A professional player never forgets the first team that he played for and it isn´t any different for American TJ DiLeo who played his first three seasons in Giessen after never averaging more than 2,9ppg in the NCAA. For a guy who never averaged more than 2,9ppg in the NCAA, the New Jersey native has come a long way as a professional and proved that players can go a long way even if they didn´t produce the explosive NCAA stats. He learned what it meant to be a professional in Giessen playing for Denis Wucherer and then made the next step with the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he now is in his fifth season and been that durable leader who can do a little bit of everything on the court. He always took extra pride in playing against his ex team Giessen and came into the game in Giessen with a 6-1 record and had never lost in Giessen since leaving them in 2016. He returned back in 2021 with the Telekom Baskets Bonn who were continuing to try to reach the playoffs in 11th place while Giessen was reeling to escape the bottom from 17th place. The Telekom Baskets Bonn met a feisty Giessen club, but were able to pull away in the second half as they stepped up their defense throwing different schemes at them and on offense executed at a good rate winning 92-75. After the victory a content TJ DiLeo was spot on that he had only lost once against his ex team while winning his 7th game against them. “The one loss we had, we shot so poorly while they hit everything. It´s a lot different playing in Giessen without fans. It´s always fun to come back here. It really sucks that Giessen don´t have their fans, because they are so important for them. Key for the win today was our transition offense and setting the tone on defense”, stressed TJ DiLeo. The Jobstairs Giessen 46ers played a spirited and hard fought first half, but lost track in the second half allowing a few Bonn runs and then it was lights out. “We played a good game. We played as a team in the first half. In the second half we lost rhythm and allowed Bonn to get to the free throw line. That slowed us down and they got their rhythm”, stated ex Phoenix Suns guard Diante Garrett.
Before the game began, both teams had the usual hand shakes and when Chris Babb and Diante Garrett met, it was a massive hug and lost of smiles. They both have a very special connection as their paths have continued to cross their whole career. “We went to Iowa State together. We were teammates in the NBA Summer league with the Bulls and Suns. We also played against each other in Israel and Turkey. Whenever we see each other it is like a family meeting”, stated Diante Garrett. Both teams found their offensive rhythm quickly as ex Temple(NCAA) guard TJ DiLeo scored twice with a 15 footer and step back jumper while ex NBA player Diante Garrett scored five points giving Giessen the 7-4 advantage. “I got going. I know what we will get with their pick and roll defense, so I was open for some short range jumpers”, stated TJ DiLeo. After ex ratiopharm Ulm center John Bryant nailed a 25 footer for the 9-6 lead, it was time for the Telekom Baskets Bonn to go on their first run as they rolled out on a 8-0 run to get the 14-9 lead. In the run the guests got good support from Serbian forward Strahinja Micovic with a transition basket, a tip in from ex Fraport Skyliner big man Leon Kratzer and back to back shots from American Alex Hamilton who played at Louisiana Tech University (NCAA). Bonn did a good job sharing the ball and defending more aggressive on ball which forced Giessen to tough shots. Bonn continued to keep the lead getting some production from Kratzer and ex University of Florida (NCAA) guard Jalen Hudson for the 18-13 advantage. Giessen stayed close getting vital production from veterans Garrett with a three pointer and a lay in from basketball globetrotter Brandon Bowman who scored in the paint for the Giessen 19-18 lead. The back and forth play of both teams continued as the Telekom Baskets Bonn finished the quarter strong with two buckets from Eastern Michigan University (NCAA) center James Thompson for the 23-19 lead. “One of our goals in the game was to get transition baskets. We did a good job doing that in the first quarter”, stated TJ DiLeo. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 55% from the field and 0% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 1 turnover while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 50% from the field and 14% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 4 turnovers.
