The Dragons Rhondorf arrived in the 2019 Pro Playdowns looking to out duel and grind away Tg S Oliver Wurzburg in 6 games with the hopes of remaining in the league. However on the first playdown weekend, they dug their hole even deeper by losing on the road to the RheinStars. Now their up hill climb and basketball battle became even steeper as now they also had to keep an eye on the Cologne team and exert even more energy needing to pass them as well. The Dragons Rhondorf came home on the second playdown weekend and met their fiercest competitor with the Bavarian team Wurzburg, but had had nice memories of their last encounter winning 73-61 on the last game day and gave one of their best performances of the season as they mastered the battle in the paint and under the boards and played the type of defense displaying heart, passion and courage that every coach wants to see forcing the opponent to a massive 23 turnovers. Tg Soliver Wurzburg came into the game having also lost their first playdown game against Bavarian team BBC Coburg and had a lot of revenge on their mind. The Dragons Rhondorf were clinging to basketball life and needed a win badly as with a loss and RheinStars win most likely could have kissed their Pro B life away. Once again Kwan Waller and Zygimantas Riauka carried the team combining for 51 points, but unlike in Cologne where the rest of the team scored only 9 points, on this night against Wurzburg, the Germans combined for 47 points and got 21 points from Bo Meister who was like reborn which was the big difference in the 98-90 victory. The Dragons Rhondorf are still alive and after the victory one could see that American Kwan Waller was on a mission to keep the team in the Pro B. “This was our biggest win of the season where we had double pressure. I live for these type of games. I am proud of the team that despite the pressure, the team stayed focused and locked in. We made a new step tonight. We showed who we are today and played well under pressure. We came together and didn´t want to end the season. Our backs were to the wall, but we had nothing to lose”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf guard Kwan Waller. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg had good moments in the game and fought until the end, but gave up too many points and had no answer for Bo Meister. “Tonight it was clear that we were in the playdowns. We fought well, but our problem the last weeks was that we gave too many games away. We finally fought tonight. We have to play with more self confidence, defend better and hold our own against their energy”, stressed Wurzburg center Jonas Weitzel.
The Dragons Rhondorf came out with a tad more energy and had the early 3-0 lead and stopped the opponent in their first two possessions. Ex Bremerhaven guard Bo Meister who has had an up and down Pro B season and had a poor second half last week in Cologne got the first basket on a 15 footer which proved to be a good omen for the Dragons Rhondorf. Wurzburg finally got on the board with a Badu Buck catch and pop jumper and from then on the first quarter would be tight as there would be many lead changes. One player that began to do much damage was ex Rhondorf forward Justin Smith who has jumped around Germany playing for teams like Weiden, FC Schalke, Rhondorf and Jena 2, but where ever he had played, he dominated scoring and rebounding. Rhondorf also started to get sound production from their Germans as ex Speyer forward Yannick Kneesch hit a trey. There were seven lead changes in the quarter as no team could get away from the other. Wurzburg head coach Eric Detlev didn´t shy away from playing his whole bench as another ex Rhondorf player Tim Eisenbacher scored 5 points and looked happy playing in his old playground. Rhondorf also got big production from 34 year old Lotola Otshumbe who scored and grabbed an offensive rebound. The Dragons Rhondorf always set the tone, but the Bavarian club always found an answer and stayed on the Dragons tail. Down the stretch, Kwan Waller took matters into his own hands scoring the last three buckets including a buzzer beater as the Dragons Rhondorf had the slim 28-26 advantage after 10 minutes. Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ DiLeo who was idle and didn´t have to play until Sunday against BG Goettingen took in the game and gave his two cents to the first 10 minutes. “Both teams played really hard as no team could get away from the other. There also were many fouls. Rhondorf did a good job taking care of the ball”, added TJ DiLeo. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 57% from the field and 50% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 54% from the field and 67% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 1 turnover.
In the second quarter both teams demonstrated that basketball is a game of runs, but at the break it was the Dragons Rhondorf that had the comfortable 8 point lead. Karl Dia got Rhondorf on the board first with a lay in, but then it was time for the Justin Smith show. He led the guests on a 7-0 run scoring three baskets and a free throw giving Wurzburg the 33-30 lead. Smith was a menace all night long and often carried his team in come back returns. He finished with 29 points and 9 rebounds. “Smith was tough to defend. We hadn´t seen him before this season and didn´t know what to expect. We did know that he had a good mid distance shot. His game caught us by surprise. He played with a lot of intensity and did a good job getting to the free throw line”, added Kwan Waller. But this was a different Rhondorf team than from previous games. They knew their season was on the line and knew that they had to produce. They stormed back going on a 11-3 run to retake the lead at 41-36. In the run, Lithuanian double double beast Zygimantas Riauka got busy scoring three buckets in the row as he dominated in the paint and chose the mismatches wisely. But it wasn´t only the usual suspects, but Rhondorf also got vital support from their German role players as captain Joe Koschade nailed a trey and Otshumbe also scored. Rhondorf also had good defensive phases where their zone worked and this moment was one of them. That run sparked the Dragons Rhondorf as their aggressive defense also continued to spark their offense as they extended their lead to 48-38 getting another key basket form Otshumbe, a jumper from Meister and a trey from 36 year old dinosaur Anish Sharda. Wurzburg got some valuable production from Jonas Weitzel and Smith while Rhondorf got a Riauka lay in and led 50-42 at halftime. “The German role players played well and Zygimantas Riuaka was solid. Rhondorf also stepped up their defense at the end”, said ex Temple8NCAA) guard TJ DiLeo. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 55% from the field and 45% from the three point line and grabbed 18 rebounds and had 4 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 46% from the field and 29% from the three point line and grabbed 15 rebounds and had 4 turnovers.
