It may only be pre-season, but unforgettable and sour playoff memories can linger on for any player even if it is almost three months ago when the Fraport Skyliners were rudely booted out of the semi-finals by ratiopharm Ulm like a hurricane does any small Florida town that had the misfortune of being hit. ratiopharm Ulm identity figure and national player per Guenther and Konstantin Klein might separate only one cm and three kilo´s to the advantage of the Berlin native Klein, but can that one Fiba Europe Cup title erase some of the uncomfortable memories of the 3-1 playoff series loss for the Telekom Baskets Bonn guard? Guenther let his quickness and sharp shooting speak for him when it counted most in game one and game four. In game one Guenther hit two back breaking trey´s in OT and shooting 6/7 from the parking lot ending with 19 points while in game four he had the hot hand again leading the team to the final with 18 points and four three´s. For Klein, the series was one to forget as he played only 48 minutes in the four game series while contributing a bit with 8 points in 23 minutes in the game three 85-54 win in Frankfurt. After a four year stay with the Fraport Skyliners where he developed nicely, but had injury problems and consistency issues was in the shadow of the twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel now has moved on to the Telekom Baskets Bonn to start a new chapter in his basketball career. Klein is looking to play a significant role in the guard rotation of head coach Silvano Poropat and had the chance to get some pre-season revenge on Guenther again as both battled in a highly anticipated game during the Basketball Aid International tour that had set up shop at the 2016 Gezeiten haus cup in Rhondorf. Klein got revenge on Guenther for the playoff loss helping the Telekom Baskets Bonn escape a late comeback attempt by ratiopharm Ulm to win 77-74. The German isn´t only aggressive on the floor, but also when it comes to answering questions about his ex club Frankfurt or new horizons with Bonn, he is very edgy and one notices that he has a gigantic chip on his shoulder and wants to prove something this season with Bonn. “It was nice to win against Ulm. I still think about the series loss to Ulm with Frankfurt and probably will still remember it when I am 80, but it is a new season and life goes on. I am as motivated as I was the last seasons with Frankfurt and feel I always have to prove something. I am happy to be in Bonn. It is a good situation and I am looking forward to having a good season”, warned Konstantin Klein.
The 2016 Basketball Aid international tour is winding down as the weekend in Rhondorf with the Gezeiten Haus Cup are the last games and fans saw two very exciting contests as in the first game, the Astrostars Bochum came back form 17 points down to take the lead in crunch time only to lose the lead back to Rhondorf and then could have won the game with two three point attempts at the end that missed losingthe game 70-68. The Telekom Baskets Bonn also controlled the game for the most part, but allowed ratiopharm Ulm a massive comeback in the fourth quarter, but were lucky as they survived with the close win. As always the Basketball Aid issue was present all over the Dragon Dome and also on the minds of players. TJ DiLeo of the Telekom Baskets Bonn and Braydon Hobbs who were teammates last season in Giessen found some time to reflect on their experience with cancer and how important it was to be a part of Basketball Aid. “It is so important to be a part of basketball aid. It is great to be a player, but the most important thing is life. I do whatever it takes to help. I have been very lucky not to lose anyone to cancer. It is very difficult to see kids battling this disease and not being able to enjoy life”, stressed ex Temple(NCAA) guard TJ DiLeo. “This was a good event with some talented teams. I hope that a lot of money was able to be raised this weekend. I have been lucky not to have been effected by cancer. It is really tough seeing kids suffer and it is something you don´t wish on them. Kids are so tough and fight until the end. I hope that one day a cure will be found”, added Ohio native Braydon Hobbs.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn arrived into the game having beat some solid international teams from Slovenia and Belgium giving up an average of only 60 points and seemed to have an early season team chemistry on defense and they knew that they would have their hands full with high power scoring team ratiopharm Ulm. The Telekom Baskets Bonn dominated the game for 30 minutes, but then allowed ratiopharm Ulm back into the game, but buckled down in crunch time to preserve the win. “We played well for 30-35 minutes and kept Ulm at a distance. Our offense collapsed at the end and Ulm played more aggressive on defense and had good position. We also didn´t make good decisions at the end. We were lucky that he had had a comfortable lead”, added TJ DiLeo. Ratiopharm Ulm arrived in the game having beat French team Sluc Nancy and had all their big guns on board except American Augustine Rubit and showed their offensive arsenal many times, but also had to battle inconsistency and a lack of execution and just couldn´t keep up with the Telekom Baskets Bonn who had a more groomed team chemistry at this juncture of the preseason. One noticed quickly that not all the parts were fitting correctly yet with ratiopharm Ulm. “We have a new group of guys still trying to fit in. I am still trying to find my spot as is Kartsen Tadda. We played well in the second half and didn´t play defense in the first half. We didn´t hit three´s or free throws. You will always have a tough night when that isn´t working”, stressed ex Bellarmine(NCAA2) guard Braydon Hobbs.
