Flashing that big smile and showing those shiny whiteys after a very hard fought 40 minute battle with victory glistening all over their bright faces like John John from Sesame Street after remembering that 16 comes after 15 in his counting challenge with the lovable Herry back in the day is something that many American players have come to have practiced in the BBL over the years. No guys have displayed their pleasure of winning in the form of a excited smile over the years in the Beko BBL better then guys like former Fraport Skyliner Jimmy Mckinney ,ex Rhein Cologne point guard Michael Hakim Jordan who actually should of tried his go at Hollywood after his few masterful scenes in the German documentary Phoenix in Der Asche, but instead is an assistant at Colgate university which name is also the name of a well-known American tooth paste company. Rickey Paulding who is also known as Mr Oldenburg or if the city should ever be renamed then it would be fitting to call it in typical German manner Pauldingburg as he has made the comfortable city in north Germany his home since 2007 and never turned his back. The former NBA Draft Pick of hometown team Detroit Pistons is also a guy who can smile with the best of them. His enjoyment and smiling were at their all-time high in 2009 when the EWE Baskets Oldenburg won their first league title at the expense of the Telekom Baskets Bonn in a tough 5 game series. However between 2009-2015 a span of almost 6 years, the American went without a title, but reached a final against the Brose Baskets Bamberg in 2013.
Two seasons ago which was a season to forget in the regular season, but still came title number two as Oldenburg masterfully disposed of Bamberg at home in the cup final as Paulding was smiling again as if there was no tomorrow. At the age of 34, Paulding isn´t getting any younger and for those that have been caught in a cage for a few years will notice less hair on top, but he can still outplay most in the BBL on any given night. If there is a time where he might be slowed down is when he is playing with his gang of kids as being a dad after a hard practice is tougher on the bones in the yard but on the floor especially in the shooting department he has risen as in his first four seasons he shot under 40% from the parking lot, but 40% or better in the last five seasons in the BBL. Two seasons ago he played 36 BBL games averaging 11.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 80.0%; Eurocup: 10 games: 9.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 86.7%. He seems to be getting better with age especially in the shooting department as last season he played 36 games averaging 14.0ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 74.7%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.2ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 86.7% There isn´t a more consistent player in the BBL as he has averaged 12,0ppg in his eight seasons in the Beko BBL. It really doesn´t matter if the basketball fan is in Weissenhorn, Chemnitz, Rostock or Karlsruhe, Paulding is liked everywhere and is a winner. As is the case each season the club has put together another very potent roster that has to reach the playoffs, but does it have the goods to beat one of the big 3 of Munich, Bamberg or Berlin in a 5 game series? This season Paulding once again is a central figure in their potent offense as is averaging 15.7ppg in the BBL while shooting 45,7% from outside and in the Champions League is also playing very well averaging 11,5ppg. Paulding has always been a good shooter, but his ever growing experience coupled with precise decision making and picking his spots has propelled him to the consistent shooter that he has become over the years. His consistent shooting gets older, but not less effective as it ages better than fine wine. Bamberg will most likely run away with the BBL title again, but Paulding has two other chances to win that coveted third title for himself as the club is in the Cup and Champions League. If he keeps flashing that consistency then sky is the limit, because one doesn´t know just how much longer he will chose to play. The only obstacle in the future will be his family as it has never been a secret just how much American players stress family as one day fans will have to accept the fact that family will win over his shooting talent on the court.
Last season the EWE Baskets Oldenburg played an exceptional regular season finishing in second place and went into the playoffs with a lot of momentum entering the playoffs having won four of their last five regular season games and beat top teams Bamberg, Munich and Ulm and many figured the passage back to the final could be realistic. Instead the club fell in the playoffs to a very potent Ulm team 3-1, but also had a little misfortune along the way losing two tight affairs by a combined point total of six points including the deciding game 90-89. The key to the series was defense as Ulm had not been consistent during the season and Oldenburg just couldn´t step it up there in a playoff series. Their rebounding and transition defense were also aspects in their game that they were unable to get going in the playoff series to their liking.
