It might have been two weeks since the last home game and victory against BBG Herford, but so much has happened in that time. With the ambitious club Dragons Rhondorf wanting to get back to the Pro B, losing the way they were and giving up so many points was unacceptable which led to turbulent times in Dragon country. A day before an important cup game, the club dismissed head cocah Markus Rowenstrunk and Yassin Idbihi took over. Ibihi changed a few plays, but couldn´t change much, but the team still should have won, but had a bad night while the second Regionalliga team had a great night and the Dragons didn´t come to terms with the aggressiveness. And they didn´t have much time to recuperate as 24 hours later, they had to play a league game on the road against Hagen-Haspe, but the team stuck together and exploded winning 111-81 as five players scored in double figures. The defense still remains a work in progress, but it´s coming along. Two days before the game against Herten, the club announced a giant transfer bringing the experienced 37 year old Spanish point guard Enric Garrido Foz. He poured in 19 points and dished out 6 assists in a loss in Rhondorf at the begin of the season. His quickness and aggressiveness along with his good organization of the game stuck with you. He now joins a back court with Anish Sharda who is also 37 years old. Herten came into the game with a strong 5-2 record, but had lost their last two games against the RheinStars and a bitter 67-66 los at home against Dorsten. On a rainy Saturday night, two playoff contending teams met face to face in the Dragon Dome and it was a lightening big run by the Dragons Rhondorf right at the start of the gun that set the tone of the game as the Hertener Lowen played catch up basketball the whole night losing 90-77. Ex FC Bayern Munich 2 forward Killian Binapfel led all scorers with 20 points and his 11 points in the first quarter sparked the Dragons Rhondorf to never look back for 40 minutes. After the big win Texas native Curtis Hollis reflected on the reasons for the win. “We defended hard and never gave up anything easy. Coach Idbihi is a no excuse guy. We had to get the job done for 40 minutes. We played the passing lanes well and got the rebounds and limited them to one shot. We worked on transition defense all week. It worked well tonight. We also changed up our offense a bit running more ball screens and having more open space”, stressed ex Houston Baller(JBL) guard Curtis Hollis. Hertener Lowen center Dijon Smith had a strong game with 19 points and was the teams work horse working hard on the boards knew that they can´t repeat another poor start like that in the future. “We weren´t ready to play. We started off bad and couldn´t execute on offense or defense”, stated Herten center Dijon Smith.
Before the Dragons started their amazing 18-0 run in the first quarter, fans first were wondering where Killian Binapfel´s jersey was. Maybe it was Halloween already for the German, because he was wearing what looked like a self-made jersey. But his jersey had been misplaced so the club had to produce something wearable so he could play. Maybe the self made shirt was like a good luck charm, because the German led the Dragons Rhondorf on a massive 18-0 run scoring 11 points showing incredible energy at both ends of the court. Binapfel got going right away scoring after 7 seconds and then after a Jure Besedic steal, Binapfel scored again and dropped a free throw for the lightening 5-0 lead after 27 seconds. Some fans may have thought at this juncture that this could be a very fun evening for the Dragons. The Dragons Rhondorf came out playing their best defense of the season making 4 steals in the first 5 stops of Herten. Binapfel scored again as did ex Iserlohn center Gabriel de Olveira twice as Herten was staring at a 13-0 deficit. After a Sharda steal, Binapfel scored again with a two handed dunk and Besedic followed with a trey and the hard to believe 18-0 lead. Herten seemed like they were still day dreaming on the bus somewhere between Herten and Rhondorf while the Dragons played with incredible energy and aggressiveness getting in passing lanes and just dominating the game. But Herten finally woke up and got an offensive rhythm going on a 11.-5 run to trail 23-11. In the run the Hertener Lowen had their own version of a Binapfel as American Dijon Smith was a menace in the paint and scored all 11 team points. Ex BBL player Matthias Perl who had missed 3 games due to his wedding and honeymoon didn´t start, but when he arrived in the game, his high level energy and aggressiveness carried the team back into the game. Despite the run, the Dragons Rhondorf continued to execute well getting the other young German big man Mark Kotieno involved as he scored two baskets. Curtis Hollis took a step back allowing Binapfel to be the go to guy as he had the hot hand. The American had only 3 points on 3 shots in the first quarter, but was filling the stat sheet. “It wasn´t going my way in the first quarter. It was the Killian show. He is really getting comfortable. He is so talented and has so much potential. He is learning everyday and is our glue guy”, stressed Curtis Hollis. After 10 minutes the Dragons Rhondorf had the overwhelming 30-16 advantage. Ex Dragons Rhondorf guard Karl Dia who now plays with the RheinStars watched the game with teammate Reggie Golson and reflected on the big Dragons lead. “The new coach gave the team new impulses. Rhondorf started off strong and Herten wasn´t awake and had no defensive pressure. The strong start by Binapfel was important for the self confidence of the team. When Perl came in, Herten started to get going”, stressed Karl Dia. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 63% form the field and 25% from outside and had 8 rebounds and 5 turnovers while the Hertener Lowen shot 41% from the field and 0% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 10 turnovers.
