The overwhelming and dominating play of the EPG Baskets Koblenz couldn’t last forever. For months they had been blowing away teams left and right and every now and then one wished for some tighter games. The club led by Pat Elzie finally got that game against Hanau a few days before 2023 losing by 3 points. They went into 2023 motivated to win and won in Letitershofen and back in their own living room against the Basketball Lowen even if it wasn’t pretty and involved hard work. A win is a win and sometimes you need the tight ones. The EPG Baskets Koblenz took their 11-1 record into the game against Team Ehingen Urspring with continued huge aspirations and met a team that was in the middle of the pack with a 5-7 record. They came into 2023 having erased their 3 game losing streak having won a nail bitter in Leitershofen. On an untypical Tuesday night game with mild temperatures in January, the EPG Baskets stepped on the court and had a poor first half despite having the lead, but in the second half found their game and in the end won in an easy manner 93-73. A big problem this season for the EPG Baskets Koblenz has been their inconsistency and that really came to light in the first half. ‘It was a hard fought game. We were up and down in the first half. There were phases where we played our game, but we had too many defensive mistakes that led to easy baskets for Ehingen. In the second half we were able to play our game. We moved the ball better and had more opportunity on transition for easy baskets’, commented ex easyCredit BBL player Marvin Heckel. Team Ehingen played a solid game and lived off the mistakes of Koblenz in the first half, but in the second half couldn’t contain Koblenz as well and had no answer for Friederici and the big man duo of Poelking and Saffer on the boards. ‘Koblenz is one of the top 2 best teams in the league and if not best on paper. It was the best team that we have played this season. They controlled the pace and killed us on the boards. They always threw punches and we had no punches. They dominated every phase of the game and wore us down’, stressed Team Ehingen top scorer Andre Nation.
Moritz Heck at the ft line
The EPG Baskets Koblenz went into the game without ex easycredit BBL player Dominique Johnson who had the flu. Team Ehingen Urspring didn’t waste anytime getting on the board getting a trey from Andre Nation only a few seconds in for the 3-0 lead. But that would be the only lead of the contest as the EPG Baskets Koblenz then launched a brutal assault scoring 12 unasnwered points to lead 12-3. In the run it was 2017 easyCredit BBL allstar slam dunk contest champion Brian Butler who scored 2 lay ups and made a massive dunk. German Moses Poelking added free throws and ex Heidelberg sniper Leon Friederici (190-SG-1995) added a bomb form outside. ‘We played the way we did at the start of the season. When we play fast, it is really hard to defend us. Butler was a real presence inside’, stressed EPG Baskets Koblenz manager Thomas Klein. But then came the inconsistency of Koblenz that has dogged them on many occasions as they allowed a 15-6 run as Team Ehingen Urspring suddenly had dead locked the game at 18-18. In the run the guests received valuable support from ex Tuebingen sniper Daniel Zacek who supplied 8 points and his trademark 2 three pointers. Nation also delivered a trey while reserve big man David Dostal scored 2 buckets inside after Vincent Neugebauer had picked up 2 quick fouls. The EPG Baskets Koblenz totally lost their rhythm and were forcing too much on offense and on defense couldn’t stop the 1-1 play. Dangerous offensive player Alani Moore also had gotten no shot attempts something very untypical. But the EPG Baskets did close out the first half strong with a 5-0 run to lead 23-18 after 10 minutes. Butler and Heckel made free throws and Friederici wooed the fans with a big 2 handed dunk. ‘We had a very flattering lead. It was a quarter of 2 faces’, stressed Thomas Klein.
