The expressions on the faces of the players of the Dragons Rhondorf and TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were like night and day last weekend as the two teams fighting for the right to play in the playoffs continued with the Dragons Rhondorf losing a bitter game in Frankfurt while the Bavarian team Wurzburg slapped the top ranked team PS Karlsruhe. After the 91-82 loss in Frankfurt, Rhondorf beast Aaron Nelson was lying on the floor in front of his own bench feeling as worn out as a antelope who has been chased around and beaten all day long by cheetah´s in the jungle. Nelson had had another typical day at the office scoring 33 points and securing nine rebounds, but still lost on the road in Frankfurt. About 120 kilometers away TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were having a serious slugfest with the top ranked Pro B team PS Karlsruhe and somehow managed a 89-86 win where they took apart the leagues number one defense scoring 53 points in the first half. In the fourth quarter, they showed real heart and discipline withstanding all PS Karlsruhe comebacks never letting them get the lead back and also showed their German consistency as they had the majority of the load scoring most points as the American tandem of Barksdale and Sanford produced only one bucket. Both teams need wins as the season is winding down with a month left and both teams are fighting for a playoff place as both have 14 points and identical 7-10 records, but Rhondorf currently has the eighth and last playoff spot while Wurzburg was in ninth place. The Dragons Rhondorf won the first meeting of the season on the road 81-71 as they had their problems rebounding and taking care of the ball, but the fact that Wurzburg connected only on two tries from downtown sealed their fate. TG s.Oliver Wurzburg took the court in Rhondorf wanting revenge for their loss at home while the Dragons wanted to take advantage of their home court and fans saw an exciting basketball game that was filled with runs and a massive comeback by the Bavarian team, but the home team Dragons Rhondorf had nerves of steel in crunch-time overcoming TG s.Oliver Wurzburg 84-77.
After the win, a thrilled Mike Lucier who hit the last four free throws of the game explained the secret to sweeping TG s.Oliver Wurzburg. “We both needed the win and we knew that they would come out and play well. They fought well and made a nice run at the end, but we did a good job not losing control and closing out the game strong. Viktor Frankl-Maus was huge at the end, getting the steal, basket and making the no look pass to Wendeler for the basket. He has been doing it all season long and we can always count on him when he has the ball in his hands”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf forward Mike Lucier. After the contest a disappointed Vincent Sanford was trying to analyze why they lost and also found some positives. “We had problems executing and finishing around the basket. We didn´t do a good job handling their runs and had bad phases on defense. I thought we played defense as hard as we could and did a pretty good job on Aaron Nelson”, stressed ex Georgetown guard Vincent Sanford. “This was a super win and I am very happy. We had some dumb mistakes, but tomorrow nobody will remember that. It was important that we won and stayed together without Aaron Nelson who left the game hurt”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski.
The Dragons Rhondorf had some special support at the game as ex players Johannes Lange, Nick Larsen, Fabian Thuelig and Florian Koch were in the stands as well as Will Trawick buddy Alex Foster from the RheinStars who had an off night and ex Bonn head coach Michael Koch.. The Dragons Rhondorf didn´t disappoint the home crowd exploding out on a quick 7-0 lead as they halted the first six possessions of TG s.Oliver Wurzburg as the Bavarian team looked more like a nervous hobby team being unable to execute the easiest plays instead of a professional team. Rhondorf got big support from Ontario native Mike Lucier with a trey and Nelson made free throws and ex Bayer Giants Leverkusen center Florian Wendler made a lay in. Wurzburg finally got on the board getting a runner from 20 year old ex Science City Jena forward Lukas Wank. Rhondorf continued to do an excellent job executing as Wendeler continued to be aggressive in the paint scoring two buckets, Lucier made an off balance jumper and Viktor Frankl-Maus connected on a mid distance shot as the Dragons Rhondorf led 15-6. The home team closed out the first quarter in style as Aaron Nelson connected on a hook shot at close range, ex Emory(NCAA) forward Will Trawick snuck inside for an easy lay up and Aaron Nelson put icing on the cake with a three point buzzer beater as TG s.Oliver Wurzburg trailed 22-11 after ten minutes. “This was an important game for Rhondorf and I was happy that I could support the team today. Rhondorf is strong at home and they had a very good start. Matthias Sonnenschein had his team well prepared for Wurzburg”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Florian Koch. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 56% from the field and 33% from outside while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were shooting 36% from the field and 0% from outside. Rhondorf had the 11-7 rebound edge and four turnovers while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg had seven turnovers.
The first quarter belonged to the Dragons Rhondorf and the second quarter belonged to TG s.Oliver Wurzburg as they came back, but gave up a nasty 5-0 run in the last 30 seconds of the second quarter to trail 38-33 at the break. In the first few minutes, Rhondorf still had suitable resistance against the comeback of Wurzburg in terms of offense, but as the quarter wore on, Wurzburg would get more stops thus getting back into the game. Bedford, New York native Will Trawick started off the second quarter with a lay in, but Wurzburg executed a lot quicker than in the first quarter getting to the free throw line and getting a lay in from ex Gotha forward Sebastian Rausch cutting the Rhondorf lead to 24-16. TG s.Oliver Wurzburg then got some clutch play from Lukas Wank who drilled home a trey and made a one handed hook shot to cut the Rhondorf lead to 26-21. The Dragons Rhondorf then caught Wurzburg napping a few times on defense in the paint as Nelson connected on a hook shot, Lucier made a tip in and German Thomas Michel ended a 7-0 run with a three point bomb as TG s.Oliver Wurzburg trailed 33-21. However this didn´t move TG s.Oliver Wurzburg in the least as they made a massive 12-0 run to shred a comfortable Rhondorf lead into a deadlocked 33-33 contest. The run was started by consecutive three pointers from 213cm center Georg Voigtmann who obviously must have learned something from his brother Johannes over the last summers in how to make outside shots. Young German prospect Marvin Heckel also dropped a trey while German Tobias Weigl made free throws. It looked like the momentum of the game was turning in favor of TG s.Oliver Wurzburg, but the Dragons Rhondorf closed out the second quarter with a timely 5-0 run to lead 38-33 at the break as Wendeler made a lay in and Lucier dropped a buzzer beater three pointer. “The two Voigtmann three pointers were big. Wurzburg played zone in which Rhondorf struggled and didn´t get open shots. However the 5-0 run of Rhondorf at the end really hurt Wurzburg as they took energy into the break and stopped their momentum”, stressed Florian Koch. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 48% from the field and 38% from the three point line while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were shooting 38% from the field and 57% from the three point line. TG s.Oliber Wurzburg had the 21-19 rebound advantage, but 14 turnovers while Rhondorf had 10 turnovers.
