The path to the playoffs continues to be a very exciting one in the Pro B north for the Dragons Rhondorf as the weeks of truth continue as not only is home court vital, but just making the playoffs will be no cake walk. The Dragons Rhondorf came into the contest against the BSW Sixers with a 10-7 record, but only 2 wins more than the 9th placed team RheinStars who wouldn’t make the playoffs if they began today. Every game is a must win and the games as of late have been against tough competition as they ran out of gas in Bernau and next faced the 15-3 Sixers. Rhondorf lost the first game in Sandersdorf 87-78 despite a good three point percentage, their 18 turnovers was a big thorn in their side. The Dragons Rhondorf were seeking revenge against the powerful Sixers team who give up 63 points per game and are led by Mr triple double Dontae Nicholas. On Carnival weekend, there were many fans dressed in crazy outfits and they also witnessed a crazy game as there were countless technical fouls and an incredible come back by the Dragons Rhondorf who were down by 15 to start the fourth quarter, but never gave up pulling out the 97-90 victory. ‘We fought until the end. Many teams would of given up down by 15 points. We didn’t want to disappoint our fans. We knew that their point guard Kovacevic steered their game well so we tried to make our zone compact so he had less options. But key was our fighting spirit’, warned Dragons Rhondorf guard Mubarak Salami. The BSW Sixers experienced the classic we played well for 3 quarters and stunk up the fourth quarter. ‘We just went away from our game and played bad basketball. They are a good team and took advantage of our mistakes. They were able to play their game and run at their pace’, stressed Mr triple double Donte Nicholas.
Donte Nicholas at the FT line
2 runs were the story of the first quarter as at the end of 10 minutes the BSW Sixers led by 3 poinst. The BSW Sixers had the 4-2 lead, but a three pointer by Nicolas Buchholz gave the Dragons Rhondorf gave them the first lead at 5-4. But the game then took a sudden quick change as the BSW Sixers went on a brutal 12-0 run to lead 16-5. In the run it was the 2 man wrecking crew of 20 year old versatile wing player Kristaps Kilps from Latvia and ex Iserlohn forward Donte Nicholas that combined for all the points. Kilps added 5 points and a trey while Nicholas added 6 points. The guests did a good job with back door cuts and defensively were aggressive getting into passing lanes and causing turnovers. The Dragons Rhondorf did a great job on the offensive glass, but couldn’t execute on extra possessions. But the Dragons Rhondorf then rebounded well from the Sixers run and closed out the first quarter with a 12-6 run to trail only 22-19. In the run the Dragons received solid support from Devon Goodman (184-PG-1997, college: Pennsylvania) who was in constant attack mode scoring 6 points with his quickness getting into the zone while ex Bonn forward Florian Koch added a jumper and Salami hit an off balance shot at the buzzer. ‘A mistake we have done this season is going into games not focused. We had problems containing Kilps. We were too deep in the zone and left him open too much and he overpowered us’, stated Mubarak Salami. ‘We jump on teams early. That is just what we do. We have to learn to sustain the urgency’, warned Donte Nicholas. The BSW Sixers shot 53% form the field and 33% from outside and had 10 rebounds and 6 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 39% from the field and 13% from outside and had 9 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
Mubarak Salami at the FT line
The BSW Sixers controlled the game in the second quarter and led by as much as 18 points and were able to withstand some little Dragon comebacks and lead by 14 points at the break. The BSW Sixers totally steam rolled the Dragons Rhondorf going on a lethal 16-2 run to begin the second quarter to lead 38-21. In the run the guests continued to get incredible support from Kilps who scored 7 points including 2 three’s, while ex Dragon Ralph Hounnou added 5 points and Nicholas and Kovacevic added lay in’s. Rhondorf was unable to find an identity on defense and played with little intensity. They had huge difficulty defending the Sixers closeouts and on offense couldn’t hit anything. But basketball will always be a game of runs as the Dragons retreated going on a 9-1 run to trail only 39-30. They got a clutch trey from Salami and a pull up from Goodman and lay in from ex Cuxhaven center Florian Wendeler. But Rhondorf was unable to ultimately get over the hump as the Sixers offense was a well polish machine. Kovacevic continued to be a pest at both ends of the court making a floater and dunk for the 43-32 lead. 2018 JBBL champions of Alba Berlin Hendrik Warner scored twice with a lay in on the pick and roll and Evans Rapieque made a trey and the Sixers had a comfortable lead again of 48-32. Rhondorf then showed some instant energy again with a 7-0 run with a Goodman lay in, Koch three and Wendeler put back to trail 50-39, but as usual couldn’t hold it allowing a 4-0 run as Kovacevic made a lay in and Moritz Schneider free throws to lead 54-39. ‘Our game plan was to be aggressive. We took advantage of their poor 1-1 defense as best we could’, commented Donte Nicholas. ‘I think we aren’t a bad 1-1 defensive team. The problem is we aren’t concentrated early which puts us in a hole’, commented Mubarak Salami. The BSW Sixers shot 63% from the field and 71% from the three point line and had 20 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 39% from the field and 18% from the three point line and had 9 turnovers.
