That first weekend in early September typically is a horror for American school kids as it is that last weekend of freedom, that last time on the beach, that last moment to sleep until noon or to be able to catch your favorite TV show as after that the new school year starts and that whole cycle and lifestyle gets back to normal. However in the German basketball community that first September weekend isn´t a horror for kids or adults, but the signal that the new basketball season is not far away. In the month of September there are countless basketball tournaments across Europe where teams prepare their new plays while new players get integrated. One of the first well known basketball tournaments that commence each pre-season in Germany is the Gezeiten Cup in Bad Honnef in the Dragon Dome where Pro B team and farm team of the Telekom Baskets Bonn Rhondorf play their home games. This year the other three teams that were invited were of course the Telekom Baskets Bonn, Fraport Skyliners and s.Oliver Wurzburg. Of all the four teams, Rhondorf had had the longest idle phase as their inspiring season had ended way too early in mid march in the playoffs against Wolfenbuettel. The s.Oliver Wurzburg team played six weeks more as the Americans booked their flights home at the begin of May as they missed the playoffs. For the Telekom Baskets Bonn and Fraport Skyliners, they reached the playoffs, but both bowed out in the quarterfinals. The Telekom Baskets Bonn gave a good fight, but were swept by Bamberg while the Fraport Skyliners gave the mighty FC Bayern Munich a nasty scare taking a 2-1 games lead, but then were rudely squashed by the 2018 cup winner losing by 35 points in game four and by 20 points in game five. All four teams had busily shopped over the summer and fans were greeted by the arrival of some very well known and exciting players as Bonn had reeled in ex NBA player James Webb, the Fraport Skyliners had hauled in Canadian sniper Brady Heslip and ex NBA player Erik Murphy and Wurzburg ex Kansas(NCAA) standout Perry Ellis. The first game on the schedule was a clash between head coach Gordon Herbert and the Fraport Skyliners against his ex team and first team he ever coached in Germany Wurzburg which was in the 2000-2001 season. S.Oliver Wurzburg met the Fraport Skyliners in the first semi-Final and squeezed out a nail bitter 85-79 while in the second semi-final the Telekom Baskets Bonn demolished their farm team Dragons Rhondorf 105-63, but that was expected as their was a huge class difference between the BBL and Pro B team.
In the first contest fans in the Dragon Dome in Rhondorf saw a tight game between the Fraport Skyliners and s.Oliver Wurzburg which the Bavarian team could decide in their favor as they were the more clever crunch-time team getting the hard fought 85-79 win. After the loss Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert was walking to the VIP room and reflected on the club´s first official exhibition game of the season. “I saw some good moments in the game. The second quarter was our best quarter, but overall we lost too many one on one battles and on the rebound in the last six to seven minutes. When we started playing well, we did a good job moving the ball and playing together”, stressed head coach Gordon Herbert. After the big win, ex Kansas(NCAA) standout Perry Ellis was content about the Wurzburg victory. “We worked hard and we continue to improve our defense. We got stronger in the second half after we gave them too many easy chances to score in the first half. We attacked more on offense in the second half and hit our shots”, added Perry Ellis. S.Oliver Wurzburg got off to a quick 12-2 run going on a 10-0 run as they were fortified by their guard terror as ex Giessen guard Skyler Bowlin hit back to back three´s and ex Citadel(NCAA) standout Cameron Wells nailed a 20 footer. Frankfurt then hit back going on a 7-0 run getting timely buckets from outside from ex Bremerhaven guard Garai Zeeb and ex Baylor(NCAA) sniper Brady Heslip while Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann remained aggressive in the paint getting a tip in. s.Oliver Wurzburg kept the lead continuing to work hard on the glass as ex Iowa(NCAA) enter Gabriel Olaseni and ex Fraport Skyliner Johannes Richter scored in the paint as Frankfurt trailed 23-15 after a quarter. What really stood out after 10 minutes was the Wurzburg´s high shooting percentages. “Wurzburg had a good start and compensated on the bad communication of Frankfurt on defense”, stressed Basketball Aid Tour chairman Hans Beth.
In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners were able to take their first lead after ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark started getting hot hitting shots with efficiency and ex Florida(NCAA) forward Erik Murphy also started to get buckets inside. S.Oliver Wurzburg lost some of that aggressive on defense and weren´t pressuring the ball as well anymore. The Fraport Skyliners also got more support from other players and led by as much as 9 points as ex St John´s forward Richard Freudenberg connected on two trey´s to give Frankfurt the 46-37 advantage. Wells continued to hit shots at a high rate keeping Wurzburg in the game. Wurzburg didn´t totally let Frankfurt run away with the game as ex Bonn forward Florian Koch who hit ratiopharm Ulm recently for 22 points in a test game hit a big three and mr 90/50/40 Jordan Hulls who learned his basketball trade at Indiana(NCAA) hit a pull up jumper cutting the Frankfurt advantage to 47-42 at the break. “Frankfurt did a better job moving the ball In the second quarter and finding the open players. Erik Murphy was a key figure in this time as one could see his basketball IQ working well”, stressed Basketball Aid tour chairman Hans Beth.
