With every new loss that the Dragons Rhondorf suffer now, the more gloomy their outlook looks for their future in the Pro B. It isn´t 10 to midnight for the ex Pro A team, but the last seconds before the gong, because any more loses in the last two game days could ultimately strip them from any chance of making ground in the last 6 playdown games that will determine if they play in Frankfurt next season or Kronberg on the road. It will come down to Wurzburg and Rhondorf for that last ticket in the Pro B and the Bavarian team has four wins more and 7 points more. It was do or die this weekend for the Dragons Rhondorf. With a loss to Orange Academy and a Wurzburg win at home could of ended the season early for the Dragons Rhondorf if they didn´t start to produce now. They gave a spirited effort in Ulm in the first meeting losing only 74-69 as it was one of their better defensive efforts of the season. The game was decided on the glass as they were badly outrebounded 42-29. The Dragons Rhondorf defended a lot better the last two weekends in the loses to Giessen and the ScanPlus Baskets allowing an average of only 76 points, but they also had to find a way to break the defensive wall of Orange Academy as they met the best defense in the Pro B allowing only 69 points per game. Orange Academy as usual had no let downs on defense as they gave a solid defensive effort for 40 minutes wearing down the Dragons Rhondorf 89-73. The Dragons Rhondorf fought hard, but couldn´t overcome a fierce third quarter run by Orange Academy which sealed the win for them. After the victory an ecstatic Eric Davis was all smiles as he summarized the win. “Execution on offense and having trust in each other was huge. We had good ball movement and just being aggressive and confident helped us get the win. Our defense was ok. Our defense is always something that we can clean up. As we get ready for the playoffs, we will continue to sharpen our defense”, warned ex Texas(NCAA) guard Eric Davis. After the loss, the Dragons Rhondorf snuck into the locker room, but only captain Joe Koschade remained outside and faced the music in defeat. One could sense much disappointment in his voice and unfortunately a bit of resignation. “We all fought hard and are trying all we can to stay in the league. Our problem is when the opponent goes on a run, we tend to loose our nerves and play hectic. Every guy tries to do to much and play one on one instead of staying calm and playing team basketball. We had some good phases on defense, but it needs to be more consistent”, stated Dragons Rhondorf guard Joe Koschade.
The first quarter had two faces as there were numerous lead changes in the first five minutes, but in the latter half of the quarter, Orange Academy was able to get away as it was raining three´s as they got 15 of their 26 points through the long ball. Rhondorf had the 5-4 lead as captain Joe Koschade had scored all Dragons points and German Til Pape all of Orange Academy´s points. The lead kept changing as German Christoph Phillips scored and as did Lithuanian double double beast Zygimantas Riauka as the Dragons Rhondorf had the 7-6 advantage. But then Orange Academy was able to break away and score 12 points as they saw an open ocean and easily sunk four three´s as 39 year old ex Wurzburg forward Nils Mittman connected as did 17 year 2018 Albert Schweitzer winner Timo Lanmueller who scored twice as did American Eric Davis as the guests led 18-11. After the win, Eric Davis was all thumbs up for Nils Mittman still running up and down the floor at age 39. “He has so much experience and is always talking. He tells us hints and secrets, but he never tells us everything, but a bit at a time. I ask him every day, what his secret is to play until 40, but he won´t tell me”, smiled Eric Davis. Rhondorf was executing well inside the paint, but still coughing up the ball too easily while Orange Academy had the three ball flying and scoring. Rhondorf stayed on the heels of Orange Academy as ex Bremerhaven forward Bo Meister hit a three to cut the guests lead to 18-15. But Orange Academy was able to end the first quarter in style leading 26-20. Their offense was rolling as Mittmann nailed another trey and Pape scored inside. “We went into the game concentrating to stop their drives, but they surprised us with their three´s. We didn´t do a good enough job getting out on their shooters”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf guard Joe Koschade. Orange Academy shot 64% from the field and 71% from outside and had 3 rebounds and 5 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 90% from the field and 67% from outside and had 4 rebounds and six turnovers.