The Dragons Rhondorf held control of the game in the second quarter and after Herten cut the Rhondorf lead down to 10 points, the home team reacted with a run that allowed them to lead by 15 points at the break. The Hertener Lowen got off to a lot better start than in the first quarter going on a 7-2 run to cut the Rhondorf lead to 32-23. In the run, the Hertener Lowen got solid offensive production from Bosnian forward Semir Albinovic with two baskets and Fabio Galiano also scored off the bench. Herten had tightened up their defense and made it more difficult for Rhondorf to get into their sets and forcing them more to tough shots as their offensive rhythm was lost. Herten also did a good job getting out on transition and getting easy buckets. Besedic and Albinovic traded baskets and then it was time for a Rhondorf 7-0 run to extend their lead to 42-25. In the run the Dragons Rhondorf got two key fast break baskets from Kotieno and BInafpel and 37 year Anish “the fountain of youth” Sharda dropped a trey. Like in the first quarter the Dragons Rhondorf were consistent on their offensive execution as they also got to the free throw line as Kotieno and Garrido Foz connected. Herten got good contribution from Perl who was a demon in the paint and had an array of finishes that Rhondorf couldn´t handle. After 20 minutes, the Dragons Rhondorf had the comfortable 51-36 lead. “Rhondorf wasn´t playing as aggressive as in the first quarter. Smith and Perl were getting too many easy baskets. Herten was a lot better inside than outside”, added ex Telekom Baskets 2 guard Karl Dia. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 47% from the field and 27% from the three point line and had 20 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Hertener Lowen shot 41% from the field and 0% from the three point line and had 24 rebounds and 15 turnovers.
The Dragons Rhondorf kept their big lead in the third quarter and led by as much as 20 points before the Hertener Lowen went on a run to put a dent into the Dragons lead, but after 30 minutes the Dragons led by 18 points. In the first few minutes, both teams were executing well as Rhondorf got baskets from Binapfel and Besedic while Herten got buckets from Bulgarian forward Lyuben Paskov and Smith as Rhondorf led 55-40. Rhondorf then went on a 8-3 run to grab the 63-43 lead. In the run it was the Hollis show as he scored 4 consecutive baskets with a pull up jumper, lay in and two handed dunk on transition and an offensive rebound and put back. “I was patient in this time. I picked my spots and scored some buckets”, stated Curtis Hollis. This explosive run by Curtis Hollis didn´t have any effect on Herten as they came back with a lethal 7-0 run to cut the Dragons lead to 63-50. Herten did a good time getting transition baskets from Smith and Galiano. Sharda halted tis run getting hot hitting a trey and a jumper for the 68-51 advantage. Herten got a few baskets from Paskov at the end of the quarter while Rhondorf kept attacking the paint getting baskets from Kotieno and Binapfel as the Dragons Rhondorf led 74-58. “We had our ups and downs. Runs are a part of basketball. We were able to take advantage of their mistakes”, stated Curtis Hollis. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 52% from the field and 28% from the parking lot and had 28 rebounds and 12 turnovers while the Hertener Lowen shot 42% from the field and 11% from the parking lot and had 33 rebounds and 17 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Hertener Lowen still had some excess energy and made a last push, but they couldn´t get consistent stops to cut the Rhondorf lead down further. Herten started off the fourth quarter off with a bang going on a 7-0 run to cut the Dragons lead down to 74-65. In the run it was ex Itzehoe forward Fabio Galiano who scored all 7 points giving Herten the extra energy and momentum. “Galiano stepped up. We were ready to play. We got stops and were able to push the ball and get easy baskets”, stated Herten center Dijon Smith. Herten played aggressive defense not letting Rhondorf into their sets and forcing turnovers and getting six stops. “We didn´t get back on transition and let them have easy looks and easy baskets”, said Curtis Hollis. Despite Binapfel free throws and a Hollis lay in. Herten was pressing and cut the lead down to 78-70 with an Albinovic trey. But the Hertener Lowen just couldn´t get over the hump and get stops. Rhondorf continued to execute on offense as Kotieno scored for the 85-75 lead. Three Garrido Foz free throws and a Hollis lay in sealed the victory for the Dragons Rhondorf who improved to 5-3 and Herten fell to 5-3. “We buckled down at the end. Foz hit big free throws. He is very mature and really understands the game”, warned Curtis Hollis. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Killian Binapfel with 20 points. Curtis Hollis added 18 points and Mark Kotieno 15 points while the Hertener Lowen were led by Dijon Smith with 19 points while Fabio Galiano contributed 18 points and Mattias Perl and Semir Albinovic added 11 points a piece. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 47% from the field and 27% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 17 turnovers while the Hertener Lowen shot 43% from the field and 20% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 19 turnovers.