If you’re a diehard Dragons Rhondorf basketball fan, then the positive 72-55 season opener win on the road in Wurzburg must have been as refreshing for all as it was seeing that Kameron Taylor will be the new Aaron Nelson version at the point guard position, but what really stood out was the amazing defensive performance giving hope that the club could be on a good way to having a stable defensive team that will show more consistency then up and downs through the course of the season. One had to go back almost four years to find the last game where the Dragons Rhondorf actually gave up less than 55 points then against Wurzburg last weekend. The exact date was November second 2013 when the Dragons Rhondorf silenced Speyer 68-51 as American Cory Remekun was near a triple double registering nine points, hauling down 11 boards and swatting away seven Speyer shots. There were actually three players on the floor on that date on a cold Autumn night with two players Viktor Frankl-Maus who contributed two points, and Tim Schonborn who registered six points and five rebounds for the Dragons Rhondorf and current Dragon Yannik Kneesch then was in uniform for Speyer playing a minute in the loss that were all on the floor again four years later. The Dragons Rhondorf entered their home opener coming off a big defensive win in Wurzburg and wanted to continue their good start with another successful experience while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen also wanted to carry over their season opening 77-69 win at home against KIT SC GEQUOS. Both teams stars with Kameron Taylor and Bruce Beckford were back again as the Rhondorf savior figure scored 24 points and was looking to match or better that while Beckford was coming off a horrible season opener game as he mustered only five points and four rebounds in 38 minutes while shooting only 2/13 from the field. The Dragon Dome was as loud as always as they had waited a little more than five months again for their usual Saturday night Pro B adventure and fans didn´t get disappointed as they witnessed a hard fought pretty even game in the first half, but in the second half saw the Dragons Rhondorf take control and stay unbeaten with their second win of the season 90-72. After the victory a reserved, but very happy Kameron Taylor described why the Dragons won again. “The key to beating Leverkusen was our high energy defense. We didn´t play hard in the first half. It was our first home game and we were a little jittery. We calmed down in the second half and brought high energy on both ends. We played good team basketball and put good pressure on the ball and got in passing lanes”, added ex Seton Hill guard Kameron Taylor. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen played a good first half, but lost intensity in the second half and just had no defensive answer for the high energy Rhondorf offense led by the unstoppable Kameron Taylor. “This game was a tale of two halves. Both teams played well in the first half as the game was equal. In the second half Rhondorf played more aggressive, faster and set the tempo and just took advantage of us”, stressed CJ Oldham.
After scoring 24 points in the victory in Wurzburg, ex Ehingen guard Kameron Taylor shifted up another gear and had another MVP type game stroking home 31 points, hauling down eight rebounds, dishing out six assists, getting three steals and getting a block against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. Last season the Dragons Rhondorf had the American big dawg Aaron Nelson who averaged 23ppg and 12rpg and this season the club doesn´t need that Nelson as they have their Taylor. Taylor started the game slowly having a few jitter bugs, but let the game come to him and stopped forcing shots and took what the defense gave him. In the first victory in Wurzburg, the American who registered a triple double against Shippenburg in the NCAA 2 with Seton Hill took 17 shots and against Leverkusen it was 18 shots making 11 shooting 61% from the field. He did a good job finding his teammates when he had too and in an important phase in the second half was the defensive energizer as he led Rhondorf to three steals in a row in a 12-0 run that totally broke open the game and the team never looked back. Taylor who compares his game to a Russell Westbrook who knows how to fill up the stat sheet was flattered after hearing the Westbrook comparison again, but isn´t thinking of any triple doubles. “It is always nice to get a triple double, but most important is we get the win. It was a solid game, but I always feel like I can do better”, warned Kameron Taylor. Keeping Taylor in check in some way this season will be the goal of every Pro B team, but that will be better said than done as the early MVP candidate is almost unstoppable. “He is a really good player that can get to the hole and has a nice mid-range jumper. But his team also did a good job finding ways to get him the ball and find the mismatches so he could attack them”, stressed Bayer Giants Leverkusen forward CJ Oldham.
1,100 fans came to the home opener in the Dragon Dome, but witnessed the Dragons slip up early as the Bayer Giants Leverkusen broke out on a 4-0 lead as both new imports Bruce Beckford who played at North Carolina A&T hit a step back and ex Akron(NCAA) forward CJ Oldham also nailed a step back. However it didn´t take Rhondorf long to get out of their hibernation as they captured the lead back 5-4 on a Viktor Frankl-Maus trey and a Thomas MIchel lay in who played 3 BBL games with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. The lead would bounce back and forth in the next two minutes as ex Wurzburg guard Marvin Heckel and Frankl-Maus traded lay ins exploiting their quickness into easy baskets. EX Penn State American Donovan Jack snuck back door giving Leverkusen the 8-7 lead back. However Taylor then reacted with a lay in which infected his team to hold the lead as ex Speyer German Yannik Kneesch hit a floater for the 12-8 advantage. Alexander Blessig and Donovan Jack kept Leverkusen at bay, but they couldn´t get consistent stops as Rhondorf got two buckets from 19 year old German Alexander Moeller who also has had his first BBL experience with Bonn and Taylor nailed another pull up jumper for the 16-13 lead. Blessig who played at Rollins(NCAA) for three season remained active on offense hitting a floater and Beckford made free throws, but Rhondorf kept their nose ahead with a Valentin Blass lay in and Alexander Moeller lay in as the Dragons led 20-17 after 10 minutes. “We didn´t start as well as it was the first game and there was some nervousness present. We didn´t do a good job on the rebounds with boxing out, but fought back to get the lead”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf manager Alexander Dohms. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 53% from the field and 50% from outside while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 37% from the field and 25% from outside. Leverkusen had the 12-9 rebound edge and each team had one turnover apiece.
