With April first and fools behind us and New England Patriot fans still overcoming the smart April Fools joke from Tom Brady who´s hospital photo went around the social media world where he supposedly had been put there by a cross over from the Michael Jordan tangling up his feet so badly, it now was time to concentrate again on basketball in Germany. It is April and with the days getting longer, more sunlight bringing more happy faces and the weather slowly getting warmer, it also brings the second season of the German Pro A as playoff fever started. Last season the Giessen 46ers won both regular season games against Science City Jena, but had to withstand a very exciting and nail biting five game series as fans saw a one point game, four point game and overtime contest. This season the Giessen 46ers meet the MLP Academics Heidelberg and also won both season games with ease holding their opponent to an average of 58 games in both games. Giessen came into the series having closed out the season up and down with a 5-5 record and shone during the season on defense which is their staple having given up 70 points or less 14 times. The MLP Academics Heidelberg on the other hand came into the playoffs having ended the season with a four game winning streak after having lost seven games in a row. The big strength of Heidelberg is their offense as they have scored 80 points or more 16 times, but once again were stifled by the pesky nonstop Giessen disturbance defense over 40 minutes as they were unable to score the way they know how losing 77-64 in game one. On offense Giessen was there solid self having five guys scoring in double figures led by 33 year old 213cm big man Bjoern Schoo who played a total of 36 BBL games with Koln and Hagen with 18 points on 8/8 shooting from the field who still has much energy left in his gas tank even after 13 teams. The big men hit big shots in the fourth quarter and made blocks helping Giessen slow down the Heidelberg comeback which was hampered by their slow start in the first quarter being down 20-4. “The first quarter was the turning point as it gave us the foundation for the win. We lost every other quarter, but we held on for the win. Schoo had a good game something we have been waiting a long time for. We need a lot of support from our big men in the playoffs. Benni Lischka also played well”, explained 28 year old Giessen guard Achmadschah Zazai. “We weren´t ready to play tonight. We need to do a better job starting the game and knowing the importance of this kind of game. Giessen was ready for us”, stressed Georgia and Heidelberg forward Kelvin Martin. “Lischka and I played well together and found our rhythm. I had a good night and hit all my shots. Usually the guy that has a good night gets the ball”, added Bjoern Schoo. “Heidelberg center Wavery Austin who chipped in with six points and five boards returned to the bench long after he had dressed and was reconstructing the game in his mind and annoyed how the veteran Schoo had torn apart his team. “I didn´t get matched up as much with him in the zone, but we gave him too many open shots and we didn´t do a good job on the picks. I missed some easy lay ups. We need to play better as a team in game two”, added ex Oregon(NCAA) center Waverly Austin.
The Giessen 46ers stormed out in the first quarter as if they had already had their dose of extra Easter energy having received early chocolate Easter bunnies as their intensity was high and the MLP Academics Heidelberg seemed like they were still trying to get out of bed. Giessen stormed out to a quick 10-0 lead as ex Temple(NCAA) guard Tj DiLeo hit a three pointer and pull up jumper on the fast break while Bjoern Schoo made a catch and pop jumper and Texas native Cameron Wells connected on a three pointer. Heidelberg took a timeout as Giessen had found their flow on offense quickly as their ball movement and shot selection had their opponent one two steps behind and the Giessen unselfishness was extraordinary. Heidelberg had problems getting way down on the shot clock on offense and it didn´t get better after the time out as Giessen continued to be in the zone as they extended their lead to 16-0 as Schoo was aggressive on the offense glass making a tip in, ex Crailsheim forward Benjamin Lischka hitting a step back jumper and DiLeo using his amazing quick foot work finding day light and sneaking to the hole and scoring with his left hand. Heidelberg finally got on the board as Oregon native Brad Tinsley made free throws to cut the Giessen lead to 16-3. Wells then blocked John Eggleston and found Zazai on the fast break with a dippsy doodle move as strong defense led to better offense. Zazai and North Carolina native Andre Marhold hit free throws as did Kelvin Martin. Heidelberg were unable to make a field goal in the first quarter as the Giessen 46ers led 20-4. “We had intensity from the first minute. We put them under pressure from the start and were able to keep the lead until the end, “ stressed Achmadschah Zazai. The Giesen 46ers were shooting 67% from the field and 100% from outside while the MLP Academics Heidelberg were shooting 0% from the field and 0% from outside. Giessen had the 11-9 rebound edge and both teams had three turnovers a piece.
