It was still late summer, the weather was great and the Pro B season was just underway in it´s second weekend on September 29th, but the season of the Dragons Rhondorf had began slowly and their disgusting 102-56 drubbing in Giessen should have been a bad omen for the season. In this game the 2015-2016 Pro A team Dragons Rhondorf couldn´t muster anything on offense and shot only 3/21 from the parking lot while Giessen was very sharp from downtown nailing 12 trey´s and totally dominated the boards 42-25. Another interesting stat that would haunt the Dragons Rhondorf the whole season was how well their German players were able to score. Giessen got an incredible 74 points from their German players while the Dragons had to settle for only 37 points. This season has been a major struggle for the Dragons Rhondorf and with the stretch run of the season having arrived, they are in severe danger of moving down to the Regionalliga if they can´t start winning some games now in the last month to be in better position in the playdowns where each of the last four teams play each other twice and the best two remain in the league. The Dragons Rhondorf came into the game in the Pro B cellar with a 4-14 record while Giessen has been the big surprise team of the season as they sit comfortably in the playoff area in fourth place with a 10-8 record. They have had a tale of two seasons as they lost seven of their first nine games, but since then have won eight of nine games including three games in crunch-time. The Dragons Rhondorf were desperate for a victory and wanted to seek major revenge for their pathetic loss by 45 points in Giessen and played a lot better than the first game, but couldn´t full end their amazing fourth quarter comeback as the guests escaped the Dragon Dome with a 74-70 victory. After the win a disappointed Lotola Otshumbe tried to explain why the club was unable to pull out the win. “Our energy on defense wasn´t consistent. If you want to be successful in the Pro B, you need to bring this for 40 minutes. We had big problems on transition defense in the first half. We rebounded very well, got steals and fought back in the second half. If we can stay positive and bring energy than we can play with anyone. The question is why we can´t do it from start to end”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf forward Lotola Otshumbe. After the big win Giessen guard Jesten Lewis was relieved that the team could pull out the win despite the big comeback. “Defensive rebounding got us the win. We were outrebounded in the first half, but rebounded better in the second half. We played together on offense and stayed composed at the end”, added ex Mercer(NCAA) guard Jesten Lewis.
The Dragons were without top scorer Kwan Waller who hurt his biceps and will be missed for some weeks. Giessen was at full strength as their BBL double license players were all on board as the BBL team didn´t play until the next night at home. The guests got on the board first as ex BBL player Johannes Lischka scored on a lay up getting set up by young German Bjarne Kraushaar. The Dragons Rhondorf were aggressive on defense and got a steal from captain Joe Koschade which led to Bo Meister free throws and a Julian Jasinski lay in for their first lead at 4-2. Both teams then traded leads as athletic forward Alen Pjanic nailed a three, why Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka scored inside while Giessen continued to have the three ball down as French player Thomas Tshikaya played at Angelo State(NCAA2) hit a three was Giessen led 8-6. Giessen kept up the pressure as ex RheinStar German Leon Okpara scored for the 11-6 advantage. Rhondorf remained aggressive getting into the paint as Koschade finished with a pretty left handed lay in and Jasinski dropped a trey to dead lock the game at 11-11. Giessen got the lead back getting a trey from Kraushaar and free throws from Lewis for the 17-13 lead. Rhondorf got aid from their bench as Yannick Kneesch hit from the wing to cut the Giessen lead to 17-15. Rhondorf guard David Falkenstein suppled offense with four points with free throws and a nifty submarine lay in. But Giessen got huge support from their young Germans as last seasons NBBL top big man Tim Uhlemann nailed a trey and ex Orange Academy guard Tim Koepple made free throws and a lay up in the waning seconds as Giessen led 24-19 after 10 minutes. “Rhondorf got into the game quickly having good ball movement. Giessen played with a lot of structure and were hitting three´s”, stressed ex Fraport Skyliner center Daniel Mayr. Giessen Rackelos shot 50% from the field and 57% from outside and had 5 rebounds and 4 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 50% from the field and 20% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 6 turnovers.
In the second quarter Giessen Rackelos broke away as they stifled the Dragons Rhondorf with their transition play. Giessen broke out on a quick 6-0 run to extend their lead to 30-19. In the run they got a lay in from English player Jordan Williams and two hard dunks from Pjanic on the fast break. On the first dunk, young German Tim Koepple made a fancy touch down pass for the easy basket as Rhondorf was sleeping on transition defense. 36 year old Anish Sharda stopped the run with a trey, but Uhlemann responded hitting a trey and Tshikaya made a dunk for the commanding 36-22 lead. Giessen mastered transition offense and got lots of input from their young Germans as Rhondorf had massive problems finding a rhythm on offense. Riauka got 5 points to help Rhondorf in their comeback attempt, but they had no solution for Pjanic who was hurting them inside and out as he was aggressive on the offensive glass making a tip in and also nailed a trey as Giessen still led in double figures 41-29. Pjanic was a huge force in the game leading all scorers with 20 points and had the respect of his teammate Jestin Lewis. “He has been a big key to our success. He is a leader and you can tell he plays BBL, because he is always talking and telling us where to be in position. When he is on fire then it´s always good for us”, smiled Jesten Lewis. Giessen continued to score at ease especially inside as Lischka scored and Pjanic made a steal and went coast to coast for the dunk. Also little used German youngster Janis Hahn who mostly plays for the NBBL youth team dropped a trey from the corner getting the shovel pass from Kraushaar leading 48-29. Rhondorf had some momentum going into half time as they scored 5 points including a trey by ex Speyer forward Yannick Kneesch and put back by Riauka as Giessen led 48-34 at the break. “Transition hurt Rhondorf, but they also had no communication on offense making horrible passes that led to turnovers. On defense Rhondorf were going for too many steals and there was no help side”, stressed ex FC Bayern Munich center Daniel Mayr. Giessen Rackelos shot 52% form the field and 58% from the three point line and had 12 rebounds and 5 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 43% form the field and 27% from the three point line and had 22 rebounds and had 9 turnovers.
