Photo credit Dragons Rhondorf
Even if the win in Cologne against the RheinStars was a big highlight in 2023 for the Dragons Rhondorf, one has to admit that so far the new year hasn’t been good to them. They had lost 3 of 4 games including the last 3 games in their Dragon Dome living room. It was time to get on the winning road again mainly because they had to be careful not to slip away from the home court in the playoffs. Getting that next win looked a lot better as the 9-7 Dragons had to meet the 2-14 Herford team who they had beaten on the road 103-82 back in October. But a lot had had happened since then as American Herman Hightower had to depart while they got new players Shawn Gulley and Filmore Beck all top Pro B players over the years and American rookie Jordan Mello-Klein. It was also the third game and second in the Dragon Dome for new player Mubarek Salami who had been the Pro B top scorer the last 2 years. The Dragons Rhondorf didn’t disappoint any of the faithful fans as they demonstrated an offensive attack for 40 minutes easily dismantling the hapless BBG Herford 108-63. Top Pro B point guard Devon Goodman (184-PG-1997, college: Pennsylvania) who has had big games on the road, but was still looking for a top game in his own living room had his home break out game scoring 23 points and dishing out 12 assists. ‘We stuck to our identity for the most part pushing the ball and playing at a fast pace for 40 minutes. When we can do that for 40 minutes then it is hard to beat us. We played good defense. We knew that they liked isolation so we took care of our 1-1 assignments’, stressed Dragons guard Devon Goodman. The guests played pick up ball from the get go and could never find a sound offensive rhythm and couldn’t match the intensity of Rhondorf at both ends of the court. ‘We had a lack of effort for 40 minutes. They came out strong. We couldn’t respond and the game got away from us through their good playmaking and shooting’, stressed BBG Herford guard Jordan Mello-Klein.
Filmore Beck from outside
The game was tight for the first few minutes, but it didn’t take the Dragons Rhondorf long to get their offensive rhythm and get a big lead and never lose it again. Ex easyCredit BBL player Florian Koch got the Dragons on the board first with a lay in, but BBG Herford found some offensive spark using cutters to get easy baskets as Germans Alexander Winck and Shawn Gulley scored for the 4-2 advantage. But the Dragons Rhondorf then got going jumping all over the guests going on a 28-9 run to lead very comfortably 30-13 after 10 minutes. Ex Ivy League champion Devon Goodman was hungry and wanted that first great game and scored 7 unanswered points as his quickness gave him 2 easy buckets and he also tested his 30% three point shooting for the Dragons 9-5 advantage. Rhondorf kept up the pressure on offense playing their fast paced game attacking the rim and getting easy baskets as Herford couldn’t offer any pressure on 1-1 play. Ex Pro B top scorer Mubarek Salami scored twice inside while Florian Wendeler and Baby Zion Zaba Bangala scored twice and Nicolas Buchholz dropped a trey for the 23-10 lead. Rhondorf had an identity on defense playing good 1-1 defense and having good help defense in the paint. Rhondorf kept attacking the paint and got another Salami lay in and two more lay ins from Goodman who finished with 11 points including one at the buzzer. ‘I wanted to start well being aggressive. I kept pushing the ball and trying to get to the rim and while I was covered found my shooters with kick outs’, stressed Devon Goodman. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting the lights out at 76% from the field and 67% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 4 turnovers while BBG Herford shot 29% form the field and 11% form outside and had 5 rebounds and 6 turnovers.
Adrian Bergmann with the dunk
In the second quarter the Dragons Rhondorf continued to execute very well at both ends thus keeping the giant lead and leading by 25 points at half-time. Both teams were trading baskets at the start as BBG Herford received 5 points from Shawn Gulley as on his three, he got a friendly basketball God bounce and Mello-Klein also scored inside while the Dragons got support from Koch and Goodman and still led 37-20. But the Dragons Rhondorf then made a new jump in the game going on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 47-20. The Dragons got three’s from Koch and Buchholz and lay in’s by German role players ex Coburg forward Adrian Bergmann and ex RheinStar center Florian Wendeler. Rhondorf was beautifully sharing the ball and playing unselfish the complete opposite to the guests who relied most on isolation play. The Dragons packed the paint well and allowed nothing simple. The guests got some baskets from Klein-Mello and ex Missouri (NCAA) forward Vaidotas Volkus, but Rhondorf simply executed with ease continuing to get great production from Goodmann with 2 buckets and Zaba Bangala scored 5 points. Ex Rhondorf guard Marc Klesper added free throws and Gulley a lay in before the siren, but the Dragons Rhondorf continued to have the commanding 56-31 lead. The Dragons Rhondorf continued to shoot very well at 64% from the field and 38% from the three point line and had 19 rebounds and 7 turnovers while BBG Herford shot 36% from the field and 17% from the three point line and had 14 rebounds and 11 turnovers. ‘We attacked well on the pick and roll and our wings attacked the close outs well’, stated Devon Goodman.
