That it isn’t easy to scout BBU Ulm is nothing new for Bona Baskets Limburg head coach Danny Stallbohm as the roster of the Regionalliga team consists of 22 highly talented young boys shuffling between the Regio-Pro B and NBBL teams. The Ulm squad came to Limburg sporting a 5-3 record and sitting in 5th place. Their big strength is their defense which allows only 65 points per game. The Bona Baskets Limburg came into the season off the wrong side of the bed as the loss of work horse KJ Sherril massively hurt their inside game resulting in 4 loses. But the team then somehow displayed will and heart won 3 games in a row where their defense came of age against Kronberg and Tuebingen and in the overtime thrill er in Giessen saw a career high 52 points by their point guard Matej Kljaic. After a tough loss in Saarlouis last weekend where their defense lost their footing allowing 99 points, Limburg wanted to get back on the winning track and tame the Ulm team that has an average age of only 18 years, but they couldn’t master crunch-time as Ulm guard Joel Cwik hit 2 big money shots to propel the guests to the 98-89 victory. ‘We began the game really well with team play, but we lost intensity in the second quarter. We came back again in the second half with team basketball and kept pushing each other. This was a real team win. Playing fast and having good ball movement was big in us getting the win’, stressed 2022 JBBL champion Joel Cwik. The Bona Baskets Limburg played great for long junctures of the game, but the game has 40 minutes and they just couldn’t finish it as their defense continued to haunt them. ‘We played a good first half pressing well on defense, but in the second half we gave them too many open tree’s. Our lack of communication on defense was a big problem. We also got beat to often on 1-1 plays’, stressed Limburg center Brandon Cataldo.
Finn Lehner from outside
The first quarter was a wild back and forth tug of war grudge match as there were 10 lead changes, but in the wanning minutes BBU 01 Ulm broke free posting a 12-2 run to lead comfortably 29-20. The Bona Baskets did a good job early on moving the ball around and getting many involved as Matej Kljaic, Brandon Cataldo and Swede Hugo Florestedt scored while the guests did the same getting big baskets form Cwick, diminutive 175cm point guard Marko Rosic (175-PG-2005) and Thomas Gaus as they had the 10-8 advantage. The lead changes kept going back and forth and Cataldo who was a monster and couldn’t be stopped scored twice. As soon as the Oregon native good good position to the basket, it’s good night for the opponent. BBU 01 Ulm continued to execute getting another trey from Guas, a put back by Cwik and a jumper from Rosic. Kljaic also continued to be a force always finding the small hole and squirting through for easy baskets as Limburg led 18-17 after the 10th lead change. But suddenly the Bona Baskets Limburg couldn’t hold up with Ulm and gave up the 12-2 run to end the first quarter. A big difference and game changer was the Ulm bench which would produce 30 points while the Limburg bench countered only with 4 points over 40 minutes. In the run the guests got huge production from Czech Republic forward Benjamin Koeppke who contributed 5 points while Bulgarian youngster Stefan Mihaylov scored as did Rosic with his pretty floater. ‘Allowing 29 points in the first quarter isn’t a good way to begin a game. We weren’t always organized on defense and gave up too many easy baskets. We have the potential to be a good defensive team, but we have to learn to paly together and be consistent’, stated Brandon Cataldo.
Hugo Florestedt at the FT line
In the second quarter the Bona Baskets Limburg produced 2 big runs to first get back into the game and then take the lead into the break. With BBU 01 Ulm leading comfortably 34-24, the Bona Baskets Limburg escaped out on a massive 14-2 run to retake the lead at 38-36. In the run, Limburg got huge production from Hugo Florestedt who produced 10 points. He played with huge intensity that Ulm couldn’t match as he scored two lay ins, got to the free throw line twice and also hit a jumper. Cataldo kept being a beast inside and German Norman Klima who is in his sixth season with Limburg also gave them bench points. Cataldo showed that whenever he was on the floor, everything worked with Limburg, but when he was off the floor, lapse would arise. Ulm also got sloppy in their offensive sets. But that wouldn’t last long as Ulm would steal the lead back 44-40 as they continued to get good support form the bench as Mihaylov added 5 points and Simeon Dimitrov also scored. But the contest showed again how often basketball is a game of runs as Ulm lost their rhythm again which Limburg took full advantage of and drove into half-time with the 53-47 lead. In the run Cataldo was unstoppable again scoring 6 points while Kljaic was always in attack mode getting to the free throw line twice while Jari Beckmann made a runner. Florestedt saved his best for last as he escaped on transition and scoring with a lay up at the buzzer. ‘Getting buckets on transition is Florested’s game. It all started with getting good press stops that led to easy baskets. We worked hard on our zone. That is a big part of our game’, stated Brandon Cataldo.
