Just before the weekend began basketball Germany was hit with the news that the Regionalliga leagues and NBBL league would take a break from basketball in November due to the continuing COVID-19 basketball. Luckily for EPG Koblenz fans there was still Pro B basketball around even if they weren´t able to see it Live. The whole nasty, unpredictable and increasingly annoying COVID-19 crisis hasn´t effected the EPG Koblenz club as they have produced a 2-0 record exploding over BBC Coburg on the road 103-85 and then took care of Erfurt 92-75 as their deep roster have come through with an overwhelming lethal offense that just continues to overpower their opponents. The EPG Koblenz team met Karlsruhe team Arvato College Wizards that sound more like an American team over in Germany during a tour instead of a German professional team. Karlsruhe entered the EPG Baskets Koblenz living room with a 0-1 record as they had lost to the Dresden Titans 91-81 as they were unable to contain Dresden´s three point line as they were hit with 15 trey´s. Besides seeing basketball, a huge German basketball figure was on the court for Karlsruhe with 39 year old Rouven Roessler who still doesn´t tire from playing basketball. The German has played most of his career in Karlsruhe, but also played 6 seasons in the easyCredit BBL and was a member of the German national team. It never gets old seeing Roessler play and despite getting a lot of heckling from Koblenz observers, the 39 year finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. The guy is still so good, the question is how much longer can he still play? “He still plays with a high quality and he proved that today. He hit many tough shots and it is really nice to still see him play. He is still so fit, that I can see him play a few more years”, added EPG Baskets Koblenz guard Marley Jean-Louis. Roessler head coach Daniel Nelson had a bit more confidence in his teammate than Jean Louis. “He will play another 15 years. No but seriously if he still can keep playing like this, he will play a long time”, stressed Arvato College Wizards head coach Daniel Nelson.
The game overall was a very hard fought game that was at eye level for 40 minutes where no team led in double digits. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were in control for the most part, but could never close the door early, but had the stronger nerves in crunch-time prevailing 83-78 moving to 3-0 while Karlsruhe fell to 0-2. “We had a slow start despite leading 9-2. We had no emotion and didn´t start the way we wanted to. We allowed them to stay in the game until the end and always gave them hope. They stayed in the game with hustle plays. But we had the better individual class that allowed us to win. But we still have a lot to do to find a groove as a unit”, stressed ex FC Schalke guard Marley Jean-Louis. The guests played with a short rotation and were without 209 cm big man Eyke Phrast who had injured himself Friday in practice. They got the core of their scoring from Roessler and Thompson who combined for 42 points, but German role players Rupp, Maisel and Stark played very well coming up with big shots during the game combining for 25 points. “Koblenz is a very good team and I have to pay my respect to them. They have 4 players that can score 20 points on any night. We did a pretty good job countering their aggression. They can rack up 100 points any night. We almost took over the game, but we gave up too many extra possessions. They made too many three´s. But still it was still a pretty good defensive effort from us”, said head coach Daniel Nelson.
The EPG Baskets Koblenz stopped Karlsruhe´s first 3 possessions and quickly jumped out on a 9-2 advantage. Jean-Louis hit a three showing early on what kind of a day it would be for him, ex Speyer guard DJ Woodmore scored inside, ex Ehingen forward Butler made a lay in and Bosnian veteran Edin Alispahic connected on a hook shot. Koblenz did a good job mixing up their defenses and didn´t allow Roessler to get sufficient touches. The Arvato College Wizards then switched gears up going on a rapid 6-0 run getting a basket form German Aaron Schmitz, Roessler hit an off balance shot and ex Auburn(NCAA) 203cm forward Alexander Thompson connected on a lay in to cut the lead down to 9-8. The EPG Baskets Koblenz got careless on offense and lost intensity on defense while Karlsruhe got easy baskets to get back into the game. Then Jean-Louis and Roessler traded three pointers to dead lock the contest at 11-11. But the EPG Baskets Koblenz closed out the first quarter with a 9-3 run to lead 20-14 after 10 minutes. In the run, the club led by head coach Danny Rodriguez let the long ball fly as Jean-Louis and Jacob Mampuya hit back to back three´s. The individual class of the EPG Baskets Koblenz ruled as their many offensive options overpowered the guests.
