Sometimes It takes clubs a lot longer to get out of a slump, but for the Dragons Rhondorf they needed no time finding their way back on the winning streak. Ok so beginning with a 3-3 record doesn´t really categorize being in a tailspin, but for the ambitions of the ex 2015-2016 Pro A team, their start wasn´t exactly what anyone there expected. The team didn´t wait to long to make a coaching change, but reacted quickly bringing in Yasin Idbihi and since then the club is like reborn having a 3 game winning streak. The club has tweaked their offense as one can see that the team feels more comfortable, there is more trust, the roles are understood and the club is just having fun playing together. The defense is still a work in progress, but improving slowly as currently they are allowing 81 points per game while scoring 90 points per contest. Curtis Hollis continues to fill the stat sheet and be the team´s leader while German Killian Binapfle has exploded averaging 24,0ppg in the winning streak and the pick up of 37 year old Spanish point guard Enric Garrido Foz could be the club´s biggest pickup since getting Kameron Taylor in the summer of 2017. The crafty lightening quick guard brings a new dimension and pure playmaking something the team didn´t have before. Their opponent BG Hagen had had an up and down season coming into the game with a 4-5 record having lost three of their first four games, but rebounded and came into the game having won three of their last five game. The club lost two nail bitters to Herford and Recklinghausen by not more than seven points combined. They also were fighting the injury bug and entered the Dragon Dome for a new success experience and were close to upsetting the Dragons Rhondorf, but couldn´t get over the hump in crunch-time losing 104-96. The Dragons Rhondorf continue to struggle on defense, but their offense has been very potent and carried them the last weeks as the deep roster consistently perform. After the big win Rhondorf American Curtis Hollis reflected on the clubs fourth win in a row. “We fought well and showed good signs of being a good team. We overcame adversary, but didn´t play good defense. But a win is a win and we´ll take it”, stressed Curtis Hollis. Even if BG Hagen lost it´s sixth game, American forward Salathiel Ligons saw the loss as a type of win. “We played only 9 guys and were missing many. I think this loss was like a big victory. We came here to win. Our coach told us to fight and that no one would expect us to win. We believed in the coach. Rhondorf overpowered us. They are a top team”, stressed Salathiel Ligons.
The Dragons Rhondorf were without German Gabriel De Olveria who was playing in Vechta with the Telekom Baskets Bonn while BG Hagen had numerous injuries as Pascal Zahner-Gothen, Tobias Wegmann and Daniel Zdraveski were all out with injuries while top scorer Lithuanian Vytautas Nedzinskas was sick. After starting off 18-0 in their last home game, it didn´t go quite to plan this time around for Rhondorf as they watched BG Hagen take a quick 7-0 lead. BG Hagen played a 1-3-1 zone and would do so for most of the evening and stumped Rhondorf on it´s first four possessions. On offense they got into a fast rhythm sharing the ball around as 217cm big man Alexander Kortenbreer scored in the paint, Ligons hit a jumper and German sniper Yanick Opitz hit a three pointer. The BG Hagen offense was moving the ball well and being patient while their zone was compact. The Dragons Rhondorf finally got on the board as ex FC Bayern Munich forward Killian Binapfel who was averaging 24,0ppg in the last three game hit a pull up jumper. Opitz kept firing away keeping BG Dorsten ahead making 5 points, but the Dragons Rhondorf started to get their offense going getting a three pointer from German Jonas Falkenstein, a lay in from Texas native Curtis Hollis and a trey from 37 year old Anish Sharda as BG Hagen had the slim 14-12 advantage. BG Hagen continued to score at ease and were carried by Ligons and Opitz who were carrying the offense and keeping them ahead. Ligons scored 5 points while Opitz drilled home two more three´s for the 30-21 lead. In this phase the Dragons Rhondorf were being carried by young German Mark Kotieno who scored three baskets and was sprouting self-confidence as he took the opportunity to start playing for De Olveria who was in Vechta playing BBL. Spanish 37 year old Enric Garrido Foz and Ligons closed out the scoring as BG Hagen led 32-24 after 10 minutes. “We didn´t respect their zone. It caught us of guard. We weren´t hitting shots at the start, but we knew that if we could get our transition game going that we could come back”, stressed Curtis Hollis. BG Hagen shot 60% form the field and 62% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 1 turnover while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 52% from the field and 40% from outside and had 7 rebounds and 2 turnovers.
