The up and down play of the Dragons Rhondorf continue in 2022 as they are just aren’t able to keep a consistent basis. After stringing along a steady three game winning streak, it seemed like some began to talk to early about the playoffs and prompt a two game losing streak followed with losses to Duesseldorf and the TKS 49ers. The biggest problem that the Dragons have is not being able to cut back on their points allowed. It didn’t get any easier as they met the 9-8 EN Baskets Schwelm a club that is underachieving with the talent that they have on the floor. But as of late the team has had a lot of momentum and won six of their last seven games winning two severe nailbitters against Wedel and the Sixers by not more than a combined score of 3 points. They could still have a massive winning streak going, but couldn’t win their third close game in a row losing a heart breaker against Duesseldorf last weekend 78-77. The EN Baskets Schwelm came to Rhondorf with a real ex easyCredit BBL oldie with Nikita Khartchenkov and controlled the game from start to finish, but had to withstand a late Dragons Rhondorf comeback escaping with a 77-70 victory on the road. The EN Baskets Schwelm came with a game plan and were able to execute the way they wanted to for 40 minutes. ‘Our defense was key. We came into the game knowing we had to stop Paul Albrecht and Ousmane Ndiaye. Our switches were able to keep them under control. Our individual plays allowed them to come back at the end. We were the luckier team today and when we moved the ball well, we played well’, stressed ex FC Bayern Munich center Daniel Mayr. The Dragons Rhondorf got into a rut early and weren’t able to recover while their up and down play accompanied them the whole evening. ‘We had the needed energy at the end to make that run. But we normally shouldn’t have that, but should have showed more energy before that. We have to have the energy level high form the start. We should of run them into the ground, because of our age. But our run was too late’, stressed Dragons Rhondorf guard Paul Albrecht.
In the first quarter it took both teams a little longer to get out of bed, but when they did, it was the EN Baskets Schwelm that could find a better rhythm first and then enlarge their lead and have the overwhelming 23-10 advantage after 10 minutes. The EN Baskets Schwelm broke out to a quick 10-4 lead as they got key buckets from Arkansas native Greg Burns, ex Akron (NCAA) forward CJ Oldham and ex Phoenix Hagen forward Marco Hollersbacher. The Dragons Rhondorf had problems finding an offensive rhythm, but were aggressive on the offensive board getting a tip in from Paul Albrecht and a lay in from Nicolas Buchholz. But the Dragons Rhondorf had problems with the guests switching defense which led to bad shot selection and not being able to read the defense well which also allowed Schwelm to extend their lead. A Nikita Khartchenkov who has played over 500 professional games and played 114 BBL games nailed a trey while ex Fraport Skyliner Daniel Mayr who led the Pro B in blocks the last two seasons made a put back and turn around shot and ex Trier guard Rupert Hennen (184-PG-97) connected on a pull up jumper for the 23-10 lead after 10 minutes. Daniel Mayr did a good job using mismatches and getting touches near to the hoop. He finished the evening playing 18 minutes and scoring 8 points and getting 8 rebounds. ‘I had a good start, but I did miss some easy lay ups. But it was good to be back home. I felt I helped make a difference being able to get the big lead’, stated Daniel Mayr. The Dragons only shooting 20% from the field helped them be down by 13 points as the EN Baskets Schwelm shot 47% from the field and 50% from outside and also had the 16-10 rebound edge. ‘We haven’t started well in the last three games. I thought that they did cheap switches. It was nothing special. We definitely had a plan, but couldn’t execute’, added Daniel Mayr.
The EN Baskets Schwelm continued to control the contest in the second quarter leading by as much as 20 points, but the Dragons Rhondorf could cut it down a bit trailing only 40-28 at the break. The Dragons Rhondorf once again began slowly allowing a rapid 5-0 run by the guests as German role player Tim Lang made a catch and pop jumper and Nikita Khartchenkov connected on a trey for the 31-11 lead. Even if the lead may have shocked some Rhondorf fans, Ousmane Ndiaye then definitely put another kind of shock on their faces as he saw daylight and the basket looked real large as he found his lane and flew in for the thunderous dunk. That dunk occurred in a timely 12-2 run for Rhondorf who cut the Schwelm lead down to 33-23 ‘Ousmane is a monster. We see it in practice all the time. He can definitely play. He wants to get to the NBA’, stressed Paul Albrecht. ‘I remember him dunking like that in the first game we had. My teammate Leo Conzane compares him to Kevin Durant. If he can develop a post up game then sky is the limit’, stated Daniel Mayr. In the run Ndiaye also hit a trey while Buchholz connected for two three’s. This could have changed the game, but the Dragons couldn’t build on their momentum and allowed Rupert Hennen to slap them in the face with a 6-0 run to extend the Schwelm lead to 39-23. The game continued to be a game of runs as Rhondorf found some energy getting a three by the heart and soul of the Dragons Viktor Frankl-Maus and a pull up from Ndiaye cutting the lead down to 40-28. But all in the Dragons sustained too many easy misses and couldn’t get consistent stops and close down the zone better. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to shoot bricks shooting 29% from the field and the three point line and had 21 rebounds and 9 turnovers while the EN Baskets Schwelm shot 42% from the field and 57% from the three point line and secured 24 rebounds and had 11 turnovers. ‘We didn’t have the needed energy and lost too many 50/50 balls’, stated Paul Albrecht.
