With the shot clock winding down in game two and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg a wink of a blink starring at a possible 0-2 series hole and about to witness thousands of hearts gasping and coming to life bursting through each chest, it was Mr hustle and Mr “I once hit a shot at Purdue sitting down” Chris Kramer that found Rickey “Mr Oldenburg” Paulding the franchise´s money ball wrapped up in the corner with as good as no place to go, but somehow firing away a last second desperation shot that took the game into OT totally changing the series and the rest is history. Nine days later the 2009 BBL champion weaseled their way back to another final disposing the season big surprise team ratiopharm Ulm and giving that whole organiazion another long summer to thin k of excuses why they can´t win a championship and if they should bond with the Buffalo Bills for comfort who have lost 4 Super Bowls. Obviously the whole EWE Baskets Oldenburg club have to get credit for this season´s playoff success, but two guys that really stand out are the two brothers from another mother Chris Kramer and Mr all and legend Rickey Paulding who had another standout series and were instrumental in their team being able to get by the favorites ratiopharm Ulm. One can marvel all you want about Kramer as he is all over the court and his defense pressure in game two also was vital for the team turning the series around, but the Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Lebron James all in one is Paulding. Even if this comparison is majorly exaggerated, but in Oldenburg the American from Detroit is in his own basketball universe where he stands above even these players in the hearts of fans there. Paulding not only had a solid series in upsetting Bayreuth, but was masterful in the ratiopharm Ulm series as in five games he averaged 22,0ppg, 3,0rpg, and 4,0 apg while shooting an amazing 49% from the parking lot. His leadership and Larry Bird type hot shooting was seen most in game two where he sprayed 28 points in the unforgettable comeback and 107-103 OT win and when it absolutely counted most in the do or die game 5 in the unfriendly atmosphere in Ulm where he nailed 27 points and drilled home 5/6 trey´s and gave the word timely a new name as he made himself another step more immortal in Oldenburg. Paulding recently got his contract extended in Oldenburg until 2019, but before one wants to even dream about the next 2 years, fans in Oldenburg want to see Paulding and co bring a third title to Oldenburg. Those Larry Bird paralle´s aren´t so twisted in that Bird only won 3 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics and if the youth of fountain that Paulding is as his play seems to be getting better with age making that wine sweetest this season with his actions on the court, he will eclipse his 12 years in Oldenburg and hang on a 13th season down the road and then he will be even with Bird and 13 seasons wearing the same jersey.
Most of basketball Germany except Oldenburg had ratiopharm Ulm getting into the final in a sweep or four games, but losing in five games was something that even Ulm manager Thomas Stoll would never have imagined in his wildest dreams.
Everything went to plan in game one as ratiopharm Ulm kept the home court advantage afloat as they won an offensive minded game 86-79. Ratiopharm Ulm wasn´t denied shooting an astronomical 59% from outside nailing 16 three´s as ex NBA player Chris Babb led the way with seven trey´s. ratiopharm Ilm boasted six guys in double figures, while Oldenburg only had Paulding and Qvale combining for 45 points. Game two was the turning point of the series as the Oldenburg OT win indirectly broke the back of ratiopharm Ulm as instead of a commanding 2-0 lead were looking at an all open 1-1 series. This is a game that Oldenburg fans will remember in 30 years and being the club´s greatest comeback winning 107-103. Even if it was a team effort the defense of Kramer in OT and big shots of Paulding gave Oldenburg more breathing room instead of a do or die game three in Ulm. Raymar Morgan´s 27 points was a side note as Oldenburg had six players scoring in double figures. Everybody except in Oldenburg felt that ratiopharm ulm would make adjustments in game three and get back on the winning track, but instead were shocked in their own building 68-61 as suddenly ratiopharm Ulm not going back to Oldenburg with a match ball, but had their backs to the wall down 2-1. In game three both teams took a step back from closing an eye on the defensive end, but played more disciplined basketball as there was more at stake. