It was still late summer, the weather was great and the Pro B season was just underway in it´s second weekend on September 29th, but the season of the Dragons Rhondorf had began slowly and their disgusting 102-56 drubbing in Giessen should have been a bad omen for the season. In this game the 2015-2016 Pro A team Dragons Rhondorf couldn´t muster anything on offense and shot only 3/21 from the parking lot while Giessen was very sharp from downtown nailing 12 trey´s and totally dominated the boards 42-25. Another interesting stat that would haunt the Dragons Rhondorf the whole season was how well their German players were able to score. Giessen got an incredible 74 points from their German players while the Dragons had to settle for only 37 points. This season has been a major struggle for the Dragons Rhondorf and with the stretch run of the season having arrived, they are in severe danger of moving down to the Regionalliga if they can´t start winning some games now in the last month to be in better position in the playdowns where each of the last four teams play each other twice and the best two remain in the league. The Dragons Rhondorf came into the game in the Pro B cellar with a 4-14 record while Giessen has been the big surprise team of the season as they sit comfortably in the playoff area in fourth place with a 10-8 record. They have had a tale of two seasons as they lost seven of their first nine games, but since then have won eight of nine games including three games in crunch-time. The Dragons Rhondorf were desperate for a victory and wanted to seek major revenge for their pathetic loss by 45 points in Giessen and played a lot better than the first game, but couldn´t full end their amazing fourth quarter comeback as the guests escaped the Dragon Dome with a 74-70 victory. After the win a disappointed Lotola Otshumbe tried to explain why the club was unable to pull out the win. “Our energy on defense wasn´t consistent. If you want to be successful in the Pro B, you need to bring this for 40 minutes. We had big problems on transition defense in the first half. We rebounded very well, got steals and fought back in the second half. If we can stay positive and bring energy than we can play with anyone. The question is why we can´t do it from start to end”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf forward Lotola Otshumbe. After the big win Giessen guard Jesten Lewis was relieved that the team could pull out the win despite the big comeback. “Defensive rebounding got us the win. We were outrebounded in the first half, but rebounded better in the second half. We played together on offense and stayed composed at the end”, added ex Mercer(NCAA) guard Jesten Lewis.
It isn´t slowly ten to midnight yet for the Dragons Rhondorf, but rapidly getting very close to the gong as the club is looking to be saved somehow of their poor season as they are caved into the Pro B south cellar with a record of 3-11. Shortly before Christmas the Dragons Rhondorf hauled in 36 year old basketball dinosaur Anish Sharda who came from ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga) after never averaging less than 18,9ppg in the last four years in the Regionalliga. The American who recently got the German citizenship brought 137 career Regionalliga and 116 Pro B games to the Dragons Rhondorf and scored 11 points in his first game in a loss to the RheinStars right before Christmas. Over the years he has had some nice battles against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors and had a 4-3 record against them scoring in double figures in four of the seven games coming into the game in Frankfurt. Sharda could be that key new component that will help get the Dragons Rhondorf out of the cellar as his consistent scoring and strong playmaking will be a huge advantage. Sharda led the Dragons Rhondorf to Frankfurt and met a 9-5 team that have been playing good basketball as of late having won three of their last four games. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors had won the first contest in Rhondorf 75-68 thanks to 11 three´s and a strong Pro B debut by Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance who scored 21 points while the Dragons owned the boards. In the first contest of 2019, both teams had their ups and downs during the course of the 40 minutes, but the Fraport Skyliners Juniors controlled the game and allowed a massive fourth quarter come back by the Dragons Rhondorf, but were able to salvage an overtime period getting a last second sprint and bucket by Elijah Clarance for the 83-81 win. After the tough loss Dragons Rhondorf head coach Thomas Adelt had that look as if he had seen a basketball ghost as for the third time in a row his team was close to winning, but were denied again. “We had too many turnovers in the first half and got in a hole because we were too sloppy. In the second quarter we fought and pressed well and were in a good position to win the game. It´s tough to lose the game on a last shot. We have worked so hard to win these games, but then we lose. I think that in the deciding moments we aren´t there mentally”, warned Thomas Adelt. Frankfurt was lucky that they escaped with a win. “This wasn´t our best game. Our ball movement wasn´t consistent today. We started off well in the first few minutes, but then their press made us play hectic. We had more ups and downs in the second half. We were a little sloppy at the end, but came out with the win”, added guard Len Schoormann. It was only Anish Sharda´s second game and he still getting used to things, but he had his moments hitting for 8 points and making some nice plays at both ends of the court. “I thought that our press was great and it kept us in the game. But we could of overall executed better on offense”, added ex TV Langen guard Anish Sharda.