The EN Baskets Schwelm continued to control the game in the third quarter and again were able to lead by as much as 20 points as it seemed like the Dragons wouldn’t be able to come back again. Once again the Dragons Rhondorf were unable to begin well again giving up a brutal 10-2 run and trailing 50-30. In the Schwelm run, they received further big support from Rupert Hennen who scored twice, ex Trier forward Robert Nortman made a tip in, Glen Burns free throws and CJ Oldham scored on transition. Hennen continued to do a great job between knowing exactly when to finish himself and when to find his teammates. Schwelm got in the passing lanes well and forced Rhondorf to seemingly unending tough shots. The game continued to be a game of runs as Rhondorf struck back with a 10-1 run to cut the lead down to 51-40. They got two clutch three’s from Esli Edigin who had an efficient game with 9 points in 19 minutes and Buchholz and a lay in by the quiet Ralph Hounnou and tip in by Ndiaye. But whenever the Dragons erupted with a run, they were unable to keep the momentum and then had lapses on defense. The EN Baskets Schwelm closed out the third quarter with a lethal 12-4 run to lead 63-44 after 30 minutes. In the run, the guests got good individual plays from Burns and Hennen who scored on drives and Khartchenkov answered again with his bread and butter three pointer. The guests continued to shoot well at 44% from the field and 45% from the parking lot and had 34 rebounds and 16 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 32% from the field and 27% from the parking lot and pulled down 30 rebounds and had 14 turnovers. ‘We kept up the intensity and kept possessions alive with offensive rebounds’, said Daniel Mayr. ‘Our plan was to stop Hennen’s drives, but he hurt us with his mid distance game. He is a super player and it is surprising no Pro A teams wanted him’, stated Paul Albrecht.
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf staged one last come back late, but were unable to get over the hump and gain the lead back. Rhondorf finally began a quarter better as Ralph Hounnou scored five unanswered points to cut the lead down to 63-49. But Schwelm always had an answer as Tim Lang gave vital support again making an off balance shot to keep Schwelm on top 65-49. Rhondorf was definitely executing better getting baskets from Paul Albrecht, Drews free throws and a Ndiaye tip in, but Rhondorf couldn’t make any ground. They were unable to secure the defensive rebound. Schwelm had too many extra chances which led to two Hennen baskets and the 72-58 advantage. But with time running down, the Dragons Rhondorf buckled down for one last hurrah going on a late shocking 12-3 run to trail only 75-70 with one minute to play. In the run, the Dragons Rhondorf stepped up their defensive intensity forcing Schwelm to numerous turnovers. This led to an easy Buchholz two handed dunk and Edigin lay in. Rhondorf also let it rain three’s as Buchholz and Ndiaye nailed back to back three’s. Hounnou then made a lay in and suddenly there was life in the Dragon Dome as the fans felt like there was still a chance. But time ran out as Hounnou missed a shot and CJ Oldham put the nail on the coffin with a two handed dunk. ‘The run at the end was unnecessary. We felt like we already had the win. We underestimated them. They got a bit nervous at the end. It was a very close game and could have gone either way’, warned Daniel Mayr. ‘We came back, but it wasn’t enough. They made the plays at the end. We gambled a lot but we had no choice’, said Paul Albrecht. The EN Baskets Schwelm were led by Rupert Hennen with 21 points and Glen Burns and Nikita Khartchenkov added 13 points a piece while the Dragons Rhondorf were led by Ousmane Ndiaye with 17 points and 16 rebounds and Nicolas Buchholz added 16 points. The EN Baskets Schwelm shot 41% from the field and 31% from outside and had 48 rebounds and 20 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 36% from the field and 29% from outside and had 41 rebounds and 15 turnovers.