The second quarter was a dog fight as the Dragons Rhondorf fought back and played Orange Academy tough and was on their heels, but in the last minute allowed a few mistakes to get the opponents into the locker room with a seven point advantage. The lethal offense of the first quarter continued in the second half as Orange Academy got good production from the bench. 20 year old German Nicolas Moebus who played 24 Pro A games last season gave some offensive firepower with a trey and back door lay in While Till Pape continued to dominate inside getting an easy transition basket as Rhondorf´s transition defense slept. Rhondorf got some instant offense from ex Kentucky Wesleyan(NCAA2) guard Kwan Waller who hit a trey and lay in, but Rhondorf trailed 33-28. The great ball movement totally tore apart Rhondorf´s defense as time in and time out the guests had open shooters that didn´t miss. Rhondorf simply was too inconsistent at both ends of the court and little mistakes plagued them. The Dragons Rhondorf then got some fortune as Orange Academy was hit with two technical fouls on Eric Davis and head coach Danny Jansson. Ex Phoenix Hagen forward Julian Jasinski answered with 4 points cutting Orange Academy´s lead down to only 33-32. Whenever the Dragons Rhondorf scored, Orange Academy came up with an offensive answer and often punished them after little mistakes. After the two technical fouls, Orange Academy countered with a Pape step back jumper and a Davis trey extending their lead to 38-32. Rhondorf still had enough energy and continued to chip away and responded with two treys from Waller and ex Speyer forward Yannick Kneesch cutting the Orange Academy lead down to 40-38. Riauka tied the score at 40-40 with a lay in. However the Dragons Rhondorf were unable to get away, but instead allowed Orange Academy to get into the break on a 13-7 run to lead 53-45. A Pape lay in and Mittmann five points at the end and a Phiipps basket put a huge dent into the Dragons confidence. “We were in the game at the end, but a few dumb mistakes gave them the good lead going into half-time. Their run hurt us mentally and we had to have energy again to come back”, added Joe Koschade. Orange Academy shot 68% from the field and 65% from the three point line and hauled down 10 rebounds and had 10 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 70% from the field and 56% form the three point line and hauled down 9 rebounds and had 12 turnovers.
In the third quarter Orange Academy kept a nice lead, but the Dragons Rhondorf were able to cut the lead down to 62-56, but the guests then slammed the door on the home team early ending the third quarter on a maiming 14-2 run to seal the win early. The Orange Academy offense continued to click as Pape hit a trey and Marius Stoll a floater, but the Dragons Rhondorf got more instant offense from Kwan Waller who had the need to step up and take responsibility scoring 7 points to cut the guests lead to 58-52. Orange Academy continued to demonstrate an amazing ball movement that nearly always found an open shooters as Stoll scored again giving Orange Academy the 61-52 advantage. Then came a very good phase for the Dragons Rhondorf at both ends of the court as they produced three stops and went on a 4-0 run as Riauka nailed a hook shot and Jasinski scored in the paint cutting Orange Academy´s lead down to 62-56. It looked like the Dragons Rhondorf had the momentum and would make their move, but instead it was Orange Academy that hit the lever up a few floors and reeled off a brutal 14-2 run to totally decide the game after 30 minutes leading 76-58. Orange Academy were bringing it from the bench as well as 17 year old Zach Ensminger got aggressive scoring 6 points. Moebus added another trey and pull jumper and Phillips a lay in. The Dragons Rhondorf didn´t get back on transition defense and continued to produce turnovers at an alarming rate as the aggressive Orange Academy defense damaged their sets and ball movement. “We wanted to pick up the tempo. We did a good job outrunning them and they seemed to have tired legs”, stressed Eric Davis. “The run turned the game around. We had too many turn overs in that phase. Our problem was that whenever they scored, we felt like we needed a quick answer which led to turnovers. We should of stayed calm and played calm in that phase. Our self confidence was hurt and we couldn´t find our rhythm back”, stressed Joe Koschade. Orange Academy shot 61% from the field and 50% from the parking lot and they got 20 rebounds and had 13 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 59% from the field and 55% from the parking lot and got 16 rebounds and had 17 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the most damage had been already done as both teams took a little break from the scoring as the Dragons Rhondorf won the quarter 15-13, but obviously couldn´t make any ground on the big Orange Academy lead that grew to 25 points in the fourth. Zach Ensminger got the first field goal of the fourth quarter and was so wide open that it seemed like the Dragons Rhondorf were taking a stroll as far away as the Rhein river as he dropped the shot with ease. Phillips then scored in the paint and the Dragons Rhondorf experienced their biggest low point of the game trailing 83-58. With the game decided, the Dragons Rhondorf found some day light going on a 10-2 run to cut Orange Academy´s lead down to 85-66. In the run the Dragons Rhondorf were boosted by two Riauka baskets, a Alex Moeller bucket and Jasinski fade away jumper. With a few minutes remaining, the Dragons Rhondorf needed a serious miracle, but nothing happened. Stoll and Waller traded trey´s as Orange Academy led 88-69. Rhondorf got a few more points with Koschade free throws and a Riauka lay in. “We did a good job still executing despite having a big lead. We tried to work on other things like getting the ball in the post and running sets that we don´t always run”, stressed Eric Davis. “I don´t think that we were tired in the fourth quarter. We had a good phase with a lot of defensive intensity. We showed signs of what we can do, but need to do it for a whole game. We need to be focused in the last 7 games and play good defense”, stressed Joe Koschade. Orange Academy gave another solid defensive performance and Eric Davis explained the secret to the defensive success. “We have experience through intentional reps meaning we want to make it perfect. We take no short cuts and take a lot of time to work on getting stops. We take a lot of pride on defense. You don´t often see young players having that”, warned Eric Davis. Orange Academy was led by Christoph Philipps with 17 points. Till Pape added 15 points and Nils Mittmann 11 points while Marius Stoll added 10 points. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kwam Waller with 20 points while Zygimantas Riauka added 18 points. Orange Academy shot 55% from the field and 48% from outside and got 27 rebounds and coughed up the b all 16 times while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 58% from the field and 50% from outside and got 21 rebounds and 21 turnovers.