It may only have been a year ago that the Giessen 46ers and MLP Academics Heidelberg last met in the Osthalle in Giessen, but as is so often in the business of basketball in Germany, players come and go each season as rapidly as the daily gossip stories about Kim Kardashian. At the end of last November, the MLP Academics rolled into the Ost Halle in Giessen with a lot of confidence coming off their huge 107-69 victory against the Cuxhaven Bascats and they had no mercy for the ex Beko BBL team Giessen has they halted their four game winning streak with a bitter 66-60 win. If one looks back to that game, one observes that there were only a total of three players on the floor for both teams with TJ Dileo and Benjamin Lischka of the Giessen 46ers and Nico Adamczak was the only player that had strapped on the Heidelberg jersey that were on the floor again in Giessen a year later. Giessen came into this game with Heidelberg with a 4-2 record at home and having won the last two road games in Paderborn and Nurnberg while the guest was playing spirited basketball the last weeks having won four of the last six games including big wins against the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg and Science City Jena. For the two Giessen players DiLeo and Lischka there was definitely the revenge factor and pride issue, but as soon the game started their thoughts were only on the 40 minutes ahead and after a slow first four-five minutes, the Giessen 46ers found their rhythm, had a huge game from the tornado force Yorman Polas and the unsung hero was Besnek Bekteshi with his defense and the team got stronger in the second half powering past the MLP Academics Heidleberg 74-53. “The revenge factor was there, but I didn’t think about it. It is a new year and new players. They had won four of their last six games and we knew that we had to be ready and were. We showed real Giessen basketball tonight. We played tough defense forcing them to turnovers and got out on transition. Our big men did a great job running the floor and on offense played good pick and roll, made the extra pass and made shots”, stressed Philadelphia native TJ Dileo. The MLP Academics are a very talented and strong team, but they continued to stay in their annoying rut of having long dry spells on offense like last weekend against Nurnberg and were outscored 21-6 in the third quarter that sealed their fate. “We have had situations this season where we had long stretches of offense where we cant get anything going and that was the case again tonight in Giessen. I don´t know if it is lack of spacing, bad execution of sharing the ball, but we have to correct it. When this happens, we tend to fall into one on one situations. If we can fix this then we are a playoff team”, stressed Indiana native and Heidelberg forward John Eggleston.
One can describe the first quarter in a sentence in that it was a quarter of two runs as the MLP Academics Heidelberg definitely had no Ost Halle jitters of their pesky fans as they jumped on Giessen with the 12-4 lead, but Giessen ended the first 10 minutes with a 14-6 run as they trailed the MLP Academics Heidelberg only 20-18. Despite the slow start by Giessen, their tornado el Ciclon Yorman Polas got hot quick and carried it on throughout the game making a put back. However Heidelberg found their offensive rhythm quickly as big man Waverly Austin who played two seasons at Oregon(NCAA) made a put back and American Bradley Tinsley who played at Vanderbilt with NBA player Jeffery Martin hit a three pointer as Giessen trailed 5-4. The guest continued to pour it on being very aggressive especially inside as Austin was in the right place at the right time picking up a loose ball that Jonatahn Malou couldn’t control making a two handed dunk, Marco Grimaldi scored inside as did American Kelvin Martin. Giessen head coach Dennis Wucherer didn’t like what he saw calling a time out. Giessen returned to the court having soaked in the words of the head coach and translating it into a 14-6 run. Eric Palm started the run with a three pointer which was matched by a Martin dunk and then got a lay in from Polas after he attacked the rim from the wing and Austin connected on a mid distance jumper over Bjoern Schoo as Heidelberg still led 16-9. Giessen then got heavy production from Benjamin Lischka as he dropped a three pointer and scored on the fast break getting fed nicely from Porlas cutting the Heidelberg lead to 16-14. Eggleston made free throws and hit a jumper, but Besnik Bekteshi ended the first quarter with a timely three pointer as Heidelberg led 20-18. “Giessen started very bad having no communication and at times bumping into each other. After that timeout, Eric Palm got Giessen going sparking that run to get back into the game”, stressed Andre Marhold friend Jermey Lay who played at the University of Hawaii. The MLP Academics were shooting 47% from the field and 14% from outside while the Giessen 46ers were shooting 46% from the field and 75% from outside. Heidelberg had the 10-5 rebound edge, but four turnovers while Giessen had three turnovers.
