will Barnes continued to show why aggressiveness should be his middle name. He hit three free throws after drawing the foul in the parking lot then scored inside and Kone scored inside again. Hamburg put up a notch on defense as Giessen couldn´t get into a flow and were forced to very difficult shots. Wenzl got a couple of buckets as he remained a real thorn in the Giessen defense as Hamburg just gave him the ball and he usually drew the foul or scored. Hamburg was playing for each other while Giessen was running around and just being very disorganized as they only produced 8 points in the third quarter. „We kept attacking and got big stops. We buckled down on defense and switched better on their pick and role“, warned Will Barnes. The Hamburg Towers were shooting 36% from the field and 17% from the parking lot while the Giessen 46ers were shooting 34% from the field and 16% from the parking lot. Giessen had the 31-30 rebound edge, but 16 turnovers while Hamburg had 12 turnovers.
Even if the Hamburg Towers kept a nice lead in the fourth quarter, Giessen still had something left in their gas tank for a comeback which resulted in the last minutes of the game. After Malou and Kone started off the fourth quarter with free throws, it was DiLeo and Thomas who traded buckets. Thomas made a steal on transition defense came back and made a nifty finger tip roll in as Hamburg still led 52-44. Giessen now was wide awake and went on a 9-2 run to cut the Hamburg lead to 54-53. Giessen started to hit their shots as Hamburg got lazy defending the pick and roll. Wells, Palm and Bekteshi hit big shots as Giessen was back in the game again. Then was the play of the game as Kone and Thomas teamed up for a crushing ally op dunk which was a mini version to what Schroeder and Theis did in their Braunschweig days, but still it was spectacular and Giessen was caught napping as there was no one to stop that back door pass. Barnes then switched hands for an easy lay up as Hamburg led 59-53. Giessen kept threatening as DiLeo scored inside and then defense powered the offense as Bekteshi made a steal and went coast to coast as Giessen trailed only 59-57. However Hamburg still had nerves of steal as they went on a mini 4-0 run as Kone scored inside and Wenzl was still as fresh as in the first quarter as he battled through 2 Giessen players for the put back as Hamburg led 64-57. However then Hamburg recieved a good lesson why one should play 40 minutes of basketball as they gave up a 9-1 run, but were lucky to escape with the 66-65 win. Kone scored the last Hamburg bucket as Hamburg led 66-57 and perhaps some players were already thinking where the small vacation like Hamburg bus whould stop after the game at Mcdonalds, Burger King or KFC, but with a minute to play Giessen somehow fought back as DiLeo scored and Bekteshi got the small gym cooking with a big three pointer with 0,9 secondfs to play. On the next inbounds play Thomas was fouled. He missed both free throws, but Pascal Roller will never remember that in 10 years, but moreover the historic win in Giessen. „We had problems on the pick and role defense and didn´t switch as well. I have to give them a lot of respect. They didn´t lay down, but fought until the end“, stressed Will Barnes. The Hamburg Towers were led by Michael Wenzl with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Will Barnes added 18 points. Giessen was led by TJ DiLeo with 17 points while Besnik Bekteshi added 13 points and Eric Palm had 12 points. Even if Pascal Roller knows it was a full team effort, Will Barnes knows that Hamburg might have had a boring bus ride home with german lessons from teammate Andre Murrillo had Wenzl not played. „I think that we didn´t give Michael Wenzl the ball enough. He had a great game. That last and one won us the game at the end. We would not have won this game without him“, warned Will Barnes.