In the second quarter the Giessen 46ers continued to be on fire keeping their big lead and going into halftime with the huge 42-27 advantage. The MLP Academics Heidelberg finally made their first field goal of the game as ex Duesseldorf guard Nico Adamczak buried a three pointer, but Giessen quickly out matched that start by getting back to back three pointers from American Eric Palm extending the Giessen lead to 26-7. Giessen continued to score at a consistent rate on offense as Lischka scored on the pick and role after getting fed from Wells for the 28-9 lead. Heidelberg slowly started to find their rhythm on offense going as ex TV Langen guard Kai Barth hit a pull up jumper, John Eggleston scored inside on the back door pass from Barth and Austin made a put back as Giessen still led 32-15. With five minutes remaining both team scored 10 points a piece as Giessen held their big lead and Heidelberg continued to exert much energy without being able to make any ground. Giessen got solid offensive support from Cuban Yorman Polas who nailed a three pointer, Schoo made a lay in after getting a quick pass from Aaron Hawley and the ex Drake forward then tested his 40% three point shooting percentage hitting a trey. The MLP Academics Heidelberg got solid offensive support from Eggleston getting a put back, ex BG Goettingen point guard who played 242 games for them hit a floater and Martin connected inside after spinning free. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 58% from the field and 83% from the three point line while the MLP Academics Heidelberg were shooting 28% from the field and 22% from the three point line. Giessen had the 19-16 rebound edge, but six turnovers while Heidelberg had six turnovers.
The Giessen 46ers continued to keep the massive lead in the third quarter despite the MLP Academics Heidelberg continuing to fight back, but that evil first quarter continued to haunt them lowering their energy. The Giessen 46ers jumped out on a lightening 7-0 run to extend their lead to 49-27. Cameron Wells started the run being very annoying being a mismatch, but hitting clearly over the bigger Jonathan Malou, DiLeo flew by Eggleston on the fast break finishing with the one hand lay up and Schoo scored inside. Heidelberg countered against this outburst keeping their cool and coming back with a powerful 14-6 run to cut the Giessen lead to 55-41. In the Heidelberg run, it was American Kelvin Martin who got going making three buckets. Heidelberg top scorer Brad Tinsely hit two three pointers and Eggleston made a floater. Giessen continued to score at ease even breaking out the trick basket as Zazai made a beautiful no look back door pass to DiLeo who scored on the lay in. Palm also hit a three pointer and Lischka a runner. Heidelberg got valuable production from 32 year old German Nils Menck with a lay in and Tinsley scored a lay in cutting the Giessen lead to 62-48 with 10 minutes remaining. “Coach told us at halftime that our offense wasn´t our best and that we should key in on defense. We defended better on the pick and roll and helped better”, added Kelvin Martin. “We knew the first five minutes were vital for the outcome of the game and we were able to pull away again and keep our lead”, added Achmadschah Zazai. The Giessen 46ers were shooting 55% from the field and 55% from the parking lot while the MLP Academics Heidelberg were shooting 36% from the field and 24% from the parking lot. Both teams had 25 rebounds a piece and Giessen seven turnovers and Heidelberg eight turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the MLP Academics Heidelberg made one last push and cut the Giessen lead to 10 points, but then ran out of gas. Both teams jumped out on mini 4-0 runs as John Eggleston made back to back lay ins and Lischka made a lay in waiting for Eggleston to get in the air and Wells made a pull up jumper. Heidelberg then went on another mini 4-0 run to cut the Giessen lead to 66-56. Tinsley found Martin cutting in the lane for the quick bucket and Menck made an old school move basket making a finger tip roll in and almost having a laugh attack running back on defense as he thoroughly enjoyed that moment. However that was as close as Heidelberg would get in their comeback as Giessen broke the back of Heidelberg going on a 10-2 run to extend their lead 76-58 with a few minutes to play. Schoo really let out his beast scoring on a floater and mid distance shot while making a monster block on Menck. Wells also scored and Zazai put the nail on the coffin with a big three pointer. Heidelberg closed out the game with a 6-1 run, but a little too late. Austin who had had much misfortune missing easy shots earlier hit a step back shot and tip in while Adamczak hit a jumper. “Heidelberg continued to fight back, but the phase finally came where they simply had no more power to come back. We kept scoring and closed the door on them. There is always a point when you are up by 20 where you might lose some focus, but all in all we controlled the game on defense. Teams will have problems beating us three times in a series”, stressed Achmadschah Zazai. “We fought as best we could in the first five minutes, but we lost energy after having too comeback the whole game and couldn´t get over the hump. Giessen did a great job disrupting our offense and taking us out of our plays”, stressed Kelvin Martin. The Giessen 46ers were led by Bjoern Schoo with 18 points. TJ DiLeo and Eric Palm added 11 points a piece and Cameron Wells had 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Benjamin Lischka had 10 points and eight rebounds. The MLP Academics Heidelberg were led by John Eggleston and Brad Tinsley with 15 points a piece while Kelvin Martin had 13 points. Giessen shot 50% from the field and 44% from outside while the MLP Academics Heidelberg shot 37% from the field and 18% from outside. Giessen won the rebound battle 37-36, but had 12 turnovers while Heidelberg had 10 turnovers.