In the first quarter both teams didn´t waste any time unraveling their offensive qualities as both club got into an offensive groove quickly. However it was the Telekom Baskets Bonn that seemed to have a liking to the rims more than ratiopharm Ulm as they drilled home their first four trey´s as ex medi Bayreuth forward Ken Horton connected as did TJ DiLeo and diminutive guard Josh Mayo who was the fourth all time leading scorer at Illinois-Chicago(NCAA) nailed two as the Telekom Baskets Bonn led 12-8. Ratiopharm Ulm had no fortune with outside shooting as they had to rely on getting buckets at close range as ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb scored in the lane and 2011 Miami Heat NBA Draft Pick Da ´sean Butler nailed a turn-around shot. Bonn subbed in and out and everybody produced from the bench as Bonn went on a 7-0 run as Klein nailed a trey, Florian Koch made a floater and ex Miami(NCAA) forward Julian Gamble snuck inside putting home the Horton bullet pass for the 21-14 lead. Bonn continued to pour on the offense with their magnificent inside out game closing out the first quarter with a 10-4 run as Klein executed on another trey, ex Bamberg forward Ryan Thompson scored, Horton nailed a trey and big man Flip Barovic scored inside. Ulm continued to be ice cold inside and had to settle for two buckets inside from ex NBA player Tim Ohlbrecht. The Telekom Baskets Bonn had the overwhelming 31-18 lead after one quarter.
In the second quarter the Telekom Baskets Bonn remained on top and controlled the game as their inside/out versatility stood out while the cold outside shooting of ratiopharm Ulm continued. Ratiopharm Ulm got two buckets in the first minute from ex BG Goettingen forward Raymar Morgan to cut the Bonn lead to 33-23, but the Bonn offense was like a clock work and execution was golden as Barovic connected on a hook shot over Ohlbrecht and Di Leo made a nifty floater for the 37-23 Bonn advantage. However here and there Ulm would find little spurts of offense as they were always knocking on the door step of Bonn as they cruised out on a 7-0 run to cut the Bonn lead to 37-30. Tadda snuck past the slow Bonn transition defense for a lay up, Butler hit a trey and 2015 Cup winner with Oldenburg Philip Neumann converted the pick and roll perfectly with Gunther. However Bonn just had too many weapons on as Gamble scored in bunches upping the Bonn lead to 43-34. In the last minute Thompson and Ohlbrecht exchanged buckets and at half time the Telekom Baskets Bonn were still comfortably holding the lead at 49-38. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting out the lights at 63% from the field and 70% from outside while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 52% from the field and 13% from outside. Bonn had the 14-10 rebound edge and both teams had seven turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter, ratiopharm Ulm continued to be in comeback mode, but still were unable to get their defense into shape where they were able to slow Bonn down more and get them out of their offensive rhythm. Di Leo and Gamble started Bonn off out on a 4-0 run, but ratiopharm Ulm countered with a Ohlbrecht lay in and 25 footer from Butler as Ulm trailed Bonn only 53-43. Both teams were going on runs as Bonn countered with a 7-0 run as their three point precision continued as Koch and Mayo connected upping the Bonn lead to 60-47. ratiopharm Ulm continued to have big problems with free throw consistency as Bonn continued to get buckets from Gamble and Thompson. Down the stretch, ratiopharm Ulm got a three from Chris Babb and a bucket from Butler, and finally got the Bonn lead under 10 points trailing 70-61 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter the offense of the Telekom Baskets Bonn died while the ratiopharm Ulm offense sputtered, but still clawed their way closer and closer. Bonn couldn´t hit shots any more, threw up three air balls and coughed up the ball on a regular basis. Ratiopharm Ulm made their last stand getting Barovic and Ohlbrecht to the line and Morgan dropped a trey cutting the once very comfortable Bonn lead down to only 74-69. Both teams stepped up their defense and then came the two defensive plays of the game back to back as Ohlbrecht stuffed Gamble and then on the next Ulm possession, Gamble stood his ground and stuffed Ohlbrecht on the glass getting redemption. “You could see that both teams took the game seriously with those blocks. It was great seeing how competitive these two big men were and nice to see where the level of play is now at this stage of the season”, stressed TJ DiLeo. In the last minute, Babb gave Ulm one last of hope as he powered home a huge three as Ulm trailed 76-74, but Josh Mayo sealed the victory 78-74 with free throws for Bonn. “Ulm did a good job on our sideline pick and roll and we lost our rhythm a bit. We also were tired, but that is normal now. We missed too many shots in the fourth, but we still did a good job not giving Ulm easy points”, stated Telekom Baskets Bonn assistant coach Chris O´Shea. “We had better position on defense and were more aggressive on defense. We took things away on their offense and rebounded well”, added Braydon Hobbs. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Julian Gamble with 16 points. Josh Mayo added 11 points and Ken Horton, TJ Di Leo and Ryan Thompson added 10 points a piece. Ratiopharm Ulm were led by Raymar Morgan with 14 points. Tim Ohlbrecht produced 11 points. Chris Babb and Da `sean Butler contributed 11 points a piece and Per Gunther steered 11 points and eight assists. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 49% from the field and 55% from the three point line while ratiopharm Ulm shot 43% from the field and 22% from the three point line. Bonn had the 36-29 rebound edge, but 17 turnovers while Ulm had 11 turnovers.