The Miles Basketball Minute: 2014 Beko BBL Quarterfinal Playoff Preview EWE Baskets Oldenburg-Telekom Baskets Bonn 3-2



If there was one thing that Brandon Bowmann had much of the last months while playing for SC Rasta Vechta was time on his hands if he wasn´t at practice or in the gym. There really isn´t much to do in Vechta and perhaps one could find more pleasure counting the steps from Vechta to Quackenbruck and see if it was less than the seemingly million steps that Houston Rocket Jeremy Lin recently took to the basket in a playoff game. However if one were to take the Los Angeles native Bowmann behind the Rasta Dome and have a chat on a deserted pasture with a few cows chewing out the grass and ask him what has unnerved him most in his career not reaching the NBA or not winning the 2009 Beko BBL title with the Telekom Baskets Bonn against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, the question could be a tossup as the NBA is never a sure thing, but winning the 2009 Beko BBL final seemed like the sure thing. That title loss remains a big scare in the Telekom Baskets Bonn basketball history as well as being labelled as the Buffalo Bills of the Beko BBL as reaching the final has always been their reality 8 times, while winning hasn´t been on their menu yet. Their last final was the 2012 cup and they have reached the playoffs seven of the last eight years, but all this is meaningless until the club can finally celebrate that first title in Bonn. Sometimes it seems like there is a mini curse in Bonn as titles can be won more easily as Oldenburg showed for the first time in 2009 and the Opel Skyliners showed for the first time in 2000, but then again don´t let a Tony Gaffney instruct you about curses or winning titles. He had to wait 20 years until his beloved Boston Red Sox beat the curse of the Bambino winning the World Series again after a 86 year dry spell in 2004. That Bonn and Buffalo start with the same letter is no coincidence, but Bonn fans should hope that Buffalo still not winning a Superbowl after reaching four isn´t.

Not only this 2009 loss for Bonn gives a displeasureable  connection to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, but also their ex coach Predrag Krunic who was the head coach during the title run in 2009. However the ex Bonn head coach didn´t really take big steps forward in Oldenburg after the 2009 title, but maybe  a few back in the next years as he was unable to build continuity as the team really slipped in the 2011-2012 missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Serb was sacked and Oldenburg CEO Herman Schuller had the right touch again bringing 1995 Korac cup winner with Alba Berlin Sebastian Machowski that brought success and happiness back again to Oldenburg. In his first season in Oldenburg, Machowski led the team to a surprise final giving Chris Fleming and the Brose Baskets Bamberg a tough time being swept, but losing only by a combined point total of seven points. Machowski grew and developed as a head coach in Braunschweig for three years and took the next correct step to Oldenburg and kept an already intact team together that didn´t let down from their superb season last season, but once again are a kind of dark horse team that will act as a hyena and pounch into any group and possibly exiting having the last laugh if top teams like FC Bayern Munich, Bamberg or Alba Berlin don´t take care of the meat. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg are always capable of upsetting one of the top three, but have to be aware of the Telekom Baskets Bonn and first get by them to get the chance to annoy a top team.

The Telekom Baskets Bonn arrive in the playoffs with a record of 25-13 and ended the season in fifth place. Despite a very interesting season where they had problems winning at home, the Jared Jordan Bamberg affair and Tony Gaffney returning, they reached their season goal of the playoffs. They enter the playoffs having won four of the last nine games, but four of the last five games showing that they have gotten used to the departure of Jared Jordan as new American Eugene Lawrence has been more just a suitable replacement, but has put up Jordan like assist stats with 6,0, but been able to score better than the ex Bonn player at 10,2 as the club really got the perfect player to combine scoring and playmaking to their advantage. Bonn celebrated big victories against Alba Belrin, ratiopharm Ulm and the Artland Dragons and most importantly had the number of Oldenburg twice sweeping the season series.  The club is really solid all the way down the board from the guard position to the center position.  The team is led by Ryan Brooks who really has paid his dues going from non playoff BBL teams Giessen, Frankfurt and even a season in Finland to a team that is in the playoffs. He has become a leader and with teammate Benas Veikalis have a potent 2-3 position force that will give any team nightmares with their never ending aggressive offensive. Even if Jordan is gone, Lawrence just about has balanced the offensive skills that a Jordan would have had, but has added physicality to the defense which they didn´t have with Jordan. With David Mccray and Andrej Magold, Bonn has two nasty defenders that just annoy offensive players until they force turnovers. On offense, both guys can score in spurts. On the big positions, Bonn is just as strong as ex NBA player Tony Gaffney gives that athletic push on the boards and on the break coupled with the routine inside game of Jamel Mcclean who does nothing really fancy except score near the basket and does the bulk of the rebound work. Mcclean has had a superb season averaging 13,7ppg and 7,2rpg. He has been consistent for 80% of the season scoring in double figures 25 times including five double doubles and a 25 point 18 rebound explosion against medi bayreuth. Bonn head coach Mathias Fischer has superb role players in American Kurt Looby who wont necessarily supply scoring punch, but his shot blocking and rebounding could be the difference in one or two crunch time possessions and German Steve Wachalski is one of the few players to go from Regionaliga to Beko BBL has the perfect team character and can hurt you with his three pointer.