In the second quarter the Dragons Rhondorf exploded for 34 points and had the five point lead at the break. The Dragons Rhondorf went on a 6-3 run to trail BG Hagen only 35-30. The Dragons Rhondorf got three buckets from Hollis, Binapfel and Kotieno while BG Hagen got another basket from Ligons. But just as quickly as the Dragons Rhondorf could come back, BG Hagen was able to get away again going on a 6-2 run to extend their lead to 41-32 as Opitz continued giving his hot shooting touch making an off balance shot and then showing his speed getting a lay in. Rhondorf had a serious lack of communication and were terrible on close outs. The contest continued to be a game of runs as now it was Rhondorf´s opportunity and went on a 11-1 run to grab the lead 43-42. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Hollis making two layins while Jonas Falkenstein dropped a huge trey as Binapfel also scored. Both teams would trade buckets as 4 more lead changes occurred. Down the stretch, the Dragons Rhondorf received hot shooting from Anish Sharda as he hit two three´s and Kotieno made a pretty hook shot as the Dragons Rhondorf led 55-50 at half-time. “We started to make shots and pass the ball more not taking the first shot right away. We got into a groove”, stated Curtis Hollis. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 53% from the field and 41% from the three point line and had 20 rebounds and 5 turnovers while BG Hagen shot 54% from the field and 41% from the three point line and had 13 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
In the third quarter the Dragons Rhondorf were unable to get away from BG Hagen as the guests stayed on their heels for the most part of the quarter, but near the end they could extend their lead a bit to 6 points. Salathiel Ligons gave work horse and scoring in bunches a new meaning as he scored the first 10 points of BG Hagen keeping his team very close trailing only 63-60. The American from California would finish with 34 points. “Tonight was the day to have a big game. My team and coach got me motivated. My coach called me in the morning telling me it would be my day and my son said the same thing in the morning”, stressed Salathiel Ligons. The Dragons Rhondorf got two baskets from Slovenian center Jure Besedic, got a transition lay in from Hollis and a lay in from Kotieno. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to execute well on offense and get out on transition. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to spread the ball around as ex BBL player with Bremerhaven Jefferey Martin hit a three pointer and jumper from Garrido Foz, but BG Hagen just wouldn´t go away as Opitz scored again and ex BBL player Soren Frtize was aggressive and took advantage of the early Dragons 5th foul sinking 5 free throws trailing Rhondorf 70-69. BG Hagen gave up a 9-4 run in the last minutes as the Dragons Rhondorf led 79-73. Rhondorf continued to get easy baskets inside as Hollis hit a step back and Garrido Foz scored with his left hand on the drive and Kotienio made a lay in. “We got stops and executed our offense well. I have to give credit to Ligons who was making tough shots all night long as we had hands up and were double teaming him. We continued to weather the storm when they scored. We just kept going”, stressed Curtis Hollis. “We had a short rotation and one guy to rebound and four guys to get back. We had to utilize our strength the rest of the way”, added Salathiel Ligons. The Dragon Rhondorf shot 54% from the field and 36% from the parking lot and had 29 rebounds and 8 turnovers while BG Hagen shot 51% from the field and 35% from the parking lot and had 21 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf were able to extend their lead to 10 points but BG Hagen demonstrated that basketball continues to be a game of runs coming back, but in crunch-time couldn´t get over the hump. The Dragons Rhondorf got off to a quick start getting 6 points as Hollis scored following his three point miss and getting the tap in, Kotieno made a hook shot and Martin a lay in for the 85-76 lead. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to excel in the set offense, get transition success and made the vital hustle plays. But BG Hagen had some energy left going on a 7-2 run to cut Rhondof´s lead to 90-85. Ligons continued to be a scoring machine making a lay in and dunk while Fritze nailed an amazing long trey. Binapfl then scored in bunches making two baskets in the paint, but Fritze and Opitz countered with baskets cutting the Dragons lead to 94-89. But with time running down came the turning point of the game as Hollis and 17 year old Simonas Lukosius dropped back to back trey´s for the 100-91 advantage. After a Opitz basket, Hollis coughed up the ball with 57 seconds to go, but erased his previous mistake stealing the ball back and making a two handed dunk with 43 seconds remaining as Rhondorf led 102-94 sealing the win. “Those two three´s at the end were key. We had a big margin lead with 1 minute 30 seconds to go”, added Curtis Hollis. “Those last few three pointers killed us.it was the nail in the coffin. We believed until the end that we could win. We are just trying to catch the playoffs”, warned Salathiel Ligons. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Mark Kotieno with 25 points. Curtis Hollis added 23 points and 13 rebounds. Anish Sharda added 14 points and Killian Binapl 13 points while BG Hagen was led by Salathiel Ligons with 34 pointsYannick Opitz added 24 points and Soren Fritze 19 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 53% form the field and 31% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 11 turnovers while BG Hagen shot 51% from the field and 38% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 16 turnovers.