You have those American players that love to globetrot in their career all over Europe fetching one year deals and learning a new culture while playing the game they cherish while there are those Americans that start in a country begin to love it there and never leave and just continue to ball until their body says no more. Guys like Immanuel Mcelroy of Braunschweig has played in Germany over 10 years for only three teams Cologne and Berlin or a Kyle Visser who has been in Germany since coming out of Wake Forest and is the heart and soul of the Braunschweig squad. Then again you also have a Chase Griffin who turned professional in 2007 and except for one season in Finland has played his whole career in Germany. He is starting his seventh season in Germany after having played for Phoenix Hagen for three years, one in Giessen and the last two in Gotha where his range from the parking lot was exceptional over 40% each season. The Washington native may be known for being a great shooter, but for the hardcore basketball fans remember his acting debut in the classic German basketball documentary Phoenix In Der Asche where the intense meeting between him and Michael Jordan displayed just what goes on behind the scenes of a basketball club where two ego´s are clashing. The two actually were teammates the following year after their basketball Oscar like moment playing for the Giessen 46ers and like their season in Hagen losing was the norm something that seemed to accompany them to Hessen. Griffin was back in Giessen last season with Gotha and celebrated a dramatic 91-89 OT win where he steered 25 points for the victory. Griffin returned back to Giessen for a second time in the Pro A and wanted to help snap the three games Giessen winning streak, but SC Rasta Vechta had tremendous problems having good starts in three of four quarters, couldn´t handle Cameron Wells and had to play come back basketball all night long which failed as Giessen won their fourth home game in a row 85-76 as SC Rasta Vechta remained winless on the road. “It is always nice to come back to paly ex teams and I can remember the OT with Gotha last season. It was always a great environment to play here, and tonight it was that again, but we had no flow, no rhythm and Giessen played good defense”, stressed Washington native Chase Griffin. The Giessen 46ers continue to play strong and high spirited basketball as they have won now six of their last seven games and are climbing higher and higher in the standings. “We did a good job focusing on the game plan and we played very good defense. We did a good job getting back, playing one on one defense keeping your guy out in front and also help side. Our good starts also were key. In the past when we have started bad, it usually took us 5-10 minutes to get into the game. When we start well, we move the ball better, are on the same page, execute better and the communication is there”, added Giessen 46er American Andre Marhold.
The Giessen 46ers were without Jonathan Malu who has knee problems and SC Rasta Vechta were without Amir Carraway. Giessen came out with an extra burst of energy as if they had extra Red Bull drinks before the game going on a 9-2 run. American Cameron Wells got going early scoring twice with a floater and lay in easily getting around German Fabian Franke and Cuban Yorman Polas used his athletic ability to score inside and Benjamin Lischka nailed a pretty running hook shot. Giessen got into rhythm fast and were making smart decisions while SC Rasta Vechta were getting good looks on offense, but just not getting their shots to fall. After SC Rasta Vechta head coach Stephan Arigbabu who played 7 seasons in Greece took a time out, it was Los Angeles native Derek Wright who took the coaches words to heart and rallied the team back into the game with a 8-3 run to cut the Giessen lead to 12-10. Wright nailed two three pointer and rookie Vincent Bailey grabbed an offense rebound and made a put back. The first quarter remained a quarter of runs as Giessen pull ed away again with a 7-2 run as Giessen continued to spread the ball around well getting scoring punch from Philadelphia native TJ DiLeo with a three pointer, A Benjamin Lischka lay in and Bjoern Schoo mid distance jumper as Giessen led 19-12. SC Rasta Vechta stayed on the heels of Giessen continuing to rally as Oliver Mackeldanz scored inside, and ex Oldenburg point guard Kevin Smit hit a timely three pointer. Wells set the exclamation point for the end of the first quarter with a last second shot as Giessen led 23-17 after 10 minutes. “We weren´t ready at all with our bad start. We wanted to be the aggressor, but Giessen was. We had good looks, but it was a law of averages as our shots weren´t falling”, stressed ex Chico State American Amir Carraway. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 67% from the field and 50% from outside while SC Rasta Vechta was shooting 43% from the field and 43% from outside. Giessen had the 9-6 rebound edge, but three turnovers while SC Rasta Vechta had two turnovers.