At this time last season, the Dragons Rhondorf were in a way living in a fairy tale as they had experienced a great start to the season which carried them until the new year and had many jolly faces in the Dragon Dome. They were playing great team ball and most important winning games something that hadn´t been the case two seasons ago in the Pro A and the season before that left them in the playdowns saving their season with severe effort that almost bit them in their butts. A big reason for their success last season was there once in a century perfect acquisition in Kam Taylor who was the all around player any Pro B coach would love to have. A guy that filled the stat sheet like a mini Russell Westbrook and the kind of guy that had those perfect white teeth for that Crest commercial and had the jovial friendly smile that would invite any person from 8-80 to go out and have a tasty dinner and talk about life with him. Kameron Taylor was the team last season, but one can´t forget that head coach Thomas Adelt also had the correct supporting cast as unsung hero Viktor Frankl-Maus was one of the top point guards in the league and guys like Thomas Michel and Valentin Blass were the perfect supporting cast that had consistency and team play plastered into their heads the way Kyre Irving has that next Uncle Drew commercial in the off season. Times were great a year ago and overall the season was a good one even if their playoff run ended way to early. A year ago the Dragons Rhondorf had a 10-4 record and was one of the top teams in the Pro B south with the ScanPlus Baskets and a year later they are in the Pro B cellar with a 3-11 record and reeling for their basketball lives. The Dragons Rhondorf have had numerous problems this season that have reflected their current standings position in the Pro B south and problems that the club just haven´t been able to correct so far. The Dragons Rhondorf desperately need to quickly conjure up victories at 10 to midnight to save the season.
It would be interesting to see how a panther could hurt a dragon and somehow withstand its forceful and damaging fire that it releases from its mouth, but on the basketball court the wiha Panthers Schwenningen don´t have to worry about a hot fire, but have to find other means to beating the opponent. So far this season the ambitious team that belonged to the absolute best teams in the Regionalliga last season and currently haven´t lost a home game in over two years have had no problems adjusting to the Pro B coming into the game in Bad Honnef with a 8-4 record and have held their fans at home at the edge of their seats with overwhelming exciting wins againstWurzburg 68-66, 78-76 against Erfurt and against a 75-74 nail bitter against Orange Academy. At the other end of the court the Dragons Rhondorf´s fire hasn´t been burning very strongly this season as they came into the game with a disappointing 3-9 record and were reeling to get back on the winning track something that has been very difficult to master this season having lost their two import players early and have been hit by the injury bug that has robbed them of being able to develop any long lasting chemistry or consistency. The game boasted two of the leagues absolute star players with Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka who was averaging 17 points and 13 boards per game while Schwenningen boasted the undersized 199cm forward Rasheed Moore who dominated the Regionalliga last season averaging 21,4ppg and 7,4rpg and this season hasn´t let up in a higher league averaging 21,2ppg and 6,8rpg coming into the game. Schwenningen wanted to get back on track after a disappointing loss in Erfurt while the Dragons Rhondorf wanted to forget their 20 point loss in Coburg and gave a great fight for 38 minutes, but a basketball game has 40 minutes and the club failed in crunch time as the wiha Panthers Schwenningen displayed no hero ball surviving in the Dragon Dome with a 73-65 victory. After the game top Pro B player Rasheed Moore of the wiha Panters Schwenningen was relieved that his team could enjoy the long 6 hour bus ride home, because a loss most likely would have had them walking home as head coach Alen Velcic had expected a win and no less. “We didn´t make our open shots in the first half, but finally knocked down shots in the second half. They defended very well contesting our shots, messing us up with their press and their zone threw us off. But we did a better job beating their zone in the second half”, stressed Philadelphia native Rasheed Moore.
