One doesn´t always have to be in caught up in the playoffs of the NBA, Euroleague, or Endessa where one can witness great basketball in places like the Oracle arena in Oakland or the Wizink arena in Madrid or other leagues in Europe to be in the basketball zone in mind and be more than ecstatic about getting the full hot order on basketball, but one can also be trapped by desire in smaller venues in the dog days of summer in August like the OSP-Rhein-Necker gym in Heidelberg that seats 2000 people. On one side of the less modern arena where the benches are is a wall and seats no people. Any basketball spectator that has been used to the huge state of the art arena´s and were brought into the OSP Rhein-Necker gym blindfolded and turned towards the wall could of suffered a minor heart attack not knowing in what basketball calamity they had stumbled into. On August 8th, the OSP-Rhein-Necker arena in Heidelberg was the focus of a very special basketball evening that showcased great basketball talent all for a good cause as the well known University of Iowa that was an NCAA finalist in 1956 and NIT finalist 2013 were at the start of a European tour that would also take them to Italy and Switzerland and were playing against a put together basketball team for one night called the Basketball Aid Allstars. The game was for a good cause as once again Basketball Aid which had organized a successful tour last summer had put together this special event with all procedes going to help the fight for children stricken with cancer.
Iowa has a young team and some big talent with guys like Tyler Cook, Isaiah Moss, Jordan Bohannon and Nicholas Baer not too mention senior Dominique Uhi who was making his homecoming as he hails from Frankfurt only 98 kilometers from the trendy tourist attraction city Heidelberg where he was in the Fraport Skyliners organization for a few years before making the jump to the States in 2012. The Basketball Aid Allstars were led by coach German basketball legend Pascal Roller and had some very talented young players like Fraport Skyliners Richard Freudenberg and Garai Zeeb or Lukas Wank from Wurzburg, but also the very experienced Alexsandar Nadjfeji who at age 40 still plays like he is 30 and won titles in Germany with Cologne and Berlin.
The arena also had some history in that that was where current NBA player Paul Zipser of the Chicago Bulls began to learn his trade. The only real serious thing about the game was the cause helping get more awareness for cancer while on the court Iowa had only been in Germany a day and still had some jet lag in their bones, while the players of the Basketball Aid team weren´t about to be going full speed as with the next season approaching had to be mindful of not getting an injury to hurt their professional team´s preparation for the season. The incredible fitness of the Iowa team showed as their jet lag seemed like it had been left in the hotel as the Iowa Hawkeyes let their lethal shooting and timely transition game especially in the second half turn an easy win into a wipe out as the Basketball Aid Allstars ran out of gas losing 99-65. Only a few minutes after the big win, Iowa forward Dominque Uhl was in the stands chilling with his mom and glowing about coming home and playing. “This was a very special occasion for me to come home and play for my mom and friends. I also saw my old teammates Dominic Lockhart and Robin Amaize. It was an important cause playing for cancer and also important for us, because we knew how important this also was for coach Mccaffery who´s son Patrick battled cancer.I was happy that I could play my game. Coach gave me more freedom than usual because I was home”, smiled Dominique Uhl. The night was able to garner 5,000 Euro´s for Basketball Aid and it´s fight to help stricken kids with cancer.
There were many little interesting side notes to this special game and one involved Iowa multi talented point guard Jordan Bohannon who played in the arena where his brother Jason played in his rookie season in 2010-2011 and even played two games with current Chicago Bull German Paul Zipser. Bohannon had a solid game netting nine points and running the Iowa offense in a fine fashion and didn´t get the heads up from his brother until recently about the arena and he was also ecstatic about everything that was involved with the basketball evening. “I didn´t know until a few weeks ago that my brother played here until he told me. This is a special place and the atmosphere was great. This game meant a lot to coach and us because of his son Patrick who fought against cancer and won. Coach really enjoyed being out there and coaching. We started out slow and we knew that they would come out competing. In the second half we were able to get consecutive stops and break open the game. I have to give credit to the Basketball Aid team. They played great and had great team chemistry considering they played together for the first time”, stressed Iowa native Jordan Bohannon. The Iowa Hawkeyes hung around for about 10 minutes after the win posing for pics and talking to fans and then were off while the Basketball Aid Allstars hung around longer, stretched longer and probably had that nasty Iowa transition game in their minds that not even the young bucks could come to terms with for 40 minutes. “It was an honor to play for this great cause. It was bitter that we lost, but the Americans put on a great show. It would have been nice if we could of hit more shots, but overall it was a cool night”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Garai Zeeb. “Coach told us before the game that we have to run all game long. We were faster and they didn´t want to keep up with us. We relaxed on defense too much and need to be better focused for 40 minutes. I thought that we moved the ball well and our transition game was very good”, added Dominique Uhl.