In the third quarter the Fraport Skyliners held the lead for the first five minutes, but s.Oliver Wurzburg slowly began to threaten and soon had the lead back. Frankfurt received key baskets from Wolfarth-Bottermann, Quantez Robertson who is playing his tenth season and Jason Clark who ripped home a trey giving Frankfurt the 54-49 advantage. However the Bavarian team then broke the game wide open going on a 10-3 run to reclaim the lead at 59-57. It was the Wurzburg continued hot shooting as Jordan Hulls who has shot 40% or better since starting at Indiana(NCAA) in 2008 and Koch hit three pointers. Canadian Trae Bell-Haynes who played at Vermont(NCAA) from 2014-2018 and averaged 14,0ppg as a senior tied the game with a beautiful lay in in traffic. The Canadian finished with six points and two assists in a rather unspectacular rookie debut, but the youngster showed signs of being a solid point guard. “I love his game. He is a great pass first point guard, but also knows when to score. I think once he gets comfortable in our system, he will run the point great”, stressed Jason Clark. S.Oliver Wurzburg continued to have numerous weapons especially at the guard position as their terror continued as in the last minute ex Wofford(NCAA) and Oldenburg guard Brad Loesing sunk two three´s as the Bavarian team led again 66-63. “Bonn did a good job with their ball movement and spreading the floor while Frankfurt was stagnant on offense and not defending the pick and roll well”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn press secretary Joerg Baehren.
In the fourth quarter s.Oliver Wurzburg would not relinquish the lead and sail away into the moonlight with the 85-78 win. S.Oliver Wurzburg continued to be aggressive on offense as Wells continued to hit shots and Perry Ellis who led all players with 20 points continued to demonstrate his valuable contribution hitting timely shots when the opponent was threatening to retaliate. After Frankfurt got back to 73-71, he scored a vital basket in the paint and soon after hit a trey for the 83-71 advantage. Ellis who reached the NCAA final in 2013 losing to Michigan and future NBA players Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr also showed to be a playmaker and help on the boards. He knows exactly what kind of role he will have this season. “I see myself being a scorer and type of glue guy. My team always encourages me to be more aggressive. When I do that it spreads the floor more and I can find the open guys”warned Perry Ellis. With a few minutes to go Frankfurt closed out the game with a 7-2run, but it wasn´t enough as s.Oliver Wurzburg were able to hang on. In the Frankfurt run, 20 year old huge Swedish talent Elijath Clarence hit free throws and a lay in and turned some heads in his first Frankfurt showing as he will mostly play in the Pro B. “I am happy with the effort as we are still learning the system. We had some break downs on defense and we could of played the pick and rolls better”, stated ex Chicago Bull Erik Murphy. S.Oliver Wurzburg also got important support from Gabriel Olaseni and Johannes Richter who combined for 24 points and hurt Frankfurt down low. Cameron Wells contributed 12 points and nine dimes. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Erik Murphy with 18 points and Jason Clark added 12 points. S.Oliver Wurzburg was the better shooting team hitting 58% from the field and 45% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 48% from the field and 34% from outside. Wurzburg won the rebound duel 32-24.
In the second semi-final the huge favorites Telekom Baskets Bonn whipped their farm team Dragons Rhondorf 105-63 as the game was only relatively close for the first 5 minutes, but then the Bonn team just used their overall dominance inside as well as physical advantages crushing Rhondorf. Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf also were without Bo Meister who is a double license player and guard Joe Koschade who both played with the BBL team as they were compensating the injured Yorman Polas Bartolo as well as still being without a guard who is still being looked for. After the loss assistant coach Max Schwamborn seemed a bit overwhelmed by the high point loss, but was happy how his team responded in the second half to the neverending pressure from Bonn. “We played well and I´m happy that we could stick with them. We played many young players and I thought that we did a good job dealing with their pressure and ran good rotations. I thought we did a good job minimizing their athleticism to a degree. Our decision making was tough at times, but we could see what we can work on”, warned Max Schwamborn. Ex NBA player James Webb who played 10 games with the Brooklyn Nets didn´t want to comment if he could match the amazing dunks of his teammate Rashad James this season, but was happy how the team came out and played. “We stuck to our defensive principles and got on the fast break”, stressed James Webb.
