Ever since the Dragons Rhondorf have entered the German Pro B in the 2011 season, winning in the BCM training facility in Frankfurt where current NBA player of the Brooklyn Nets Alan Anderson once heaved home a thunderous dunk as he was doing baby Michael Jordan steps in the air as he was playing with Euroleague champion Macabbi Tel Aviv against the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in a test game that then coach Murat Didin had organized as if he was the Don King of basketball, basketball life for Rhondorf has been more than stressful in the BCM. They have won two of three games at home, but have always left the BCM floor with their heads down as they are 0-3. It really didn´t matter if it was Nick Larsen, Alejo Rofriguez or ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Fabian Thulig who played 92 Beko BBL games, no one of these guys were able to return home and be able to tell a heroic bus ride home anecdote. Not only did the Fraport Skyliners have a 3-0 record at home in the BCM, but they have been able to always slow down their offense and hide that extra wood to keep the furnace burning as they have let up an average of only 65 points in the three games. Rhondorf was back again with head coach Boris Kaminski for a fourth attempt to break the slow building of the BCM curse. Both teams came into the game with a two game winning streak and the Dragons Rhondorf had that extra momentum with the incredible Savo Milovic buzzer beater in Karlsruhe, but Rhondorf had to play in the BCM in Frankfurt for nearly two and half hours playing their hearts out and still returned home with their fourth loss in a row there and remained winless as American Kyle Fossman drilled home a buzzer beater in the third overtime to power the Fraport Skyliners to the 77-75 victory. This was a game that deserved no loser as both teams played as if it was a title game and for some reason that curse is slowly starting to be born in the BCM with the misfortune of Rhondorf. “Both teams played so hard in this game. It was an exciting end where anyone could have won, but Rhondorf just can´t seem to win here. They may have a small curse here”, stated Fraport Skyliner Junior Max Merz. Ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Fabian Thuelig who retired a year ago after 92 Beko BBL games to concentrate on studies, but still is playing Pro B basketball played as if he was reliving that 2009 Beko BBL final in Oldenburg where Bonn lost in a tough fifth game didn´t want to hear anything about a curse. “It is always tough to play Frankfurt here and they play very aggressive defense. Anyone could of won at the end. If Fossmann misses it, we win. That is how the sport of basketball is. There is no Rhondorf curse in Frankfurt”, stated Fabian Thuelig.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game without the services of German three point specialist Nicolai Vuckovic who had a thumb injury, but had big 201cm guard Stefan Illzhoefer back in the lineup. The first quarter was dominated by aggressive defense, but the Dragons Rhondorf still defended better as Frankfurt had massive problems getting into their sets as all as turnovers were a problem. German Florian Wendeler got Rhondorf on the board first with a lay in while German Max Merz knotted the score at 2-2 with a pull up jumper. Rhondorf then went on a 5-0 run to lead 7-2 as Wendeler scored again with a tip in and role player Sascha Tratnjek connected on a three pointer. Frankfurt then got a break as Rhondorf couldn´t capitalize on three missed chances on the glass and crawled back into the game with a three pointer from ex Bamberg forward Johannes Richter. However Rhondorf continued to get easy buckets inside as the communication with Frankfurt was lacking as Lithuanian Remigijus Untulis scored inside sneaking behind the defense and receiving a back door pass from Bastian Winterhalder. Tim Oldenburg hit a pull up jumper, but Rhondorf closed out the first quarter with Winterhalder free throws and a step back jumper from Thuelig as the Dragons Rhondorf led 15-9 after 10 minutes. “Rhondorf got easy buckets mainly because Frankfurt wasn´t talking on defense. Frankfurt wasn´t moving the ball well on offense”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson. Rhondorf was shooting 33% from the field and 20% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were shooting 21% from the field and 13% from outside. Rhondorf had the 12-9 rebound edge and three turnovers while Frankfurt had four turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners rebounded from their lackluster first quarter getting a better jump on their offensive game going on a quick 7-2 run to trail Rhondorf only 17-16. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners found many different and innovative ways to score as Tim Oldenburg unraveled his pull up jumper, Kyle Fossmann gave the guests the first taste of his sharp shooting skills nailing home a three pointer and Richter made an interesting one hand half dunk/floater as he saw nothing but net, but probably wanted to feel the rusty rim on his fingers. Frankfurt was moving the ball better and attacking the rim something that had been lacking in the first quarter. They also stepped up their defense as Rhondorf was being forced to tougher shots than in the first quarter. Rhondorf did a good job getting to the free throw line as Sir Theron Laudermill the second got there twice. But Frankfurt kept chipping away at the Rhondorf lead and took their first lead of the game 21-20 as Oldenburg hit a pretty left handed hook shot and Merz secured the lead with free throws. Rhondorf would get the lead back with a spectacular ally op dunk from Wendeler who was set up nicely from ex Rattelsdorf center Laudermill who showed that he is big man passing qualities of a Johannes Voigtmann. Rhondorf continued to play the better basketball and closed out the second quarter with a big 9-3 run to lead 31-24 as they got huge support from their bench. The Laudermill to Wendeler connection functioned for a second consecutive time as the German scored again as Rhondorf led 24-22. Rhondorf continued to get buckets inside as Frankfurt was slow rotating and then 19 year German/Greek Stylianos Kyriakides Came up big off the bench being aggressive and scoring free throws and then shocking Frankfurt with a buzzer beater three pointer as Rhondorf ran into the dressing room with added confidence. “Frankfurt scored easy baskets at the start and got to the free line and Tim Oldenburg hit shots. In the last minutes, Frankfurt didn´t communicate again, some guys lost their men and they didn´t rebound well”, added Quantez Robertson. Rhondorf was shooting 37% from the field and 20% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 35% from the field and 18% from the three point line. Rhondorf had the 19-18 rebound advantage and five turnovers while Frankfurt had nine turnovers.
