Players come and go each season so developing an identity with one player over a longer period of time in the EasyCredit BBL at times can be as difficult as it is for Oklahoma Thunder fans for getting used to the fact that a Kevin Durat isn´t getting fed any longer from Russell Westbrook, but moreover from sniper Steph Curry. Of course there are so many exciting players to watch each weekend as so many bring their own special rare spice to the court, but there are really few players left that have been around in the league for a long time except for guys like Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy who are riding out their stellar careers in Jena, but there are also other guys like Rickey Paudling and Quantez Robertson who battled each other head to head since 2009 and just coming to the arena to watch them duel is worth the price of admission as they have been top players in the league for years. Together they have amassed 19 years and this season Paulding is in his 13th season and Robertson is in his eighth professional season. They have had some very interesting battles over the years as Robertson usually is on the floor having to stop the others team best players as well as supply his freak athleticism as well as his all-around play as he can fill up the stats sheet deep the way Tom Brady can NFL records. Paulding on the other hand is the bona fide leader that has been one of the most consistent offensive performers in the BBL since his arrival in 2007. His overall play and character have made him one of the BBL identity figures for years. Paulding is 34 and Robertson is 31 and it is hard to believe that between them, they only share three professional titles, but knowing the competitiveness of both guys and will to keep performing at a high level, they will probably play some more years.
Coming into a new battle, both teams have been struggling in the BBL as Frankfurt was riding a bitter 6 game losing streak while Oldenburg had lost two in a row, but both were coming off huge wins in the Champions League over top notch Greek teams PAOK and Aris and were looking to get back into the winners circle. Robertson has been struggling offensively as his trey has been shockingly off the mark at 23% while Paulding has been shooting out the lights at 45%. Both came into the Fraport arena with their fierce game faces on and as always went face to face combining for 24 points with Paulding making 15 and Robertson nine, but Paulding had the bigger smile at the end as the EWE Baskets Oldenburg shocked the Fraport Skyliners in crunch-time 80-77. If it wasn´t bad enough that Quantez Robertson had just suffered the seventh straight loss with the Fraport Skyliners in the BBL, he suddenly became all tense minutes after the buzzer sounded as everything else around him and the bench turned to air as he frankly was searching for his daughter who was no where to be seen, but soon the tension did clear as she had been recovered near the Oldenburg bench. Robertson that had time to reflect on his duel with Rickey Paulding and monuments. “It´s always fun to play on the court with guys you know on the court. He always fights on the court and is a very good basketball player. He deserved that monument. He has played two years longer than I in Germany, but was already there when they won their first title. He has seen the good and bad. I need more work and time to possibly get a monument”, said Cincinnati native Quantez Robertson. Rickey Paulding was as always one of the last to exit and not far behind him was his side kick Chris Kramer and after giving a sigh of relief about escaping Frankfurt with a win, he reflected on Quantez Robertson. “It is always tough to play in Frankfurt and Tez always gives energy and leadership. I can say we really know each other even if we only see each other twice a season. I always know that after playing against Tez that I have to get a good nights´ rest”, expressed ex Missouri(NCAA) guard Rickey Paulding. “It is really great for the game to have two players like Tez and Paulding. So many guys bounce around from league to league and country to country, but they have been playing in Germany for so long. They always bring out the best in each other and that makes it a good game for the fans”, stressed Fraport Skyliner guard Antonio Graves.
A thing that really has hampered the Fraport Skyliners this season has been not closing out games. One could count the number of loses that they have suffered this season in crunch-time on one hand. Like so many times this season, the club that won the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup looked like they would finally with a BBL game again, but instead seemed miffed as the buzzer sounded and once again they had less points in their own living room than their opponent. “I thought that we played solid, but we need to know how to execute on offense at the end. We did a good job forcing them to tough shots, but we just didn´t do a good job getting enough rebounds”, added ex Pittsburgh(NCAA) guard Antonio Graves. Rickey Paulding hadn´t left Frankfurt often in the last years as the winner, but today he had his smile going strong and was relieved that the club broke their two game losing streak. “It was good to get a win again here. We played good defense in the first half and kept fighting. We never got down, but stayed together and picked up our defense and put ourselves in the necessary position to make shots and we did”, added Rickey Paulding.