There was a good turnout by fans as 800 filled the gym on a Tuesday night and also some German national teams were on hand like the A-2 team which were training there will head to Asia next week to compete in the University games as guys like Mahir Agva, Stefan Ilzhoefer and Andi Obst watched the Basketball Aid game. The Basketball Aid team got off to a quicker start as they led 4-0 fast as Gotha big man Robert Oehle finished twice nicely in the paint for the German side. However it didn´t take Iowa long to get heated up as Sophomore Chicago native Isaiah Moss drilled home two three pointers. Moss is coming off an up and down freshman season showed quickly that he could become that guy that could take over the main scoring option for the departed Peter Jok or will it be Tyler Cook? 19 year old Slovenian/Bosnian Luka Garza also got going quickly with being active in the paint getting an offensive rebound, put back and tap in while sniper Bohannon nailed a trey and all of a sudden Iowa was leading 15-6. Garza not only turned some heads in the arena, but already has his teammates in awe. “Garza shows much potential. He really stepped it up. I like that he knows how to play the game and has a high basketball IQ”, stressed Jordan Bohannon. Iowa kept up the offensive pressure sharing the ball nicely and playing a sound game of inside out ball as St Louis native Tyler Cook who is another candidate to take over the Jok role and improved his explosiveness over the summer at various tournaments in Iowa made a lay in while red shirt freshman Connor Mccaffery who will play baseball this season nailed a three as Iowa led 18-10. However the Basketball Aid Allstars fought back closing out the first quarter with a timely and annoying 13-5 run to dead lock the game at 23-23. Freudenberg who started his career with FC Bayern Munich and has 2 BBL games under his belt started the run with a trey and then it was recently retired 39 year old Radi Tomasevic who played 21 years of professional basketball for 13 teams mainly in Germany and looks more like a guy out of Animal House scored three buckets using his unstoppable unorthodox left hand hook shot on the penetration. After 10 minutes Iowa head coach Fran Mccaffery could be pleased with his teams 50% and 57% shooting percentages while the Basketball Aid squad was shooting 42% from the field and a hapless 14,3% from outside. Both teams had nine rebounds apiece and only one turnover by the Basketball Aid team.
The second quarter looked similar to the first quarter in that the Iowa Hawkeyes started off quickly, but let up a bit in the latter half of the second as the Basketball Aid squad clawed their way back. Iowa was back to their well fine tuned game getting deep three´s from Uhl who wants to have a more consistent senior season and from Bohannon while Garza just destroyed the Basketball Aid Allstars inside getting offensive rebounds and making easy putbacks as Iowa led 38-27. The Basketball Aid Allstars then went on a timely 14-2 run as ex St Johns forward Freudenberg nailed two three´s and made a beautiful reverse lay in over Cook and Nicholas Baer who is the teams best shot blocker and had 6 against Nebraska last season as a freshman. Oehle scored inside twice while Tomasevic again scored with his stronger left hand as all of a sudden the Basketball Aid Allstars were in striking distance trailing only 43-38. Baer had many great moments in the game as his versatile game shone throughout, but none better than in the last minute as he came down on the break and got a pass that he could have finished himself, but rather made the pretty touch passto Cook for the easy bucket that Larry Bird couldn´t have done any better back in the day. MLP Academics forward Albert Kuppe who helped Gotha move up to the Pro A in 2012 ended the second quarter with a deep three as Iowa led 48-44 at the break. “We were doing a good job on transition, but not protecting our own rim well”, stressed Iowa press secretary Matt Weitzel. “Iowa had many young dynamic players and played that run and gun. I was happy that we could run the two plays that we had for the game. Iowa really had very good foot work and it was hard to penetrate”, stressed Basketball Aid head coach Pascal Roller. “I think that the fans saw much entertainment in the first half. Iowa had much athleticism with Cook, but also a nice shooting touch with Bohannon. Iowa is a very talented team and good shooting team”, stressed MLP Academics manager Matthias Lautenschlager. The Iowa Hawkeyes were still shooting at a high percentage at 46% from the field and 47% from the three point line while the Basketball Aid Allstars were shooting a respectable 395 from the field, but dismal 26% from the three point line. Both teams had 22 rebounds apiece, and both still were doing a god job taking care of the ball with four turnovers apiece.
