If one had to choose one Beko BBL player that could challenge ex NBA player and sunny boy Casey Jacobsen´s professionalism and his identity rate to his team Brose Baskets Bamberg, then it wouldn´t take long to come up with EWE Baskets Oldenburg American Rickey Paulding. The Detroit native like Jacobson has lesser ties to the NBA than the California native in that he never played, but was drafted by his hometown Detroit Pistons. However Paulding is the kind of guy that can smile with the best of them when one mentions his good friend Jimmy Mckinney after a game, but also unleash that focused and straight ahead look similar to the way one can observe on a Jacobson on the court. Recently Oldenburg played their last regular season game in Giessen as it was more of a Sunday stroll than any player needing to sweat hard as they easily dismantled them 90-59 and after the game, Paulding as usual was prepared to answer any questions and did like a professional. He and his team after the win were exerting a careful confident, but not arrogant type of body language with their task the Eurochallenge Final 4 in Izmir. Nobody wanted to admit it really, but in a way they were favorites and why shouldn´t they have been after they went undefeated in the regular season of the competition. It was so much more of a shock when they lost in the semi final to Krasiyaka 66-62. Oldenburg wanted so badly to win their second team title in their history, but the blow of not winning another hardware must have been as disappointing as it is for a Chevy car fan finding out that the car plant in Detroit only has Ford cars. Even if Oldenburg got third place beating French team Gravelines, there is no justice in that, but at least they still have the Beko BBL playoffs now.
So now the main focus for Oldenburg lies in the playoffs. The team led by 1995 Korac cup winner Sebastian Machowski as head coach came into the season as one of those teams that would be near the top and might be able to annoy some of the top teams. They didn´t disappoint anyone by finishing the regular season in second place and reaching the Eurochallenge final 4. During the season, they whipped up winning streaks of six, five, four and three games. They were able to sweep FC Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin, Artland Dragons and the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. Oldenburg is a team that can put points on the board averaging 78 this season. They may have the best starting five in the league. Machowski did a good job this season making their defense stronger as the team gave up under 70 points 17 times, finally brought in a classic point guard with Dru Joyce and lets his players use as many options as possible within the individual qualities that each player possesses. Machowski really has a very versatile lineup with Joyce/Kramer at the pg position, maybe the best shooting guard/small forward tandem in the Beko BBL with Julius Jenkins and Rickey Paulding, a good inside presence with experienced ex ACB American Adam Chubb and inside out player Ronny Burrell who showed Frankfurt why you can´t leave him open from the parking lot. The bench is also has stability, but not depth with ex Skyliners Konrad Wysocki and Dominik Bahiense De mello. Robin Smuelders was a big surprise and should could have won most improved player. Their biggest weakness could be the possibility of underachieving, because everything is possible with this team and also consistency on defense as they haven´t been as strong as in the first half of the season.
Who could forget the end to last season as the Telekom Baskets Bonn won a do or die game against Frankfurt on the last game day and then shocked Bamberg on the road in game one with an upset as Tony Gaffney and Andrej Mangold danced on the court celebrating just the second win in Bamberg in two years for any Beko BBL team. Even though Bonn had to fight to get into the playoffs, this season was a bit less unspectacular than last season, but they did beat FC Bayern Munich in OT, the second win in a row at home. Possibly the biggest headline this season wasn´t the play of Bonn, but the departure of Marquis Blakely. How much the departure of sniper Robert Vaden will effect the team now in the playoffs will be interesting to see. The season was pretty much up and down. Except for a five game winning streak in January/February and a three game winning streak recently, the team didn´t have much to cheer about. Their two biggest highlights was sweeping ratiopaharm Ulm and beating Bamberg at home. Bonn is definitely a team with scorers, but that they would average 81 points per game as a team most certainly must have surprised some people. They scored over 80 points 17 times including 100 points or more five times and even out slugged Phoenix Hagen 103-101 which isn´t easy to do beating them at their game. Their biggest strength and weapon is Jared Jordan. The team goes and sputters depending how he plays. It doesn´t matter if he is held scoreless in Trier, he still effected the game with 17 assists or if he needs to be a scorer against MBC with 21 points or does it combined scoring and playmaking against FC Bayern Munich with 19 points and 13 assists, Bonn wins. However when he is shut down as he was in Frankfurt with two assists in 30 minutes, then Bonn is more prone to losing. Just the presence of dinosaur Chris Ensminger on the court or bench is a plus even if his minutes were strongly reduced. Bonn has a strong offense that has deadly scorers like Benas Veikalis and Kyle Weems. The addition of American Jamel Mclean has been a huge spark as he needed little integration and has been very solid finishing very well near the rim. David Mccray and Andrej Mangold are aggressive defenders that make the game faster and make their transition game more effective. The biggest weakness was the departure of Robert Vaden who puts a dent into their scoring and their thin bench. German Jonas Wolfarth-Bottermann has made big strides, but the development of Fabian Thülig has stalled a bit with less minutes. Both will be needed to supply power in this series.
This will be an interesting series as you have the potent Oldenburg team against a weakened, but annoying Bonn team who will want to leave a lasting impression on this season. Oldenburg is the favorite in this series not only having the home court advantage, but because they have more talent and the deeper bench. The duel of the game could be Kyle Weems vs Ronny Burrell. Weems will have to have a very good series, while Burrell who has the stronger supporting cast won´t have as much pressure to perform, but if he plays solid will be a thorn in the side of the Bonn defense. If Oldenburg can keep Jared Jordan from wheeling and dealing and making a mess in the Oldenburg defense then they will have good chances of easily winning this series. One can´t forget that the teams split the season series. Bonn showed how effective they can be when they defend beating Oldenburg 90-57 and keeping Lebron James friend Dru Joyce scoreless and paralyzed forcing him to six turnovers and keeping them to 32% from the field and 17% from outside and dominating the boards. Rebound work will also be key for Bonn in this series. In the return game, Bonn lost 84-74 in Oldenburg where they had a very bad shooting day. Bonn will have to defend with heart to make any kind of progress in this series. They will have to find a way to contain the Oldenburg inside game as well as their dangerous perimeter shooters. Oldenburg should be able to win this series 3-1.