Back in the 2009-2010 season, it was a tough first season for Beko BBL team Phoenix Hagen as they were barely able to stay in the league as they were treading water near the end and were almost smothered by a big ship. Near the end of the season in Frankfurt, it was ex Brose Baskets Bamberg guard and current Colgate(NCAA) assistant coach Michael Hakim Jordan who was injured and was watching the horror show against the Skyliners from the bench and tried to talk some sense into his team during halftime in the locker room as Ingo Freyer and Steven Wriedt were studying the stat sheet outside. Jordan gave an accurate description of his team as the door mat of the league which became a famous scene in the documentary Phoenix in der Asche. If there was a Jordan type speech at half time in any of the last Hanau games was unknown, but one thing was sure two of the door mats of the German Pro A Hanau and Rhondorf met as both teams were 0-5 and were desperately searching for that first win. The biggest problem that both teams shared had been the inability to put up a decent number of points each game while giving up an average of 80 plus points. The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau have had massive injury problems that hampered their pre-season and had put a healthy team chemistry on hold while Rhondorf have talented players, but that experience factor with the imports is missing. Both teams entered the game on a mission with a lot to prove and many questions marks and only one team stood at the top of the mountain after 40 minutes as the Hebeisen White Wings finally won their first game of the season 87-62 putting up an annoying and unstoppable 36 point fourth quarter that totally smothered the Dragons Rhondorf who had led mostly for three quarters, but just caved in the fourth quarter. It was a total team effort, but it was especially the two Americans Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Kruize Pinkens that combined for 45 points to lead the charge while Rhondorf´s two Americans Sterling Carter and Antoine Davis combined for 38 points, but got little support from the rest of the team on a consistent level. After the win Hanau head coach Simon Cote came out of the dressing room relived after finally winning the first game of the season as if a big 1000 pound elephant had been removed from his back. “I am really happy about this win. The team has been working hard all season long in practice. We hadn´t been playing good enough long enough until today. We didn´t start well, but we showed fortitude and stayed together. We haven´t been shooting well from outside all season long, but we have good shooters. We were 0/12 from outside, but I kept saying keep shooting if your open and then shots started to fall”, stressed head coach Simon Cote. Washington native Sterling Carter who sat out last season to support his daughter and worked three jobs finally is able to play the game he loves for a living and one could sense on his sad face that every added loss is hurting him more and more, because he simply cherishes every game he plays and losing just hurts extra much for him. “Both teams played hard in the first three quarters. We were in the same position and we were confident that we would win. However they found confidence in the fourth, got loose balls, worked harder and just wanted it more!, added ex Purdue guard Sterling Carter. “This win just feels very good. We had a very good week of practice and prepared well. We felt that we hadn´t played our best yet and the focus and hunger was just there tonight”, stressed California native Miles Jackson-Cartwright.
In the first two minutes of the first quarter Simon Cote might have been thinking “oh no here we go again” as the Hebeisen White Wings got off to a dismal start falling behind quickly 8-2 as diminutive point guard Sterling Carter demonstrated shooting poise nailing two three pointers, but that big advantage didn´t last long as Hanau went inside early as if they knew that outside shooting would be as difficult as hitting the ocean and ex Giessen 46er Robin Christen scored inside as did rookie Kruize Pinkens cutting the early Rhondorf lead to 8-7. The first quarter remained a game of small runs as Rhondorf was able to stop the Hanau run going on a 8-4 run to lead 16-11 as they did heavy damage inside as Hanau had problems closing down the lane as German big man Floran Wendeler scored inside three consecutive times. Rhondorf got easy baskets inside while Hanau had massive problems connecting from the parking lot. Jackson-Cartwright closed out the first quarter with a mini 4-0 run with a lay in and free throws as the Dragons Rhondorf led 16-15. “I don´t think that we were really playing good defense. They got too many offensive rebounds and easy baskets inside while our offense wasn´t crisp. We relied too much on the three, but that wasn´t falling”, stated ex Aris Leeuwarden guard Miles Jackson-Cartwright. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 39% from the field and 29% from outside while the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau were shooting 31% from the field and 0% from outside. Hanau had the 12-11 rebound edge and three turnovers and Rhondorf four turnovers.
In the second quarter, the game remained tight, but whenever Hanau got close, Rhondorf was able to keep the lead and make the next big shot to keep the lead. The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau got their first lead of the game starting the second quarter with a mini 4-0 run as ex Florida State guard Luke Loucks scored himself and then did what a playmaker is supposed to do finding Pinkins for the easy bucket. However Rhondorf also was firing away from downtown and now capitalized on a 11-0 run to retake the lead 27-19 as ex Sechtem forward Antione Davis who averaged 26ppg in the Regionaliga dropped a trey, German Robin Lodders scored and German Viktor Frankl-Maus who has improved his scoring, rebounding and assist average each season since coming to Rhondorf in 2012 nailed a three pointer as did Davis again. Hanau had a faze where they were shooting from outside like crazy as if they had been ordered to do so as any shot if good would wipe out hurricane Patrica and Jonathan Mesghina really was hit hard as he couldn´t connect on any shots. However Hanau continued to understand how vital a win was and kept pushing and grinding down and fighting as they went on a 7-2 run to cut the Rhondorf lead to 29-26. Hanau continued to miss from outside, but did a super job getting to the free throw line as Jackson-Cartwright and Pinkins connected from there and Till-Joscha Johnke scored inside as did Cartwright. However whenever Hanau got too close it Rhondorf than got a big bucket as Davis nailed another three pointer extending the Rhondorf lead to 32-26. Hanau made one more run in the last minute ending the second quarter with a timely 6-0 run to tie the game at 34-34. Hanau went into half time like a flash of lightening capped off by the quickness of Jackson-Cartwright who twice scored inside as no one could handle his speed and Pinkins finished with a dunk after being served a dime from ex Speyer swing man Sebastian Heck. “a nke really carried us with his energy and defensive pressure. We got to the free throw line and got into the lanes”, added Miles Jackson-Cartwright. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 35% from the field and 35% from the three point line while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 39% from the field and 0% from the three point line. Hanau had the 22-20 rebound advantage and seven turnovers while Rhondorf had eight turnovers.
