One could spend many boring hours bringing excitement back into your life browsing you tube and finding these amazing basketball videos where people hit amazing shots from tall bridges into a basket hundreds of meters down or the guy jumping into a lake and throwing the ball 40 meters into a basket or a guy using three walls to hit an incredible shot or hitting a half court shot flinging a Frisbee and seeing nothing but net. Sometimes one doesn´t need to kill boredom going on you tube to witness these kinds of shots, but all one has to do is go into a basketball arena and witness German sharp shooter, sniper, marksman in one Heiko Schaffartzik fire away as he has hit countless spectacular shots over the years and he belongs to the type of players that people will come just to watch him giving hitting from the parking lot a new meaning time after time after time again. After playing most of his illustrious career in his homeland Germany where he helped Alba Berlin capture the BBL cup in 2013 and FC Bayern Munich the league title in 2014, Schaffartzik decided to retreat from Germany in 2015 and has been in France ever since. Last season he played with Limoges and this season has been lighting up arenas in France with 2015 Eurochallenge winner Nanterre. It has been sometime since he last played a professional game in Germany in September at the 2015 European championships in Berlin and now was back in Bonn fighting for a ticket to the 2017 Fiba Europe Cup Final. The last time, the German played in the Telekom Dome in Bonn was almost 2 years ago on April 24th where FC Bayern Munich suffered a humiliating 88-84 loss where he played only eight minutes and scored two points. This time the stakes were a lot higher and he wasn´t thinking about taking part in a special shooting contest from on top of the Telekom building in downtown, Bonn, but just escaping his homeland with a victory. This time with 10 minutes to go and down by 14 points, it looked like Schaffartzik who was sporting a blond beard looked like a young Vince Van Gough and would go home the losers, but Nanterre 92 stage dan amazing comeback in the last 8 minutes to help carry his team into the Fiba Europe Cup Final with a 86-81 victory. “Bonn ruled the physical game in the first three quarters and had a quick start and got hot which can always happen in basketball. We came back and were simply more physical in the fourth quarter and why we won the game”, stressed Heiko Schaffartzik.
However the story of the game was Orlando, Florida native and ex Mississippi(NCAA) scorer Chris Warren who really had to step up in the fourth quarter to make sure his team would advance to the Fiba Europe Cup Final . Warren who has lit up scoreboards in Australia, Turkey and Greece, may be 18 centimeters smaller and 24 kilos lighter than James “Fear the beard” Harden, but the 178cm guard sure looks like the Houston Rocket with his long bead and plays like the ex Arizona State legend as he heated up in game one with 20 points and in game two spanked Bonn with 24 points and connected on the huge shots when his team needed them most down the stretch getting 11 points. After the win, the 2013 France Pro A title holder with Nanterre 92 explained why his team was able to pull it out at the end. “We just kept the faith. Bonn owned us on the boards through out the game, but we matched up better to their physicality in the second half and just dug deep down and made big shots”, explained Chris Warren. The Telekom Baskets Bonn dominated the game for a very long stretch of the game and just chocked in crunch time denying themselves a ticket to the Fiba Europe Cup Final. “We dominated for a long time for 35 minutes. Ken Horton had a big night and all was going well for us. Then we just lost our rhythm. Nanterre 92 hit two big shots which upped their self confidence. We lost our physicality in that stretch and didn´t play the defense we had been playing earlier in the game when we had been successful”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Florian Koch.