The game continued to be a very tight affair, but the Arvato College Wizards never gave up chipping away at the EPG Baskets Koblenz and even being able to take the lead twice before the home team won the lead back leading at the break. Brian Butler who wón the easyCredit BBL allstar slam dunk contest in 2017 got the first points of the second quarter producing some nice fakes against Thompson and then tip toeing past him for an easy bucket. But the guests rallied back and hit with a lightening 6-0 run with 2 trey´s from Thompson and German Marcel Davis cutting the Koblenz lead to 22-20. The Arvato College Wizards were playing calm offense looking for the good shot and on defense clogged the inside making it a bit more difficult for Butler to get in his comfort zone. After a 20 footer from ex BBL player Jacob Mampuya who had a quiet scoring day with 4 points giving Koblenz the 24-20 lead, the Arvato College Wizards found some day light going on a lethal 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 27-24. In the run, it was German Aaron Schmitz who is the brother of ex BBL guard Simon Schmitz scored 4 points. He usually doesn´t score a lot, but is vital in his organizing of the game and had 8 points and 9 assists in the loss. Thompson also scored on a transition alley-oop. When you have a lethal offense like EPG Koblenz has, the club is capable of exploding at anytime which they did going on a 10-2 run to regain the lead back at 34-29. Jean-Louis nailed 2 back to back three´s, ex Fordham(NCAA) guard Zaire Thompson made an offensive rebound and put back and ex Leverkusen forward CJ Oldham hit a 20 footer as no Karlsruhe player challenged him. Jean-Louis is an amazing shooter and scorer that can hit the tough shots and knows that he can shine in his situation with Koblenz. “I´m a competitive guy and always want to help the team win every time. My team and coach have a lot of confidence in me. I work all summer on my shot and that makes it easier for me to hit the difficult shots”, said Marley Jean-Louis. Roessler and Thompson hit some big shots down the stretch as the Arvato College Wizards trailed 36-34 at the break.
The third quarter continued to be an intense battle where no club could get away and the EPG Baskets Koblenz still led after 30 minutes 57-54. Koblenz went on a fast 5-0 run as Jean-Louis scored all points extending their lead to 41-34. It wasn´t always the 2 stars of Koblenz Roessler and Thompson that contributed, but also got support from their Germans as Rupp scored. 18 year old guard Konrad Stark who came from Orange Academy gave the team a lift on the defensive end with a steal that led to a Rupp basket and he then scored getting a no look pass from Schmitz cutting the Koblenz lead to 45-43. The Arvato College Wizards got close again tying the game at 45-45 with Roessler free throws, but every time that happened, the EPG Baskets Koblenz had an answer. They went on a 7-2 run getting 2 baskets from Woodmore and a lay in by Alispahic for the 52-48 advantage. The EPG Baskets Koblenz did a solid job taking advantage of the mis matches and height advantage, but also missed many easy shots that they should have made. Karlsruhe then tied the contest 52-52 registering their prettiest basket of the evening. Stark scored on a perfect executed transition play as Thompson got the rebound and gave the outlet pass to Roessler who set up the German with the perfect bounce pass. But the EPG Baskets Koblenz closed out the third quarter in style getting buckets from Thompson and Butler to lead 57-54. “We knew that we had to have more energy in the third quarter. We got it with more talking”, stressed Marley Jean-Louis. “Konrad Stark gave us the needed energy. I told him to create havoc and get us extra possessions. He did that. This is his first time playing Pro B. He is hungry and wants to do well”, added Arvato College Wizards head coach Daniel Nelson.
In the fourth quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz continued to have control of the game and never allowed the Arvato College Wizards to get the lead back. Rupp got Karlsruhe on the board first with a basket cutting the Koblenz lead to 57-56. But whenever Karlsruhe threatened Koblenz had the right answer going on a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 62-56. In the run, Koblenz got production from Butler and Thompson. Butler finished the day playing 35 minutes scoring 17 points and hauling down 11 rebounds(7off reb). The German is unstoppable inside and does such a great job working to get the best position for the easy basket. “He is so physical and has a nose for the rebound. I love how he plays”, expressed head coach Daniel Nelson. Karlsruhe continued to play catch up basket getting baskets from Roessler, Thompson and ex Trier guard Nils Maisel to cut the Koblenz lead to 65-64. Twice Koblenz would take a little lead, and twice Karlsruhe cut the lead to 1, but on every next play, it was Jean-Louis hitting 2 three´s for the 76-72 advantage. Woodmore added a lay in for the 78-72 lead with 2 minutes to play. Koblenz understood now to overpower the guests as their fatigue was easy to see. Maisel scored a basket cutting the Koblenz lead to 78-75 with 1.53 to play, but that was as close as they would get. Down the stretch, the Arvato College Wizards had their opportunities, but the EPG Baskets Koblenz played tough defense getting stops while Oldham made a free throw and usual weak free throw shooter Butler made 4 sealing the win. For everyone who had heckled Roessler during the game were hit with a buzzer beater ending trey by Roessler. “If you let a team stay in the game then anything can happen. We had some luck at the end that they didn´t make their shots, but we also were concentrated on defense making the needed stops. Our competitive level was high helping us to the win”, added Marley Jean-Louis. “We gave everything we had until the end, but our shots didn´t want to fall”, commented head coach Daniel Nelson. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were led by Marley Jean-Louis with 29 points. Brian Butler added 17 points, DJ Woodmore 14 points and Zaire Thompson 10 points and 7 dimes while the Arvato College Wizards were led by Rouven Roessler with 24 points while Alexander Thompson added 18 points and 8 boards. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 51% form the field and 50% from outside and had 46 rebounds and 14 turnovers while the Arvato College Wizards shot 45% from the field and 30% from outside and had 28 rebounds and 9 turnovers.