Even if the Dragons Rhondorf finished 2021 in ninth place with a 4-9 record, things definitely have been looking up for the pro B team led by head coach Julius Thomas. The way the club is presenting it’s self now in comparison to the start of the season where they lost by 40 points to Wedel and 33 points to Munster is like day and night. Things have been looking up as they played very solid in tough losses to Iserlohn and Schwelm and last won against the BSW Sixers. In the first game of 2022, they had a tough task going up against ambitious squad SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt who arrived into the game with a 8-4 record and last lost a nail bitter to TSK 49ers 62-60 and were very motivated to start things off in 2022 on the right foot as they stepped on the court in Rhondorf with very very experienced and talented player like Bill Borekambi, but the club also was badly shorthanded. They had a 7 man rotation and were without key players Jordan Talbert, Philipp Liesser, Martin Bogdanovic, Shore Adenaken and Jermie Woods. The Dragons Rhondorf wanted to keep their winning streak alive and go into 2022 with a bang and did upsetting the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt 88-80. The potent scoring attack of Paul and Bruno Albrecht and key three point shooting efficiency and timely game management were vital for the Dragons Rhondorf beginning the season off on the right foot as well as other things. ‘They had many injuries but we can’t use that as an excuse. I’m very proud of the young team. We all fought together. We keep getting better especially our defense. We play the same defensive system as Bonn. It takes a while to have it down as we had some let downs, but we are practicing hard to get it down’, stressed Dragons forward Paul Albrecht (208-PF-93). The SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt gave all they could, but just couldn’t get the job done with their 7 man rotation. ‘We had a new rotation, lack of chemistry and lack of practice. We couldn’t match their energy. They made a lot of three’s. We had spurts of not being consistent on defense. We let their shooters shoot’, stressed injured forward Shore Adenekan.
Both teams were feeling each other out in the first few minutes as a few field goals and three’s by Croatian teenager Denis Zenelah and ex Rostock NBBL allstar Nicolas Buchholz had the game dead locked at 5-5. But the Dragons Rhondorf then found their offensive rhythm going on a 11-2 run to extend their lead to 16-7. In the run Rhondorf got their transition basketball going as 17 year old Senegal sensation Ousmane Ndiaye scored twice on the fast break and ex Stahnsdorf guard Oshane Drews hit free throws and made a hard two handed dunk. Both teams were aggressive on the offensive glass, but Rhondorf aggressive defense didn’t allow the guests to secure an offensive rhythm. It also helped Rhondorf that they limited the touches of walking bucket Bill Borakambi. The Dragons offense flow rose as Buchholz and Viktor Frankl-Maus nailed three pointers for the 22-9 advantage. The Dragons Rhondorf lost some spark on the defensive end in the last minute allowing back to back three’s to Zenelah and ex Dresden forward Marc Nagora as Wolmirstedt trailed only 22-15 after 10 minutes. Both teams were still searching for their offensive shooting touch while Rhondorf had the 13-12 rebound edge and only 1 turnover while the guests had 3 turnovers. ‘We began well. We went into the game with the right attitude. We showed that we didn’t take them lightly because of all the injuries. We showed 100% focus’, warned Paul Albrecht. ‘They came out with a lot of energy and we couldn’t match it’, stated Shore Adenekan.
In the second quarter the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt fought back and there were 4 lead changes, but in the second half of the second quarter the Dragons Rhondorf got control of the game again and led 44-37 at the break. The guests jumped all over the Dragons Rhondorf going on a 10-2 run to retake the lead at 25-24. In the run Wolmirstedt received sound production from a number of players as Zenelah dropped a trey, point guard Steffen Haufs who once had 18 assists against Crailsheim scored on a lay in and Bill Borekambi scored easily on transition after making a steal. Rhondorf got sloppy on offense and didn’t play 1-1 defense. After Albrecht and Nagora Hit three’s, it was time again for a Rhondorf run as they outscored the guests 11-3 extending their lead to 39-30. In the run the Dragons got 5 points form Paul Albrecht, a three by Bruno Albrecht and a lay in from Oshane Drews. Paul Albrecht carried the team and on defense they stepped up their aggressiveness as their up and down play continued in trying to get stops. ‘Our game supports the guards more than the bigs. But I’m happy they found me today. They rely on my game and I rely on the game of my teammates’, warned Paul Albrecht. Rhondorf was able to keep the lead and momentum getting free throws from Ndiaye and a trey from Paul Albrecht while the guests got free throws from Haufs and a lay in from Latvian forward Roberts Dembskis. Both teams were shooting under 40%, but Rhondorf made a jump on the boards having the 26-21 edge and 11 offensive turnovers while having 6 turnovers and the guests only five. ‘Last season when things got tough, we fell apart. That doesn’t happen this season. We are a lot tougher’, stated Paul Albrecht. ‘We made a lot of mistakes on defense. We didn’t have good communication’, stressed guard Dominick Von Waaden.