Kristaps Kilps lay in
In the third quarter the BSW Sixers continued to control the game but the Dragons Rhondorf wouldn’t give up and always remained in striking range. The Dragons Rhondorf finally found their shooting touch from downtown getting 2 three’s from Florian Koch and one from Buchholz, but they still couldn’t get over the hump as their defense continued to let them down. The Dragons allowed 3 buckets inside from German Marco Rahn, Ralph Hounnou and Kilps where there was no 1-1 defense existent. Kilps then got a technical foul and a flagrant foul made him have to depart the game for good. A Salami lay in and free throw cut the Sixers lead to 62-51. One would have thought that KIlps departure would of weakened the Sixers, but it didn’t. It helped the Dragons self-confidence as they played with urgency getting a big trey from Buchholz and Salami free throw to trail only 69-60. The Sixers had real misfortune missing easy shots while the Dragons contained Nicholas well and rebounded well. But the BSW Sixers remained calm and continued to play their game and went on a 9-3 run to lead 78-63 after 30 minutes. In the run the Sixers got 2 baskets from Nicholas and 5 points from Rahn. ‘Losing Kilps hurt us. He is a great scorer and defender. I think that we still were in control until the refs took over’, expressed Donte Nicholas. ‘I think with Kilps out was the beginning of the end for them. They got many calls from the refs. But our winning mentally kept us strong and in game’, added Mubarak Salami. The BSW Sixers shot 57% from the field and 55% from the parking lot and had 28 rebounds and 13 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 42% from the field and 31% from the parking lot and had 28 rebounds and 15 turnovers.
Zaba Bangala lay in
The Dragons Rhondorf made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter and finally got over the hump and preserved the win. The Dragons Rhondorf began the fourth quarter exploding with a 16-1 run to dead lock the game at 79-79. Salami began the run with back to back three’s testing his weak 27% from outside while Koch added a lay in. Rhondorf demonstrated solid inside out basketball and Bangala scored twice on the pick and roll as Goodman served up two dimes and Goodman scored on transition. The Dragons Rhondorf heightened their defense clogging the zone and not allowing the Sixers to finding good options and shots. The Sixers had to force more which led to 9 stops. But the BSW Sixers also had big misfortune seeing shot after shot go in and out or around the toilet bowl. The BSW Sixers finally scored their first field goal of the fourth quarter at the 4,10 minute mark as Rahn made a turn around shot for the 81-79 lead. The guests then found some energy getting the 86-79 lead, but the Dragons continued to keep pace. Bangala got to the free throw line and after starting 1/6 from the line hit 3 of 4 to trail only 87-82. But then came the Devon Goodman show as he wasn’t good, good, good, but great as he led his team on a 10-1 run scoring all 10 points to lead 92-88 and they would never look back. ‘He was a strong leader. He made key decisions and shots’, stressed Mubarak Salami. BSW Sixers head coach Christoph Schreiber then got a technical foul. The Dragons Rhondorf closed out the game with 4 Salami free throws. ‘We stepped up our defense and made every pass difficult and had a compact zone. We also made it tough for Nicholas and Rahn in the zone’, added Mubarak Salami. ‘We were 5-0 in fouls to start. They play their game well, but it wasn’t anything crazy. We couldn’t make our quick pass, which made it difficult for us. Then we began to miss easy shots. It was a snow ball effect and they got back into the game’, stated Donte Nicholas. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Devon Goodman with 28 points and 11 assists. Mubarak Salami added 25 points. Florian Koch added 18 points and Nicholas Buchholz had 12 points while the BSW Sixers were led by Kristaps Kilps with 20 points and Donte Nicholas had 17 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 48& from the field and 37% from outside and had 42 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the BSW Sixers shot 46% from the field and 33% form outside and had 33 rebounds and 16 turnovers.