Thomas Gaus at the FT line
The third quarter continued to be a tight affair as the Bona Baskets Limburg held the lead, but they just couldn’t slam the door early on Ulm. The first few minutes was the Guas and Cataldo show as they traded baskets twice, but Limburg still led 58-52. Both teams then also had a good, but short phase hitting three’s as Ulm got two from their small and quick guards Rosic and Stoll while Limburg got one form Beckmann, but Limburg still had the upper-hand with the 63-58 advantage. BBU 01 then had a positive phase again going on a 10-2 run to grab the 68-65 lead back. The guests continued to demonstrate good team basketball where all ego’s were put on the back burner as German Sebastian Pachucki scored twice, Cwik made an off balance shot and Dimitrov scored in the paint. But the Bona Baskets closed out the third quarter in style with a brutal 9-0 run to lead 74-68 after 30 minutes. Limburg picked up their defensive intensity and forced Ulm to tough shots and also made them rush decisions. On offense Limburg got a huge spark from Beckmann getting 7 points off a trey and 4 free throws. Cataldo added an offensive rebound and putback. ‘We played more aggressive and together and stuck to the game plan better’, added Brandon Cataldo. ‘We had problems containing Cataldo and gave up too many easy baskets’, stated Joel Cwik.
Matej Kljaic from the corner
In the fourth quarter BBU 01 Ulm fought back and regained the lead, but did allow Limburg one more lead, but quickly stole the lead back and then would never look back again. The Bona Baskets Limburg started the fourth quarter nonchalantly and not focused and were scolded with a smack in the face and 9-0 run by the guests as they led 77-74. In the run Ulm received got brutal production from Cwik with 7 points. He delivered with a trey, lay in and hard dunk while Gaus made an off balance lay in. The guests would keep the narrow lead and got a clutch three from Finn Lehner from the bench but Kljaic also continued to be a force. He showed that he was excellent knowing when to score and when to dish as he showed with 15 assists. With crunch-time around the corner he scored back to back buckets with a floater and lay in as Limburg led 84-83. But then came the turning point of the game as BBU01 Ulm closed out the contest with a ruthless 14-3 run to win the ball game. Dimitrov began with a lay in which was followed by a Rosic 15 footer. Gaus had a lay in and Cwik then put the nail on the lid with 2 three’s as the guests led 95-86 with less than 2 minutes to play. Cwik finished with a team high 22 points. ‘Rosic found me and got me open shots. When I have the chance in a big moment, I have to make the shot. I had had a bad phase missing some shots, but my teammates continued to have confidence in me and told me to keep shooting’, stressed Joel Cwik. The guests still had energy left and just stepped up their intensity as Limburg couldn’t get easy baskets. Beckmann did hit a late three, but it wasn’t enough. ‘We ran out of gas and didn’t communicate enough. I have to be more vocal in a situation like that’, said Brandon Cataldo. ‘We ran the whole game and still had energy at the end. Key was that we had a deeper bench and just outran them’, expressed Joel Cwik. BBU 01 Ulm was led by Joel Cwik with 22 points. Marko Rosic added 18 points and Thomas Gaus 17 points while the Bona Baskets Limburg were led by Brandon Cataldo with 24 points and 15 boards while Matej Kjaic had 23 points and 15 dimes and Hugo Florestedt had 21 points and 11 rebounds. BBU 01 Ulm shot 55% from the two point range and 44% form outside and had 33 rebounds and 16 turnovers while the Bona Baskets Limburg shot 50% from the two point range and 15% from outside and had 40 rebounds and 17 turnovers