Every season there are always numerous new players that arrive in the Pro B to show their extraordinary basketball abilities with the hope of being able to showcase their talent to a vast array of people and hoping to continue to develop and make the next step at a higher level. The Dragons Rhondorf and Bayer Giants Leverkusen have three of these players that squared off against each other in the Dragon Dome with the one player big dawg Aaron Nelson that stands 203cm that cleans up in the paint area and at times is unstoppable and only content when he gets a double double as he averaged double double stats as a senior at S. Indiana and as a rookie in Chile with Los Leones de Quilpue. The other two players stood on the other side as one guy is a pure scorer and has the same last name as an ex American president. Kerry Carter who played at St Mary(NCAA) and last season had a 5 game stint in Europe´s best league in Spain Endesa with Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias and racked up 9 points in 10 minutes against top club Real Madrid. The last player in this trio is an American that like Nelson loves to get physical inside and post double doubles and loves Manchester United. Brandon Nazione played at Eastern Michigan and has mixed it up in the Pro B this season and had his first very tough match up against Nelson. This game not only matched up three top players who wanted to do as much as possible to help lead their club to victory, but was also the homecoming of German Tim Schonborn who played three seasons with the Dragons amassing 78 games. With so many interesting side stories to the contest, one had the tendency to forget that the most important aspect to the evening was two teams battling for a win as the 2-2 Dragons Rhondorf were looking to keep their home record spotless while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen also 2-2 were still looking for their first road victory of the season, but that still had to wait as they lost their fourth game in a row in Rhondorf since 2008 92-87 in OT. In the head to head battle Kerry Carter finished with 31 points having a 27 efficiency rate while Aaron Nelson finished with 26 points and nine boards and also a 27 efficiency rate, but the Rhondorf American won the game. After the game, Nelson was torn and tattered as Leverkusen had really made him work hard for his pay check. “I take every game the same. We knew that Carter was a good scorer and we had to try to focus on him more, but also take away the rest of the team. He had a very good game and I am just glad we came away with the win”, stressed Illinois native Aaron Nelson. Carter didn´t show it with his game face still on after the game, but one could see that he was very peeved at the loss. “I never caught up in these type of matchups. Some players get overhyped while others are off the radar. Nelson is a great player and had a great game. I go into every game the same way no matter who we play”, warned Bayer Giants Leverkusen scoring ace Kerry Carter.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were unable to connect in their first three possessions, but then got some buckets from ex Dragon Tim Schonborn and 31 year old German Gotz Twiehof scored for the early 4-2 advantage, but then it was time for the Canadian sensation Mike Lucier who gave the word scoring a new special meaning as he rattled off seven unanswered points giving Rhondorf the 9-4 lead. He can always dazzle you with his trey, but he got aggressive early in the paint as he scored twice and then made a steal and went coast to coast for the dunk. Rhondorf continued to carry the momentum upping their lead to 13-6 as Aaron Nelson scored as did Thomas Michel. However one can only control a guy like Kerry Carter so long as he had been stifled by Rhondorf in the first five minutes, but then got his motor going as he carried the Bayer Giants on a 13-4 run giving them the 19-17 lead as he nailed three trey´s. Leverkusen had found their offensive rhythm and closed out the first quarter strong with the fourth three pointer of Carter and an Alexander Blessing lay in. New York native Will Trawick finished the first quarter with a timely three pointer cutting the Leverkusen lead to 23-22. “I was really happy with how Patrick Reusch played. It wasn´t easy for him to come in and replace Viktor Frankl-Maus. He did a good job on offense and finding the open man. You can never really control a Carter. Take away his 10 points and we would have given up 13 points and the game would have looked a lot different”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 47% from the field and 50% from outside while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 40% from the field and 20% from outside. Rhondorf had the slim 12-10 rebound edge, but five turnovers while Leverkusen had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen got off to a rough start once again not executing on their first three possessions, while Rhondorf went on a 10-1 run to extend their lead to 32-24. In the run, Rhondorf got solid production from Aaron “big dawg” Nelson scoring inside twice, Will Trawick also got aggressive finishing in the paint and Sascha Tratnjek scored. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were just careless in their sets and pulled off two quick possessions without really getting settled. But then came the turning point of the second quarter as the Bayer Giants Leverkusen switched to zone propelling them on a 9-0 run as Carter once again got going again scoring seven points getting the guests the 33-32 advantage. Carter scored twice in the lane and once from the parking lot. 17 year old German Anton Geretzki stopped the run connecting on a pretty high rainbow giving Rhondorf the 35-33 lead which didn´t hold up long as American rookie Brandon Nazione controlled an offensive rebound and made the put back tying the game at 35-35. Trawick made a free throw and lay in sending Rhondorf into halftime with the tight 39-36 lead. “We started well, but they came back when they went to zone taking away our strength with Nelson and Lucier. We gave up an open three pointer to Carter which should never happen”, added Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 31% from the field and 23% from the three point line while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 41% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Rhondorf had the 27-22 rebound edge and eight turnovers while Leverkusen had nine turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Dragons Rhondorf got off to another good start which was benefited by their two opening stops which led to an 8-2 run lifting their lead to 47-38. Geretzki started the run with his second trey and Nelson scored in bunches making it look so easy. But basketball always remains a game of runs as Rhondorf didn´t execute on the next few possessions which enabled Leverkusen to tie the game at 47-47 benefited by an overwhelming 9-0 run. In the run the ex BBL team got some free throws, a reverse lay up by Carter, and a Schonborn lay in and trey. The game now was a dog fight as a team would take the lead and then the other would match them. Nazione made a massive dunk and Schonborn continued to be aggressive from all areas of the court and made an acrobatic lay in tying the game at 52-52. