Usually the last game on a tournament weekend means final time baby where the big time players write history and tragic hero´s can be born as well. However at the Gezeiten Haus Cup in Rhondorf that had seen Northeastern(NCAA) and the Iranian national team and Dirk Bauermann withdraw, the 2016 Basketball Aid international tour had to scramble and find replacements and did with Pro B team Bochum that played on Saturday while the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau fought against top BBL team ratiopharm Ulm in the second game on Sunday that may have been meaningless in the final title game atmosphere and was just another routine test game, but for some players, this game had other meanings when bringing teammates rookie Brian Sullivan and Till Joscha Joenke into the picture. For both players this was another game, but deep down it was another test that had different meanings for both. For Sullivan, he isn´t only another one of thousands that hail from the basketball talented state of Ohio, but it was a game where he could really measure himself against top rate guards and ratiopharm Ulm boasted a handful of them. Sullivan had faced top guards game in and game out in the tough Atlantic 10 conference at Davidson and now he had the chance to battle top German point guard Per Guenther, ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb and Braydon Hobbs who like Sullivan had to prove himself in the Pro A two seasons ago with Nurnberg. Sullivan as always was in attack mode on every possession and nailed home two three pointers early finishing with eight points, but overall had his difficulty with the swarm of annoying ratiopharm Ulm guards as the Hebeisen White Wings were destroyed by ratiopharm Ulm 82-46. “It was a good challenge and a good experience going against their guards. I could see how a Chris Babb reads ball screens and how he defended me. I also learned that their guards don´t tend to force anything and let the game come to them. The guards in Germany have a good feel for the game while in the States the guards tend to focus on getting buckets”, stressed ex Davidson(NCAA) guard Brian Sullivan. Joenke on the other hand wanted to show his ex team ratiopharm Ulm where he played from 2012-2014 playing 38 BBL games and 10 Eurocup games that he had developed further in the last two years with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and last season with the Hebeisen White Wings. After the rout, Joenke was slithering his way back to the bus and had Ulm and his past less on his mind, but rather was content about playing against top competition. “It is always good to see people from the past. I was roommates with Per Guenther for two years and still have a good relationship with Thorsten Leibenath. This was a difficult game, because we had played three games in four days. My role is to play the one and when you lose by 36 points, it doesn´t show that we did a good job. For us it was important to play against top level competition, because we can see where we made mistakes and how we should correct our mistakes”, warned ex Bayer Giants Leverkusen guard Till Joscha Joenke. Both Sullivan and Joenke want to play a successful season with Hanau and help lead the club to the playoffs while one could see himself playing in the BBL for the first time in the future while the other has claimed that he wants to return back one day as well.
The first day saw two classic exciting games while on day two fans witnessed two blowouts. The Telekom Baskets took apart their farm team Dragons Rhondorf 79-54 in the first game and in the second game ratiopharm Ulm destroyed the Hebeisen White Wings 82-46. However as always Basketball Aid continued to be the main focus as many fans flocked to the game to help support the fight against cancer. Players and coaches continued to be prepared to talk about the important charity Basketball Aid and give their support the best way that they could. Hebeisen White Wings head coach Simon Cote wasn´t as down after the loss simply because he understood that his player´s legs were heavy and he was missing two key players, but when the topic came to Basketball Aid, his demeanour became more serious. “I take this cause to heart and it is important to be a part of this. I don´t know of anyone that hasn´t been effected by cancer. I lost my best friend to cancer last December”, stated Simon Cote. “I feel it is also very important to help kids in need. Any way possible to help is important even if it´s only a few bucks. I am blessed that no one has been effected in my family. I have been blessed to be able to do what I love for a living so it´s just important to help each other whenever possible”, stressed ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb.
After the crushing Telekom Baskets Bonn victory against farm team Dragons Rhondorf, the Dragon Dome emptied out as many fans didn´t stick around to watch the second game between ratiopharm Ulm and the Hebeisen White Wings. Hanau made it very exciting for a quarter, but slowly let ratiopharm Ulm get a double digit lead in the second quarter and then gave up a 18-0 run in the third quarter to seal the win for the EasyCredit BBL team Ulm. “This was the third game in four days and we only had nine guys. Our goal is to improve always and work on our basketball foundation. We played against a top level team that played Eurocup. We executed well on offense in the first half. In the second half we ran out of gas”, stated Simon Cote. Ratiopharm Ulm got out of the start gate slowly in the first quarter, but then stepped up their defense in the last 30 minutes and executed consistently on offense the rest of the way as they simply had too many offensive weapons that Hanau couldn´t contain. “It is always tough to play back to back. We came out a bit sluggish. Hanau hit a lot of three´s early and matched our intensity and pressured us, but we started to buckle down and got more disciplined”, stated Chris Babb.
