One of the great times in basketball is when players can battle one another in a do or die game while the fans can witness the extra special thrill of that amazing feeling of winning or having to suffer the agony of defeat in a moment where there is no consolation. That moment is exactly what the Telekom Baskets Bonn and SIG Strasburg felt in Bonn Germany. It was game 3 in the Basketball Champions League Quarterfinals for the exclusive ticket to the Final 4. The Telekom Baskets Bonn need 3 more wins to finally celebrate a title. But it was still a long way as they had to first take care of business against SIG Strasburg. The Telekom Baskets Bonn came well prepared into the contest having destroyed easyCredit BBL doormat medi Bayreuth by 44 points while SIG Strasburg had a positive warmup disposing of 7th ranked France Pro A club Dijon by 17 points. Had the Telekom Baskets Bonn had had a better grip on diminutive guard Marcus Keene in the last minutes and slowed him down from scoring 7 points at the end in game 1, then it would never have come to this game. This time Marcus Keene was cheering on his team from the bench and witnessed an incredible hard fought game from both teams for 40 minutes. It was a game where one saw that no team wanted to give any gifts away and one that carried itself with a high intensity from both sides. But a basketball game has 40 minutes and in the last 10 minutes, it was more than clear that the Telekom Baskets Bonn wanted it more and despite SIG Strasburg never giving up couldn’t match Bonn’s intensity. ‘My players took each possession personal’, warned Tuomas Iisalo. At the end of 40 minutes the Telekom Baskets Bonn simply overpowered SIG Strasburg 83-77 to reach their first Basketball Champions League Final 4 in club history. ‘This was a gutsy and epic game. We let game one slip away and just wanted it more tonight. Credit to Strasburg for being very competitive. Our biggest strength was our cohesiveness. We always stuck together’; warned Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Javontae Hawkins. SIG Strasburg gave it all they had, but a little extra fatigue and failed execution on both ends cost them the game. ‘We fought as a team and guys stepped up. You have to give credit to Bonn, because they protected their home court. Basketball is a game of runs and they made the last one’, stressed SIG Strasburg guard Tim Frazier.
Rodions Kurucs at the FT line
The do or die game began with a breathless atmosphere as the Bonn fans had their game faces on. SIG Strasburg jumped all over the Telekom Baskets Bonn getting the early 6-2 advantage. Most likely 2023 easyCredit BBL MVP TJ Shorts (175-PG-1997, college: UC Davis) got his team on the board first with an off balance shot, but the guests slapped them back with back to back three’s from ex NBA players Rodions Kurucs and Tim Frazier. SIG Strasburg was already establishing themselves on the offensive glass while Bonn had some lapses on defense. But the Bonn fans soon had something to cheer about as Bonn got their offense rolling as Hawkins sunk 3 free throws and deadly sniper Sebastian Herrera knocked down consecutive three’s to take the 11-8 lead. Both teams offenses was executing well as Leo Cavaliere and Frazier scored while for Bonn Hawkins made a crushing dunk from the wing and ex Warner Pacific (NAIA) small forward Collin Malcolm made a lay in for the Bonn 17-14 lead. But whenever TJ Shorts was on the bench, the game of Bonn stalled allowing the guests to close out the first quarter with a 12-4 run to lead 26-21 after 10 minutes. In the run the guests continued to profit from second chance opportunities and vital support from the bench as French player Lucas Beufort and ex Braunschweig center Martin Peterka dropped three pointers. Bonn did close out the first quarter with a typical wow moment between teammates as Shorts found Kratzer for the alley-oop slam dunk bringing back memories to the classic hook up between a Jared Jordan and Tony Gaffney a decade ago. ‘We didn’t have a good start and had a relapse. We couldn’t get stops and their 9 offensive rebounds really hurt us’, stated Javontae Hawkins. Bonn had 5 turnovers and were only shooting 25% from outside while SIG Strasburg had the overwhelming 14-8 rebound edge and shot 40% from outside.
Sebastian Herrera from outside
In the second quarter SIG Strasburg kept the lead and twice went on runs only to see the Telekom Baskets Bonn react each time and slap them back with 2 runs. Ex New Zealand Breaker Finn Delaney began the second quarter with a lay in spinning to the hoop, but SIG Strasburg still led 26-23. But Bonn couldn’t withstand a Strasburg run as they allowed 9 points while scoring only 2 trailing 35-25. In the run ex Detroit Piston Tim Frazier made free throws and nailed a trey. The aggressive guard never shows any emotion, but hurls up those no mercy three’s that puts a dagger through your heart. 208cm Marselle native Bodian Massa drilled home 10 and 20 footers. The guests had a nice offensive flow going as Bonn’s defensive intensity was way below the norm. But the Telekom Baskets Bonn found back to their game going on a 11-2 run to trail only 37-36. In the run Bonn got the usual deadly mid distance support from TJ Shorts who hit 20 and 15 footers while Hawkins followed his aggressiveness making a floater and lay in and Herrera nailed a line drive three from the corner. ‘TJ is tough as nails. He is one of the toughest guys I ever played against and played with. He always gets after it. He is so competitive and plays the right way. He is our vocal leader, but also listens. We need him so much’, warned Javontae Hawkins. SIG Strasburg halted the Bonn pressure and hit back with a 6-0 run to lead 43-36. In the run the French side got free throws and a hook shot from ex Brooklyn Net Rodions Kurucs while Massa snuck inside making the alley-oop dunk as Frazier supplied the dime. But Bonn supplied the last blow before the break with a 8-2 run to trail only 46-44 at half-time. Shorts as usual was at full speed and aggressive scoring an off balance shot and got to the free throw line while ex Wurzburg American Tyson Ward hit a trey. ‘It was an up and down roller coaster ride. These are the type of top games you want to be a part of. Tim Frazier is a big time player and made big shots for them’, said Javontae Hawkins. SIG Strasburg still had the 21-15 rebound edge, but Bonn kept them only to 1 offensive rebound in the second quarter. Bonn also did a better job taking care of the ball and forced the guests to 5 turnovers. The guests were at 40% form outside while Bonn still couldn’t find a three point rhythm shooting 28%.
