The Dragons Rhondorf arrived into 2022 with a bang upsetting the high flying but injury ridden team SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt where they displayed exceptional lead management and let it rain three’s while being carried by the Albrechts who combined for 43 points. The young Dragons that have an average age of 19 continue to make small steps at both ends of the floor. In their second contest of 2022, the Dragons Rhondorf sought revenge against Alba Berlin’s farm team Lok Bernau after being pummeled on the road 89-61. They knew this time that coughing up 27 balls and allowing 17 offensive rebounds probably won’t give them a win. They welcomed the 4-9 team into the Dragon Dome and went head to head for 30 minutes as no team could shake the other, but in the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf finally found a sound offensive rhythm and the 8 man Lok Bernau rotation got to them as they lost energy and the game 78-65. After the buzzer sounded I explored the stat sheet for the first time, and was overjoyed when I read the stat line of 28 year old Dragon Paul Albrecht (208-PF-93) as he had achieved a very rare triple double of 12/13/10. 10 minutes after the victory, I approached Dragons CEO Yassin Idbihi who hadn’t noticed the triple double and was also happy. He showed head coach Julius Thomas the stat sheet and he also hadn’t been aware of it. On this night it was all about team as nobody noticed the triple double of Paul Albrecht. It was the first triple double for a Dragon in the Pro B since the 2017-2018 season when current Euroleague player Kameron Taylor had two. Back in 2019 Curtis Hollis achieved one for the Dragons while they were playing in the Regionalliga. ‘I never had a triple double before in my career. I never thought that I had a triple double at the end. I was in a tunnel all night because we fought so hard. My teammates hit everything that I kicked out’, smiled Paul Albrecht. The Dragons Rhondorf tried to get a good offensive rhythm in the first 30 minutes, but couldn’t until the fourth quarter. But the Dragons also had the 30 point loss from Bernau on their minds. ‘In the first loss in Bernau, they took a time out with 10 seconds to go to allow their fans to celebrate. We fought all night and just wanted the win after a slow start. We didn’t fight this hard like tonight this season’, explained Paul Albrecht. Julius Thomas took a chapter out of Rene Schilling’s book also taking a time out at the end to let the Dragon fans celebrate. Lok Bernau did a good job scoring inside almost all night, but in the fourth quarter, the Dragons stepped up their aggressiveness on the defensive end and the guests could get accustomed to it. ‘We played ok in the first half and had a good start in the third quarter, but fell apart in the fourth quarter. We have had the problem of coming out flat this season into the second half. We had no rhythm on offense and had too many turnovers’, said Lok Bernau forward Dan Oppland.
The contest was at eye level in the first five minutes, but Lok Bernau then were able to get away a bit and lead 23-17 after 10 minutes. It was no secret that Lok Bernau were going to attack inside all night long as they wanted to use their physicality and length to their advantage. 18 year old German point guard Gian Aydinoglu set the pace from the start being aggressive and getting into the paint scoring twice while also trying to feed his big men Tilly and Schulte while the Dragons got early guard support from Oshane Drews and Nicolas Buchholtz. After three lead changes Aydinoglu gave the guests the 10-9 lead and they would hold it going into the second quarter. Lok Bernau kept control getting some vital production from German Rikas Schulte and 2018 JBBL champion with Alba Berlin Nolan Adekunle for the 18-12 advantage. Lok Bernau did a good job securing offensive rebounds and making their second chance points while the Dragons got most of the 50/50 balls and also fought on the boards. Viktor Frankl-Maus hit a late three pointer and new Dragon Brazilian center Marcelo Ruediger made his first bucket. He finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds and a block in 6 minutes while also having 5 fouls. ‘He has to get used to the physicality here. The physicality is a lot different in Brazil. Here and there he was caught on the wrong foot, but you could see that he can rebound and be that physical defender in the paint’, said Dragons head coach Julius Thomas. Adekunle closed out the first half with a mid distance shot. ‘They attacked us a lot inside and we didn’t do a good job with 1-1 defense. We allowed them to get to the free throw line too much’, stated Paul Albrecht. Lok Bernau was shooting over 50% and had the rebound edge while the Dragons had the 5-4 turnover advantage.