In the third quarter, TG s.Oliver Wurzburg was able to cut the lead to three, but the Dragons Rhondorf controlled the game and would lead by double digits going into the fourth quarter. Michel started off the third quarter nailing a trey for the 41-33 lead, but the guests had a better start than in the first quarter getting a lay in from German Daniel Urbano and free throws from Kentucky native Marcellus Barksdale to cut the Rhondorf lead to 41-37. Maus also demonstrated scoring in bunches qualities as he made a steal at center court and went coast to coast and then dropped a floater as Rhondorf led 45-37. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg then went on a 5-0 run as Barksdale hit his first field goal of the game with a trey and Voigtmann made a put back to cut the Rhondorf lead to 45-42. That was as close as they would get until the end of the game as the game was going back and forth and was a game of runs as Wendeler made a tip in and Michel made a steal and dunk for the 49-42 Rhondorf advantage. Voigtman then hit another trey to cut the Rhondorf lead to 49-45, but Rhondorf then escaped out on a 10-3 run to extend their lead to 59-48. In the run, the Dragons Rhondorf got support from Lucier with a lay in, Maus scored on the fast break, Michel connected on a another three pointer and German energy player Patrick Reusch hit a pretty off balance finger-tip roll in. Reusch and Wank then traded three pointers as the Dragons Rhondorf led 64-53 after 30 minutes. “The 5-0 run at the end of the second quarter helped us get into the third quarter. They pressured us a lot, but we did a good job playing through that and keeping the nice lead”, stressed Mike Lucier. “Their 5-0 run at the end of the second quarter knocked us back a little. That was the difference in the game. We missed too many easy lay ups and just couldn´t execute on the simple things”, added Vincent Sanford. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 54% from the field and 55% from the parking lot while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were shooting 40% from the field and 54% from the parking lot. Rhondorf had the 27-26 rebound lead and 15 turnovers while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg had 19 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, it looked like the Dragons Rhondorf would cruise to the victory, but instead allowed TG s.Oliver Wurzburg back into the game, but slammed the door in the last two minutes preserving the victory. TG s.Oliver Wurzburg started off the fourth quarter with a mini 4-0 run as Wank nailed free throws and Weigl made a lay in to cut the Rhondorf lead to 64-57. Then it looked like the Dragons Rhondorf would walk away with the win as they went on a 8-2 run to extend their lead 72-59 as they got big trey´s from Trawick and Michel and an off balance shot from Lucier. However TG s.Oliver Wurzburg still had ample energy and gas in their tank as they silenced the Dragon Dome with a timely 12-2 run to cut the Rhondorf lead to 74-71. In the run, TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were fortified by big men Voigtmann with free throws and ex Paderborn center Christoph Hackenesch made a lay in and Barksdale made an off balance shot as the guests trailed only 72-65. Then the American duo of Sanford and Barksdale continued to rip into the Rhondorf lead and took control on both ends of the court making steals and Sanford scored twice on transition cutting the Rhondorf lead to 74-71 Then with two minutes remaining, it was time for Viktor Frankl-Maus to take control as he executed on the prettiest play of the night cutting inside and getting the perfect pass from Sasha Tratjnek finishing in traffic. After Wendeler free throws and time slowly running out, ex TBB Trier guard Christian Hoffmann made it interesting again draining a three pointer and cutting the Rhondorf lead to 78-74. Valentines day is approaching and Viktor Frankel-Maus didn´t even think about that thrusting a dagger into the hearts of TG s.Oliver Wurzburg as he made the amazing no look pass back door to Wendler for the 80-74 lead. Mike Lucier then sunk four free throws sealing the win. “They put a lot of pressure on us in their 12-2 run, but we didn´t fall apart and stayed strong and got the win. I loved the moment at the end having free throws. I was confident that I would make them”, added Mike Lucier. “We picked up our energy and intensity on defense in that last run. However I have to give credit to them. They finished strong and their point guard made the plays”, stressed Vincent Sanford. “We can always count on Viktor Frankl-Maus. In the Pro B, it is difficult for teams to give responsibility to a German point guard, but he shows that it can be done”, warned Boris Kaminski. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Mike Lucier with 18 points. Florian Wendeler added 15 points and 12 rebounds. Thomas Michel had 14 points and Aaron Nelson and Viktor Frankl-maus chipped in with 12 points a piece. TG s.Oliver Wurzburg were led by Lukas Wank with 17 points. Georg Voigtmann added 13 points and Marcellus Barksdale contributed 11 points and Vincent Sanford had 10 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 50% from the field and 47% from outside while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 40% from the field and 43% from outside. Rhondorf won the rebound duel 41-36 and had 22 turnovers while TG s.Oliver Wurzburg had 21 turnovers.