It would be interesting to see how a panther could hurt a dragon and somehow withstand its forceful and damaging fire that it releases from its mouth, but on the basketball court the wiha Panthers Schwenningen don´t have to worry about a hot fire, but have to find other means to beating the opponent. So far this season the ambitious team that belonged to the absolute best teams in the Regionalliga last season and currently haven´t lost a home game in over two years have had no problems adjusting to the Pro B coming into the game in Bad Honnef with a 8-4 record and have held their fans at home at the edge of their seats with overwhelming exciting wins againstWurzburg 68-66, 78-76 against Erfurt and against a 75-74 nail bitter against Orange Academy. At the other end of the court the Dragons Rhondorf´s fire hasn´t been burning very strongly this season as they came into the game with a disappointing 3-9 record and were reeling to get back on the winning track something that has been very difficult to master this season having lost their two import players early and have been hit by the injury bug that has robbed them of being able to develop any long lasting chemistry or consistency. The game boasted two of the leagues absolute star players with Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka who was averaging 17 points and 13 boards per game while Schwenningen boasted the undersized 199cm forward Rasheed Moore who dominated the Regionalliga last season averaging 21,4ppg and 7,4rpg and this season hasn´t let up in a higher league averaging 21,2ppg and 6,8rpg coming into the game. Schwenningen wanted to get back on track after a disappointing loss in Erfurt while the Dragons Rhondorf wanted to forget their 20 point loss in Coburg and gave a great fight for 38 minutes, but a basketball game has 40 minutes and the club failed in crunch time as the wiha Panthers Schwenningen displayed no hero ball surviving in the Dragon Dome with a 73-65 victory. After the game top Pro B player Rasheed Moore of the wiha Panters Schwenningen was relieved that his team could enjoy the long 6 hour bus ride home, because a loss most likely would have had them walking home as head coach Alen Velcic had expected a win and no less. “We didn´t make our open shots in the first half, but finally knocked down shots in the second half. They defended very well contesting our shots, messing us up with their press and their zone threw us off. But we did a better job beating their zone in the second half”, stressed Philadelphia native Rasheed Moore.
Dragons Rhondorf American Kwam Waller played his heart out knocking down big shots and his disappointment was written all over his face a few minutes after the game as they were so close to making the upset. “We let this game slip out of our hands. We have to learn to be more focused down the stretch. We had too many turnovers in the game and that showed at the end. They did a good job weathering the storm at the end and were the better team. All in all we can learn from this game that we have to perform better in crunch-time. This game showed that we can stay together for longstretches of the game”, stated Illinois native Kwam Waller.
The wiha Panthers Scwenningen came to Rhondorf with a 9 man rotation as Dion Braihmoh was out as was starting point guard Kostas Karamatskos. The guests got on the board quickly as Rasheed Moore showed his quickness getting in a passing lane and making a steal and coast to coast lay in. The Dragons Rhondorf had problems executing their offense as did Schwenningen as no teams had a rhythm. The Dragons Rhondorf tied the score at 2-2 on their fourth possession as Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka connected on the pick and roll with ex Bremerhaven German Bo Meister. Both teams would trade leads four times as fans saw a real old fashioned battle. Rasheed