After ending 2020 with a bang winning their last three games, the EPG Baskets Koblenz are still searching for their first victory in 2021. They were riding a two game losing streak having lost to Karlsruhe and Oberaching when they welcomed Orange Academy. They continue to have problems finding that identity on defense not being able to put it together for a full game. Another problem is their walking wounded list as American DJ Woodmore and veteran Edin Alispahic were out. Despite the injury woes, the club has a deep enough roster to compensate the loses. They had their hands full with top German youth program Orange Academy who landed in Koblenz with a 9-5 record. They were coming off a brutal 85-82 loss in Frankfurt 96 hours earlier. EPG Baskets head coach Danny Rodriguez had a suitable game plan and as usual had his guys ready as they played a very strong first half, but then as usual let up in the second half. The EPG Baskets Koblenz had everything in their cards to win, but allowed an annoying 12-2 crunch-time run by Orange Academy to decide the game for the guests. ‘We started well. Ulm likes to play that high pick and roll. We changed our pick and roll defense hedging well. But in the second half we were less aggressive and had problems on the help side defense. We have problems with our set offense. We are good when we are in transition. We always start with good energy, but then loose it’, stressed EPG Baskets head coach Danny Rodriguez. Orange Academy head coach Anton Gavel wasn’t happy with the first half, but he always stayed calm on the sidelines. In the second half, one could understand his excitement in crunch-time when his team produced a brutal 12-2 run to decide the game. ‘I congratulate my players. Key in this game was the second quarter where we could cut down the Koblenz lead from 15 points to 5 points. That gave us more self-confidence going into the second half. We began to rebound better and made good decisions’, added Orange Academy head coach Anton Gavel.
The EPG Baskets Koblenz went into the contest with some key players out, but their lethal first quarter of allowing only 8 points showed that they had come into the game well prepared. The EPG Baskets Koblenz didn’t waste any time jumping all over Orange Academy taking a quick 9-2 lead. In the run, Koblenz as usual got their athletic freak Brian Butler involved early as he got two buckets and made a free throw. As usual the ex easyCredit BBL slam dunk champion Brian Butler used his physicality getting as close to the rim and then unleashing his fakes which helped him be successful. Ex Bayer Giants Leverkusen forward CJ Oldham also contributed scoring twice on transition as he used his athleticism to the fullest. The EPG Baskets Koblenz defended very aggressive taking away the pick and roll from Orange Academy and limiting the touches from 212 cm German big man Nicholas Bretzel. The strong Koblenz defense led to better offense. Orange Academy had problems with their set offense getting good shots as Koblenz limited them to taking very bad shots. Polish national player Jeremy Sochan and German Julius Ferber helped Orange Academy with two baskets. The EPG Baskets Koblenz continued to get vital support from Butler who made his patent turn around shot, ex Fordham (NCAA) guard Zaire Thompson used his quick speed for a finger tip role in and ex Giessen German guard Lukas Mayer scored on a drive. After 10 minutes the EPG Baskets Koblenz had the comfortable 16-8 advantage. ‘We lost control. We didn’t play our game. We didn’t follow the saying act and don’t react. We only reacted. We didn’t defend well enough’, said Orange Academy center Nicolas Bretzel (212-PF-99).
In the second quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz were able to lead by as much as 15 points, but allowed Orange Academy to storm back and trail only by 6 points at half-time. The EPG Baskets Koblenz cruised out on a rapid on a 9-2 run like in the first quarter extending their lead to 25-10. In the run, the home team did a fine job spreading the scoring love around as four different players scored. The drive began with a Joshua Luebken dunk which was followed by a Oldham lay in, then Dutch forward Chad Wellian dropped a trey and German sniper Marley Jean-Louis made a runner. The EPG Baskets Koblenz had found a very sound offensive rhythm and continued to take away Orange Academy’s pick and roll. But basketball is always a game of runs and Orange Academy continued to fight and began to claw their way back closing out the second quarter with a 19-9 run to trail only 34-29. Orange Academy didn’t try to work too hastily, but remained calm and took it play by play. Orange Academy attacked the rim better and picked their spots more cleverer as Polish national player Igor Milicic and ex Vechta forward Nat Dialo scored in the paint and Jeremy Sochan made a hook shot as Orange Academy trailed only 29-19. Koblenz had done a good job limiting the guests three pointer, but couldn’t stop their drive or them getting to the free throw line. Orange Academy continued to chip away and got some more baskets inside from Milicic and Dialo scored twice. Orange Academy also did a better job working on the glass. ‘We did a good job forcing turnovers and getting stops. We also boxed out better on the boards’, stated Anton Gavel.
