It is that time of the year in the Beko BBL, where teams see each other for the second time of the season and teams aren’t the same at the start like in Oldenburg where two new players have arrived with Eddie Gill and Luka Bogdanovic and so much has changed in the last months and recently like The Gloria Giants Duesseldorf making it seem like only pigs could fly if they would ever upset The Brose Baskets Bamberg, but they did, or Tom Brady who is focused to win his 4th Superbowl championship, but is becoming more and more the respected father as he is spending much extra time with his little son on a scooter in downtown Boston when he might be protecting his ankles in a bubble until the Superbowl is over and how the time of comebacks might finally be over for legendary Green Bay Packers Bret Favre as this would be a radical change since he has been the master of the comebacks like Ratiopharm Ulm Lee Humphrey is netting three pointers at the rate of a fine tuned clock work. After the bitter 87-82 loss in Ulm, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners will have to be ready for the new changes with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg as they meet the club from coach Predrag Krunic only 72 hours later on Sunday January 9th. Just how well has Oldenburg grown in last months? Oldenburg has grown like every other team has so far. They first had to find an identity, because they had lost players from last season and the new players had to find their roles. The team has improved and is playing better as the season has gone along”, stressed TBB Trier guard John Bynum.
The club has brought in American Eddie Gill and Serb Luka Bogdanovic as replacements for the disappointing Steven Smith and Nemanja Protic who had been released recently. Eddie is a 32 year old 183cm guard who is named the thrill. He has had a solid NBA career having played 200 NBA games for teams like the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies and Seattle Supersonics, but also played two full seasons for the Indiana Pacers from 2004-2006. He also has had European experience having played in Greece and Italy and last season in Belgium for Base Oostende (Belgium-D1, starting five): 26 games: 7.0ppg, 3.8rpg, Assists-2(4.3apg), Steals-2(2.2spg), FGP: 28.0%, 3PT: 27.8%, FT: 78.0%. So far this season for Oldenburg, he has played five BEKO BBL games averaging 6,2ppg, 2,0rpg and 3,6apg in 18 minutes per game. Luka Bogdanovic is a 25 year old 210cm forward from Serbia. He has a great shooting touch and can hit the three pointer and mid range jumper and is effective on the defensive glass. However he has mediocre athletic ability, but has played very solid whereever he has played. He started his career at Crvena Zvezda Beograd and in the last years has played for Partizan Belgrad, Le Mans, and DKV Joventut Badalona . In his career, he has played 92 games in team international play including 51 Euroleague games. From 2007-2010, he was able to score in double figures each season twice in Euroleague play and once in Eurocup play. The experience that the only 25 year old has is unmatched on the Oldenburg roster. Last season, he played for DKV Joventut Badalona (Spain-ACB): EuroCup: 12 games: 10.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 80.0%; Spanish League: 34 games: 9.3ppg, 3.3rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 80.0%. This season, Bogdanovic is averaging 10,0ppg and 3,0rpg in 19 minutes per game.
“Gill gives them flexibility at the guard position and Bogdanovic gives them size and depth under the basket”, said John Bynum. “Gill and Bogdanovic make Oldenburg stronger especially with the Serb under the basket”, added Walter Tiger Tuebingen forward Ruben Spoden. If The EWE Baskets are strong enough to win the 2011 title with Gill and Bogdanovic is the question? “If they can win it all is a difficult question since The BEKO BBL is so tight. Duesseldorf showed that with the win against Bamberg. Many teams can win it all. Oldenburg is in top form now and surely one of the top teams in the league now. It will be interested to see how Oldenburg does as they are carried by Rickey Paulding. He is a great player”, warned Ruben Spoden. “I think that Gill and Bogdanovic are doing a great job and will only continue to get better in the second half. Are they are the missing pieces to win it all? Only time will tell, but they got much better with these two pieces”, stressed John Bynum.