In the third quarter, Rhondorf started off well with a 5-2 run, but the Fraport Skyliners would soon pull away and plaster the momentum on their side as they improved their game on both sides of the court. Rhondorf scored in the first minute as Winterhalder showed extreme effort scoring on the third try and 16 year old Anton Geretzki hit a huge shot as he did a great job scooping up a low pass as if he was fishing as Rhondorf extended their lead to 36-26 which was their biggest lead of the game at that point. The great Frankfurt effort was slowly starting to pay off. Even though they weren´t hitting shots on a consistent rate, they were playing with added effort something that hadn´t been seen in the first half. Frankfurt then took that effort and transformed it into their offense going on a 12-0 run to retake the lead 38-36. In the run, it was German Johannes Richter who led Frankfurt with his energy on both ends of the court. He started the run with a free throw, then made a huge steal and went coast to coast getting the hard lay in. Fossmann followed with a huge three pointer and then it was defense again that got Frankfurt easy points as Merz got a steal and put back. Fraport Skyliners Juniors head coach Eric Detlef always says that when their offense is moving the ball well then they will be hard to stop and the run continued with good offense as Richter buried a three pointer. Defense really translated into their offense finally and big plays got their self confidence higher. Frankfurt also was rebounding the ball well and in these few minutes one could see that they wanted to win more. Frankfurt would keep the lead and end the third quarter with a 22-9 quarter. Oldenburg got a few more buckets as he hit a pull up jumper and scored inside as the Fraport Skyliners Juniors led 45-40 after three quarters. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 39% from the field and 25% from the parking lot while Rhondorf was shooting 32% from the field and 21% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had got the rebound lead 31-28 and had 11 turnovers while Rhondorf had 12 turnovers.
The fourth quarter was a real dog fight as Rhondorf fought back and stopped Frankfurt from winning the game on a last shot. Rhondorf jumped on Frankfurt right of the bat going on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 45-45. Thuelig nailed an acrobatic three pointer with one second left on the shot clock and ex Robert Morris(NAIA) big man Remigijus Untulis connected on a mid distance jumper. Frankfurt got the lead back as Tim Oldenburg connected on four free throws and Richter made a massive two handed dunk being fed perfectly from Fossmann as Frankfurt led 51-47. Ex Iserlohn German and current Rhondorf leading scorer Tim Schonborn who had been surprisingly quiet hit a big three pointer in their come back to cut the Frankfurt lead to 51-50. Both teams had difficulty hitting free throws at a consistent rate as German Armin Musovic and Laudermill connected only on one. Laudermill gave Rhondorf the lead back 54-52 with a timely three pointer in crunch time, but Richter didn´t waste any time returning with a hook shot to tie the game at 54-54. Liitle used guard Tratnjek gave Rhondorf the lead back 56-54 with a finger tip role. Merz tied the game at 56-56 with free throws. After a Tratnjek miss, Frankfurt had a chance to win it, but were denied as Illzhoefer missed and the second chance by Fossmann was blocked as the game went into overtime. After 40 minutes, the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 36% from the field and 18% from downtown while Rhondorf was shooting 35% from the field and 29% from downtown. Frankfurt had the 39-35 rebound edge, but 14 turnovers while Rhondorf had 15 turnovers.