For six years German Viktor Frankl-Maus paradedin the Dragons Rhondorf back court and was the identity figure and heart andsoul of the team. The way he played the game and left his heart on the floorfor the Dragons, one had the feeling that he could never leave the club andbecome a Dragons lifer that would always give his all in the Dragon Dome forthe home court fan. But last summer he decided on taking on a new challenge andjoining Germany´s most famous sports club FC Bayern Munich and to be honest whocould blame him. It was a once in a lifetime chance to play for such arespected organization and later on tell his grand children stories of how hewas mingling with people like football legend Uli Hoeness or top player ThomasMuller or a Robert Lewondowski. Fans in Rhondorf not only will never forget hiseffort on the court, but the brilliant 2014-2015 Pro B season where the Germanled the club into the Pro A. Fans also won´t forget his beautiful feeds to topplayers like Aaron Nelson or Kameron Taylor in the last two seasons. The timehad to come where Frankl-Maus would return to his old stomping ground in theDragon Dome as he led the fifth ranked FC Bayern Munich who had a record of 5-2against his ex team Dragons Rhondorf who were resting in tenth place with adisappointing 2-6 record. It was a game where there was little differencebetween the two even though the standings told a different story. A basketballgame has 40 minutes, but the Dragons played only 37 minutes as they allowed FCBayern Munich to break out on a 10-0 run at the end to decide the game. Afterthe game ex Dragons Rhondorf guard Viktor Frankl-Maus was all smiles as he hadhelped lead his new team to a win over his ex team. “I was very happy to behere. It is one of the highlights for me this season. I was happy we got thewin and was very happy how much the fans cheered for me. It tells me that Ileft a lasting impression here. We had problems rebounding, but overall playedwell at both ends of the court. We didn´t play perfect and made mistakes, butwhen it counted most, we stuck together”, warned FC Bayern Munich guard ViktorFrankl-Maus. After the bitter loss Dragons Rhondorf center Zygimantas Riaukatold it like it was, but was still pleased with the club´s effort. “Theyoutrebounded us which is unacceptable. It came down to us missing some layups. Wemissed a couple of bunnies. I am happy how we played as a team. Everybody wasfighting. Earlier in the season we would have gave up. We are a young team, butcan´t make anymore excuses. We have some big games coming up and need to produce if we want to make the playoffs”, warned Zygimantas Riauka.
At this time last season the Dragons Rhondorf were hovering on cloud 9 and seemed invincible as they were led by future Pro B MVP Kameron Taylor who had an answer for almost everything on the court as was leading the team to brutal success and was time in and time out the savior. This season it has been like night and day for the former Pro A team as they are sitting in the Pro B cellar with an 0-3 record with the only good news that there are three other teams suffering the same fate as the Dragons with identical records. Nothing has gone right for the ambitious farm team of easyCredit BBL team Telekom Baskets Bonn as they are averaging a dismal 63 points and giving up a mediocre 83 points where any novice mathematician would come to the conclusion that you can´t win games like that. The Dragons Rhondorf have a talented roster, but still have to find themselves on the court as Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka has been the only real bright spot averaging 15 and 13 through the first three games and is keeping the paint area clean. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen are making amends for their lax start last season where they lost three of their first five games by racing out of the gate this season with a perfect 3-0 record. They haven´t faced the most stifest competition yet beating FC Bayern Munich that breeds young German talent and two 0-3 teams Erfurt and Coburg. So far 1993 European champion Hansi Gnad has done a fine job in his first season as head coach taking over the reigns from Leverkusen Achim Kuczmann and formed a good early season chemistry that will continue to build. With top player Ron Mvouika and a class of solid Germans, Leverkusen has been a pleasant surprise in the Pro B considering other top import Nick Hornsby doesn´t have to bring that big production he had to last season with Giessen. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen returned back to Rhondorf and wanted to get revenge for last season´s 90-72 spanking and did winning 84-68 despite getting a small scare at the start of the fourth by the Dragons Rhondorf, but buckled down and in the end won with ease. Leverkusen head coach Hansi Gnad had a long post game talk with his team, but when American Nick Hornsby returned back on the court to face the press, he didn´t try to avoid the difficulty of the game, but agreed that it was a hard fought win for his team. “It was a tough game . Rhondorf played a lot more physical. The bigs were stocky and the guards very fast and they played very physical. But we settled down in the second half and played diverse, taking care of the ball well and getting less turnovers while slowing down the game and playing inside out ball. Our guards Celebic and Blessig were a big help today”, stressed ex Sacramento State forward Nick Hornsby. After the game a pooped Zgyimantas Riauka who looked like he had just completed a marathon as he was still sweating like crazy minutes after the loss reflected on the game. “The difference was that they hit more shots than we did. They shot the three very well. We played tough, but they went on more runs. Our defense was great and we brought a lot of energy”, stressed Rhondorf center Zygimantas Riauka.
Raekwon Miller is a 22 year old 191cm guard from Marion, North Carolina embarking on his professional career in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. He played his NCAA career at NC-Asheville from 2014-2018 playing a total of 91 NCAA games. In his senior year he played 33 games averaging 11.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 47.9%, FT: 76.2%. He spoke to Germanhoops.com earlier in the summer about basketball.
Raekwon thanks for talking to Germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been coming along fresh out of school?
Right now I am currently back home enjoying my summer but also staying in the gym and working on my craft as I know its more important now than ever.