Giessen Rackelos continued to have a double digit lead as the Dragons Rhondorf were unable to get over the hump. The Dragons Rhondorf stepped up their defense getting three stops, but couldn´t get anything going on offense as they got only 2 points with free throws from Jasinski and Riauka to cut the Giessen lead to 48-36. But the sudden offensive drought by Giessen didn´t last long as they went on a crushing 12-2 run to extend their lead to 60-38 which would be their biggest lead of the game. In the run they got efficient production from ex Ludwigsburg forward Johannes Lischka who scored 6 points exceling with his mid range jumper and penetration as the Rhondorf one on one defense was non existent. Rhondorf began to realize how big the stakes were and upped their intensity and closed out the third quarter with a vital 11-4 run to trail only 64-49 after 30 minutes. The German role players of Rhondorf picked it up as German big man Alexander Moeller scored twice upping his physicality while Koschade nailed a trey and German Karl Dia scored an easy lay up as suddenly the home team was back in business. “We played good defense and rebounded better. We also put more bodies on Riauka limiting his play”, stressed Jesten Lewis. “Our energy on defense was there. We boxed out better, got in passing lanes and contested their shots. That is the way we always need to play”, stressed Lotola Otshume. Giessen Rackelos shot 52% from the field and 47% from the parking lot and got 19 rebounds and had 10 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 41% from the field and 22% from the parking lot and got 35 rebounds and had 13 turnovers.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Dragons Rhondorf as they outscored Giessen 21-6, but in crunch-time couldn´t execute on offense and also didn´t have four of their five starters on the court for the whole quarter. Giessen Rackelos began with a lightening 5-0 run to extend their lead to 69-49 and it seemed like they wanted to quickly decide the game. Giessen got huge production from Tshikaya who hit a trey and Pjanic nailed a jumper. But the Dragons Rhondorf then staged a furious come back with 12 unanswered points to cut the Giessen lead down to 69-61. The comeback was led by BBL license player Julian Jasinski who once scored 9 points in 11 minutes against ratiopharm Ulm in the BBL took over being aggressive and scored four free throws. The other key supporter was the other BBL license player Alexander Moeller who scored 6 points. The Dragons Rhondorf profited from two Giessen defensive break downs scoring two uncontested baskets by Moeller on the inbounds pass from the sideline and under the basket. In the run, head coach Thomas Adelt decided to keep their experienced guys like Riauka, Sharda and Kneesch on the bench. After a Thomas Adelt technical foul which gave Giessen two Lischka free throws and 71-61 advantage, Rhondorf continued to fight with Jasinski and Moeller and three ex Regionalliga players. Rhondorf continued to defend with passion and success getting stops as Giessen couldn´t buy a bucket. Jasinksi continued to play leader making free throws and a tap in to cut the Giessen lead to 71-65. “We fought together and didn´t want to go under. We hustled extra and played great 1-1 defense and stopped their transition”, stressed Lotola Otshumbe. “They pushed the ball on transition and we got away from our offense. We did a good job staying composed”, added Jesten Lewis. Rhondorf had their chances, but were stopped on three possession while continuing to stop Giessen and couldn´t get over the hump. Uhlemann then hit a big three from the corner for the 74-65 lead. Rhondorf did close out the game with a 5-0 run with a Falkenstein three and Dia lay in, but it was too little to late. “The Uhleman shot was a big play. My shot wasn´t falling so I found Uhlemann. I didn´t care who got the three, as long as we got it”, added Jesten Lewis. “I gave my all in crunch-time, but I got tired. I didn´t have 100 energy, but I wanted to stay on the court”, said Lotola Otshumbe. With a minute and a half to go and six down, head coach Thomas Adelt decided to keep the guys from the comeback on the court and didn´t put in Riauka or Sharda. “I have no idea why we didn´t play”, stressed Anish Sharda. “I have no idea why they didn´t play. Maybe coach wanted more energy on the court”, stressed Lotola Otshumbe. Giessen Rackelos were led by Alen Pjanic with 20 points. Johannes Lischka added 13 points. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Julian Jasinki with 18 points and Zygimantas Riauka added 12 points and 12 boards. Giessen Rackelos shot 44% from the field and 40% from outside an dgotb 28 rebounds and had 15 coughed up balls while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 41% from the field and 25% from outside and got 49 rebounds and had 17 coughed up balls.