After the sensational 2009 BEKO BBL title win by The EWE Baskets Oldenburg, there were some careful tones about a possible dynasty start in Oldenburg like in Berlin in 1997. However these dreams were squashed last season as quickly as when people were thinking that Lebron James would turn his back on the big bucks and stay in Cleveland. In 2009-2010, The EWE Baskets Oldenburg finished the regular season in first place with a record of 25-9, but then seemed to run out of gas in the playoffs losing to The New Yorker Phnatoms Braunschweig in the first round 3-1 despite having a 1-0 lead. After the good season record, Oldenburg fans might have rather bet that fan favourite Ricky Paulding might jump into the Weser river and cool off on a hot day or possible future doctor Ruben Boumtje Boumtje coming on to the floor and replace the trainer shortly helping a hurt Oldenburg player than betting that the team would bow out of the playoffs so early and unexpectedly. “It wasn´t easy for Oldenburg all season as Jason Gardner was fighting his injury and having to find his rhythm all over again so often. As the defending champion, you are always the team that is chased by every other team. The opponents had nothing to lose and could play without pressure. I don´t think that Oldenburg really did much wrong. They were a good team, but were missing some luck in the playoffs”, stressed Pascal Roller. The way Oldenburg was kicked out of the playoffs was surprising for some and then again not for others. It spoke volumes for the competitive and balanced BEKO BBL were surprises area s normal as the almost daily press releases concerning new scandals with actress Lindsy Lohan. “ After the crazy regular season, it didn´t surprise me that Braunschweig beat Oldenburg in the playoffs. Anything is possible in the BEKO BBL. Last year no teams in the top 4 reached the semi finals which is something very rare in the European leagues”, stressed Skyliner sports director Kamil Novak.
Oldenburg management didn´t want to risk any possible future disappointment with the core of the team that lost to Braunschweig and decided on an extensive house cleaning losing Americans Jason Gardner, Je Kel Foster and BEKO BBL rookie Josh Carter. The club also said farewell to the eastern block fraction with players Jasmin Perkovic, Milan Majstorovic and Marko Scekic. Ruben Boumtje Boumtje also departed even if it isn´t so far away to the Artland Dragons. Despite the extreme face lift, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg should belong to the top teams in the BEKO BBL. “I think that Oldenburg will be strong again. Campbell can take control of the game at any time. Many guys left, but I think that the team will find themselves and be very strong again”, warned Skyliner captain Pascal Roller. BG Goettingen coach John Patrick isn´t the only coach in the BEKO BBL that has the right feeling of taste how to add the right spices for a successful team, but Oldenburg coach Predrag Krunic also has had a knack for having the right touch. This season, he has added a solid mix with two Americans, two Serbians, two Germans, an Australian and a Lithuanian. The biggest signing and somewhat of a coup was getting the services of American Lou Campbell. He is a 31 year old 190cm point guard from New Jersey that played three years in Japan was easily the top playmaker in the BEKO BBL last season. Had he been with Oldenburg last season, he might have made the difference between an early exit in the playoffs and a second championship. Last season, he played for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven leading the team into the playoffs playing 43 games averaging 13.0ppg, 3.6rpg, Assists-2(5.7apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 81.6% . He can guide an offense, but also score when needed especially in crunch time and has the experience to help take Oldenburg over the top. Currently Campbell is averaging 10,2ppg, 2,7rpg and 4,3apg.
The team signed Oliver Stevic from Serbia who is the teams top scorer averaging 12,7ppg, 7,9rpg and 1,1apg. Stevic is a 26 year old 204cm forward. He has collected experience playing four years in the Polish league and last season played for top Serbian team KK Crvena Zvezda Beograd (Serbia-A League, starting five): Serbian League: 16 games: 9.0ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.1apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 57.7%, FT: 58.2%; Adriatic League: 24 games: 7.0ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 62.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 66.7%; EuroCup: 11 games: 8.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP-1(71.9%), FT: 53.3%. Coach Predrag Krunic got real experience with Mindaugas Lukauskis who is a 31 year old 198 cm forward from Lithuania. He played for top European club Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius from 2003-2009. In this time, he played 39 Euroleague games and 38 Eurocup games. Last season, he played in France for ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket (France-ProA, starting five): French League: 30 games: 10.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 61.5%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 83.0%; Euroleague: 10 games: 8.1ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.1apg, Steals-2(2.3spg), FGP: 67.7%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 80.0%. He could become the x factor this season at the forward position. Currently, he is averaging 11,5ppg, 3,0rpg and 2,4apg and he is shooting 49% from the field and 42% from the three point line.