The contest remained tight in the second quarter as the Bayer Giants Leverkusen stormed back and grabbed the lead back and led by as much as seven points, but a 12-3 Rhondorf run in the last minutes preserved them the lead again. Latvian 205cm forward Ronalds Elksnis who played at Clark(JUCO) started off the second quarter with a three pointer giving Rhondorf the 23-17 advantage. However the Bayer Giants Leverkusen then stepped it up a notch going on a 14-4 run to steal back the lead 31-27. In the run, it was American Donovan Jack who played as a rookie in Australia with Rockingham let his presence be felt as he scored seven points including two baskets in the paint and a trey. Michael Kuczmann also nailed from deep and ex Rhondorf forward Tim Schonborn scored with a lay in. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen did a good job catching Rhondorf napping scoring two transition baskets and got more aggressive on defense taking Rhondorf out of their sets. After a Taylor step back jumper to cut the Leverkusen lead to 31-30, the guests scored in bunches going on a 6-0 run as Jack made an easy lay up off the pick and role and Schonborn scored easily inside and hit free throws upping their lead to 37-30. However the Bayer Giants Leverksuen were unable to hold the momentum losing some concentration as Rhondorf went on a 12-3 run to get the lead back 42-40 at the break. Rhondorf got clutch three´s from Taylor and Frankl-Maus as well as buckets inside from Michel and Canadian Kevin Thomas. “Leverkusen did a good job with their transition game, but we came back with a 1-3-1 zone defense to get back into the game”, added Rhondorf Dragons manager Alex Dohms. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 52% from the field and 36% from the three point line. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 44% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Leverkusen still had the 22-16 rebound edge, but had four turnovers while Rhondorf had only two turnovers.
The turning point of the game happened in the third quarter as the Dragons Rhondorf rattled off 12 unanswered points and would never look back again. The game seemed like it would continue to be a very tight affair as Beckford scored two buckets to keep Leverkusen on Rhondorf´s door step trailing only 46-44. But then came the turning point of the game as the Dragons Rhondorf went on a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 58-44. In the run, Rhondorf played not only their best defense of the night, but were most aggressive as they threw a nasty press at Leverkusen that totally stumped them. Rhondorf got three steals in a row with two by Taylor and one by Frankl-Maus which resulted in easy baskets from Thomas and free throws from Kneesch and Michel. Two massive trey´s from Michel and Taylor added extra salt into the Leverkusen wound. However Leverkusen did a good job not to become totally paralyzed by this Rhondorf offensive explosion by going on a 6-0 run to cut the Rhondorf lead to 58-50. In the run, Leverkusen got four points from Kuczmann and a step back jumper from Jack. Down the stretch, Rhondorf continued to score consistently while Leverkusen did also, but couldn´t make any ground on the home team. Rhondorf got key baskets from Alexander Moeller who made an old school hook shot and offensive rebound and put back while Taylor continued to be his usual self dangerous making a mid-distance jumper and coast to coast run and lay in at the buzzer as the Dragons Rhondorf led 67-57. “We played their game slowing down the tempo and played their tempo. Once we noticed that. We realized that we had to play faster and speed up the game that led to our run”, added Kameron Taylor. “They did a good job switching up their defense going from full court press to a 1-3-1 zone defense which we couldn´t adjust to”, expressed CJ Oldham. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 54% from the field and 35% from the parking lot while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 45% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Leverkusen continued to lead the rebound battle 30-23, but had nine turnovers while Rhondorf had five turnovers.
The Dragons Rhondorf continued to play their game in the fourth quarter scoring with ease and giving up less than what they scored preserving the win. Taylor continued to be a one man wrecking crew scoring a step back jumper and making a thunderous two handed dunk after a coast to coast sprint as Rhondorf led 73-59. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen would make one more comeback attempt going on a 6-0 run to cut the Rhondorf lead to 75-65, but they just were unable to get over the hump and get under 10 points. In the desperation Leverkusen run, they got valuable production from German youngster Marvin Heckel who did some extra stat stacking for himself scoring on a steal from him and making an aggressive lay in with his left hand cutting the Rhondorf lead to75-65. Rhondorf may have had a Taylor who poured in 31 points, but also had other vital weapons that continued to produce as did Frankl-Maus again scoring with a lay in and then dropping a trey for the 81-68 advantage. With a few minutes to play, Taylor put an exclamation point on the game nailed a trey extending the Rhondorf lead to 84-69. Rhondorf closed out the game in style as Thomas made an offensive rebound and put back and Maus nailed a three pointer for the 90-72 victory. “Key in the fourth quarter was that we didn´t let up. We had our feet on their throats and didn´t let them back into the game. We did a good job continuing to push the pace and get easy baskets”, stressed Kameron Taylor. “We weren´t tired, but just let the game get away. When you try to play catch up in the fourth quarter on the road, the chances to win are small. We need to play hard for 40 minutes”, stated CJ Oldham. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kameron Taylor with 31 points. Viktor Frankl-Maus scored 14 points while Alexander Moeller produced 12 points and Kevin Thomas and Thomas Michel added 10 points apiece. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were led by Donovan Jack and Marvin Heckel with 14 points apiece while Tim Schonborn added 13 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 54% from the field and 43% from outside while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen shot 42% from the field and 32% from outside. Both teams grabbed 36 rebounds apiece. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen had 13 turnovers while Rhondorf had 11 turnovers.