The second quarter remained tight and Giessen was able to lead by as much as nine points, but SC Rasta made a huge comeback in the last minutes to go into halftime trailing by one point. The second quarter was the only quarter where SC Rasta Vechta didn´t let Giessen go on a quarter starting run. It was 212cm big man Oliver Mackeldanz who reached the Beko BBL last season with SC Rasta Vechta playing 6 Beko BBL games via the German Regionaliga 2, Stahnsdorf and Cuxhaven scoring inside twice and once using the big mismatch of 9 centimeters over Johannes Lischka. Ex Ludwigsburg guard Besnik Bekteshi came off the bench testing his massive 63% three point percentage nailing a shot from outside as Giessen led 28-19. Giessen was trying to pull away, but it was German Mackeldanz who continued to own the zone scoring once over Wright and then making a put back over three Giessen players as Giessen led only 30-25. Giessen continued to get good offensive production keeping their healthy lead as Johannes Lischka scored on the penetration while slipping and DiLeo made a mid-distance jumper as Giessen led 36-27. Smit was a real force from the bench giving SC Rasta Vechta that needed push as he used his quickness to score inside as Giessen led only 36-30. With Giessen leading 39-30, SC Rasta Vechta went into the break with a furious 11-3 run to trail Giessen only 42-41. Vincent Bailey got the guests on the board with a nifty spin move and lay in, Wright hit a pull up jumper, Franke became aggressive and scored inside and Chase Griffin nailed a last second three pointer as all of a sudden SC Rasta Vechta was breathing strong down their backs. “We had a nice comeback at the end. Mackeldanz was huge off the bench and he has been doing it all season long. He gave us a huge lift. We did a good job coming back on transition defense and let them play to us”, added Amir Carraway. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 59% from the field and 43% from the three point line while SC Rasta Vechta was shooting 55% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Both teams had 15 rebounds and Giesen had five turnovers and SC Rasta Vechta had six turnovers.
It seemed like everything that SC Rasta Vechta had worked so hard to achieve at the end of the second quarter was rapidly lost in the first few minutes of the third quarter as Giessen threw SC Rasta Vechta and their breathing off their back and raced out to a 10-0 run to up their lead again now to 52-41. The Giessen offense was working like a clock work again as they set the tempo again, were more aggressive and gave the word intensity a new meaning. American Eric Palm came off the bench and did his job connecting on a three pointer, Wells snuck inside for two points and DiLeo hit free throws and sunk a three pointer. “This good start in the third quarter was key for us. We defended very well and hit shots which set the tone until the end”, expressed Giessen 46er Johannes Lischka. “Having these bad starts has been our Achilles heel this season. We need to have more intensity when starting a new quarter”, commented ex Phoenix Hagen guard Chase Griffin. SC Rasta Vechta didn´t give up, but kept chipping away at the Giessen lead and fighting back. Derek Wright connected on a three pointer and Vincent Bailey on a mid-distance shot as Giessen led only 56-49. SC Rasta Vechta continued to rally as Bailey continued to be a menace with his mid distance jumper and Smit nailed two free throws of three after Bekteshi had fouled him in the parking lot as Giessen led only 58-53. However another key element in this game was the ability of Giessen to hit big shots whenever SC Rasta Vechta was threatening. Giessen got support from everyone as Bekteshi scored inside and made free throws and in the last minute it was Cuban Polas who put a roar through the Giessen Ost Halle with a harsh dunk over Franke as Giessen led 66-56 after three quarters. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 53% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while SC Rasta Vechta was shooting 51% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Giessen had the 25-20 rebound edge and only six turnovers while SC Rasta Vechta had 10 turnovers.
SC Rasta Vechta didn´t learn from their mistakes from the previous starts to quarters and allowed the Giessen 46ers on a 11-2 run extending their lead to 77-58 which was their biggest in the game and it seemed like that had clinched the game for the ex Beko BBL club. In the run, it was Bekteshi who dropped another three pointer and Wells showing his dominance with three buckets including a bomb from outside. SC Rasta Vechta then gave their last once of energy first going on a quick 7-2 run to cut the Giessen lead to 80-65 as Chase Griffin scored inside getting a nice back door feed from Bailey, Mackeldanz made a huge two handed dunk and Kevin Smit nailed a three pointer. After Marhold made a small distraction in the SC Rasta Vechta run with a lay in, the former Beko BBL team continued their massive comeback scoring nine unanswered points to only be trailing 82-74 as even with the clock winding down to two minutes there seemed small hope as all is possible in basketball. In the run, it was Franke that took control scoring a couple of buckets and scoring free throws. Griffin then also scored, but time was running out. Giessen got a few offensive rebounds and free throws from DiLeo and Wells which sealed the 85-76 victory for the Giessen 46ers. “We had a 9-0 run were down by 12 points, but key was simply that they executed down the stretch and we didn´t. We showed heart in this game. We fought back the whole game and lost by only nine points when it could have been 25-30 points”, added Chase Griffin. “We weren´t tired at the end, but just had some mental break downs on defense”, stressed Andre Marhold.
The Giessen 46ers were led by Cameron Wells with 20 points. Andre Marhold added 13 points. TJ DiLeo chipped in with 12 points and Besnek Bekteshi with 11 points. SC Rasta Vechta was led by Vincent Bailey with 17 points and nine rebounds. Derek Wright added 15 points. Kevin Smit contributed 13 points. Chase Griffin had 11 points and Fabian Franke and Oliver Mackeldanz chipped in with 10 points a piece. Giessen had a superb shooting night with 51% from the field and 5ß% from outside while SC Rasta Vechta shot 47% from the field and 32% from outside. Giessen won the rebound duel 37-28 and had only eight trunovers while SC Rasta Vechta had 10 turnovers. The Giessen 46ers are continuing to gel and ex German national player Johannes Lischka had a huge smile after the win. 2Our team basketball wasn´t working at the start and it was frustrating. We knew that we had to get better and we worked hard to get better. We are a good team and we are knowing our roles now. We continue to defend well and that isn´t a problem. Our offense has been our sore spot, but here we are also getting better”, warned Johannes Lischka.