Leon Friederici with the drive
In the second quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz did keep the lead, but they struggled and in a sense were lucky that they could lead by 8 points at the break. Ex Temple guard Alani Moore finally got on the board with an off balance shot for the 25-18 Koblenz advantage. But Koblenz just had mental lapses in too many phases. They coughed up the ball under their own basket allowing Nation for a dunk. Friederici did all he could to take over responsibility for the sick Johnson and really carried his team. But defensively they were a liability. Ex Alba Berlin JBBL champion Erik Penteker nailed a three pointer and the guests trailed only 31-28. ‘Ehingen did whatever they wanted to with our defense. We played no 1-1 defense. We had little movement on offense’, stated Thomas Klein. Even if the EPG Baskets Koblenz weren’t at their best, they still were able to squeeze out a 10-3 run to lead 41-33. Friederici was strong all game as he scored 5 points in this phase. Niclas Sperber also added solid energy from the bench with 3 points. ‘Thank God that we have Leon Friederici tonight’, stated Thomas Klein. In the last few minutes it was a trade off between Friederici and Nation as Friederici added a three pointer and lay in while Nation added a tough off balance shot and trey. The lay in by Friederici may have been the bucket of the night. ‘That was an incredible ankle breaker hang man’, smiled Thomas Klein. The EPG Baskets Koblenz led 46-38 at half-time. ‘We made a good recovery at the end after starting the quarter bad. We had no flow, no dynamic and weren’t concentrated, but thanks to Friederici had the lead’, stressed Thomas Klein.
Brian Butler at the ft line
In the third quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz finally broke open the game and led by 14 points after 30 minutes, but still allowed too many points with 21. Team Ehingen Ursping began the third quarter with a bang as Ivan Delgado served up a high lob pass that Nation slammed home on the alley-op. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were able to attack the rim better and were more aggressive on the boards as Marvin Heckel finally scored his first basket of the game and Butler scored in the paint while Poelking became more aggressive and scored back to back buckets for the 55-44 advantage. The guests then got instant energy form German Moritz Heck with an off balance shot and Nation scored a tough turn around shot as the guests trailed only 55-48. The EPG Baskets Koblenz then were able to break open the game going on a 11-2 run to lead 66-50. In the run Koblenz was able to execute well and played their game on transition. Friederici and Moore tallied three’s while Sperber and Poelking scored in the paint. ‘Our body language was better. We were looking for transition and executing. Our 1-1 defense was better and we rebounded better because we were more athletic’, said Thomas Klein. In the last minutes both teams executed well as Poelking remained aggressive getting to the free throw line while Heckel had finally found his game and was executing at a better rate. Ehingen as usual got another trey from Andre Nation. ‘He is one of the best I have seen’, lauded head coach Pat Elzie after the game. The guests also got some big support from the bench from 17 year old Estonian guard Jorke Aav who supplied 5 points in the last minute, but the EPG Baskets Koblenz still led 74-60. ‘At half-time we spoke about what we did wrong and we understood that we weren’t always mentally there. We knew the importance of the game and we all raised our game. We began to play team basketball’, stressed Marvin Heckel. ‘We had too many turnovers and they capitalized on it. They were more physical and played good team defense’, stated Andre Nation.
Mateo Vidovic for 3
In the fourth quarter the EPG Baskets Koblenz did a super job not letting up, but continuing to execute and not allowing Team Ehingen Urspring to sneak over the hump. Leon Friederici began with a lay in for the 76-59 lead. Nation and Zacek continued to heave up bombs from downtown and connected while Marvin Heckel was his aggressive self making 2 lay in’s for the 82-65 advantage. He had had a poor first half, but rebounded strong in the second half to finish with 14 points and 7 dimes. ‘It took time to find my game tonight. After I made that back door basket, I had arrived. After that everything came from it’s self. I didn’t force any more and let the game come to me’, warned Marvin Heckel. The EPG Baskets closed out the game well getting continued fine support from Leo Saffer who made 2 more buckets in the paint and really was a solid back up to Moeses Poelking. Moore added another trey and Heckel a lay in while Ehingen received some support from their bench as Germans Mateo Vidovic nailed a trey and Linus Ihle made a lay in. After 40 minutes the EPG Baskets Koblenz had won easily 93-73. ‘Poelking and Saffer were really big in the second half. Their physical presence was a big difference. They worked really hard on the boards and were rewarded’, stressed Marvin Heckel. ‘It is really hard to come back when your down 15 points in their gym. They have a really good bench. We are a young team and still trying to figure it out’, stated Andre Nation. The EPG Baskets Koblenz were led by Leon Friederici with 25 points. Moses Poelking added 15 points as did Brian Butler while Team Ehingen Urspring was led by Andre Nation with 22 points. Daniel Zacek added 11 points and Moritz Heck 10 points. The EPG Baskets Koblenz shot 50% from the field and 39% from outside and had 39 rebounds and 14 turnovers while Team Ehingen Urspring shot 42% from the field and 34% from outside and had 31 rebounds and 20 turnovers.