Shawn Gulley at the FT line
In the third quarter there was no let up by the Dragons Rhondorf as they continued to play their game and run their plays and execute with success. The Dragons received early buckets from Bangala, a trey by Buchholz and a lay in by Goodman while the guests got baskets from Klein-Mello and a cold Filmore Beck who only scored 8 points on 1/8 shooting, but Rhondorf still led 66-43. The guests had their little spurts of offense as Winck and Klein-Mello scored, but they could never ring up consecutive stops on defense as their intensity and 1-1 defense just wasn’t up to par. It was no secret that ex Pro B leading, scorer Mubarek Salami wouldn’t be averaging 20 plus points in Rhondorf and he showed that he knows exactly when to score and when to distribute. His attacking or dishing on the drive kept the guests guessing all night long. Plus it was refreshing to see how well Salami and Goodman harmonize on the court. ‘It is weird playing against him this season and now being teammates. He is a big guard and we bounce each other out on the court. He does a great job of getting in the lane. Our chemistry will continue to build as zo play with and off each other’, stated Devon Goodman. The Dragons Rhondorf closed out the third quarter with a lethal 7-0 run to lead 77-49 after 30 minutes. The Dragons got production from Buchholz with another trey and Koch and Bergmann contributed lay in’s. ‘We continued to keep up our pace. We have had problems not being able to close out games. We usually let up in the second half, but tonight we stuck to our principles’, stressed Devon Goodman. ‘We tried to keep up the aggression. We tried to push the tempo and trap them in screens, but when your down 23 points, you need a lot of effort to come back, but we didn’t have that’, added Jordan Klein-Mello. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 62% from the field and 40% from the parking lot and had 29 rebounds and 15 turnovers while BBG Herford shot 34% from the field and 18% from the parking lot and had 18 rebounds and 15 turnovers.
Zaba Bangala at the FT line
In the fourth quarter the Dragons Rhondorf put the lid on the coffin scoring 31 points as BBG Herford caved in. The Dragons Rhondorf didn’t waste anytime to slam the door on BBG Herford going on a explosive 16-4 run to lead 93-53. In the run the Dragons Rhondorf continued to share the ball well and play beautiful inside out basketball. Rhondorf got three scores inside as Bangala scored over a wall of 2 players, Bergmann scored and Koch hit on transition while Buchholz nailed 2 more trey’s and Salami also hit from outside. The Dragons closed out the game well, but the guests also scored better. Rhondorf got free throws from Salami and Bergmann and Florian Koch hit the magical 100 point mark with a trey and had a date with the donut shop for his teammates. Rhondorf got some added free throws from Goodman down the stretch and a left handed lay in from Koch while the guests got some garbage points from young German Leo Alban who made a pretty floater and hard 1 handed dunk. ‘Leo is young and long. He needs to play with urgency. He will be good if he keeps working’, warned Jordan Klein-Mello. ‘We didn’t think about reaching the 100 points, but just kept playing our game. We never slowed down and played hard until the end’, warned Devon Goodman. ‘We continued to chip away, but we used so much energy and couldn’t come back. We got impatient and took quick shots. All those things lead to lose by 45 points’, stressed Jordan Mello-Klein. The Dragons Rhondorf had 6 guys score in double figures and were led by Nicolas Buchholz with 24 points. Devon Goodman added 23 points and 12 dimes while Florian Koch added 19 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists and Zaba Bangala had 14 points and 10 boards. The BBG Herford were led by Shawn Gulley with 16 points and Jordan Mello-Klein had 13 points and Vaidotas Volkus added 10 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 61% from the field and 48% from outside and had 43 rebounds and 19 turnovers while BBG Herford shot 32% from the field and 14% from outside and had 24 rebounds and 18 turnovers.
Miles…I’m Jordan Mello-Klein’s father visiting Germany and would very much like to chat with you about European basketball. Staying in Herford.
Miles…I’m Jordan Mello-Klein’s father and I’m trying to get a hold of you. I’m a sport sociologist at Northeastern University and am here in Herford trying to get a view of German basketball from the angle of American players and culture shock. Would love to talk with you.