Summer pretty much began in March for all basketball players because of COVID-19 and for a while it seemed like it would never end. The last official game for the Dragons Rhondorf was on March 7th where they got creamed 100-82 in Cologne and 2019 German batchelor Andrej Mangold was as close to a triple double and the Dragons Rhondorf were led by Dijon Allen-Jordan with 22 points. It was a long extended summer where the easyCredit BBL and NBA was available for basketball in those times when you needed it most. With summer having found it´s way back to Germany in September, it was finally time for basketball again even if it was only preseason. The Dragons Rhondorf traveled south down the beautiful Rhein river to battle new Pro B team EPG Baskets Koblenz who could quietly be a contender as they have built up a very competitive squad and seemingly feels like they persuaded half of the BIS Baskets team to come play for them. The Dragons Rhondorf have built a very interesting young squad while Koblenz has formed a very scary team with established Pro B players like Brian Butler, CJ Oldham, DJ Woodmore, Michael Acosta, Zaire Thompson, Jacob Mampuya and Eidn Alispahic. This was definitely going to be a tough challenge for the ex Pro A team Dragons Rhondorf, but since it is preseason, it was an opportunity for all to get better acquainted with each other on the court and start building team chemistry. Going into the game, new Pro B team EPG Baskets Koblenz were the huge favorite, but one would never have believed it through 40 minutes of play as they only had 3 leads as the Dragons Rhondorf played a hard spirited game, but especially a solid defensive game something they couldn´t do last season as they upset Koblenz 64-61 in preseason action. After the game a relaxed and very pleased Paul Albrecht broke down the 40 minutes. “We had a short rotation with an average of something like 18 years of age only. We worked really hard today. It was amazing how calm and collected the team was in tough situations. I like how we adapted to their physicality. We have a special team. Nobody needs to score 30 points. I´m very proud how the team fought and played today”, explained ex Hanau forward Paul Albrecht. After the upset loss, the Koblenz players were quiet while doing their post game stretches as they were trying to digest the embarrassing loss. “The bad start hurt us. We allowed them to build their confidence up as the game went on. They hit tough shots early on and having to constantly come back cost us a lot of energy. We had to many turnovers and have to improve our defense”, stated ex ScanPlus Baskets forward Brian Butler.
The EPG Baskets Koblenz were without their starting point guard DJ Woodmore while the Dragons Rhondorf were without 4 double license players including Kilian Binapfl and Gabriel De Olveira and it didn´t take the Dragons Rhondorf long to jump all over the EPG Baskets Koblenz as they led 9-1 after only a few minutes. 18 year old Lithuanian talent Simas Lukosius who shot an overwhelming 48% from outside last season in the Regionalliga got going at once nailing a three, the young talented not officially signed player got a trey and new Dragon Clint Schonheiter who came from FC Bayern Munich made a lay in. Rhondorf forced 3 turnovers while Koblenz was playing terrible one on one defense. After a timeout Koblenz found to their game a lot better slowly starting to claw back, but Rhondorf didn´t relinquish the lead yet. Koblenz got extra force from ex easyCredit BBL slam dunk champion Brian Butler who was controlling the offensive glass getting one offensive rebound after another as Rhondorf looked like a helpless child. Butler made a tip in and put back dunk while also getting free throws from ex BBL player Jacob Mampuya and ex Giessen player Lukas Mayer to cut the Rhondorf lead to 15-10. But Rhondorf stayed in command getting consistent baskets as Paul Albrecht and ex Leverkusen point guard Jacob Englehardt perfected the pick and roll and back to back three´s gave Rhondorf the comfortable 24-17 advantage. The EPG Baskets Koblenz never let up as Butler continued to live on the glass making another put back dunk, but the Dragons Rhondorf led 27-22 after 10minutes.
