The new home of the EPG Baskets the CGM arena so far has proven to be a very comfortable living room for the ambitious club who’s Pro A aspirations is no secret as they had won all three games against Hanau, Dresden and Erfurt since making it their new permanent home in November 2021. They wanted to keep their positive unbeaten streak alive, but had to confront the Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos who are a dangerous team, but surprisingly only in 10th place with a disappointing 4-8 record. The club could easily be 8-4 and challenging Koblenz for the Pro B south title, but 4 brutal crunch-time loses had hindered them from being able to display a better record. For fans seeing German dino Johannes Lischka is always a treat as he belongs to the top power forwards in the league. On a untypical warm Sunday afternoon only a day after the new year the EPG Baskets Koblenz welcomed Giessen and as usual had their ups and downs, but were able to put together a dominant second half where their offense played team basketball and on defense they stepped up their aggressiveness allowing only 26 points propelling them to the 83-65 victory and remained unbeaten in their new living room the CGM arena. EPG Baskets Koblenz manager Thomas Klein was in good spirits after the win even if the team still hasn’t put together a complete effort for 40 minutes. ‘We dominated the second half and played 4 minutes of incredible basketball. The 10-0 run in the third quarter was the turning point of the game. We were more aggressive on defense and defended Lischka better and he got tired’, stressed Thomas Klein. Giessen played their typical game that centered around their trio of superstars with Lischka, Uhlemann and Scott and Koblenz controlled them better in the second half while the rest of the team combined only for 21 of the 65 points that simply wasn’t enough to combat a very potent Koblenz team in the second half. ‘We have skilled players among the young German players. I feel like they have to be more aggressive and just believe more in themselves. Our defense was lazy today. We have to play better defense’, stressed Giessen guard Montrael Scott.
The EPG Baskets Koblenz got off to a great start despite allowing ex easyCredit BBL player Johannes Lischka to get an easy basket where it looked like he just threw up a shot and knew that he would have to get the rebound. He made a put back and sometimes you have to wonder who is more of a walking bucket him or Koblenz forward Brian Butler (196-F-91). Koblenz then fired back with a lethal 8-0 run to take the 8-3 lead. In the run Koblenz got superb production from ex Bremerhaven guard Dominique Johnson who scored three buckets while ex Giessen guard Lucas Mayer nailed a 20 footer. Koblenz had established a sound offensive rhythm early on while the guests played uninspired on the offensive end. But Giessen didn’t lay back, but attacked Koblenz and got easy baskets form their top players Uhlemann and Scott. A big problem in the first half for the EPG Baskets Koblenz was their 1-1 defense and trying to defend drive by’s. They were allowing way too much room for these players to operate. Giessen received some baskets from Lischka and young German Tim Schneider to cut the Koblenz advantage to 14-11. Giessen really relied on their 1-1 play as there was hardly any set play or team ball to be seen. Koblenz got some big baskets down the stretch from ex Leverkusen guard Marvin Heckel and German Jacob Mampuya, but they were unable to shake Giessen. Giessen continued to rely on their trio of superstars and Montrael Scott closed out the first quarter. ‘We had ups and downs in the first quarter and had rhythm problems. We had easy turnovers and allowed Lischka to get the ball too much. We were lucky because he was missing a lot and Uhlemann wasn’t having a great day either’, stressed Thomas Klein.