In the second quarter both teams stepped up the defensive intensity as less points were scored, but Lok Bernau like in the first quarter was able to get away a bit in the last minutes and lead 36-31. The Dragons Rhondorf came out with high energy going on a 8-2 run to dead lock the contest at 25-25. In the run they were carried by young German Oshane Drews who was focused like never before and used his biggest strength his drive and scored twice. Ex Rostock guard Buchholtz also contributed with a three pointer. Drews was on top of his game all night long and finished as the game’s top scorer shooting a breathtaking 71% from the field. ‘I’m so proud of him. He is usually more reserved but tonight he just exploded. I was as proud as a father’, stressed Paul Albrecht. Rhondorf played with confidence on offense and rebounded better allowing them second chances. Both teams continued to be at eye level as Adekunle continued to show much responsibility hitting a trey for the 28-25 lead. Rhondorf got the lead back 29-28 with an Albrecht hook shot, but 38 year old 3 time Austrian champion Dan Oppland also showed his old school genes making a hook shot for the 30-29 Bernau advantage. Rhondorf continued to do a good job matching Bernau’s physicality, but Bernau closed out the second quarter with a 6-2 run. Adekunle hit another big bucket. ‘I believe he is more known for his drive than three pointer. That was a good sign if he has to keep them alive with his three, because not much else was working for them’, added Paul Albrecht. Both teams continued to shoot under 40% while Lok Bernau got the rebound edge 22-19 as both teams had 9 offensive rebounds a piece.
Lok Bernau had a superb start in the third quarter, but couldn’t manage their lead properly allowing the Dragons Rhondorf to rally and lead 51-48 after 30 minutes. 2018 JBBL champion Christoph Tilly hit a turn around shot while Buchholtz countered with a three pointer to cut Bernau’s lead to 38-34. Then both teams exchanged runs and Lok Bernau got baskets form Oppland and Schulte for the 42-34 lead. But the Dragons Rhondorf didn’t let down and struck with a lethal 9-1 run to dead lock the game at 43-43. Once again it was Oshane Drews who played like a one man wrecking crew scoring three buckets. He showcased his total offensive arsenal making a three, floater and lay in. ‘It isn’t always easy for Oshane. His teammates get on him and annoy him about his three point shooting. Last game he showed he can shoot and tonight he was in the zone. You can see he is taking on a good development’, stated Dragons Rhondorf head coach Julius Thomas. Adekunle continued to stay aggressive and in attack mode at all times hitting a jumper for the 46-45 advantage, but the Dragons experienced some lightening offense getting a lay in from long injured guard Ralph Honnou and a trey from Viktor Frankl-Maus who is still searching for his shooting accuracy giving the Dragons the 51-46 advantage. But Dan Oppland closed out the scoring with a tip in. ‘We got the momentum at the end. So often we have had the momentum against us this season, but now we are capable to stop the momentum as well as get it back and keep it’, warned Paul Albrecht. Both clubs continued to shoot under 40% and the Dragons Rhondorf had the rebound edge 30-29 with 13 to 12 offensive rebounds edge.
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf took control of the game and would never trail again. Ralph Honnou began the fourth quarter with a spectacular bucket scoring while practically sitting on the floor. This brought back memories to how ex EWE Baskets guard Chris Kramer once scored with Purdue in the NCAA. That basket was followed by Marek Kotineo who perfected the pick and roll with Frankl-Maus as the Dragons led 55-48. The Dragons began with self-confidence and kept it and managed the lead well like against Wolmirstedt always having answers when Lok Bernau did. Oppland scored a few baskets to cut Rhondorf’s lead to 58-52, but Drews and Kotineo answered, but so did Tilly and 33 year old Max Rockmann with a trey as Rhondorf led 63-57. Lok Bernau continued to fight despite being tired and losing energy as Adekunle dropped another massive trey from the wing as Lok Bernau trailed only 65-60. But the Dragons Rhondorf had seen enough and then put the nail on the coffin with a brutal 8-0 run to extend their lead to 73-60. Two key three’s by Frankl-Maus and Ousmane Ndiaye led the attack as well as an incredible steal by Drews and two handed dunk. Kressimir Nikic answered with a tip in but Frankl-Maus and Drews points sealed the win. ‘We all fought for each other and didn’t give up the momentum. Every player took it personal and defended 1-1 very well. We all brought the energy until the end’, stressed Paul Albrecht. ‘They hit shots and we couldn’t get a rhythm. We also had turnovers. We need to be more aggressive. It is very disappointing to lose like this after such a long drive’, said Dan Oppland. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Oshane Drews with 25 points. Nicolas Buchholz added 14 points. Viktor Frankl-Maus had 12 points while Lok Bernau were led by Nolan Adekunle with 17 points while Christoph Tilly had 11 points and Dan Oppland had 10 points and 9 rebounds. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 40% form the field and 34% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 17 turnovers while Lok Bernau shot 37% form the field and 28% from outside and had 37 rebounds and 18 turnovers.