The game continued to be back and forth in the second quarter but the Telekom Baskets Bonn were on top at the break with the 44-42 lead. The Jobstairs Giessen 46ers came out on fire going on a 11-2 run to retake the lead at 30-25. Giessen got solid production from ex Bradley(NCAA) forward Scottie James, German Alen Pjanic with a lay in, a trey from ex Murray State(NCAA) guard Jonathan Stark and free throws form John Bryant. Giessen had more control in their offensive sets while Bonn was too hectic and didn´t take care of the ball allowing Giessen to get away. The game of runs continued as Giessen lost some focus and intensity allowing to Bonn to rebound and slip away and grab the lead back at 37-32. In the Bonn 12-2 lead, ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb demonstrated why he is such a lethal scorer nailing two treys, while Micovic snuck behind the Bonn defense getting a touch down pass from Killian Binapel for the easy transition basket and Hudson scored inside and sunk free throws. Bonn did everything better on the court with getting the hustle plays, transition baskets and controlling the boards. Giessen came back to tie the game at 39-39 with a Garrett three pointer and classic John Bryant offensive rebound and put back. But Bonn went into half-time with the lead getting a Micovic three pointer and massive Babb tip in dunk. “Chris Babb got hot. When he gets hot, it opens up so much for us”, stated TJ DiLeo. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 51% from the field and 30% from the three point line and had 19 rebounds and 5 turnovers while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 47% form the field and 29% from the three point line and had 19 rebounds and 6 turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Telekom Baskets Bonn were able to open up the game and they would never look back. Giessen gave some resistance to begin the third quarter and even took the lead back at 47-46 with a Diante Garrett trey. The Telekom Baskets Bonn then went on a 12-2 run to extend their lead to 58-49 and they would never trail again. In the run, the Telekom Baskets Bonn took good care of the ball and got support from many players as Alex Hamilton dropped a trey, Leon Kratzer made a hook shot. Micovic and ex Kent State(NCAA) guard Xavier Pollard scored on transition and Chris Babb made three free throws. Bonn increased their defensive intensity and threw many different defenses at Giessen. Transition baskets and getting to the free throw line also helped dig into their lead. Giessen recovered from the Bonn run as they snuck in a 5-0 run cutting the Bonn lead to 58-54 as Stark drained a three pointer and Bryant made another offensive rebound and put back. One could witness all night how good Diante Garrett and John Bryant clicked on the floor. “We have a good chemistry and help each other out on the court”, stressed Diante Garrett. But Bonn closed out the third quarter with a trey from ex Ulm forward Isaiah Philmore and a Binapel basket in transition: “We got in passing lanes and got our hands on balls. We turned up our defensive pressure and made it very difficult for them. We played better team defense”, said TJ DiLeo. “Bonn switched from zone to full court press. They gave us different defensive looks which led us to scramble on offense and that helped them get going”, added Diante Garrett. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 49% from the field and 36% form the parking lot and had 28 rebounds and 8 turnovers while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 42% from the field and 30% from the parking lot and had 28 rebounds and 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter the Telekom Baskets Bonn were able to manage their lead well and half way through the quarter upped their offense to a new level and lead by as much as 21 points. Giessen kept chipping away getting buckets from Bowmann and James, but Bonn didn´t back down, but continued to execute well on offense getting buckets from DiLeo, Binapel and Hamilton to keep a comfortable 71-61 lead. Bonn continued to execute at a good rate while Giessen couldn´t get a roll on defense to help them go on a run. Bonn got some more production from Babb and Kratzer while Giessen also got baskets from Pjanic, Bryant and Bowmann, but were unable to make any good ground still trailing big at 78-68. Giessen got 5 early team fouls which Bonn took advantage of going on a 11-0 run to ultimately decide the game leading 89-68 with a few minutes to go. In the run, the Telekom Baskets Bonn got good support from Micovic who sparked Bonn with his offense scoring 7 points while Kratzer and Babb also netted baskets. “We tried to make it tough for Bryant. We moved the ball well, got open shots and got to the free throw line”, commented TJ DiLeo. “Bonn hurt us with playing aggressive defense and switching well”, said Diante Garrett. Giessen closed out the game well with a 7-2 run as Garrett hit another trey and Bryant scored twice, but it wasn´t enough as Bonn won by 17 points. “We never took our feet off the gas pedal”, said TJ DiLeo. “We looked at each other with the clock ticking down. We have to learn to play hard and together for a whole game”, warned Diante Garrett. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by Chris Babb with 20 points. Strahinja Micovic added 16 points and Alex Hamilton 12 points while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers were led by Diante Garrett with 20 points. Jonathan Stark and John Bryant added 17 points a piece. The Telekom baskets Bonn shot 52% from the field and 41% from outside and had 34 rebounds and 12 turnovers while the Jobstairs Giessen 46ers shot 45% from the field and 33% from outside and had 35 rebounds and 18 turnovers.