The third quarter had two stories as the Dragons Rhondorf got a lead into double digits, but tg s.Oliver Wurzburg fought back and shaved down the lead to two points, but trailed by 5 points after 30 minutes. The Dragons Rhondorf took some of that momentum from the end of the second quarter into the third quarter and quickly went on a 11-4 run to extend their lead to 61-46. In the run it was Rhondorf´s two best players Waller and Riauka who carried the team with two buckets a piece and Meister also scored. Justin Smith continued to be a one man wrecking crew scoring for Wurzburg, but there wasn´t much support elsewhere. The body language and self confidence of the Dragons Rhondorf were at an all-time high, but they did have defensive let downs and poor one on one defense in the paint that would allow the guests to come back. Rhondorf also weren´t always calm on offense looking for the quick shot and not executing while the guests started to slowly come back. Smith and German Jonas Weitzel were efficient and executing bringing them back on a 10-2 run to trail only 65-62. The Dragons Rhondorf were able to keep the lead getting some important energy in the last minute from ex Telekom Baskets Bonn 2 guard David Falkenstein who scored on an alley-op tap in and then hit a buzzer beater three for the 72-67 lead. “The third quarter hasn´t always been our best this season. We started well, but ended it bad. We let them hit to many open shots”, stressed Kwan Waller. “We had too many ups and downs in this quarter. Rhondorf started off well and we needed a boost and got the needed energy form Justin Smith”, added Jonas Weitzel. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 55% from the field and 44% from the parking lot and had 23 rebounds and 8 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 51% form the field and 18% from the parking lot and had 25 rebounds and 9 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf got the needed push and energy from Bo Meister to carve out a big lead and they would never look back. Meister And ex Tuebingen German Julian Albus traded three´s as the Dragosn Rhondorf still led 74-70. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg never gave up and continued to pressure Rhondorf, but whenever they got dangerously close, it was Bo Meister that had a big answer. After Badu Buck nailed a three to cut the Dragon´s Rhondorf lead to 76-73, it was Bo Meister who drilled home a big three to give Rhondorf the 79-73 advantage. Smith continued to be a pest scoring with ease when he was in the paint and did so twice cutting Rhondorf´s lead to 83-77. But then came that back breaking moment as Bo Meister continued wanting the ball and stayed aggressive hitting back to back trey´s for the 89-77 lead. Rhondorf had played a strong zone on defense to help keep the lead and the Meister three´s had shocked the guests. Even if the Bo Meister scoring show had ended, his precise scoring had given Rhondorf a nice cushion lead and down the stretch, it was other players that helped manage the lead. Meister finished with 21 points and was relived after the win. “My sister was here watching from Bremerhaven. I was playing for my family. My grandfather was in the hospital and I dedicated this win to him. I played for him. My shot felt good today and I was calm and my body was perfect going into the game”, stressed Bo Meister. “I am so happy and proud of Bo. He fought through adversary and shot his way through his slump. It has been great seeing him blossom as we know that he can bring so much on the court. He was our X-factor tonight. But we got energy from so many other Germans like Koscahde, Kneesch and Dia. I think that Bo´s game will give confidence to the other guys”, stressed Kwan Waller. Wurzburg didn´t lay down and die, but gave one more push as they received back to back three´s from German Lennart Stechmann cutting the Rhondorf lead to 90-85. But Rhondorf got key baskets from Waller and Riauka to extend their lead to 94-87. Everybody gave their all to the success for Rhondorf and with 1,39 to play it was captain Joe Koschade who saw room and daylight and drove to the basket and scored giving his team the 96-87 lead and they would never look back. Smith got a dunk at the end, but Waller closed out the game with free throws. “It´s easy to play defense when your hitting shots. We took shots that we knew we could make. It feels good seeing the ball go in”, stressed Kwan Waller. “We didn´t defend well enough. If you allow 98 points then you will have problems winning. We had our chances, but didn´t play clever enough at the end”,added Jonas Weitzel. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kwan Waller with 27 points and 10 assists. Zygimantas Riauka added 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists and Bo Meister added 21 points. Tg s.Oliver Wurzburg were led by Justin Smith with 29 points and 9 rebounds. Jonas Weitzel added 21 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 55% form the field and 43% from outside and got 33 rebounds and had 13 turnovers while tg s.Oliver Wurzburg shot 52% form the field and 27% from outside and got 33 rebounds and had 17 turnovers.