With COVID continuing to play havoc, the Dragons Rhondorf had an unexpected free weekend as their game in Iserlohn was postponed. That way the club could have some extra time to rest as well as continue to get new guys Viktor Frankl-Maus and Marcelo Ruediger better integrated into the team. The 6-7 Dragons Rhondorf who continued to be perfect in 2022 with a 2-0 record and had a 3 game winning streak continued to battle for the playoffs and met other club Duesseldorf who are were a boarder-line playoff team came to Rhondorf sporting a 7-6 record. Duesseldorf continued to play good and inspired basketball having won five of their last six games and had won two extreme nail bitters against Cologne and Iserlohn wanted to keep their winning streak intact and did but it was hard work as they could never shake the pesky Dragons Rhondorf winning 83-73. After beings coreless in the first half, Lithuanian sharp shooter Andrius Mikutis (195-SG-88, college: John Brown, agency: Players Group) got on fire in the second half scoring 19 points on five three’s and sealing the win. ‘We didn’t get our rhythm on offense for a while. It was our defense that kept us in the game. We had problems containing Frankl-Maus and Hounnou. Our target was to stop their shooters. It was a team win’, stressed Andrius Mikutis. The Dragons Rhondorf were missing three key guards with Buchholz, Albert and Drews, but still gave a very spirited effort, but couldn’t play consistent defense. ‘It wasn’t our best game, but we could have won with this roster. We made way too many defensive mistakes. We allowed Mikutis and Englehardt to have way to many open looks and they punished us making them’, warned Paul Albrecht.
ART Giants Duesseldorf got off to a hot start taking a 9-3 lead. Ex NCAA 3 player of Augsburg Booker Coplin showed why he was averaging 19,0ppg this season hitting a quick three and making a two handed dunk. The gusts also got buckets inside from ex Presentation (NAIA) forward Quadre Lollis Jr and ex Duetzer center Lennart Bonner. The guests had great energy that Rhondorf couldn’t match in the early going while their 1-1 defense was weak. But the Dragons Rhondorf finally woke up and increased their intensity and got back into the game going on a 13-7 run to dead lock the game at 16-16. Ex Sandersdorf guard Ralph Hounnou added a real spark with 8 points nailing two threes and made a lay in. Viktor Frankl-Maus who was being defended aggressively dropped a trey as he had extra responsibility on his shoulders with three injured guards out. ART Giants Duesseldorf got baskets from ex Dragons Rhondorf guard Jacob Englehardt and Samuel Mpacko. ‘We had problems getting into the game. We finally got better into the game and slowed down Coplin after his quick start. They had a very deep team and always had fresh legs in the game’, stated Paul Albrecht. The Dragons Rhondorf shot very well with 50% from the field and 60% from outside while ART Giants Duesseldorf shot38% from the field and 40% from outside. Rhondorf had the 9-6 rebound edge but 5 turnovers while the guests had 3 turnovers.
The second quarter was tight and even if ART Giants Duesseldorf tried to get away were always caught by the Dragons Rhondorf who fought until the end. Frankl-Maus was guarded pretty well from outside, so he had to attack more in the paint and did and was able to have success on the evening. He scored the quarters first basket with a lay in and 18-16 Rhondorf advantage. But that start didn’t phase the guests as they jumped all over the Dragons with a 7-0 run and 23-18 lead. In the run, the Dragons lost a step as Mpacko gave his team a massive spark with a three pointer and lay in with his left hand. Ex Essen forward Mark Gebhardt who played 99 Pro A games made a tip in showing his aggressiveness on the offensive glass as Duesseldorf led 23-18. Little runs came and went as the Dragons also had one outscoring the guests 8-2 and swiping the lead back at 26-25. Paul Albrecht and Ralph Hounnou made easy baskets and little used German youngster Sam Nellessen hit a three pointer. But the Dragons Rhondorf couldn’t keep the lead as ART Giants Duesseldorf grabbed the lead back with a 11-6 run to lead 36-33 at half-time. In the run it was ex Dragons player Jacob Englehardt who nailed three three pointers as he came into the game shooting 30% from down town. Rhondorf got some key baskets from Nikola Petojevic, Frankl-Maus and Ousmane Ndiaye. ‘I wondered by Englehardt didn’t play as much in the second half. He was focused to play us again. We had been playing better defense the last games but got away from it tonight. We made way too many mistakes’, stated Paul Albrecht. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 46% from the field and 36% from the three point line while ART Giants Duesseldorf shot 39% form the field and 46% from the three point line. Rhondorf continued to control the boards 20-13 and offensive boards 7-2 and had 7 turnovers while the guests had 5 turnovers.