The Dragons Rhondorf controlled the game in the third quarter and even when the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt could cut it down to three points twice, the Dragons Rhondorf never gave up and allowed them to get over the hump. Marc Nagora gave the guests the first points of the second half cutting down the Dragons lead to 44-39. But Rhondorf struck back rapidly with a Ndiaye lay in streaking in from the wing displaying his quickness and athleticism and then Frankl-Maus dropped a trey for the 49-39 advantage. But the guests didn’t allow that 7 man rotation to lessen their self-confidence or fighting qualities as they struck back with a 7-0 run. In the run it was superb role player Dominick Von Waaden who steered home 5 points to cut the lead down to 49-46. He had a bigger role then usual and really carried the team in the second half as Borekambi was contained well. ‘I was 1/9 in the first half. That made me mad. I changed my hair tie and that helped me find my rhythm’, smiled Dominick Von Waaden. But whenever the guests threatened, the Dragons had an answer. In this phase the three’s came raining down as Ndiaye connected as did ex Ehingen player Bruno Albrecht who scored twice for the 58-51 advantage. But the guests kept chipping away getting two free throws from the always aggressive Von Waaden and a three from little used young German Jan Bergen to cut the lead down to 58-55. But the Dragons Rhondorf remained mentally strong and finished efficiently with a 8-2 run to lead 66-57 after 30 minutes. In the run the Dragons continued to get that consistency from Paul Albrecht who added 5 points and Ndiaye added another trey. Rhondorf was shooting over 40% from the field and from outside and had the 33-28 rebound advantage while both teams had 8 turnovers a piece. ‘We showed that we were mentally strong and have confidence in what we can do’, said Paul Albrecht. ‘They did a good job hitting three pointers especially every time we did. They were sparked by their young players who hit three’s with hands in their faces’, stated Dominick Von Waaden.
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf seemed to have total control leading by as much as 13 points, but mental and defensive mistakes allowed Wolmirstedt to cut the lead down to three points, but big three’s and one form an unexpected player iced the win. 8 big points by Bruno Albrecht including two three’s gave the Dragons Rhondorf their biggest lead of the game at 74-61. ‘He is an unbelievable player. He makes mistakes on defense and is a streaky shooter, but the kid can really shoot the ball when he wants to’, stressed Paul Albrecht. The guests were using a lot of energy in their continuous come back attempts, but with crunch-time approaching still had some energy left going on a 13-3 run to cut the Dragons lead down to 77-74. In the run the guests were led by Von Waden who continued to be everywhere on the court scoring 8 points as the Dragons had totally lost their energy and rhythm as defensive mistakes rattled their game. But Rhondorf hadn’t caved in once in the game and weren’t about to do it now. The Dragons Rhondorf then put the nail on the coffin with a lethal 8-2 run to extend their lead to 85-76. In the run the two German Albrecht’s scored back to back as Paul made a lay in and Bruno a three pointer while Oshane Drews made an unexpected trey from the corner. He came into the game shooting 11% from outside and when he saw nothing but net, there were faces of disbelief on the Wolmirstedt bench and smiles on the Rhondorf bench. ‘When he took the shot we were all surprised, but when he hit it, we were all happy’, smiled Paul Albrecht. Frankl-Maus closed out the game with free throws. ‘We were a bit overpowered at the end. We fought so hard, but they never stopped hitting three’s’, stressed Dominick Von Waden. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Paul Albrecht with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Bruno Albrecht added 20 points while Ousmane Ndiaye added 18 points, 14 boards, 3 assists and 4 blocks. The SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt were led by Dominick Von Waaden with 26 points while Steffen Haufs added 16 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 44% from the field and 40% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt shot 40% from the field and 42% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 11 turnovers.