Moore carried the Panthers as he was present on both ends of the court making a block on the defensive end, making a beautiful ball reversal to ex Marist(NCAA) forward Anell Alexis for the trey from the corner and made two buckets himself as the Wiha Panthers Schwenningen led 9-6. The guests continued to get support from many different faces as ex Rostock forward Bill Borekambi scored on a runner and Sergey Tsvetkov scored in the lane. Despite being down, the Dragons Rhondorf were defending very well and especially their on man defense was very good. Rhondorf got some big blocks down the stretch from ex Speyer forward Yannick Kneesch and 20 year old big man Alexander Moeller which led to a Kneesch lay in and Riauka free throws as the wiha Panthers led only 15-12 after ten minutes. Leon Friederici teammate Courteny Belger of Pro A team FC Schalke was on hand to support his friend and saw the big problem for the Panthers not having Karamatskos. “They struggled without Karamatskos as he controls the whole game for them. Rhondorf was fighting hard and making plays and playing good 1-1 defense”, stressed Courtney Belger. The wiha Panthers Schwenningen shot 33% from the field and 25% from outside and had 8 rebounds and 3 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 42% from the field and 0% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
Thecontest continued to be a real dog fight defensive battle as the wiha PanthersSchwenningen didn´t surprise anyone with their consistent defense, but theDragons Rhondorf did who usually averaged giving up 82 points per game thisseason. Rasheed Moore wasn´t only an annoying beast on offense finding so many ways toscore, but also was a nasty beast on defense as he finished with 3 steals and 3blocks giving his team 6 extra possessions. He began the second quarter with amid distance bucket and a block, but that didn´t fascinate the DragonsRhondorf, but they executed a quick 6-2 run to dead lock the game at 20-20 as Wallerscored inside retrieving a back door pass from Riauka who belongs to the bestpassing big men in the Pro B, Julian Jasinski who has 26 BBL games on hisresume displayed his typical energy scoring inside and Joe Koschade netted freethrows. Borekambi gave Schwenningen the lead back with a lay in, but a bigoffensive rebound by Riauka led to a Waller trey as Rhondorf stole back thelead 23-22. Here and there the wiha Panthers Schwenningen would show good ballmovement, but it just didn´t happen on a consistent basis as the Rhondorfpressure defense was like a swarm of bees. Once in a while they were able towhip the ball around and get a good shot as ex Bremerhaven Lithuanian swing manDarius Pakamanis who´s bets game in the BBL was a 12 point effort againstGiessen in 2008 showed hitting a trey from the corner giving the favorite thelead back to 24-23. The wiha Panthers continued to have huge problems coming toterms with the Rhondorf pressure defense and relinquished an untimely 11-5 runto trail 34-28 at the break. In the run, Rhondorf watched a few easy misses fromtheir opponent, but they executed better on offense getting big three´s. Afterhitting only one three in the first 18 minutes of the game, the Dragons hitthree in a row as ex Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Philipp Gruber who once hitDorsten for 32 points in a Regionalliga game connected as did Waller andJasinski. “Rhondorf did a great job with their trap defense. The speed of thegame was too fast for the Panthers as they couldn´t get stops. Rhondorf finallystarted hitting three´s”, warned FC Schalke guard Courtney Belger. The DragonsRhondorf shot 44% form the field an d 36% from the three point line and grabbed20 rebounds and had 11 turnovers while the wiha Panthers Schwenningen shot 33%from the field and 10% from the three point line and grabbed 16 rebounds andhad 6 turnovers.