In the second quarter the offensive arsenal that both teams supplied in the first quarter was doused a bit as both teams stepped it up on the defensive end. Once again the EPG Baskets Koblenz got off to a rocky start allowing the Dragons Rhondorf to go on a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 32-22. Athletic teenager number 11(not officially signed yet) made a lay in while going coast to coast and Lukusius also went coast to coast for a lay in as the club was perfecting their transition game. But a talented and offensive hungry team like Koblenz can´t stay cold long as they went on a 7-2 run to cut the Rhondorf lead down to 34-29. In the run they got valuable support from Mampuya who took on the Butler role and scored twice inside including a dunk and 32 year old Bosnian veteran Edin Alispahic nailed a trey. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were shooting the ball better while Rhondorf didn´t always make the best decisions, but that is expected from a young team. Both teams continued to defend with heart while making baskets. The Dragons Rhondorf kept the lead getting a three from Eddy Burgunder and a late lay in from the young talented unsigned player after getting the no look pass from Lukusius. At the break the ex Pro A team Dragons Rhondorf led 39-34.
After getting up on the wrong side of the bed in the first and second quarters, the EPG Baskets Koblenz finally began well in the third quarter rushing out on a rapid 7-2 run to take their first lead of the game 42-41 at the 6,01 minute mark. The EPG Baskets Koblenz had their best set play of the game up to that point as Butler made a lay in. Koblenz got more points from ex Fordham(NCAA) guard Zaire Thompson who scored on transition, another lay in on transition from ex Leverkusen Forward CJ Oldham and Alspahic gave Koblenz the lead with a 20 footer from the baseline. But that lead didn´t last long as Engelhardt dropped a trey to give Rhondorf the 44-42 lead. Oldham showed his athleticism with a nifty floater to dead lock the contest at 44-44. Rhondorf captured the advantage back with a clutch trey from Paul Albrecht and 16 year old Serbian guard Nikola Petojevic answered with a lay in. Rhondorf really put on the pressure in the last few minutes as Koblenz lost concentration on defense and allowed a tap in by Paul Albrecht and a tap inside by Clint Schonheiter for the 53-47 Rhondorf lead. “We never lowered our heads which can occur with a young team but played consistent defense. We played for each other. We did make mistakes, but compensated in other areas”, added Paul Albrecht. “We defended better. Not defending well in the first half was mental. We fought more and stayed in the game”, said Brian Butler. The halftime talk from EPG Baskets Koblenz head coach Danny Rodriguez was a loud one as one could hear him yelling “Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and stop playing like girls”.
The fourth quarter was a real dog fight as both clubs found a way to continue to play aggressive defense as offensive execution was limited despite fatigue creeping in. The Dragons Rhondorf got off to a good start getting a beautiful high rainbow from a yet not officially signed young player to help Rhondorf lead comfortably 56-47. But the EPG Baskets Koblenz were on their home court and weren´t about to fade in the late summer afternoon sun, but put all they had and put on a strong comeback attempt going on a hard fought 12-2 run to get their second lead of the game 59-58. In the run, Koblenz got a difficult lay in in traffic by Mampuya, a hard two handed stuff by Butler, a trey by Thompson, a lay in by Mampuya and another lay in by Thompson. Koblenz were rewarded by their hard defense which led to good offense and points on good set plays and they continued to get key offensive rebounds. Rhondorf was erratic in many moments as their youth and inexperience took a toll. “It is difficult to play consistent defense for any kind of a team. We kept our cool”, stated Paul Albrecht. But the Dragons Rhondorf got the lead back as the young unsigned and not official yet player made a tough runner in traffic to get the lead back at 60-59. The EPG Baskets Koblenz would lead one more time 61-60 thanks to a Butler lay in. Then came the deciding moment of the game as the so strong offensive rebound team Koblenz couldn´t secure a defensive rebound as they allowed the guests 5 chances and on the last Paul Albrecht made the lay in for the 62-61 advantage with 28 second remaining. Rhondorf closed out the game in style with 2 stops and free throws from Engelhardt and Schonheiter for the well deserved 64-61 win. “We kept our cool and luck always plays a part. We happened to get many extra chances and I made the offensive rebound and basket. Yassin Idbihi continues to tell us that last team´s defense was the worst of all-time. Well I think that today we showed that we can play a good defensive game”, said Paul Albrecht. “It was anybody´s game at the end, but we were tired. I like how we came back in the second quarter and showed that we could fight and we showed that we can build on it. Rhondorf played very good. They are a young team and will be able to compete in the Regionalliga”, warned Brian Butler. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Mystery unsigned player with 15 points, Paul Albrecht netted 12 points while Nikola Petojevic, Clint Schonheiter and Jacob Engelhardt added 7 points a piece. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were led by Brian Butler with 19 points and Jacob Mampuya added 13 points.