In the second quarter, the MLP Academics Heidelberg continued to have their lead, but the Giessen 46ers continued their comeback trail and raised their intensity in the last four minutes to regain the lead and would never look back. Heidelberg try out player Tony Criswell from Oklahoma City and who played at Missouri(NCAA) got going doing all he could to get that possible contract extension as he was very aggressive inside getting two buckets inside, but then there was the Giessen energizer from Cuba who seemed to be everywhere on the court that day except at the Burger King up the road that remained dark and closed because of rule violations kept chugging away scoring twice and cutting the Heidelberg lead to 26-23. Criswell then hit a three pointer as Giessen trailed 29-23. However the Polas energizer bug also rubbed off on his teammate Andre Marhold from North Carolina that got Giessen on a 13-2 run to regain the lead 36-32 and go into halftime with the momentum. Marhold started the run with a basket inside and then made free throws to cut the Heidelberg lead to 29-26. Giessen then struck Heidelberg on transition scoring three consecutive buckets on the fast break as Marhold, Polas and Dileo scored as Giessen led 32-29. In the last minute Heidelberg got a step back jumper from Tinsley and free throws from Eggleston while Bekteshi ended the first half with a floater. “The Giessen transition game got them the lead back. Polas was a spark as was Marhold who is very talented and is always where the ball is. He is a good slasher and got them on the break”, added Jermey Lay. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 42% from the field and 33% from the three point line while the MLP Academics Heidelberg were shooting 41% from the field and 13% from the three point line. Heidelberg had the 21-15 rebound advantage, but nine turnovers while Giessen had only five turnovers.
In the third quarter came the final blow to the MLP Academics Heidelberg as the Giessen 46ers had no mercy coming back for the locker room and pouring on a 13-0 run to break the back of the opponent. Heidelberg actually started the third quarter scoring two buckets to one of Giessen as Tinsley scored aggressively from the wing as no help side was there and Eggleston hit a floater to cut the Giessen lead to 38-36. It seemed like Heidelberg may be back in the game, but then came another scoring drought for Heidelberg which Giessen took advantage of going on a 13-0 run to lead 51-36. In the run the Giessen offense was on high power as Malu started the run with a bucket inside, Marhold scored, and Lischka scored inside after Polas made a steal and fed the German for the fast break points. The Giessen run continued with Malu free throws and two Palm shots. “We had the right mentality going into the third quarter and had it in the few minutes. The run was sparked with defensive stops and then got our offense going on the break. When we play like that then we are hard to stop”, warned ex Temple guard TJ Dileo. “We had too many turnovers in that 13-0 run. They have great athletic guys like Malu and Marhold running the floor and good shooters with Dileo and Palm which we couldn’t handle”, stressed John Eggleston. Even if Polas was the best man on the court that day for both teams, Giessen had many another great supporting cast as many guys came through with support. After Criswell hit another three pointer, it was Benjamin Lischka that scored the last three baskets of the third quarter in a row and it was the tornado Polas that got the team going on the fast break and got two assists. “Polas was all over the place. It seemed like he was involved in all plays. He is always on on defesne, but him being all over the place was key for us. His play opened it up for the rest of us”, commented TJ Dileo. “Polas is very smart and uses his length and athleticism well. The way Giessen defends suits his game. If he is on he can kill you”, added John Eggleston. The Giessen 46ers led 57-38 after three quarters. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 42% from the field and 29% from the parking lot while the MLP Academics Heidelberg were shooting 36% from the field and 12% from the parking lot. The rebound battle was dead locked at 29 a piece, but the Heidelberg eight turnovers in the third quarter heighted their total to 17 while Giessen had only seven turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the energy of the MLP Academics decreased with every minute as the Giessen 46ers were able to lead by as much as 22 points as they easily coasted to victory and probably were enjoying it inside even if they didn’t let anyone notice it. Polas and Palm got Giessen going early with free throws and Tinsley made a lay in which was matched by a Lischka put back as Giessen still led comfortably 62-41. Tinsley kept improving his stat account with a bucket, but nobody had any remedy for Besnek Bekteshi who like Polas who had his body all the over the place had his hands all over the place as he finised the game with seven steals and really was a pest in the fourth quarter not letting Heidelberg get something going on offense as he continued to force turnovers and get steals. After Malu made the play of the game stuffing a Martin dunk try led to a Bekteshi three pointer as Giessen led 67-43. Heidelberg got some late production from Austin and Martin, but down the stretch and in the last minute it was was Polas that put on the exclamation point for a big Giessen win as he made a huge dunk coming from the wing and with so much adrenaline had his “get out of my way” face on and no Heidelberg player got in his way and he ended the game with a lay in. The Giessen 46ers were led by Yorman Polas with 18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Benjamin Lischka added 16 points. Besnek Bekteshi chipped in with 13 points and Eric Palm contributed 12 points. The MLP Academics Heidelberg were led by Bradley Tinsley with 12 points and Tony Criswell added 11 points. Giessen finished the game shooting 39% from the field and 28% from outside while the MLP Academics Heidelberg shot 36% from the field and 18% from outside. Both teams had 39 rebounds a piece. Heidelberg coughed up the ball 23 times and Giessen did 12 times. Despite the loss, there is a bright side for the MLP Academics Heidelberg. “We have laid some eggs thus far, but we can be happy that we are above 500 and looking towards the playoffs. The season is still long and we can still improve. It is important how good you are at the end of March and not on December sixth”, warned John Eggleston. Giessen won their fifth game at home and keep getting better and better. “Our biggest strength tonight was team work. We shared the ball well and made the extra pass. It was fun to play and like that hard to beat us”, warned TJ Dileo.