The EWE Baskets Oldenburg finished the season in fourth place with a record of 25-9 and enter the playoffs  with a four game winning streak and having won seven of their last eight games with the only loss being against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. This season Oldenburg celebrated huge wins against FC Bayern Munich, The Brose Baskets Bamberg, Alba Berlin, swept ratiopharm Ulm and the Artland Dragons. Beating the top three teams at least once speaks for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg as they can beat anyone on any given night. You had John Stockton in Utah, Larry Bird in Boston, Magic Johnson in Los Angeles and Rickey Paulding in Oldenburg, all great players that have had that special relationship to their club. Paulding is mr Oldenburg and just might keep a second home here after his playing days. His worth to the team is indescribable  as he is one of the top five best players in the league for years. Oldenburg is solid at every position, but their strongest are the small positions 1-3 with the scoring bulk from Paulding and Julius Jenkins who is having another big season and wants to win a third title in Germany after Berlin and Bamberg. Jenkins is the team top scorer and especially from downtown he is hot shooting 49,4%. The point guards are filled with Leborn James friend Dru Joyce who is the playmaker and gets the team going in the right direction and  is having a solid season with 8,0ppg and 3,9apg and Chris Kramer that also can play the two position that is really a player that can lead the team on any night in points, rebounds or assists. He belongs to the top defenders in the league and is even more nasty  in one on defense that Quantez Robertson or Akeem Vargas. The ex Frankfurt Skyliner Germans Konrad Wysocki and Dominik Bahiense De Melo have minor roles, but still add spunk to the team with De Mello giving that aggressiveness on defense and hitting the one or other big three pointer and the ex Ulm player Wysocki playing that superb inside out game that has been his trademark for years. On the big positions, Oldenburg has had some misfortune this season losing American Adam Chubb to injury, but the ex Penn player has returned and not resigning Italian Adrea Crosariol as his short term contract expired and the club didn´t know that Chubb wouldn´t be healthy again. Crosariol was a force on offense and defense and has been missed. Nemanja Aleksandrov has had problems pleasing the fans averaging 9,9ppg and 4,3rpg as his seemingly life long comparison as the next Serbian Dirk Nowitzki has haunted him. The club brought in German Philipp Neumann that was unhappy in Bamberg and has been solid averaging 7,2ppg and 3,4rpg and ex Skyliner Travon Bryant who adds that experience, but hasn´t been a major force. The club always has German banger Jannik Freese from the bench that can bring solid minutes.

This is a very very interesting series and perhaps the only one that will go five games.  The Telekom Baskets Bonn go into the series having swept the season series winning 86-75 and winning a nail bitter in overtime 84-79. Bonn go into the game as the slight underdog as Oldenburg had a better season record and thus attained the home court advantage. Oldenburg have the experience factor and really should be able to win this series. Oldenburg match up well at the small positions with Jenkins and Paulding who can handle a Brooks. The big man position match ups are more balanced now with Adam Chubb back. The x factor for Bonn will be Eugene Lawrence. If Oldenburg can somehow find a way to limit his physicality and playmaking and win the inside game than Oldenburg will advance into the next round. Kramer with seven inches on the American in height should be the player to stop Lawrence who has eight kilo more than the Indiana native. But one should never count out the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Can they continue to beat Oldenburg and will their thinner roster be able to withstand the deeper bench and energy of Oldenburg will be the question. If Oldenburg can up their game from their two meetings against Bonn, then it will be a long summer again for Bonn fans without a title while Tony Gaffney goes home to Boston to follow the Boston Red Sox and hope at least for a another title in October for his home town team.

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