Before we get into the meat of the interview, I have to ask you about your unusual name. Does it have a special meaning and how did your parents come up with it?
My name was actually given to me by my brother, he listened to Raekwon the Chef apart of Wu tang Clan back in their day when it was really popular. My parents liked the name so they went with it.
Congrats on signing with German Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf. This was your first summer experiencing the professional transfer market. How was it for you and did you have a fair amount of offers or was it a tough go around?
The experience had me very anxious I mean I was basically putting all trust into my agent who is wonderful enough to get me the opportunity to play at the professional league. The waiting around for offers to come in got to me a little bit but it was all worth it in the end.
It had been a very long off season for Dragons Rhondorf fans coupled with an extremely shaky pre-season that left some uneasy question marks as big as an overgrown pumpkin in the minds of many, but as the season opener against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors was finally here, some of that tension building up was simply relieved by the fact that the team was 0-0 and it was a home clash in a place where in the last season often good things had happened. The opponent Fraport Skyliners Juniors also rang a sweet bell in that last season the Dragons Rhondorf had supplied the home court fans with one of the most exciting games of the season with the unforgettable and magical Kameron Taylor buzzer beater where he sank a beautiful step back jumper over the out stretched hand of Jules Akodo and this master piece of a shot and ending couldn´t have been produced any better if the hero then would have been a Jordan, Lebron or Durant. It was one of those incredible endings that at that time really sparked the club and gave them the needed self confidence that they could win really nail bitters at any time. This season there was no Kameron Taylor who had fled to Hungary to continue his career, but still a lot of hope that something magical could happen this season simply because that is how most feel at the start of a season where the cards are newly stacked and extra confidence brewing in that opening game. As always the Fraport Skyliners Juniors arrived in Rhondorf with their young German bucks as their youth program continues to build and develop guys further and this season seem like a real dangerous squad on paper. Many of the usual suspects were on board like Garai Zeeb, Konstantin Schubert and Armin Trotovac who combined boast more than 40 BBL games, but also had three new exciting faces on board from three different countries. The most interesting Swede Elijah Clarance who was top scorer at the 2018 European U-20 championships, young German big man Aaron Kayser who could be the next Johannes Voigtmann or Danilo Barthel and American JT Roach who is a rookie from Concordia-Irvine(NCAA2) and as usual one of those guys that Frankfurt reels in every season that has a lethal shot and will help the young kids. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors came into the game as huge favorites on paper, but after 40 minutes there wasn´t such a big difference between the two teams as Frankfurt squeezed out a hard fought 75-68 victory as the Clarance and Roach show combined for 41 points. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed inconsistency which isn´t surprising in the first game of the season while the Dragons Rhondorf were also rusty, but showed superb fighting qualities and had the heart of a lion. After the win Fraport Skyliners Juniors Swedish sensation Elijah Clarance was happy the club could escape wit a win. “I thought it was ok since it was the first time we played together as a team. We were shaky on offense, but great on defense. We played hard, stuck together and had good chemistry”, stated 2018 U-20 European champions top scorer Elijah Clarance. The Dragons Rhondorf played a spirited game, but there were two area´s where the club had huge deficits. “We had problems on the pick and roll defense and ball screens. We also had too many turnovers and I take blame. I had too many for a point guard”, stressed ex North Carolina Ashville guard Raekwon Miller.
The first quarter was an ugly affair as one could see the opening day jitters that were rampant with both teams. Many misses on offense and turnovers were more prevalent in the first minutes than the beautiful sound of swishes. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors raced out to a quick 6-2 lead as Armin Trtovac gave his presence in the zone and Clarance dropped a trey. However the Dragons Rhondorf didn´t put their heads in the sand, but fought back and took the 7-6 lead getting a Julian Jasinski lay in who has played 21 BBL games with Hagen and Bonn and a trey by Miller who shot 47% in his senior year in the NCAA. The game was very even then as there were seven lead changes with ex St Johns forward Richard Freudenberg scored a runner, Lithuanian Zygimantas Riauka scored in the paint, Freudenberg made a two handed stuff, Miller made a finger tip roll in like Tiny Archibald back in the day, Brit Jules Akodo sunk free throws, 17 year old German Marc Klepser snuck inside back door as Riauka served up the sweet dime and ex Hanau center Tobias Jahn made a lay in as fans were offered some minor mouth dropping plays in the first few minutes.
