After a long summer that saw a massive drought in Germany, it was finally time to play basketball again in Limburg. It was a long 5 months where head coach Danny Stallbohm could plan for the new season. The team lost German energizer Noah Westerhaus who was homesick and returned back to Essen. New Swede forward Hugo Florestedt was brought in to fill the void for the departed Westerhaus. Other than that the team kept a trio of key veterans with Sherril, Stallbohm and Kljaic to be responsible for the bulk of the scoring. They met new team Vamos TSG Soeflingen who had had a great season in the second Regionalliga and deserved to move up. On a very cool late summer evening the Bona Baskets Limburg who were without the big dawg KJ Sherril who had had hurt his shoulder met a pesky opponent with Vamos TSG Soeflingen and had their hands full for the total 40 minutes and had to play catch up ball and couldn’t keep their disciplined team basketball under control losing 92-72. After the first win for Vamos TSG Soeflingen in the Regionaliga German forward Patrick Antic (197-SF-2001) was all smiles as he had an answer for why the team play was working so well. ‘We played very well in pre season going 5-1. It all feels like a family already this season. We came on to the court very focused and were very motivated. The team play worked well and so did our zone and communication’, stressed ex ANGT player Patrick Antic who battled NBA player Franz Wagner there. The Bona Baskets Limburg went into the game needing to find a way to try to compensate the loss of work horse KJ Sherril and couldn’t and were only able to stay with them for a quarter and a half. ‘This loss was all about defense and our rotations. The first help defense came but our helpers didn’t help. We also had to many mismatches that we lost. Their guards were bigger and had an advantage on the rebounds. We also didn’t move the ball well enough and had too many 1-1 plays’, stated ex Temple College (JUCO) forward Hugo Florestedt.
In the first few minutes the Bona Baskets Limburg didn’t show like they needed KJ Sherril at all as they sped to a surprising 9-0 lead before the guests had really understood what had happened. It was obvious that other players had to step up and did as captain Justin Stallbohm who is in his 11th season with Limburg mastered 5 points while Hugo Florestedt added a lay in and Croatian point guard Matej Kljaic made a lay in. The answer to success in the early going was the Limburg defense that forced the guests to 4 turnovers who still seemed like they were somewhere on the German autobahn and hadn’t arrived yet. But the guests slowly recovered and began to chip away at the Limburg lead getting some buckets from captain Stefan Troung, German Henry Hurler and Antic as suddenly the Limburg lead had been cut to 13-10. Vamos TSG Soeflingen became more aggressive and attacked the rim more and were rewarded with baskets. Quick German guard Berkant Campinar who had played 6 consecutive years in Limburg before leaving for Wiesbaden last season was back making a clutch trey for the 16-10 advantage, but the guests still had an ace in their rotation with Marko Markovic who is one of the team’s more experienced guys. He would be a real pest in this game at both ends of the court and scored 2 baskets in a row dead locking the contest at 16-16. The game remained tight as the guests continued doing a good job spreading the ball around and using everyone as young German Dennis Heck who reached the 2018 NBBL semi-finals hit a three pointer and Antic remained in attack mode nailing a pull up jumper for the 21-19 lead. But the troops of head coach Danny Stallbohm also had an ace in their sleeves as Kljaic closed out the first quarter with a lay in at the buzzer as the Bona Baskets Limburg led 22-21. ‘We felt good after one quarter. We had had a rough pre season and I think that everyone was motivated to come out strong and show what we had. We began well and then they began to hit shots and we lost fire’, responded Hugo Florestedt.
The Bona Baskets Limburg continued to play their game in the second quarter, but a massive Vamos run half way through turned the game around from which the Bona Baskets Limburg couldn’t recover from. Limburg continued to play aggressive defense early which led to turnovers and on offense received needed three’s from guard duo Campinar and Stallbohm and a Kljaic lay in for the comfortable 35-27 advantage. But then the tide changed as Vamos TSG Soeflingen totally shocked the Bona Baskets Limburg going on a demoralizing 16-0 run to retake the lead 43-35 at the break. In the run the guests got diehard support from Markovic who was their Sherril and work horse as he destroyed them on offense with 4 baskets. He played with more intensity on offense and just did what a work horse does muscling for baskets and more. The guests also got baskets from Antic, Troung and energizer Laurin Ertekin. Limburg just seemed shocked after a while which led to no shots falling anymore. ‘Key in the run was that we went from man to zone which they couldn’t cope with. We quickly got the momentum and when that happens a run goes so fast’, stressed Patrick Antic. ‘They used many mismatches and we couldn’t stop their pick and roll. Their zone also stopped us. Markovic hurt us, but it would have been different had we had had Sherril’, expressed Hugo Florestedt.