The third quarter was tight as there were 4 lead changes, but ART Giants Duesseldorf then broke away as Andrius Mikutis started to get hot. ART Giants Duesseldorf kept the slim lead getting key buckets from Mark Gebhardt and Jacon Engelhardt who also used his quickness to score easily inside. The Dragons Rhondorf countered with baskets from Frankl-Maus and Paul Albrecht and then got the momentum back on their side getting another three pointer from Frankl-Maus who gave the Dragons the 42-41 lead. Then the game went back and forth as there were three more lead changes as young German Franklyn Aunitz scored inside, Paul Albrecht hit a trey and ex Cornell (NCAA) forward Deon Giddens scored. But ART Giants Duesseldorf then went on a massive 12-3 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 57-47. Gebhardt and Aunutz began the run with a three pointer and three free throws and then it was time for Andrius Mikutis to defrost as he dropped back to back three pointers. The guests kept up the pressure and led and had the finest play of the evening as Sam Mpacko made a perfect no look lob pass that German Ben Uzoma dunked home for the 59-49 lead. ‘I only saw the catch and dunk and not the pass. It wasn’t surprising both have the game for a play like that’, expressed Andrius Mikutis. Right before the end of the third quarter, Mikutis scored another trey and Petojevic made a lay in at the buzzer, but ART Giants Duesseldorf still led 62-53. ‘We gave up too many points, but were lucky that we made so many shots. It felt more like a shoot out’, stressed Andrius Mikutis. ‘We slept as a team leaving Mikutis open too much. Their game plan was take away our three and let our guards score’, stated Paul Albrecht. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 51% from the field and 36% from the parking lot while ART Giants Duessledorf shot 50% from the field and 53% from the parking lot. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to lead the rebound battle 24-17 and offensive rebounds 9-2, but had 10 turnovers while the guests had 8 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter ART Giants Duessledorf continued to control the game and the Dragons Rhondorf couldn’t cut the lead down to less than 6 points. Mikutis continued to remain hot and stay consistent making another three pointer and also dropped a pretty floater for the 67-57 lead. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to execute on offense but couldn’t gain any ground as their defense just couldn’t produce stops. Frankl-Maus continued to be a force attacking the rim at every time possible and scored as did Hounnou who let his inside out game do the talking. Paul Albrecht made a nice turn around shot to cut the guests lead down to 73-66 and were in striking range. One guy that the Dragons didn’t have on their radar doing damage any more was Coplin who had been stopped since his lightening 5 points from the first few minutes of the first quarter, but he then made the second prettiest play of the game making a difficult submarine lay in and free throw for the 76-66 advantage. ‘We see him make plays like that almost every day. He is an unbelievable scorer and makes crazy shots like that all the time’, stressed Andrius Mikutis. After a Frankl-Maus three, it was Mikutis again who was left alone in the corner making his fifth three pointer of the game for the 79-69 lead. ‘I picked up two quick fouls and was out of rhythm. I struggled defensively and was beat a lot 1-1. So I had to do something and hit shots’, stressed Andrius Mikutis. Ndiaye then scored back to back buckets to cut the guests lead to 79-73, but that was as close as they would get as Mikutis and Coplin closed out the game with free throws and a lay up. ‘We stepped up our defense. It helped that Coplin came in with fresh legs. He made great plays and pushed us over the line’, commented Andrius Mikutis. ‘We weren’t really tired, but it was individual mistakes that hurt us. Mikutis hit some more shots. We were too unconcentrated on defense’, stressed Paul Albrecht. ART Giants Duesseldorf were led by Andrius Mikutis with 19 points. Jacob Englehardt add 16 points and mark Gebhardt 11 points while the Dragons Rhondorf were led by Viktor Frankl-Maus with 21 points and 77 assists while Ralph Hounnou added 16 points. ART Giants Duesseldorf shot 49% from the field and 44% from outside and had 25 rebounds and 10 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 54% from the field and 37% from outside and had 29 rebounds and 13 turnovers.