A big strength going into this season was that the club was able to keep many familiar faces thus bolstering their team chemistry another notch this season. The club was able to keep six players and added three new players to help their attack. The club held on to the absolute team identity figure Rickey Paulding who is playing his 10th season. If one was busy on a Saturday night and had no TV or internet connection, one could just sit down and ponder for a while what the club might have honestly accomplished the last 10 seasons without a Paulding. That would really make one think. His worth to the club is undeniable and without his motor just not in proper running order. The club also kept BBL veterans Vaughn Duggins(last season 36 games: 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%) who supplies the scoring power whenever needed, but can be a playmaker and is a hardnosed defensive player that is a great teammate as well as big man Brian Qvale(last season 36 games: 15.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.2apg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 63.7%, 3PT-1(66.7%), FT: 72.6%; Eurocup: 18 games: 14.3ppg, 5.6rpg, FGP: 67.2%, FT: 79.3%) who has established himself as a top five BBL center in the last two years and always delivers in the points and rebounds category. The club also held on to guard Chris Kramer(last season 33 games: 9.6ppg, 4.6rpg, 5.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 26.7%, FT: 68.0%; Eurocup: 16 games: 8.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 66.7%) who keeps the defense alive as he could be regarded as the most annoying defender in the BBL as he won´t give any ball handler a second of real freedom. He is also a reliable offensive player that is another great teammate that can score and pass at ease. The club also held on to Germans ex national player Philipp Schwethelm who is always good for a double digit game and is still an above average defender, big man Dennis Kramer who is a role player and suitable help off the bench and Dominic Lockhart who is still looking to break out.
The team reeled in three new players with Dirk Madrich, Franz Massenat and Maxime De Zeeuw. Madrich is the most experienced player on the team at age 33 as he can be described a basketball journey man as he has played mostly in Germany, but also in France and Greece and Oldenburg is his 13th professional club. Last season he played for the Telekom Baskets Bonn (BBL): 31 games: 7.2ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 72.6%; Eurocup: 10 games: 9.1ppg, 3.1rpg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 88.2%. He is a solid inside out player that can bang inside with the best of them. Franz Massenat is a 24 year old 193cm guard from Ewing, New Jersey playing his third professional season and played at Drexel(NCAA). He played his first two professional seasons with the Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (Germany-BBL) and last season played 33 games: 13.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 5.2apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 74.0%. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists in his second season at MBC. He is an all-around good point guard that has held his own with Oldenburg. De Zeeuw is a 29 year old 206cm forward from Belgium that ha s layed in Belgium, Italy and last season with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL): 19 games: 7.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.1apg, FGP-1(67.7%), 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 71.4%; FIBA Europe Cup: 11 games: 7.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 75.0%; VTB League: 30 games: 8.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 25.5%, FT: 78.8%. He is a solid big man that can get the dirty work done inside and will step out and shoot as well as successfully take care of his defensive assignments.
Despite all the team chemistry on board and another potent roster, the club has been underachieving in the BBL momentarily in position 10 with a record of 5-6. Two massive goals for the club this season to improve was rebounding and defense and so far haven´t been able to do that averaging only 27 boards a game and are giving up 78 points per game. On offense, they are in the middle of the pack averaging 81 points per game. Their biggest problem is that they have beat all the teams that they are supposed to defeat, but the playoff teams have all been able to beat them. If the EWE Baskets Oldenburg want to reach the playoffs, they need to find consistency and beat more playoff caliber teams. They have played very sharp in the Champions League having a 4-2 record and could even be 6-0 had they been a tick smarter in crunch-time in the losses to Neptunas 64-63 and to Asvel 81-79. In this competition where they meet different types of styles each week, they have found the same page on defense allowing only 68 points per game which is second best. On offense , they are still looking for their form as they average 70 points per game. The club has all the tools to easily reach the playoffs, but are still looking for their form in the BBL. It will be a massive surprise if this club doesn´t reach the playoffs, but won´t get by the semi-finals. The next game is against the struggling Fraport Skyliners who are currently in 15th place and have a 6 game BBL losing streak and reeling for a win. Last season, the two clubs split the season series, but Frankfurt beat Oldenburg in the cup to reach the Top 4 in Munich. Both clubs enter the game with big wins against Greek teams in the Champions League as the EWE Baskets Oldenburg disposed of PAOK 66-62 and the Fraport Skyliners came from behind to beat Aris 81-74. Both enter the game with losing streaks, but Frankfurt is itching far more for a BBL win again than Oldenburg as they have lost six in a row and Oldenburg two in a row. Frankfurt will be the favorite for two reasons as they have the home court advantage back as well as Gordon Herbert. “Coach is our leader and with Klaus Perwas we have a great assistant. Together we want to get things done and will have no satisfaction until we do. We will do that step by step”, warned Kwame Vaughn. Frankfurt also has extra new special self confidence and a win against Oldenburg could finally turn their season around. Oldenburg will have to buckle down and defend and disrupt Frankfurt as much as possible in their sets, otherwise it could be a long night.