On a cloudy cold late autumn Sunday where the 2016 Formula One season was on the line with German Nico Rosberg in control of his own destiny and the chance of winning his first season title only 3860 patrons made their way into the Fraport arena. The ones that made it in didn´t see a good start by the Fraport Skyliners, but moreover a blazing start by the EWE Baskets Oldenburg as they shot out on a 7-0 run. Paulding was a menace right away as he got aggressive scoring in the paint with a difficult off balance shot high of the glass and then nailed a trey over Niklas Kiel. Ex Purdue(NCAA) standout Chris Kramer then found ex Bayreuth center Brian Qvale who finished with a floater. Robertson had started poorly with an air ball and got blocked by Qvale, but soon recovered hitting a trey, but Oldenburg had too much firepower and accuracy as Paulding and ex Ulm forward Philipp Schwethelm hit back to back trey´s upping the Oldenburg lead to 13-5. After Morrison and Qvale traded buckets, Frankfurt suffered a turnover and Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert signaled for a timeout. Whatever Herbert communicated to his players, it seemed to work as they went on a furious 9-2 run to cut the Oldenburg lead to 17-16. In the run, they got big support from Graves from Downtown and ex Nebraska(NCAA) forward Shavon Shields scored in bunches and Kwame Vaughn made free throws. Oldenburg kept the lead shortly getting important production from German Dirk Madrich and Belgium national player Maxime De Zeeuw, but Frankfurt stayed tough as ex Bayreuth forward Ekene Ibekwe scored twice and Shields burned De Zeeuw twice giving Frankfurt their first lead of the game at 25-23. Vaughn drained a step back buzzer beater to end the first quarter with Frankfurt leading 27-24. “I think that we underestimated them a bit at the start since they have had a bad start. We didn´t play our game and weren´t physical enough”, stressed Fraport Skyliner center Daniel Mayr. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 73% from the field and 60% from outside while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 69% from the field and 75% from outside. Frankfurt had the 7-3 rebound edge and both teams had two turnovers a piece.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners were able to extend their lead by as much as nine points only to see the EWE Baskets Oldenburg regain the lead back. The Fraport Skyliners started off the second quarter going on a 8-0 run to extend their lead to 35-24 as they had enormous energy as Ibekwe hit a three and Vaughn got busy in the paint penetrating and getting two baskets. However the EWE Baskets Oldenburg then turned the game around again going on a huge 19-4 run to regain the lead back at 40-39. In the run, the Ewe Baskets Oldenburg were fortified by four different players and also took advantage of three consecutive Frankfurt turnovers that were results of traveling violations by three different players. In the big run, Oldenburg got massive support from Qvale who three times twice, De Zeeuw made a big dunk where he came streaking in from the win and Kramer fed him perfectly and he also nailed a trey. Paulding also used his still dangerous athleticism at age 34 with a drive from the wing around Shields and making a tip in. Ex Mitteldeutscher BC Franz Massenat also connected on a three. However Frankfurt did go into halftime with momentum as they closed out the second quarter with big plays at both ends of the court as a Graves made a dunk and found Shields for the hard one hand dunk and then Robertson found Florida native Mike Morrison with the lay in. “We lost a little focus with the nine point lead. I was surprised a bit by the three traveling violations. You have to look before you go. Our defense was good as was our rotations. Oldenburg hit many tough shots and there is nothing you can do about that no matter how good defense you play”, added ex Science City Jena center Daniel Mayr. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 72% from the field and 71% from the three point line while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 52% from the field and 42% from the three point line. Both teams had 12 rebounds apiece, but Frankfurt had eight turnovers and Oldenburg had only five turnovers.
The game remained very tight in the third quarter as no club was able to lead by more than three points until the last minute where Oldenburg went on a mini run as both clubs picked up their defense. Massenat started off the third quarter with a left hand lay in, but Frankfurt countered with getting to the free throw line as Shields and Robertson connected for free throws for the 50-47 advantage. Oldenburg got the lead back at 52-50 as Qvale and and Massenat scored giving Oldenburg the 52-50 lead. Frankfurt would tie the game three times with buckets from Robertson, Vaughn and Shields knotting the game at 56-56. The Fraport Skyliners got the lead back at 61-60 as Ibekwe gave the club some spark making a brutal tip in dunk and then hitting a trey on the fast break. However the EWE Baskets Oldenburg closed out the third quarter with a 6-1 run as De Zeeuw got going again with a three pointer and then retrieving a touch-down pass from Dominic Lockhart as Oldenburg led 67-62 after 30 minutes. “Both teams took care of the ball better and executed. There weren´t many second chance points”, said Quantez Robertson. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 51% from the field and 445 from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 61% from the field and 55% form the parking lot. Oldenburg had the 21-18 edge and six turnovers while Frankfurt had 10 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners got off to a bad start, but continued to defend well not allowing to let Oldenburg take advantage of their carelessness on offense, but later when it counted most, they fell apart in crunch-time. Frankfurt didn´t execute on their first three possessions, but Oldenburg only got a Qvale hook shot out of it extending their lead to 69-62. But then out of nothing the Fraport Skyliners went soaring on a 9-0 run to recapture the lead at 71-69. In the run they got timely support from many heads and got big plays on both ends and also played better team basketball. Robertson started the run with a lay in getting a backdoor pass from Graves, Ibekwe blocked Qvale which led to a Shields lay in. Ibekwe then took matters into his own hands scoring five unanswered points with a dunk, runner and free throw. Ex Wright State(NCAA) guard Vaughn Duggins who had been quiet all afternoon long in the scoring department hit an off balance shot tying the game at 73-73. Even if the game was as tight as could be, one had the feeling that Frankfurt was in control and exerted more energy as Shields set up Graves inside with an easy back door pass and Vaughn hit a pull up jumper with three minutes to go and Frankfurt up 75-71. Then came the turning point of the game as Oldenburg executed and connected and Frankfurt didn´t. Frankfurt would be unable to connect on seven straight possessions while Oldenburg continued to claw back step by step. Duggins made free throw at 1:46 of the fourth and Paulding who had been held scoreless in the second half after hitting 13 points in the first half made a turnaround shot which tied the game again and with 42 seconds to go in the game gave Duggins too much room inside as he finished with his left hand. Duggins and Schwethelm closed out the game with free throws while Vaughn nailed his last shot as time ran out. “We didn´t execute and gave up a few offensive rebounds”, stated Quantez Robertson. “Frankfurt was too stagnant in the last few minutes relying too much on one on one play and got lazy. We drew up a play for Paulding and it is was like automatic. I didn´t play too great, but my team believed in me and I made the play that we needed”, stressed Vaughn Duggins. “We held the ball too much. We wanted to play smart, but there was too much time left. We were too conservative when we should have been more aggressive”, stressed Antonio Graves.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were led by Brian Qvale with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Maxime De Zeeuw had 16 points while Rickey Paulding added 15 points and Franz Massenat supplied 10 points and four assists. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ekene Ibekwe with 18 points. Shavon Shields added 16 points and Kwame Vaughn had 15 points. Antonio Graves added 13 points. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 45% from the field and 35% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 55% from the field and 40% from outside. Oldenburg won the rebound battle 34-25 and had nine turnovers while the Fraport Skyliners had 11 turnovers.