In the third quarter the Bona Baskets Limburg fought early on but couldn’t get over the hump as they cut it down to 5 points, but then Vamos TSG Soeflingen continued to play their game and finished the third quarter with a 16-7 run to lead comfortably 70-55 after 3 quarters. The ex Second Regionalliga team also showed another side of their game which they hadn’t displayed in the first half. It had rained all day long and suddenly they let it rain three’s which totally handicapped Limburg. Limburg actually began well getting 3 free throws from Kljaic and another trey from Stallbohm to cut the lead down to 46-41, but then came the three pointer rain fall. Antic began dropping 2 in a row for the 49-41 advantage. Once again Vamos TSG Soeflingen did a super job spreading the ball around and really allowing every player a piece of the cake. More trey’s followed from 37 year old Irfan Mecinovic and ex easyCredit BBL player Nils Dejworek who played 1 BBL game with Bayreuth against Braunschweig and German Adrian Weiter also connected. 214cm center Marius Flitsch who played 19 Pro B games also scored inside as Vamos TSG Soeflingen were able to extend their lead to 65-48. The Bona Baskets Limburg still had come back attempt on their minds and got some valuable baskets from ex Bochum guard Jari Beckman who had his moments with forceful energy and Florestedt, but the guests always had an answer not allowing Limburg to get over the hump. They really had excellent role players and every player did their job like Henry Hurler who scored 5 points including a three at the end as Vamos showed their best ball movement of the game to that point leading 70-55 after 30 minutes. ‘The many three’s helped and we kept getting the needed energy from the bench that allowed us to keep the big lead’, added Patrick Antic. ‘They hit many open three’s. We took more contested three’s’, said Hugo Florestedt.
The Bona Baskets Limburg executed ok in the fourth quarter, but had less steam on defense allowing Vamos TSG Soeflingen to continue to run their offense which led to 22 points and at the end to the seemingly easy looking victory. Limburg received another trey from Stallbohm early to give them a little hope as they trailed only 72-58, but then came the deciding blow as Vamos TSG Soeflingen went on a 8-2 run to lead 80-60. Markovic who was controlled better in the second half by Limburg after dominating the first half scored while Antic scored 5 points continuing his consistent and smooth inside out game with a lay in and three pointer. He had turned 21 a day earlier and sparkled on the floor which he did adding 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. ‘I was excited and wanted to show all what I can do. My role this season is to bring energy and push everyone’, stated Patrick Antic. Another player who had his moments was Nils Dejworek as he scored in bunches nailing a three pointer and making a pretty old school hook shot ala Kareem Abdul Jabbar. ‘I never saw a hook shot from him in pre season. My first thought was why, but he then made it. You don’t see those kind of shots every day’, smiled Patrick Antic. The game was decided now, but one guy who found better to his game was Hugo Florestedt who made 3 buckets to end his Limburg debut with 14 points. He went into the game with a bit preoccupied with how well his leg would hold up as he had hurt his achilles earlier in the week. ‘I was resting this week. I had had a calf strain. I was a little scared to how my leg would hold up. It was a bit tough to get going as well with our offense standing still so much’, said Hugo Florestedt. One of his late buckets was a beautiful lay in where he split the Vamos defense with ease. ‘This is a move I saw my teammate Cole Walker do last season. It was his go to move where you fake the hand of and go to the basket’, smiled Hugo Florestedt. In the last minutes, Kljaic scored as did Weiter and Stallbohm closed out the game with a runner. ‘A big problem today was that we didn’t react well enough when they went on runs. They always stuck together and came back. We didn’t have the energy’, stressed Hugo Florestedt. Vamos TSG Soeflingen were led by Marko Markovic with18 points and 13 boards while Patrick Antic added 14 points and Nils Dejworek added 12 points and Henry Hurler had 11 points while the Bona Baskets Limburg were led by Justin Stallbohm with 18 points while Hugo Florestedt contributed 14 points as did Matej Kljaic with 14 points. Vamos TSG Soeflingen shot 46% from the field and 42% form outside and had 46 rebounds and 16 turnovers while the Bona Baskets Limburg shot 41% from the field and 33% from outside and had 30 rebounds and 21 turnovers.