Even if the easyCredit BBL has arrived in the very exciting stretch run for the battle of the top spot between the Telekom Baskets Bonn and Alba Berlin is very exciting as well as the fight to stay in the league at the bottom of the standings, there is also another gripping part of the season for Bonn with the Basketball Champions League. The Telekom Baskets Bonn have had a great BCL season and arrived into the quarterfinals with an incredible 6-0 record and now faced the always annoying SIG Strasburg who had had a 4-2 record in the last round. Bonn have ripped through the BCL team like a freight train and with their momentum from the easyCredit BBL season have a very legitimate shot of not only reaching the final 4 but winning the whole thing. But before reaching the final 4, they had to get by SIG Strasburg who had played a solid BCL season, but have been struggling in the France pro A season currently battling to get into the playoffs. Fans in Bonn were able to witness some real talent with the likes of ex NBA players Tim Frazier and Rodions Kurucs as well as ex easyCredit BBL player Deandre Lansdowne and electrifying 175cm player Marcus Keene (178-PG-1995, college: CMU). On a mild spring evening a few days before the Easter madness in Germany fans weren’t disappointed as they saw a hard fought game from start to end with the better end going to SIG Strasburg who were able to escape with a grind out 77-76 win stopping BCL MVP candidate TJ Shorts on the last play. ‘We new from the start that a high energy team like Bonn would go on runs. For us it was very important to stay together during their runs. We did a good job sticking to our game plan. We had lost our last 4 games where we got away from the game plan. We moved the ball and played our game. We did a good job with defensive rebounds and got out on the break’, stated ex Hamburg Tower Deandre Lansdowne. The Telekom Baskets Bonn played a great game, but at the end suffered some defensive lapses and couldn’t withstand the brutal physicality of the guests. ‘We knew it would be a dog fight. Credit to Strasburg. They stole one on the road. They made more winning plays at the end. We came up short but luckily it’s a 3 game series’, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ Shorts.
Rodions Kurucs hook shot
The Telekom Dome was sold out as 6,000 screaming fans were in the arena and rapidly witnessed TJ Shorts do his thing as his mid range game destroyed the guests as he hit 3 in a row for the 6-2 advantage with only 1,25 minutes played. The diminutive guard as usual did a fantastic job finding his spots and using his quickness not to have to take contested shots. But before Bonn fans really knew what happened, SIG Strasburg escaped on a 16-6 run to lead 18-12. In the run the guests spread the ball around and got easy lay in’s from French forward Leonard Cavaliere and Deandre Lansdowne while small ex Eastern Michigan guard Marcus Keene scored 2 baskets showing that he can match the intensity and execution rate of Shorts. SIG Strasburg continued to defend be aggressive and physical on the defensive end and had taken Shorts away from his game. SIG Strasburg just played smooth inside out basketball getting 2 more three’s from Lansdowne and French player Paul Lacombe and a lay in from ex NBA player Rodions Kurucs. But the Telekom Baskets slowed down the guests closing out the first quarter with a 13-4 run to retake the lead at 25-22. In the run Bonn executed well using the extra pass getting lay ins from ex Wurzburg guard Tyson Ward and ex Warner Pacific (NAIA) forward Collin Malcolm while he also nailed a trey as did ex Brose Bamberg guard Karsten Tadda. TJ Shorts closed out the first quarter with a runner and 25-20 Bonn advantage. ‘They began quickly but we withstood their punch and punched them back. Shorts showed why he is a MVP candidate. He knows how to find his spots’, stressed Deandre Lansdowne.
Michael Kessens at the FT line
The Telekom Baskets Bonn kept the lead in the second quarter but could never totally shake SIG Strasburg as they stood in striking distance and trailed by 2 points at half-time. Ex Brooklyn Net Rodions Kurucs was alert on the glass and began with a tip in off his own miss as SIG Strasburg trailed 25-24. But With TJ Shorts always playing at a high intensity and in attack mode, the Telekom Baskets were able to break free again with a 7-0 run to lead 32-24. Shorts made a pull up jumper and 2 of 3 free throws while ex Crailsheim guard Javontae Hawkins added a three pointer. But the game remained a game of runs as now SIG Strasburg saw an opening and went on a 7-3 run to trail 35-31. 205Cm big man Bodian Massa made an offensive rebound and put back, Lacomb hit another trey and Marcus Keene made a difficult shot in traffic. But Bonn survived the SIG Strasburg punch and delivered a new one getting another clutch three from Malcolm and big dunk from Leon Kratzer for the 40-34 lead, but the guests also were good and having answers as Keene continued to be a menace making a 20 footer and very difficult shot in traffic and Lansdowne a bucket on transition, but the Telekom Baskets Bonn still had the slight advantage at the break 42-40. ‘Keene is our Shorts. He scored a lot but also created for others. We did a good job rebounding as a focus of ours was to take away their offensive rebounds’, stated Deandre Lansdowne.