A few weeks ago, Dragons Rhondorf fans had the first opportunity to witness Pro B basketball again during the Gezeiten Cup where they battled against easyCredit BBL teams and one could sense with many of the excited faces that the six month basketball vacation had been like a nasty eternity and thye were just happy to have the usual basketball experience again even if the lopsided scorers didn´t bother anyone because they weren´t supposed to annoy any of the first division teams. One saw many of the known faces off the court and even some shy new ones who were trying to get a feel for the atmosphere and the game. However there was very much different and one could sense on many of the hardcore Dragons fans that they were already playing mind games with themselves and playing out how the new season will run it´s course on September first. Off the court much was the same, but on the court the change of Dragon faces was as noticeable as it is for everyone that Jogi Low has his hands full with developing a new German national team. Obviously the two main scoring threats from last season Kameron Taylor and Viktor Frankl-Maus who almost combined for half of the team scoring had fled to greener pastures. Taylor went to Hungary where he should be a top player and team identity figure Frankl-Maus who wore the Dragons jersey for six seasons escaped to FC Bayern Munich 2, but who can blame him from going from the Rhein and beautiful family Dragons atmosphere to the Isar and high society of FC Bayern Munich where he can bump into a Uli Honess or Thomas Mueller as easily as he would in Rhondorf into a Dragons fan in their very small downtown area. Even if these two losses are serious blows, the club couldn´t even hold their role players as guys like Thomas Michel, Valentin Blass and Anton Geretzky also left leaving head coach Thomas Adelt with a totally new challenge of withstanding a massive team face lift and building a new team that will be competitive in the Pro B. Can the Dragons Rhondorf master a rebuilding season? One thing is for sure, many of the hardcore fans will have two dates crossed off in their home schedule with FC Bayern Munich and the RheinStars where they will be reunited with Frankl-Maus, Michel and Blass again.
The one thing that every basketball team dreads is playing the first game on the final day during a tournament because that means they are playing for nothing, but pride as the two final teams can relax a bit more and rest their muscles while the two losing semi-finalists have to forgo a hearty lunch and play in the early afternoon. The Fraport Skyliners had a short recovery period after their disappointing 85-79 loss to s.Oliver Wurzburg as they had less than 24 hours to return to the court with a clash with Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf. It was obvious that Frankfurt was still very early in the pre season as they had some fine moments against Wurzburg, but that that feared defensive ensemble that head coach Gordon Herbert builds each season was still far away, but that is expected at this point of the pre season as the one on one defense and communication was a major work in progress. Their offense showed massive potential and Erik Murphy was a major bright spot that showed right away that he could do a lot more than shoot the ball and that his rebounding was efficient. So for the Fraport Skyliners meeting the weaker Dragons Rhondorf came just right for their team to continue to work on their offense, get some new added self confidence and also to work further on their shaky defense. For the Dragons Rhondorf meeting another easyCredit BBL team was another huge test that they most likely wouldn´t win, but just getting the experience to match against an ex NBA player, battle BBL legend Quantez Robertson and all the other talented players was like a gift where the young Germans and talented imports Raekwon Miller and Joe Mvoezolo could work on their game and match up against the best. Even if the Dragons Rhondorf made it a game for a quarter, they were unable to keep that consistent level as a nasty 24-0 run in the second quarter erupted the Fraport Skyliners in winning an immense lopsided game 99-36. After the big win head coach Gordon Herbert didn´t look happy or content, but the way he does after every game in that he knows that there is always room for improvement even after a 63 point drubbing of a Pro A team. “Our intensity was better on the defensive end and our team play was a lot better. It is hard for guys to find a rhythm when you play 12 guys so today we first played 10 guys and put in Vargas and Freudenberg in the second half. They gave us a lot of energy in the third quarter”, stated head coach Gordon Herbert. For the Dragons Rhondorf it was a worse performance than against Bonn where they lost by 42 points, but the club sees it as a learning experience and nothing else. “I thought we did many of the small things well, but we still have a lot of work to do. Important now is that we stay positive”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf head coach Thomas Adelt.
The Dragons Rhondorf came out focused while the Fraport Skyliners may still have had their pre game video session in their minds which Gordon Herbert had implied after the loss to Wurzburg and weren´t as focused on the court while the Pro B team rushed out to a 7-4 lead surprising the guests. Rhondorf spread the ball around getting baskets from Joe Mvuezolo, Alex Moeller and a trey from husky forward Yannick Kneesch, but the Frankfurt side didn´t let this minor shock effect their game as they got calm and started to move their offense which led to sound execution with a 20 footer from ex Chicago Bull Erik Murphy, a trey by ex Baylor(NCAA) sniper Brady Heslip and a lay in by Canadian rookie Trae Bell-Haynes as Frankfurt led 12-7 as their 8-0 run was only a preview of what would later happen.