The third quarter remained tight until the Hebeisen White Wings finally hit a three pointer which was the spark that ignited their sputtering offense up to that juncture. Sterling Carter kicked off the third quarter with a crazy three pointer in the face of Jonke which was an early warning about what was still going to happen, but the Rhondorf lead was short lived as Hanau stole the lead back with Cartwright free throws and a Josef Eichler reverse lay up as Rhondorf led 38-37. If it wasn´t Carter shooting out the lights then it was Davis as he netted another trey for the 40-38 lead. Cartwright dead locked the game at 40-40 with a jumper from the corner. Rhondorf then ran away with a quick 6-0 run as Frankl-Maus scored and Carter hit again from way down town Hanau as Rhondorf led 46-40. Cartwright continued to score, rebound and dish out assists as he continued to be in the zone, but Carter continued to nail three pointers from anywhere on the court as Rhondorf led 49-45. “Carter is a great player. We knew that he would get his fair share of shots. He is a small guy from Seattle, but he is a tough shot and just has very good hands”, stressed Miles Jackson Cartwright. Then came the turning point of the game. Two things happened with one that took 28 minutes to occur and the other a few months. German veteran Joleik Schaffrath who is playing for his eighth team with Hanau was playing his first game of the season as he had been laboring a bad injury scored inside getting a nice pass from Jonke and got the club going and then finally the first three pointer of the game after 28 minutes was made by Christian Von Fintel. Jonke free throws and another bucket by Schaffrath courtesy of a step back jumper had rewarded Hanau with an 8-0 run and 51-49 lead after three quarters and they would never look back. “The game was tight and Carter was making many tough shots. However we knew that if we would continue to close him out then he would miss and that happened in the fourth”, added Miles Jackson-Cartwright. The Hebeisen White Wings were shooting 41% from the field and 7% from the parking lot while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 35% from the field and 36% from the parking lot. Hanau led the rebound battle 33-28 and both teams had 10 turnovers a piece.
The Hebeisen White Wings carried over their stellar play form the last minutes of the third quarter getting out on a 10-2 run in the fourth to take the 61-51 lead. In the run, Cartwright played his amazing versatile play hitting a three pointer, scoring inside and finding Pinkins for the lay in. Robin Christin also added a trey. The Hanau offense was finally in a place that Simon Cote would like to see it more often just flowing as beautifully as the long blond hair of Gisele Bundchen and the club was also doing all the little things that also count like falling for loose balls, playing defense and just outhustling Rhondorf on both ends of the court. Carter then hit two brilliant back to back wild shots that found nothing but net as Rhondorf was clawing back, but didn´t seem to have a total secure grip as they trailed 63-57. What wasn´t working in the first 28 minutes with the outside shooting now looked as easy to Hanau like a comfortable Sunday stroll in the park as Cartwright connected as did Von Fintel twice as Hanau led 71-61. The last four minutes was all Hanau as they kept shooting and hitting almost everything closing out the game with a 17-1 run. In the run it was Pinkins that really did some nice improvement to his stats as he poured home eight points. It wasn´t only the imports, but also the German role players that contributed as Heck, Jonke and Schaffrath also added buckets. In the end the Hebeisen White Wings had scored 36 points in the fourth quarter two points more than in the whole first half. “Scoring 36 points in the fourth quarter was crazy. I don´t remember having an outburst like that before with another team. We finally got into a nice offensive flow. The ball was moving and popping. Each player was more active on offense and that came from making stops on defense. We also got out on transition that helped and it was a total team effort. Pinkins was a beast and we got great minutes from Heck”, added Miles Jackson-Cartwright. “I told Savo in the first half that they won´t miss like this all game. They then hit a few and then everyone hit. We fell apart in the fourth and got outrebounded. We worked on rebounding all week long, but Hanau wanted it more”, stressed Sterling Carter.
The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau were led by Miles Jackson-Cartwright with 23 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Kruize Pinkins added 22 points and eight rebounds. Till Joscha-Jonke added 11 points. The Dragosn Rhondorf were led by Sterling Carter with 24 points. Antoine Davis added 16 points. The match winner of the evening was Jackson-Cartwright who was humble after the win, but one could sense that a big load had been cleared from his back as he finally produced the way he should, but he took it like a regular day at the office putting up those Russell Westbrook stats. “I love how Westbrook does everything possible to help his team. I just go out and play and try to help my team the best way that I can. I just hate losing and want it to end. I was on some losing teams at Penn and in Holland. I had better focus this week and was just locked in”, added Miles Jackson-Cartwright. The way Sterling Carter looked after the game one would of never expected he had scored 24 points and dropped seven three pointers, but more as if he had been 0/7. “My shot really hasn´t been so consistent this season, but I always try to play with confidence. I am always the smallest on the court and when you are small you either have to have a quick shot or be crafty. I have developed a quick shot, but also know I won´t get calls when I get bumped going to the rim so I work more on my shot”, warned Sterling Carter. The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau shot 51% from the field and 24% from outside while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 34% from the field and 36% from outside. Hanau won the rebound battle easily 45-31 thanks to a 12-3 balance in the fourth and both teams finished with 11 turnovers a piece.