It isn’t always the easiest thing to win on the road, but the Dragons Rhondorf have shown this season that showing class and heart in opponents gyms is something they can handle. They have a 3-1 record on the road and are actually playing better there than in their own living room. Last weekend they defeated the ambitious new Pro B team Vechta 2 102-91 who moved up after playing in the Regionalliga the last years. Despite a massive game from American Vechta guard JJ Culver, the Dragons Rhondorf had their own weapon as Devon Goodman had another incredible performance with 28 points, 5 rebounds, 10 dimes and 3 steals. Now it was time to start a long home winning streak. They faced former Pro A team Itzehoe Eagles who came to Rhondorf with an unflattering 4-5 record, but had a solid 2-2 road record having beat Cologne and Iserlohn. On a freezing Saturday evening 2 weeks before Christmas eve where everyone in the Dragon Dome was happy to be indoors instead of outdoors saw the Dragons Rhondorf meet a pesky Itzehoe Eagles who just wouldn’t go away until the fourth quarter where the Dragons Rhondorf pulled away and didn’t look back squeaking out big 80 74 win. Ex easyCredit BBL player Florian Koch (197-SF-1992) who led his team with 29 points was more than aware that despite the win, it wasn’t the Dragons best effort of the season. ‘We found a way to win. We didn’t do a good job on the paint touches. We made big plays down the stretch when we needed to’, stated Dragons Rhondorf forward Florian Koch. Itzehoe played a solid game, but just didn’t have enough for 40 minutes as they couldn’t produce consistent execution at both ends of the court in the fourth quarter. ‘They played aggressively and we fought every minute. I feel we lost this game at the free throw line. It was an even game. I liked our heart. They had bigger guys, but I liked how we fought for the rebounds’, stressed Itzehoe Eagle Shaquille Rombley.
Shaq Rombley at the FT line
The Dragons Rhondorf raced out to a quick start leading 4-0 before 1 minute was played as Koch and Zaba Bangala scored. But Itzehoe then displayed a ruthless 8-2 run as American Trey McBride was a one man wrecking crew scoring 8 unanswered points to lead 8-6. The American from Ohio scored from 2 levels from the mid range and near range unveiling a reverse lay up, pull up jumper and step back jumper. Both teams played more in the paint as the three wasn’t falling well yet. The guests played with more intensity and continued to up their advantage to 15-10 as they controlled the paint getting a basket from Rombley and a trey from ex PS Karlsruhe German Emil Marshall. But the Dragons Rhondorf continued to scrap away and got key three’s in the last minute as Koch and ex Rostock guard Nicholas Buchholz connected from downtown to dead lock the game at 16-16. Both teams had horrible three point percentages, while Itzehoe had the 13-11 rebound edge and both teams took good care of the ball with 2 turnovers a piece. ‘We took more three’s than two. Our game is getting into the paint. Shaq Rombley did a good job being the classic rim protector.
Zaba Bangala drives to the hole
The second quarter was a tight affair as no team had a bigger lead than 5 points, but at the break, it was Itzehoe that led by 1 point. Ex Telekom Baskets Bonn forward Florian Koch blasted off in the second quarter as he paced the Dragons scoring the teams first 10 points with 2 three’s, a lay in and a step back jumper to lead 28-23. There was no stopping him, but as an ex BBL player something his teammates expect from him. ‘We had low energy, but he kept it up. We aren’t surprised when he puts on a scoring show like that. I’m happy it worked’, stressed Dragons Rhondorf captain Paul Albrecht. But as Koch’s momentary show ended, came a Itzehoe run of 9-4 run to tie the game at 32-32. German Erik Nyberg was key leading the charge with 5 points. Rombley continued to be a menace getting easy baskets as his quickness and cleverness allowed him to get to the hole quickly and finish easily. The Koch tirade in the second quarter wasn’t over as he added another three pointer for the 35-32 advantage. But the guests closed out the game strong with a McBride left hand lay in and Emil Marshall led his players into the locker room with a hard 1 hand dunk as Rhondorf trailed 36-35 after 20 minutes. ‘We didn’t defend well. We gave them open shots and were punished’, stated Florian Koch.
Emil Marshall with the dunk
The third quarter continued to be very close as both teams defended with passion and didn’t allow the other to get away. After being rather quiet in the previous 15 minutes, Trey Mcbride returned in the second half and carried Itzehoe with his precision scoring as he supplied 6 points, but Itzehoe only led 43-42. But the Dragons Rhondorf then found some daylight cruising out on a 9-3 run to lead 51-46. The Dragons got huge support from German role player Adrian Bergman. Last season he played in the Pro A with Schwenningen and the club wanted to actually keep him, but in the end he landed in Rhondorf. He offered 7 points with free throws, a lay in and a trey as the hustle player showed his whole worth off the bench. Rombley was having a monster game and played his heart out keeping the Eagles in the game with his relentless and non stop work in the paint scoring twice. He gives the definition Work Horse a new meaning. Rhondorf also got some points from point guard Devon Goodman who was closed down in scoring, but dished out 11 dimes. McBride got an easy basket as there was no 1-1 defense as Rhondorf led 55-54. Zaba Bangala found some energy in the last minute scoring twice as the Itzehoe Eagles trailed 59-56. ‘Last week in Vechta we had the problem that we were in control, but couldn’t slam the door shut. We had the same problem against Itzehoe. Their zone slowed us down. They forced us to play their game’, stated Florian Koch. ‘I thought that we defended well, but they rebounded well on the offensive glass and got extra possessions’, said Shaq Rombley. Both teams shot better from the field near 40%, but shot a poor 10-46 from outside. The guests continued to control the boards 35-30, but had 10 turnovers while Rhondorf had 6 turnovers.
Paul Albrecht at the FT line
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf offense became more fluid and got more support from various players which the Itzehoe Eagles just couldn’t match and never could regain the lead. The Dragons Rhonndorf begam well getting a trey from Florian Koch which fueled the offense which led to a Bangala runner and Pual Albrecht old school hook shot and 69-62 lead. The energy level of the Itzehoe was wanning except for Shaq Rombley who never had his motor off scoring a bucket and making free throws to cut the Rhondorf lead to 69-65. But then came the key blow a s the Dragons Rhondorf went on a 9-4 run to extend their lead to 78-69 with 2 minutes to go. In the run, the Dragons got valuable production from Zaba Bangala who was a beast scoring 3 buckets. Rombley did all he could in the post to defend him, but there is only so much you can do when baby Zion is 3 times as wide. ‘Even if he is huge, I never backed down. He really knows how to use his body to his advantage. We tried to get him in foul trouble, but it didn’t work’, smiled Shaq Rombley. Back up point guard Jonas Falkenstein added a three pointer. The Itzehoe Eagles got a Marshall runner and three pointer from McBride in the last minute, but it was too little too late. ‘Our offense was more fluid in the fourth quarter and we had good decision making. Bangala energy sparked us also’, stated Florian Koch. ‘Not making free throws hurt us as well bad fouls. We also didn’t finish defensive plays’, said Shaq Rombley. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Florian Koch with 29 points and 12 boards while Zaba Bangala had 18 points and 12 rebounds while the Itzehoe Eagles were led by Shaq Rombley with 26 points and 15 rebounds while Trey McBride had 24 points and 12 rebounds. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 52% from the two point area and 30% from outside and had 41 rebounds and 7 turnovers while the Itzehoe Eagles shot 53% from the two points range and 16% from outside and had 41 rebounds and 11 turnovers.