In the first overtime, both teams didn´t waste any time getting on the board as 2014 NBBL rookie of the year Niklas Kiel hit a pull up jumper and Thuelig countered with a jumper as the game was tied at 58-58. Rhondorf kept Frankfurt behind them letting them play catch up as Wendeler scored inside and made the free throw as Frankfurt trailed 61-58. The incredible desire for Frankfurt to win really came into play in the overtime period as all of a sudden the glass seemed that special playground each kid always had and saw for the first time as the players just owned the glass pulling down rebound after rebound with furry that a Kevin Love even would have winked. On one play Frankfurt kept the offense alive with a couple offensive rebounds and a loose ball as Fossman dove as if the hard floor was soft powered snow in his native Alaska. Frankfurt continued to chip away at the Rhondorf lead as Kiel made one of two free throws and Merz threw down a huge three pointer as Frankfurt led again 62-61. Frankfurt was defending very well forced Laudermill to an air ball, but Merz then missed two free throws. Rhondorf capitalized on this as Thuelig buried a turn around shot for the 63-62 Rhondorf lead. Ilzhoefer then hit two giant free throws for the Frankfurt 64-63 lead. Laudermill then made only one free throw as the game was tied again at 64-64. Frankfurt had a second chance to win the game with 1,4 seconds, but Ilzhoefer was forced to a tough shot as the game went into its second overtime. After 45 minutes, the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 35% from the field and 20% from outside while Rhondorf was shooting 37% from the field and 26% from outside. Frankfurt had the 45-38 rebound lead and 16 turnovers while Rhondorf had 17 turnovers.
The excitement didn´t end here as both teams continued to fight and battle as if their life depended on it. In the second overtime period of five minutes, both teams were only able to muster 8 points between them. Like in the first overtime, it was Rhondorf that got the better start as Thuelig hit a free throw and then made a lay in as Rhondorf led 67-64. Frankfurt continued to be a team beast on the board securing three consecutive offensive rebounds with two from Fossman and one from Merz, but weren´t rewarded with any points. Schonborn then hit a free throw as Frankfurt trailed 68-64, but they never lost hope, but just continued to fight and chip away. With time running down, Frankfurt had to execute now and did as Merz made free throws and Richter scored inside as Merz gave him the quick feed as the game was tied again at 68-68. With 25 seconds to play, Rhondorf couldn´t connect on a Geretzki jumper and then had another chance and third in a row to win, but came up short again even though they were so close as Merz missed a lay up and Fossman was there for the put back, but shot a bit too high and left off the glass to win the game, but the American would make amends for his misfortune soon. After 50 minutes, the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 32% from the field and 18% from the parking lot while Rhondorf was shooting 35% from the field and 22% from the parking lot. Frankfurt really stepped up the glass work in the second overtime and now had 55 rebounds while Rhondorf had 42. Both teams had 17 turnovers.
Between overtimes, Skyliner head coach Eric Detlef had been slapped with a technical foul and for the third time in a row in OT, Rhondorf got on the board first as Schonborn hit a free throw and led 69-68. Richter tied the game at 69-69 with a free throw. After a Thuelig turnover, Richter hit free throws to give Frankfurt the lead again 71-69. Wendeler responded with a tip in to tie the score at 71-71. However Fossman was just getting warmed up for his heroics dropping another three pointer as Frankfurt led 74-71. With two minutes remaining it was Rhondorf that used their last bit of energy going on a lightening mini 4-0 run to retake the lead 75-74 Laudermill connected on a tip in and Schonborn found Wendeler inside for two quick points. Frankfurt now had the chance again to win the game. Three wasn´t a charm, but to block out any further bad luck, Frankfurt wanted to finally win the game and wind down their Sunday night in the Marriot Sports bar watching the two NFL legends Tom Brady and Peyton Manning battle and they did just that as Kyle Fossman was the hero hitting a last second shot propelling Frankfurt to their third win in a row. After his heroic shot, Fossman didn´t want to take the credit for himself, but praised the whole team especially including one player. “I feel good after this win. I have to give the whole team credit as it was a team effort and Max Merz for setting me up with the open shot. I didn´t feel as comfortable in the third OT as in the first two, but in the end it was our effort that got us the win. Johannes Richter really played hard today and his rebounding was great”, stressed Kyle Fossman. “Nobody deserved to lose this game. Both teams played so hard, but we had many minor mistakes that we have to correct. We messed up too many offensive plays and giving up three offensive rebounds wasn´t good either”, stated California native Theron Laudermill.
The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Richter with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Max Merz added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tim Oldenburg contributed 14 points and Kyle Fossman chipped in with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Fabian Thuelig with 16 points. Theron Laudermill added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Florian Wendeler contributed 13 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 32% from the field and 21% from outside while Rhondorf shot 35% from the field and 21% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 61-48 and both teams coughed up the ball 18 times. Merz really was a big factor in the success of Frankfurt in the three overtimes as his decision making was almost flawless even if he was his biggest critic moments after the win. “This was one of my weakest games this season. I had problems at the free throw line. Not hitting free throws took me out of my rhythm. I really wanted to win the game at the end. I am happy that Kyle Fossman hit the open shot. I also want to give credit to Fabian Thuelig who on one play told the ref that he had last touched the ball which gave us possession instead of Rhondorf”, stated Max Merz. This was a historic win and will probably be remembered most by the Fossman buzzer beater, but the players will also remember something else. 2Our big will to rebound the ball will never be forgotten”, stressed Johannes Richter.