Tim Frazier to the rim
The Telekom Baskets Bonn came out reborn in the third quarter grabbing the lead, but could never shake off SIG Strasburg as they regained the lead back in the last minutes to lead by 2 points after 30 minutes. Bonn stopped SIG Strasburg’s first 4 possessions and went on a lethal 8-0 run to lead 52-46. In the run the Telekom Baskets Bonn received good support from Finn Delaney who scored twice and Tyson Ward showed his three point strength connecting. After a Kurucs lay in, TJ Shorts stepped up as usual making a pull up jumper for the 54-48 lead. Bonn’s offense was flowing which paralyzed SIG Strasburg on defense. They couldn’t match Bonn’s intensity. Bonn also stepped up their defensive intensity forcing the guests to bad decisions and tough shots. But SIG Strasburg didn’t hide their heads in the sand but showed they were there in a do or die game going on a 9-2 run to regain the lead 57-56. In the run the guests got support from Frazier and Kurucs with buckets and ex easyCredit BBL player Deandre Lansdowne nailed a 20 footer as he took over a majority of the playmaking during the game. SIG Strasburg had a thin bench, but that adrenaline carried them over the top in this phase coupled with proper execution at both ends. Both clubs then would exchange leads 3 times, but Deandre Lansdowne supplied the last blow of the third quarter punishing Bonn with back to back three’s to give SIG Strasburg the 65-63 lead. ‘I never played against Lansdowne in Germany, but did this season in France. He is so tough. He is a big time player that made big time shots’, said Javontae Hawkins. ‘We fought hard and showed heart. We showed just how much we stick together. They were doing it before I came. We showed what we were made of in adversity. When they punched us, we got up and never gave up’, warned Tim Frazier. SIG Strasburg continued to lead the rebound battle 30-23 as they got 4 offensive rebounds. Bonn continued to be the better field goal shooting team, but still couldn’t shoot well from outside at 23%.
TJ Shorts at the FT line
In the fourth quarter the Telekom Baskets Bonn made the first punch which SIG Strasburg couldn’t handle as they never would be able to get over the hump and get the lead back. The Telekom Baskets heeded the words of Tuomas Iisalo after the third quarter and came out cruising on a crushing 13-2 run to lead 76-67 and they would never look back again. German big man Leon Kratzer was instrumental in the run scoring 3 baskets in the paint as his domination was evident. Ward also dropped a trey while Shorts added 4 points with a lay in and free throws. ‘We found our defensive identity. Coach prepared us well. Our practices are always hard and that translates over to our games. When we are all on a string and making the extra hustle plays, then we are very tough. Tyson Ward is one if not the best defender in the BBL. I think he could become the best defender in the Euroleague’, warned Javontae Hawkins. Even if that run seemed to shock SIG Strasburg at first, they still had some energy and slapped Bonn with a 5-0 run as Tim Frazier made a lay in and Deandre Lansdowne continued to have his range dropping a three pointer to trail only 76-72 with 3,00 minutes remaining. But that was as close as the guests would get as Bonn continued to execute offensively getting free throws from Sebastian Herrera and a 10 footer from Hawkins to give Bonn the 80-72 advantage. After Kurucs free throws, Ward made a key offensive rebound and a free throw to give Bonn the 81-75 lead. Lansdowne added a late lay in, but Shorts closed out the game with free throws. ‘The fans were huge. They are our sixth man. We showed relentless intensity on defense. It may look ugly at times, but when we do make mistakes, we find ways to make plays’, warned Javontae Hawkins. ‘Bonn did a good job sticking to their game plan. They made the last run’, stated Tim Frazier. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were led by TJ Shorts with 24 points. Javontae Hawkins added 15 points and Sebastian Herrera 13 points while SIG Strasburg were led by Tim Frazier with 20 points while Deandre Lansdowne added 17 points and Rodions Kurucs 14 points. The Telekom Baskets Bonn shot 45% form the field and 22% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 11 turnovers while SIG Strasburg shot 41% from the field and 34% from outside and had 35 rebounds and 14 turnovers.