The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau got off to a quick start taking the 4-0 lead as ex High Point(NCAA) standout Eugene Harris hit a pull up jumper and ex Kirchheim Knight Jordan Wild scored inside. Ex Fraport Skyliner Tim Ohlbrecht and Harris swapped trey´s as Hanau led 7-3. Ratiopharm Ulm then found the Hanau weak spot inside as they were missing Kruize Pinkins who had had a tooth pulled out at the dentist and missed the game as ex Michigan State forward Raymar Morgan scored three buckets in a row as Hanau trailed Ulm 9-7. Hanau then got some instant offense from ex Tuebingen German Julian Albus who nailed a trey and Brian Sullivan came off the bench and connected from downtown as Hanau led 13-9. Then it was time for ratiopharm Ulm to go on a run as Morgan scored easily inside again as did Da`Sean Butler who played at West Virginia(NCAA) giving Ulm the lead back at 14-13. Hanau was executing well on offense while ratiopharm Ulm was only able to get easy buckets inside as Morgen was Ulm´s go to man at that stage. Sullivan and Harris nailed back to back three´s and Ulm continued to get production inside as 2015 BBL cup winner Philip Neumann hit a 25 footer and made a lay in, but the Hebeisen White Wings led 21-18 after the first frame. The Hebeisen White Wings were shooting 47% from the field and 50% from outside while ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 39% from the field and 29% from outside. Hanau had the 10-9 rebound edge and both teams had one turnover.
In the second quarter, the Hebeisen White Wings continued to keep the game tight, but lost some concentration shortly before the break as ratiopharm Ulm closed out the second quarter with a scorching 13-1 run to lead 42-30 at the break. Ratiopharm Ulm had the fast start going on a 7-0 run to recapture the lead 25-21. Ulm made big plays at both ends of the floor. Talented German Joschka Ferner drilled home a three and then blocked German Josef Eichler at the other end of the floor. Butler also connected on a turnaround shot. The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau didn´t panic, but stayed calm and continued to be patient and execute their offense as best they could. They got back to back buckets from Germans Albus and ex Essen forward Paul Albrecht to cut the Ulm lead to 27-25. After an easy Ohlbrecht basket, Hanau got some more back to back action as Christian Von Fintel who played 17 BBL games for MBC hit a jumper with two seconds left on the shot clock and Albrecht scored to tie the game at 29 a piece. Then came the turning point of the game as ratiopharm Ulm closed out the second quarter with a massive run that Hanau could retaliate from as it continued in the third quarter and in the end stood at 31-1. In the run in the second quarter, Ulm continued to attack Hanau´s weak spot in the paint area. They got two easy buckets inside from Morgan and Bjoern Rohwer and Morgan also made a steal setting up Karsten Tadda for the easy bucket. Guenther put the nail on the coffin with free throws and a back breaking three pointer. “Ulm raised their level on defense. They took us out of executing and got easier baskets than before”, stated Brian Sullivan. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 44% from the field and 31% from the three point line while the Hebeisen White Wings were shooting 34% from the field and 42% from the three point line. Ulm had the 20-15 rebound edge and two turnovers while Hanau had three turnovers.
The third quarter belonged to ratiopharm Ulm as they outscored the Hebeisen White Wings 20-2 and didn´t allow the first field goal until 1.50 minute mark. Coupled with a continuing aggressive defense by ratiopharm Ulm, Hanau couldn´t hit the ocean even if they had been lying in it. In the massive 18-0 Ulm run, the club got massive support from Ferner and Butler who combined for four buckets. Morgan also added on to the Ulm offensive onslaught hitting a 20 footer and making free throws. The Hebeisen White Wings finally were relieved from their scoring misery as Till Joscha Joenke hit a shot, but with a lot of aid from the back of the rim as Hanau got nothing easy in the third quarter. Morgan closed out the third quarter with another lay in. Nothing worked for Hanau as Joenke missed two consecutive free throws at the end. “We were feeling good at halftime, but perhaps some exhaustion set in in the third quarter. Ulm played with more intensity and pressured us on defense to getting shots late in the shot clock. They scored consistently which didn´t allow us to run transition”, stressed Brian Sullivan. Ratiopharm Ulm was shooting 43% from the field and 29% from the parking lot while the Hebeisen White Wings were shooting 24% from the field and 26% from the parking lot. Ulm had the 35-26 rebound edge and five turnovers while Hanau had eight turnovers.
Even if the Hebeisen White Wings jumped out on a 7-2 run to start the fourth quarter and cut the ratiopharm Ulm lead to 64-39, the game was decided as both teams could test some different things on the floor as well as different rotations. In the Hanau run, they got a trey from Von Fintel, a difficult lay in from Sullivan who muscled his way to the hole and an Albrecht lay in. This quick spurt of offense from Hanau didn´t impress ratiopharm Ulm as they went a step further and heightened their offense one more time going on a 11-2 run to extend their lead to 75-41. In the Ulm run, they received valuable contribution from ex Bamberg players Tadda and Ohlbrecht who dropped three´s as well as a Hobbs lay in and a Butler offensive rebound and put back. In the down stretch of the fourth quarter, Hanau got some scoring in bunches from Jordan Wild who connected on a trey and off balance shot while Ohlbrecht and David Kramer also did some added fine tuning on their stats with baskets. “We knew that we had to win this game. After a slow start, we buckled down and fought through it and can now go back to Ulm and get an off day. It was important that we could work on things and still get Tadda, Hobbs and Ohlbrecht into the flow of our game. I am still trying to figure out how I can score in different ways. I want to focus more on rebounding this season and focus on having a winning season”, stressed Chris Babb. “We learned today that we need to come out as a team for 40 minutes each game. The margin of error is too small to have let downs in the game”, added Brian Sullivan. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Tim Ohlbrecht with 19 points. Raymar Morgan added 18 points and Da´Sean Butler 12 points. The Hebeisen White Wings were led by Eugene Harris with 10 points. Ratiopharm Ulm shot 46% from the field and 30% from outside while the Hebesien White Wings shot 28% from the field and 27% from outside. Ulm won the rebound battle 42-33 and had only seven turnovers while Hanau had 11 turnovers.