A record Fiba Europe cup crowd of 6,000 were in the sold out Telkom Dome to witness a quick and enthusiastic start by the French side Nanterre 92, but the Telekom Baskets Bonn would soon find their offensive rhythm and then it was lights out before the 8:00pm ARD news had even started. Nanterre got going quickly going on a 5-0 run and stopped Bonn´s first two possession. In their run, Nanterre got scoring from 2015 Eurochallenge winner Mykal Riley and ex ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (ProA) power forward Matthias Lessort who made the hard dunk after getting the pass from Riley. Nanterre continued to resort to going inside as Bonn was giving them the one on one game and taking away their shooters, but had absolutely no plan to stop the beast Lessort who continued to just put everything away. The French man definitely didn´t have a cake walk against Gamble who came into this season having been the top shot blocker the last three years in France and Belgium, but had to contain the beast Lessort who scored twice over him and then finished on the pick and roll with Schaffartzik as Nanterre 92 led 11-6. In the meantime the Telekom Baskets Bonn had found their rhythm on offense and got some easy buckets in the paint with a dunk from Gamble and fancy fingertip roll lay in from ex Temple(NCAA) guard TJ DILeo who might have got some extra pointers the last days from Josh “Is Tiny but not Archibald” Mayo who had displayed one of those on Sunday in Frankfurt. Bonn had their own secret weapon is ex medi Bayreuth forward Ken Horton who displayed his keen inside out game with an offensive rebound and put back tying the contest at 11-11. Warren and Horton then traded three´s as the game was dead locked at 14-14 and looked like it could go back and forth. Instead, the Telekom Baskets Bonn put it up another level and closed out the first quarter with an excruciating 16-8 run to lead 30-22 after ten minutes. In the run, Bonn just played strong offensive basketball and hit shots. Especially the long ball fell as Mayo connected twice and ex Grissin Bon Reggio Emila (Italy-Serie A) power forward from Latvia Ojars Silins hit from downtown and the team also got fast break points from DiLeo. “Nanterre 92 couldn´t match our physicality and Bonn challenged them inside and took their shooters away. This worked well in the first quarter even though both teams still had more potential in the game”, added Telekom Baskets Bonn press secretary Jorg Baehren. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 66% from the field and 55% from outside while Nanterre 92was shooting 66% from the field and 33% from outside. Bonn had the 6-3 rebound edge and two turnovers while Nanterre had four turnovers.
In the second quarter Nanterre 92 defended better keeping the Bonn scoring machine better in check and making it an almost even game until allowing the home team to lead by eight points at the break. The Telekom Baskets Bonn did keep their offensive spark from the last minutes of the first quarter as they broke out on a rapid 5-2 run to up their lead to 35-24 as ex Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A) guard Jamarr Sanders hit a jumper and German Florian Koch buried a trey while Nanterre 92 ex St.Louis (NCAA) forward Brian Conklin scored in traffic. Bonn then missed some shots allowing Nanterre 92 to go on a 7-0 run to cut the Bonn lead to 35-31 as all of a sudden the Telekom Dome got a little quitter and the few Nanterre 92 fans that had made the trip and bench were the loudest in the hall. In the run, Nanterre 92 got a trey from Riley and continued beast production from Lessort who scored twice in the paint area. The Telekom Baskets Bonn now executed better on offense, but still had Nanterre 92 on their heels like an antelope does a feisty quick footed jaguar in the middle of Sudan. Bonn got a bucket inside from Silins and also got massive energy from 26 year old 207 Montenegran and 2016 Bulgarian champion with Lukoil Academic Sofia Flip Barovic who got a dunk and free throw, but Nanterre 92 stayed on track as they continued to destroy the inside with Lessort who made a lay in and blocked Barovic while Warren made a lay in and ex BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (ProA) 200cm forward Jean Frederic Morency made a runner cutting the Bonn advantage to 41-39. The Telekom Baskets Bonn went into half-time strong going on a 6-2 run to lead 47-39. In the run, Bonn was able to get a Barovic lay in and fast break buckets from Mayo and DiLeo. “Lessort continued to have a strong game and with his big body hard to contain. He still Isn´t a totally complete player yet. It was nice seeing Heiko Schaffartzik play again. He had played in the BBL since 2002 and moved to France last season. He has been integrated well into the team and you see what value he has for the team. He still knows when it´s time to shoot and when to pass”, stated Joer Baehren. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 54% from the field and 40% from the three point line while Nanterre 92 was shooting 57% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Bonn had the 13-11 rebound edge and three turnovers while Nanterre had eight turnovers.