The game remained tight in the third quarter, but the Dragons Rhondorf kept the lead going into the last frame. Both teams began the third quarter better on the offensive end as shots were falling like raindrops from the sky. Riauka and Borekambi traded hook shots as the Panthers still trailed 36-30. The Dragons Rhondorf offense was more fluid helping them go on a 6-2 run to extend their lead to 42-32. In the run it was Waller who was doing it at both ends getting a lay in and making a steal and getting an easy bucket. The difference at this point was the Dragons intensity that was higher than the Panthers and their aggressive defense continued and didn´t allow the guests to get any open looks as pressure pressure was always staring in their face. But as is so often the case, basketball proved again that it is a game of runs as the wiha Panthers cruised out on an explosive 11-2 run to tie the game at 44-44. The wiha Panthers Schwenningen became more aggressive on offense and perhaps were sick of head coach Alen Velcic´s roaring like a famished bear during timeouts and finally decided it was time to get to work, because it was cold outside and sitting in the comfy bus seemed more appetizing than hitch hiking home. Rhondorf lost some focus and intensity the Panthers were led by their best player Rasheed Moore who started the run with a trey, a 10 footer and later a floater as his shots began to fall more consistently in the second half. The team also got valuable support from 22 year old German Abdulai Abakaer who played 53 Pro B games with Cuxhaven and Wedel who scored five consecutive points and also was a menace on defense stirring up 5 steals in the game. The Dragons Rhondorf didn´t allow the wiha Panthers to totally change the game to their advantage as they gained intensity back getting a big steal from German guard David Falkenstein who made a steal and pretty submarine lay up for the 48-44 advantage. They continued to keep on the pressure in the last minutes getting a Waller steal and lay in, rare Alexander Moeller three and a Koschade lay in at the buzzer as Schwenningen trailed 56-51. “They kept the lead, but we started to see balls go in more. We began to seize the momentum by knocking down shots”, warned Rasheed Moore. “We came out in the third quarter with more energy, but could of contained Moore better. We did a good job limiting turnovers and played good zone”, stressed Kwam Waller. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 49% from the field and 33% from the parking lot and hauled down 29 rebounds and had 16 turnovers while the wiha Panthers Schwenningen shot 40% from the field and 19% from the parking lot and hauled down 22 rebounds and had 9 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, it was anybody´s ball game as it came down to the last few minutes where experience and big plays decided the game for the wiha Panthers Schwenningen. Rasheed Moore was only getting warmed up in the third quarter with his outside shooting as he saved his best for last nailing three three´s in a row which handicapped the Dragons Rhondorf in their attempt of sealing the win. “I shot bad last season from outside and didn´t start well this season. My focus this season is working on getting a consistent three pointer. I shot better today, but need to get a more consistent three”, warned Rasheed Moore. Rhondorf got a big basket from bench player Karl Dia who played 42 Regionalliga games for the Telekom Baskets Bonn 2 and another lay in from Waller, but Moore had done the most damage and when Bill Borekambi tied the game at 62-62, the wiha Panthers Schwenningen had mastered a 11-6 run and were in the driver´s seat with the momentum and heightened self confidence. After Jasinski made one free throw, Pakamanis who shot 41% last season from outside nailed a big trey for the Panthers 65-63 lead. Riauka followed that up with a 10 footer tying the game at 65-65. The wiha Panthers Schwenningen did a superb job limiting the big man to only 6 shots and 12 points as he had to shine more with his court vision than his scoring gene. With less than two minutes to go, the Wiha Panthers made their move and pounced on the Dragons for the damaging strike that cost Rhondorf the game. Abaker who had been a defensive force all game made a steal and lay in for the 67-65 lead. What all fans didn´t know at this point was that the Panthers were on a run that would disallow the Dragons of ever scoring again in this game. The wiha Panthers Schwenningen stepped up their defense as Pakamanis blocked Riauka and Moore made a key offensive rebound which led to a Borekambi lay in and 70-65 Panthers lead. Borekambi closed out the 8-0 Panthers run with 5 consecutive points as Rhondorf starred at a 73-65 final result wondering what they did to deserve that. “We had mental lapses at the end, because of a lack of energy. When your tired, it is difficult to make the right decisions, but we did fight hard”, warned Kwam Waller. “We don´t play hero ball. We have so many guys that make big plays at any time in a game. Today it happened to be my turn. Last game it was our captain who made a big shot while in another game it was Leon Friederici. We don´t care who does it, because we just want to find a way to get it done”, warned Rasheed Moore. The wiha Panthers Schwenningen were led by Rasheed Moore with 26 points while Bill Borekambi added 25 points. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kwan Waller with 20 points. Zygimantas Riauka had 12 points, 10 boards and 5 assists while Julian Jasinski added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 dimes. The wiha Panthers Schwenningen shot 42% for the field and 29% from outside and had 30 rebounds and coughed up the ball 11 times while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 39% form the field and 23% from outside and had 44 rebounds and coughed up the ball 20 times.