Ike Udanoh at the FT line
The contest continued to be a dog fight and it seemed like SIG Strasburg might break the game open, but instead were hit again by a sudden Bonn punch right before the buzzer sounded after 30 minutes. The Telekom Baskets had a real bad start to the second half as they couldn’t execute on their first 6 possessions. But SIG Strasburg couldn’t muster more than 5 points to lead only 45-42. Lansdowne and Massa had supplied offensive punch with points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn had many 50/50 balls in the game and one helped them get an easy transition basket by Shorts which got them some energy. Ex Trier guard Sebastian Herrera then scored on the back door cut and ex Fraport Skyliner Michael Kessens made a floater for the 48-45 Bonn advantage. Shorts was instrumental in the turn around after the poor start as he let his creating do the talking. The guests then tied the game at 49-49 as Lacombe made a lay in. Bonn struck back with a trey by Brit Deane Williams for the 52-49 lead. Then came a three point explosion on 5 in 6 possessions started by SIG Strasburg as they went on a 11-0 run to lead 60-52. Ex NBA player Tim Frazier who played 8 years in the big show had sparkled defensively, but been quiet on offense rattled off 2 three’s while Keene hit another. It looked like the guests would go into the fourth quarter comfortably, but instead Shorts and Herrera added 2 three’s in the last minute as Bonn trailed only 60-58. ‘Those last 2 Bonn three’s really hurt. We wanted to go into the fourth with momentum. Bonn ran great plays for Shorts’, said Deandre Lansdowne.
TJ Shorts lay in
In the fourth quarter the Telekom Baskets Bonn entered crunch-time up by 8, but forgot that a game has 40 minutes and allowed SIG Strasburg back into the game. The Telekom Baskets Bonn stole the lead back 61-60 with a Herera trey to begin the fourth. The lead would go back and forth with a Kurucs spin move and lay in and Shorts lay in for the 63-62 Bonn lead. The Telekom Baskets Bonn couldn’t hold the lead as they gave up back to back buckets to Lansdowne and Keene for the 66-63 advantage. Then it seemed like the Telekom Baskets Bonn had supplied the last punch as they broke out on a lethal 11-0 run sparked by a technical foul by SIG Strasburg head coach Luca Banchi to lead 74-66. Bonn did a good job attacking and getting to the free throw line as Malcolm and Hawkins scored. Bonn also moved the ball well setting up a lay in by Ward and trey by Shorts. With 2,50 to play the contest seemed decided. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were playing at a high intensity and just wanted it more than the guests. But somehow the guests were able to flip switches and get back into the game despite the minutes dwindling. Frazier made a lay in and Keene a tough fade away with 1,47 to play and suddenly Bonn only led 74-72. Bonn got to the free throw line but Kessens and Shorts missed 2 free throws as Bonn led only 76-72. In the last minutes the guests had done a better job of packing the paint and cutting off the back door options and allowed no pick and roll. One could see that the whole MVP chants for Shorts hadn’t escaped Marcus Keene as he saved his best for last. A flagrant foul by Hawkins also helped the guests gather momentum. Keene made a reverse lay up with 56 seconds and then the guests got a stop on Kratzer and Keene did his magic again hitting a clutch trey to get the 77-76 lead. ‘I just play my game for 40 minutes. I trust my abilities and my teammates trusted me to make that shot’, said Marcus Keene. ‘He is a scoring machine at all 3 levels. We watched a lot of film on him and will watch even more film now. You have to make it as tough as possible against guys like that’, stated TJ Shorts. The Telekom Baskets Bonn had one more play to win the game. Everyone knew that Shorts would have the ball. The question was would he finish or facilitate. He opted to go himself, but met his match in Kurucs who played aggressively on him and forced him to an air ball. ‘We tried to get the weakest link on me. I tried to create a play. Credit to Kurucs who guarded me well. You win some and you lose some. We will be back’, warned TJ Shorts. ‘We knew the last shot would go to the MVP. I told the guys not to switch off him. We wanted to make it as tough as possible for him. We have had problems the last weeks making stops like this. We had theA mind set to push as hard as possible and get the stop’, stressed Deandre Lansdowne. SIG Strasburg was led by Marcus Keene with 24 points and Deandre Lansdowne added 16 points while the Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by TJ Shorts with 24 points while Collin Malcolm added 13 points and Sebastian Herrera 12 points. SIG Strasburg shot 55% from the field and 35% from outside and had 38 rebounds and 20 turnovers while the Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 40% from the field and 30% from outside and had 31 rebounds and 11 turnovers.
Tags : MARCUS KEENE, SIG STRASBOURG, GERMAN BASKETBALL