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen closed out the third quarter with the 61-57 lead as they got some instant offense from Blessing who dropped a three and made a steal and went coast to coast for the lay in. Carter and Nazione finished with two lay ins. “We got more stops and let our defense dictate our offense instead of the other way around. I just wish that we could of done that more throughout the game”, said ex St Mary´s guard Kerry Carter. “We turned the ball over too much and they hit shots. That is when basketball becomes a game of runs. They saw the ball go in and automatically they played better offense and defense. That always feels good”, added Dragons Rhondorf forward Will Trawick. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 47% from the field and 35% from the parking lot while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 35% from the field and 29% from the parking lot. Rhondorf had the 34-31 rebound advantage, but 16 turnovers while Leverkusen had 14 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, despite not executing on their first two possessions, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen soon got going taking a healthy lead and it seemed like they would carry it back home, but let the game slip away in the last four minutes letting Rhondorf sneak back and force OT. Rhondorf started off on a 4-0 run as German Patrick Reusch nailed free throws and Lucier scored inside to dead lock the game at 61-61. Then Leverkusen upped their defensive intensity and rushed out on a stellar 7-2run to lead 69-63. In the run, Leverkusen was fortified by Carter with two lay ups, a Nazione reverse lay up showing on more than one occasion during the game that he can play like a guard at the 203cm frame, and a Michael Kuczmann jumper. Rhondorf continued to battle back with Nelson free throws and a Reusch lay in to cut the Leverkusen lead to 69-67. However then it seemed like the Bayer Giants Leverkusen would slam the door on Rhondorf with a timely 9-0 run as crunch-time was approaching. In the run, Leverkusen was aided by a Carter trey and Nazione lay in off a second chance and then a hard dunk off a steal and coast to coast run. Leverkusen was aided by their two best American imports and it seemed like they couldn´t falter now with three minutes remaining. However behind the massive support of their fans, Rhondorf continued to chip away at the lead and come back. Rhondorf made the game dramatic going on an unbelievable 11-0 run to retake the lead 78-77 with a minute to play. In the run, Rhondorf got potent production from Aaron Nelson who got to the free throw line three times and helped the team come back. “Leverkusen made it tough for me all night. They made me work for every bucket. I knew at this time that I had to assert my dominance and get to the free throw line, get buckets and rebounds”, added Aaron Nelson. The Dragon Dome went out of control when Will Trawick nailed the go ahead three for the 78-77 Rhondorf lead. “My shot was huge. It felt amazing when it went in. We came from being down despite them having control. I sucked the momentum out of them and gave some energy to our fans while we took the momentum into OT. I never think about shooting, because the more you do the more you tend to miss. My coach and teammates always give me the confidence to keep shooting”, stressed ex Emory(NCAA3) guard Will Trawick. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen had the chance to win the game down the stretch, but Carter attempted an air ball and then missed a lay up. “I should of made those two shots regardless if I was tired or not”, warned Kerry Carter. Bastian Winterhalter then connected on free throws and Nazione put the game into OT with two free throws tying the game at 79-79. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 34% from the field and 30% from outside while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were shooting 46% from the field and 27% from outside. Rhondorf had the 42-37 rebound edge, but 20 turnovers while Leverksuen had 19 turnovers.
In the OT it was the Rhondorf German kid´s show of Reusch and Falkenstein that led the club past the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. The Dragons Rhondorf went on a quick 5-2 run to lead 84-81. The run was sparked by the clever play by Patrick Reusch who showed a lot of responsibility scoring inside, then drawing a foul and nailing free throws and then making a steal. Lucier added free throws. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen made one last push going on a 6-2 run to cut the Rhondorf advantage to 85-84. In the run, Leverkusen was sparked by a Blessing fingertip roll in and two buckets in the paint by Brandon “the beast” Nazione. After a Michel free throw came the closing dagger into the heart of Leverkusen as 18 year German David Falkenstein who only practices once a week with the team stepped into a passing lane made the steal and went coast to coast for the lay in and 88-85 lead. Lucier and Reusch closed out the game with free throws as Rhondorf stayed unbeaten at home. “The kids played great. Reusch played with a lot of confidence and Falkenstein doesn´t practice much with us, but still knows all the plays was huge. Our focus was too make it tough on Carter at the end and we did a good job”, stressed Aaron Nelson. “We should of played tougher and smarter in OT. A few turnovers at the end cost us the game. We played good defense, but they just scored a little more”, added ex eastern Michigan forward Brandon Nazione. “Every guy on our team can give good minutes. Falkenstein and Reuch played good defense and had good drives. They were huge for us”, warned Will Trawick. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Aaron nelson with 26 points and nine rebounds. Will Trawick added 18 points and Mike Lucier 16 points while Patrick Reusch scored 10 points. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were led by Kerry Carter with 31 points, four rebounds, six assists and five steals. Brandon Nazione added 21 points and 12 rebounds. Tim Schonborn supplied 12 points and nine rebounds. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 34% from the field and 29% from the three point line while the Bayer Giants Leverkusen shot 46% from the field and 23% from the three point line. Rhondorf had the 46-43 rebound edge and 22 turnovers and Leverkusen coughed up the ball 24 times.