The club also signed Australian Aron Baynes who is a 24 year old 208cm center. He played at Washington State from 2005-2009. Last season, he played for Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius playing Euroleague: 10 games: 5.5ppg, 3.0rpg, FGP: 51.1%, FT: 64.3%; Baltic League: 15 games: 10.1ppg, 4.5rpg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP-3(66.7%), FT: 77.5%. For a 24 year old, Baynes has a lot of potential and already has gathered much experience playing U-20 and U-21 for Australia, playing four games at the World Championships in Turkey averaging 1,5ppga nd 1,3rpg, reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008 and winning the Lithuanian Cup in 2010. Currently Baynes is averaging 6,6ppg and 4,3rpg. The team also signed up and coming German national player Christopher Mcnaughton. Mcnaughton is a 27 year old 211cm center. He is a true back-to-the-basket big man, but does possess good mobility for his size. He started his basketball career in the Bamberg system in 2000 playing 35 games for TSV Troester Breitengrussbach in the second Bundesliga. He then played at Bucknell from 2003-2007. After getting valuable experience in the NCAA, he played two years in spain before moving to BG Goettingen in 2009-2010. He helped the club win the Eurochallenge and scoring 22 points in the final. He played EuroChallenge: 15 games: 8.9ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 61.4%, FT: 71.1%; German League: 37 games: 7.4ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 62.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 71.4%. Currently he is averaging 5,1ppg and 1,7rpgThe team also signed Robin Smeulders who is a 23 year old 208cm forward who was born in Munster and has the German/Dutch citizenship. He started his basketball career at SG FT/MTV Braunschweig (Germany-2.Bundesliga). He then went to the States and played at Portland from 2006-2010. In his senior year, he played 32 games averaging 12.3ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 50.7%, FT: 73.3%. Currently he is averaging 1,8ppg and 1,2rpg. The team kept Rickey Paulding who is a 27y ear old 196cm guard that averaged 13.2ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 33.2%, FT: 72.6%. This could be the season where more focus is drawn upon him since the departures of Gardner and Foster. Currently Paulding is averaging 11,2ppg, 4,9rpg and 2,4apg. His shooting is still down at 39% from the field and 26% from the parking lot. Young German Daniel Hain who is a 25 year old 195cm guard/forward who got a first taste of the German National team in a training camp in Mallorca this past summer is starting his fourth season in Oldenburg. Last season, he played 36 games averaging 1.4ppg, 1.1rpg. Currently in limited action, he is averaging 1,3ppg and 1,1rpg. The team also kept Acha Njei who is a 25 year old 190cm guard and will be playing his second season for Oldenburg. “Oldenburg got stronger inside with Mcnaughton and Smeulders and a strong playmaker with Campbell. They are very strong on paper”, stated Kamil Novak.
Currently The EWE Baskets are in 5th place with a record of 10-7. They started the season on fire with a 4 game winning streak beating Frankfurt, Braunschweig and the Artland Dragons. Then they had a rough period where they lost six of eight games including games to Phoenix Hagen and The Walter Tigers Tuebingen. The club then made changes bringing in Gill and Bogdanovic and since then the team has won four of the last five games and are slowly starting to find their rhythm and chemistry with the two new players. Since 2005, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have a negative 6-9 record, but have a positive 4-1record at home. Both teams played the first game of the season with Oldenburg winning 70-67 as Frankfurt had control of the game for 38 minutes, but lost their nerves at the end of the game. One must remember that Frankfurt had no Joe Dabbert who was injured and had two new players with Brad Buckman and Jermaine Bucknor who had just exited the plane with jet lag. Due to the circumstances, Frankfurt played a very well game. Frankfurt shot miserable at 37% from the field and 27% from downtown, but won the rebounding duel and sustained only 11 turnovers. AJ Moye led Frankfurt with 14 points and Oliver Stevic paced Oldenburg with 17 points. Frankfurt is going into the game with their first two game losing streak of the season and will have to improve some things. “We have to find different ways to use our speed and get that old chemistry back on offense and defense. Our offense has to get better as well”, warned current BEKO BBL top scorer Dashaun Wood. Oldenburg is playing very strong basketball with a very balanced scoring attack as five players ares coring in double figures. The team averages 73 points per game and Frankfurt will have to defend better than in Bonn and Ulm to be successful. “Frankfurt will have to control the tempo as usual and Wood do what he does each week. If it becomes and up and down game then I really like the chances of Frankfurt. Oldenburg has to find a way to control the tempo and run when they can and attack certain players on the defensive end. Either way it will be a good game”, warned John Bynum. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners welcome The EWE Baskets Oldenburg on Sunday January 9th at 19:30.