The Dragons Rhoendorf actually got on the board first with an Alexander Moeller shot, but Bonn then rattled off 10 straight points as ex Eastern Kentucky(NCAA) standout Jarelle Reischel scored four points and Americans Charles Jackson and James made back to back dunks which would be a common occurrence on this night. The Dragons Rhondorf did their best trying to match the Bonn intensity, but quickly saw that they were being outmuscled badly inside as easy points after easy points happened. Julian Jasinski who got his first BBL experience with Phoenix Hagen and ex Speyer forward Yannick Kneesch got baskets to cut the Bonn lead to 16-11, but Rhondorf just couldn´t hold that defensive consistency as well as getting good shots as Bonn closed out the first quarter with a 12-6 run to lead 28-17. In the run, the Dragon Dome fans witnessed just how lethal James Webb can be as he nailed two three´s and got a hard dunk from ex Washington(NCAA) center Martin Breunig and a jumper from TJ DiLeo. Rhondorf actually did the better job on the boards, but they had massive problems taking care of the ball as their 9 turnovers was a huge sour note on the scouting sheet for head coach Thomas Adelt. “Bonn took advantage of the Rhondorf physical disadvantages and Bonn did a good job playing quick and having Webb and James get going”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn press secretary Joerg Baehren.
In the second quarter TJ DiLeo hit the Dragons Rhondorf with his nasty combination of creative offense and aggressive defense figuring in the first four Bonn baskets as they cruised out on a 8-0 run to lead 36-17. In the run DiLeo was key in an alley-op pass and dunk from Jackson and then fed the Big guy form Sacramento, California for another dunk and then made two consecutive steals finishing with a two handed dunk and then finding top BBL guard Josh Mayo with the lay in. Rhondorf got some offensive going with young German David Falkenstein and UK import Joe Mvoezolo, but overall were way too overpowering as they had too many weapons and continued to play transition which just overpowered Rhondorf. The Telekom Baskets Bonn got a step back jumper and dunk from ex Northwood(NAIA) standout Rashad James and another easy bucket from Jackson inside who just looked like he was in another universe playing cat and mouse with Rhondorf. Bonn went into halftime with a 5-0 run as Koschade hit free throws and Reischel made a trey upping the Bonn advantage to 55-30. The turnovers of Rhondorf continued to be a real plague as they had coughed up the balls 16 times. “Bonn was doing a good job in the set offense and were led by Webb while Rhondorf did a good job balancing the scoring not having that one dominate player like Kam Taylor was last season”, added Telekom Baskets Bonn press secretary Joerg Baehren.
The game remained a blow out in the third quarter, but the Dragons Rhondorf did a fine job keeping the lead around 30 points and not letting the Telekom Baskets Bonn get an even bigger lead. After being scoreless without a field goal in the first quarter Dragons Rhondorf American Raekwon finally picked up his game a bit more in the third quarter netting his first field goal. Jackson who once had a crazy 27 point 24 rebound effort in Turkey continued to totally dominate the paint area getting three buckets while his center opponent Alexander Moeller did the best that he could to have his moments and did nailing a 20 footer and hitting a bank shot trey. Moeller teammate Joe Mvoezolo continued to be one of the more consistent Dragon players making buckets and keeping Rhondorf at the 30 point mark. Karl Dia also made an athletic lay in and Bonn big man Martin Breunig had his moments with a lay in and dunk. The Dragons Rhondorf had only had one turnover in the third quarter, but couldn´t make up any ground on Bonn still trailing 80-48. “Bonn was consequent playing their game getting out on transition and getting easy baskets. Rhondorf continued to be totally overmatched in the physicality department and suffered”, stressed Joerg Baehren.
In the fourth quarter, the Telekom Baskets Bonn were able to lead by as much as 40 while fans saw some spectacular plays. The Telekom Baskets Bonn came out on a quick 8-0 run to begin and extended their lead to 88-48 having their biggest lead in the game. In the run DiLeo hit a pull up jumper and free throws and Wells nailed a three pointer. Then came one of the nicest plays of the game. Joe Koschade who had been moonlighting playing in a Bonn uniform came up with a loose ball and fled to the bucket with Breunig on his right and did like Lebron lofting the ball up off the back board and allowing for the German big man to stuff the ball home. Even if Koschade was in a Bonn uniform the Rhondorf fans loved it and cheered as if it had been a big Rhondorf bucket. “Joe did a great job tonight. He made a great pass to Breunig for the dunk off the back board. That was beautiful basketball and something the fans want to see”, warned Max Schwamborn. Rhondorf then got two pretty back to back Miller to Mvoezolo connections as he found the UK import back door for the easy two points. “We are roommates and have that special roommate bond. We are on the same page and are always looking for each other”, added Raekwon Miller. Bo Meister who was also moonlighting with Bonn hit a trey and it was Breunig who gave Bonn the 100 points with free throws. Jackson closed out the game with a dunk. “Our goal tonight was to play our pressure defense and as soon as a rebound came to run the floor. We also had good ball movement and spread the floor well”, warned TJ DiLeo. “We battled hard and focused more on details in the second half. We talked well, stuck together and fought well through adversary”, warned Raekwon Miller. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Charles Jackson with 19 points. James webb added 17 points and Bojan Subutic 15 points. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by joe Mvoezolo with 15 points. Alexander Moeller added 13 points and six rebounds. The Telekom Baskets Bonn won the rebound battle 35-28 and had 10 turnovers while Rhondorf had 24 turnovers.