The turning point of the game came half way through as the Basketball Aid Allstars cut the Iowa lead down to eight points and were threatening, but then they turned the transition lever up and just ran away with the game ending the third frame with a deadly 18-7 run to lead 74-55. Iowa kept up their dangerous outside shooting as Bohannon and Moss connected from outside while the Basketball Aid Allstars stayed in the game with buckets from Croatian Mauro Veijacic and Wurzburg forward Lukas Wank. However Iowa had a untypical 17 man roster so had many guys ready to battle and brought in superb role player 21 year old junior Brady Ellingson from Wisconsin who gave the name scoring in buckets a new meaning as he scored seven points while Freudenberg connected on another trey cutting the Iowa lead down to 63-52. Iowa then totally took control of the game closing out the third quarter with a 11-3 run. Iowa noticed that the balmy conditions in the gym weren´t to the advantage of their opponent and caught napping on transition defense and scored three buckets as Baer and the two talented freshmen 208cm Jack Nunge from Newburgh, Indiana and Garza who played high school basketball in Washington DC at Maret scored easily. Nicholas Baer was also instrumental in this closing run as he gave his team the needed energy at both ends of the court and also drilled home a trey. “Our good defense led to the transition baskets. Baer played huge with his energy”, stressed Dominique Uhl. “Our turnovers and bad shot selection led to their transition baskets”, stressed Garai Zeeb. Iowa improved their shooting percentages in the third quarter to 48% from the field and 50% from the parking lot while the Basketball Aid Allstars were shooting a disastrous 34% from the field and an unacceptable 20% from the parking lot. Iowa had the slight 36-34 rebound edge and nine turnovers while the Basketball Aid Allstars had 10 turnovers.
The game was already decided and Iowa now closed out the game in fine fashion and even put in some freshmen at the end so everyone could play. Iowa continued to hurt the Basketball Aid Allstars inside as their athleticism was too much to handle as Garza finished with a hard dunk and Uhl and Cook also scored extending the lead to 81-59. The Basketball Aid Allstars also had some nice moments as Zeeb nailed a trey and Nadjfeji still showed he has game at 40 unraveling a pretty shovel pass to Veilacic who made the easy lay in. Iowa then went on a 7-0 run to put the game totally out of reach as Cook made a hard dunk as he couldn´t quite match his 10 dunks in an Iowa summer league game where he scored 30 points recently, Moss connected on a trey and Uhl made a tip in as Iowa led 88-61. The gas tank of the Basketball Aid Allstars was totally empty as Iowa were still going strong and closed out the game with a 11-4 run. The talented freshman Nunge grabbed an offensive rebound and made a put back, Cook hit a 25 footer and then the two freshman Riley Till from Dubuque, Iowa and Austin Ash from Cedar Rapids, Iowa hit back to back three´s to put the extra coating of icing on a well deserved win. “Our goal is it to always out run our opponent. Our transition game hurt them the whole game”, stressed Jordan Bohannon. The Iowa Hawkeyes were led by Luka Garza and Isaiah Moss with 17 points apiece. Tyler Cook added 14 points and Nicholas Baer had 10 points. The Basketball Aid Allstars were led by Richard Freudenberg with 13 points and Robert Oehle had 12 points. Iowa shot 47% form the field and 48% from outside while the Basketball Aid Allstars shot 31% from the field and 18% from outside. Iowa won the rebound battle 51-46 and had 11 turnovers while the Basketball Aid Allstars coughed up the ball 13 times.