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn had a horrible start into the third quarter allowing Nanterre 92 to get very close again, but were able to break away again in the latter half of the third quarter and lead 71-60 after 30 minutes. Nanterre 92 stepped up their defense and stopped the first five possessions of the Telekom Baskets Bonn, but couldn´t make as much ground as they may have liked to as they only got five points getting a trey from Warren and pretty Lessort spin move inside to cut the Bonn lead to 47-44. The Telekom Baskets Bonn then escaped out of their offensive funk and got back into their groove marching on a 11-5 run to lead 58-49 and the first Bonn thoughts about the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 resurfaced again on the minds of their fans. Bonn were present again all over the floor as the duo of Horton and Gamble remained aggressive on the offensive boards with tip ins and also got a DiLeo lay in as well as Horton fade away jumper. Bonn always had an answer when Nanterre 92 was scoring not to allow them to get closer and also had enough instances where their defensive presence and big plays led to transition buckets. Horton continued to have his game face on as he dropped three pointesr four and five and was 5/5 from the parking lot and ex Giessen guard Yoman Polas scored to complete the Bonn 10-2 run and lead 68-53. Nanterre 92 didn´t totally fall apart, but kept their Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 dreams alive as they got sufficient production from their bench as 18 year old ex Centre Federal du Basket-Ball (NM1)195cm forward Bathiste Tchouaffe hit a trey and ex Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) 206cm forward Talib Zanna got to the free throw line twice, but Bonn still had the comfortable 71-60 lead. “We were playing better as we lost the quarter only by three points after being down by eight at halftime, but they were still getting to many easy baskets inside”, added Chris Warren. “We came out of halftime and still had our offensive rhythm for most part of the third quarter. We didn´t fall apart and had a good defensive rhythm”, stressed Florian Koch. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were shooting 54% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while Nanterre 92 was shooting 56% from the field and 37% from the parking lot. Bonn had the 20-17 rebound edge and turnovers while Nanterre had 14 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Telekom Baskets Bonn slowly dwindled away their lead as Nanterre 92 made their last push and simply were rewarded with timely shots and stops to sneak into the 2017 Fiba Europe Cup Final. The Telekom Baskets Bonn started off the fourth quarter solid going on a 6-3 run to extend their lead to 77-63 as the Nanterre 92 hopes were slipping away. In the run, Bonn got a Barovic hook shot and free throw and Koch trey. Then the Telekom Baskets Bonn just fell apart allowing Nanterre 92 to go on a devastating 13-0 run to trail Bonn only 77-76. The first four points by Nanterre 92 may have been that first back breaking indication as Chris Warren let out that Mini Harden inside him as he made two huge plays taking advantage of a Bonn break down as the help was invisible as well as his man as he scooted to the hole unscathed for an easy lay in and then instantly on the next play stole the ball in Bonn´s half court and made a lay in. Bonn then coughed up the ball, but was able to secure seemingly unending offensive rebounds in the next minutes, but fell short each time trying to get the bucket. Nanterre 92 continued to get extra chances as 24 year old ex Utah St. (NCAA) guard and sharp shooter Spencer Butterfield who had been shut out from outside just not getting open the whole game as he had to settle for a 15 footer and first field goal in 35 minutes. A feat like that usually never happens to Butterfield as scoring has always been in his genes as he scored 39 points a few weeks ago on 11/13 shooting from outside in a Fiba Europe Cup game. After another Bonn turnover, Warren penalized the home team again with a trey and Riley made a 20 footer as Bonn´s 14 point lead was carved to one point and one could almost hear a pin drop and Predrag Krunic´s thoughts in the Telekom Dome. Mayo finally stopped the annoying Nanterre 92 run getting to the rim with a lay in and extending the Bonn lead to 79-76. However this momentary offensive display by Bonn couldn´t slow down the rising Nanterre 92 momentum as they continued to be hungrier and wanting to win more than Bonn as they got another Lessort lay in that had the Nanterre 92 bench erupt and then got a big trey from Warren to give Nanterre 92 the lead back 82-79 with 2.42 minutes to play for the first time since leading 14-11. Warren was instrumental in the fourth scoring 11 points and most responsible for his team reaching the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4. “I just did what I do. We needed big plays and I just stepped up”, stressed Chris Warren. The game couldn´t have been more exciting as Gamble then missed two free throws and Lessort missed a dunk as Bonn was still trailing by three points and had to lose by at least one point to force overtime as they had won by one point in Nanterre last week. However after a Mayo miss, it was of all people Heiko Schaffartzik who had been surprisingly quiet all agme long due to getting no open shots had hit more crazy shots in his career then Shaq missed free throws connected on a long trey extending the Nanterre 92 lead to 85-79 with less than a minute to play. “It was a one possession game and his shot was huge that sealed the win for us”, stressed Chris Warren. Mayo then connected on a jumper to cut the Nanterre 92 lead to 85-81. Warren then sealed the Fiba Europe Cup Final for good with free throws. “We got into our game in the fourth quarter. Key to winning this game in the fourth quarter was being more physical than them and cutting down their fast breaks points”, added Chris Warren. “We didn´t get too confident with our lead, but Nanterre 92 just hit their shots better and contained Horton and Gamble better. The Warren and Schaffartzik three´s hurt us much”, stressed Florian Koch. Nanterre 92 was led by Chris Warren with 24 points. Matthias Lessort added 21 points and seven rebounds. Mykal Riley produced 15 points and Talib Zanna had 10 points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Ken Horton with 24 points. Josh Mayo added 13 points and nine rebounds while Filip Barovic had 11 points. Nanterre 92 shot 58% from the field and 43% from outside while the Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 46% from the field and 40% from outside. Bonn won the rebound battle 28-27 and had 13 turnovers while Nanterre 92 coughed up the ball 16 times.