In the second quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz played better leading by as much as 9 points, but they still were incapable of supplying the knock out punch. The EPG Baskets Came out of the gate strong carving out a 8-0 run to extend their lead to 29-20. In the lead the ambitious pro A team got valuable support from Brian Butler who secured a few offensive rebounds and made a put back while Marvin Heckel made a runner and Lucas Mayer made a lay in. The offense of Koblenz was more fluid and they got more easy looks while Giessen continued to have no real offensive plan except for their three stars to create for each other. The EPG Baskets Koblenz continued to control the game, but here and there they had turnovers as they rushed things on offense and continued to allow easy baskets on 1-1. Uhlemann hit a three pointer and the fierce quickness and athleticism of Montrael Scott allowed him to score twice to cut Koblenz’s lead to 34-28. Then Brian Buttler played his usual unstoppable game inside tip toeing between two defenders and Johnson made a lay in for the 38-29 lead. Down the stretch, Giessen got two more baskets from Lischka and Scott, but Koblenz got two clutch three’s from American Shembari Philipps as the second one was helped by a key Butler offensive rebound as Koblenz led 46-37. Giessen got some fortune as young German Sebastian Brach made a lay in at the buzzer as the EPG Baskets Koblenz led 46-39 at the break. ‘We had a good start, but then Scott got in rhythm. We had unnecessary turnovers. It could have been a three point game, but it was seven at half-time. It was a very close game’, stressed Thomas Klein.
In the third quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz opened up the game and would never trail below double figures again as versatile and potent offense began to wear down the guests and it also didn’t hurt that they stepped up their defense as well. Giessen began with a rapid 4-0 as Lischka drained free throws and young German Viktor Ziring used his quickness to sneak inside and score to cut the game down to 46-43. But then came the turning point of the game as the EPG Baskets Koblenz rattled off a bold 10-0 run to extend their lead to 56-43. In the run the home team got sufficient aid from five players as Mayer made a lay in, Johnson a free throw, Womalla a trey, Butler a lay in as his fancy moves made Giessen dizzy and Heckel connected on a runner. The Koblenz offense was powerful and with Giessen’s energy beginning to wane, the home team took full advantage of it. Koblenz was defending solid, but Giessen also had good looks where they couldn’t capitalize on. Koblenz had the momentum and didn’t let down on the offensive end getting more suitable support from Philipps who nailed a three pointer, Butler who made a runner and brutal two handed dunk and Heckel hit a three pointer at the buzzer. ‘I just played my game as usual. I didn’t have to use quite as much strength as usual as Giessen got tired’, stressed Brian Butler. Lischka continued to be a work horse in the paint, but only scored 4 points as he continued to miss key chances. The EPG Baskets Koblenz had the solid 66-50 advantage after 30 minutes. ‘We play our best basketball when we play our game. I have been saying that all season long. Giessen began to fall apart. They began to get tired. It was too much for the three players having to do everything’, stated Brian Butler. ‘We came out slow and flat. They took advantage of it. They have multiple weapons and it was difficult trying to come back’, added Montrael Scott.
In the fourth quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz put the nail on the coffin with a 12-3 run. The guests did close out the game strong with a 12-4 run, but their comeback was too little too late. In the Koblenz run, they were fortified by their team basketball as once again they threw around the scoring love as Johnson hit a runner, Butler made a lay in, Heckel dropped a 20 footer, Philipps executed on another trey, Womalla made a jumper and Johnson free throws as the game was as good as over as Koblenz led 79-53. The Koblenz offense was functioning like a clock work as the fatigue of the Giessen defense obviously helped them. With Koblenz up by 25 points, they let up in the last minutes which often happens to teams that are leading by much. Giessen closed out the game with a strong 12-4 run as Ziring spiced up his scoring stat line scoring 8 of his 10 points in tis span including two three pointers. Even if the EPG Baskets Koblenz’s defense allowed the run, fans did see two spectacular blocks from Mampuya and Saffer. ‘We played our game. We lost a little rhythm at the end. Now we have to learn to continue to give gas even when we are up by 20 points’, stated Brian Butler. ‘We didn’t stick together as a team. We had no direction and didn’t play as a team’, stressed Montrael Scott. The EPG Baskets Koblenz had five guys in double figures and were led by Brian Butler with 16 points. Shembari Philipps added 15 points and Dominique Johnson and Marvin Heckel added 13 points a piece while the Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos were led by Johannes Lischka with 20 points and 13 rebounds and Montrael Scott and Tim Uhlemann added 12 points a piece. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 50% from the field and 32% from outside and had 45 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the Depant Giessen 46ers Rackelos shot 39% from the field and 16% from outside and had 29 rebounds and 11 turnovers.