The third quarter was a real dog fight as the EPG Baskets Koblenz were never able to lead by more than 5 points, but they kept the lead and didn’t relinquish it quite yet to Orange Academy. Orange Academy got on the board first as Nicholas Bretzel scored on an old school hook shot. After a Butler dunk, it was pass first point guard Marius Stoll that connected on a long trey and Bretzel made free throws to cut Koblenz’s lead to 37-36. The game now would take mini runs as Koblenz went on a 5-0 run to lead 42-36 as Mayer hit a three pointer and Thompson made a runner, but Orange Academy always had an answer battling back to go on a 7-2 run to trail only 44-43 as Bretzel scored inside and Sochan made free throws and a bucket. The EPG Baskets Koblenz held the lead getting baskets from Thompson, Jean Louis and Butler to lead 52-47, but Orange Academy countered with a clutch Milicic three pointer to cut the Koblenz lead down to 52-50. Milcic showed his calmness icing a beautiful trey as his inside out game was at full force on this day. Despite a pretty tip in by Ferber at the end, it was the EPG Baskets Koblenz that held the tight 53-52 advantage after 30 minutes. ‘On offense we played faster and played our plays better while on defense we matched the physicality of Koblenz’, stated Nicolas Bretzel.
The fourth quarter was a nail bitter in the first five minutes as there were four lead changes, but in crunch-time it was all Orange Academy as the EPG Baskets Koblenz lost total control of their game. Butler began the fourth quarter scoring with a back door cut and bucket as Thompson fed him perfectly and then Ferber made a tap in as Orange Academy trailed only 55-54. But Orange Academy finally earned their first lead of the game as German Latrell Grosskopf scored . But that lead was very short lived as Butler scored again for the 57-56 advantage. But Orange Academy took the lead back with another clutch trey from Marius Stoll for the 59-57 lead. Athletic German Jacob Mampuya then gave Koblenz the lead back one last time 60-59 with a trey. A Thompson free throw was met by a Bretzel runner to dead lock the game at 61-61. But then came the ruining point of the game as the EPG Baskets Koblenz suddenly couldn’t execute anymore at both ends allowing a 12-2 run by Orange Academy to win the game. The EPG Baskets Koblenz had slowed down Nicholas Bretzel most of the game, but now when it counted most were beat three times in a row by point guard Stoll who found the big man each time for the 65-61. ‘We used the slip screen and Marius Stoll read it well. We know each other since 12 years and know where the other is’, stated Nicolas Bretzel. Koblenz got a spark of energy from Butler with a hard tip in dunk to cut the Orange Academy lead to 65-63. But Orange Academy didn’t let up, but slammed the door in the EPG Baskets Koblenz face with a 8-0 run. Orange Academy stayed calm and did a great job getting to the free throw line and producing key stops. Stoll, Sochan and Bretzel dropped free throws while Ferber made a lay in to seal the victory. It was another disappointing loss for the EPG Baskets Koblenz who are 0-3 in 2021. They once again proved that they show glimpses of defensive greatness, but can’t hold it for 40 minutes as a game has more than 10 minutes. ‘We didn’t get stops and it was hard to come back when we had to gamble’, stressed Danny Rodriguez. ‘We created stops and rebounded well. Bretzel was very important for us with his inside out game’, said Anton Gavel. Orange Academy was led by Nicholas Bretzel with 17 points and 8 boards. Jeremy Sochan added 13 points and 6 rebounds while Julius Ferber added 11 points and Igor Milicic 10 points. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were led by Brian Butler with 21 points and 6 rebounds while CJ Oldham had 10 points and 7 rebounds. Orange Academy shot 42% from the field and 24% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 38% form the field and 18% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 17 turnovers.