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg did a superb job limiting Ulm´s two star players Morgan/ Babb combined to 15 points and held the team to 4/19 from outside. Surprisingly ratiopharm Ulm was unable to take advantage of their 15/19 free throw shooting to the only 2/2 of Oldenburg, but they just couldn´t muster any firepower or much from the bench as Oldenburg had 15 points from the bench and were led by Paulding´s 19 points. In game four, ratiopharm Ulm continued the series of twists and turns not laying down and dying, but returning back to Oldenburg and turning the tables as they gave an impressive defensive performance winning 74-61 and forcing a game five at home. In game 4, ratiopharm Ulm got back to what they do best and that is shoot at a high percentage especially in the paint area and dropped nine three´s. Morgan was back at his best dropping 18 points and the club kept Paulding to 12 points on 3/10 shooting. They also won the rebound and bench points battle getting 24. In game five, it was the EWE Baskets Oldenburg that jumped all over ratiopharm Ulm again in their building and it looked like they would coast home for the upset win, but Ulm staged a late comeback and made it very exciting, but Oldenburg held their nerves escaping with a 78-75 win as Qvale and Paulding free throws sealed it. Oldenburg had another stellar shooting day nailing12 three´s while ratiopharm Ulm could muster only four. The home team did win the rebound battle 32-22, but their 15 turnovers to 8 of Oldenburg was vital. Paulding once again showed his immortality scoring 27 points for the winners while Franz Massenat gave stability with 15 points and Vladimir Mihailovic who had been injured came back in his third playoff game scoring 13 points. The big difference in this series was that the EWE Baskets Oldenburg could win twice on the road and proved not having more depth is nnecot essarily going to get you the win. Oldenburg did a better job of managing their resources and simply the unbeatable top characters of Paulding and Kramer were at another level carrying this team at all times of difficulty.
Brose Bamberg had a lot less difficulty getting by the all-mighty FC Bayern Munich sweeping them for the second straight playoff series and giving CEO Marko Pesic headaches and endless thoughts about how they will finally beat this dynasty team again? Like in game two of the ULM-Oldenburg series, game two in the Bamberg-Munich series decided the series as instead of making the series interesting, Germany´s most famous team let it slip away in the Audi dome never recovering. In Game one, it was all Bamberg as they nailed 12 three´s compared to Munich´s pathetic 2/16 shooting from outside and coughed up the ball 17 times. Bamberg was led by their stellar guard rotation of Zisis, Causeur and Lo who combined for 41 points. The game two loss had to have broken the back of FC Bayern Munich, because it was their best game of the series and a game they should of won. The best part of Bamberg´s game was their shooting as they shot at a high percentage, but FC Bayern Munich couldn´t totally take advantage of their uncharachteristic 15 turnovers or their overwhelming 38-16 bench points. French man Fabian Causer led the comeback charge with 23 points. With FC Bayern down 2-0, they had to return back to Freak City and try to extend the series and send it back to Munich with a win, but instead they couldn´t withstand the fierce defense that seems to be at even higher level at home losing 76-67. It was their outside shooting again what hurt FC Bayern Munich the most as they shot 3/21 while Bamberg shot well hitting nine three´s and shot over 40% from the field. Once again it was the hot shooting Bamberg guards that made life most difficult for FC Bayern Munich as Causeur, Strelnieks and Zisis combined for 44 points. In this series, it was the FC Bayern Munich outside shooting that cost them game one and three as they combined for 5/37. Another down point was the superb guard play of Bamberg that FC Munich was never able to control as Fabian Causeur came back from a quiet Bonn series where he averaged 10ppg to leading the way in the Munich series averaging 18ppg. FC Bayern Munich just didn´t get enough quality support from their players 1-12 while the more intact chemistry of Bamberg overpowered the Bavarian side.
In the 2017 EasyCredit BBL final you have the dynasty Bamberg and against the sentimental favorite Oldenburg, but in the end in reality one has to remember and acknowledge that there are only so many basketball Gods around and somebody really would need to clone Rickey Paulding maybe not once, but twice to be on the safe side. This is no Warriors-Cavs type of match up, but moreover like a Warriors-Clippers or Cavs-Bucks encounter. Bamberg is the huge favorite going in while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg are a team involved in a Cinderella story with history having reality set in before midnight and no miracles happening after. Stats don´t lie as in the regular season Brose Bamberg were the fourth best scoring team, best defensive team and sixth best rebounding team in the BBL this. While the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were the seventh best scoring and defensive team and 11th best rebounding team in the league. The gigantic advantage is the depth that Bamberg possess and that will do in Oldenburg in this series. Bamberg have players 1-12 that could start for Oldenburg and have the luxury of just subbing in players and just overpowering Oldenburg. The question is do the EWE Baskets Oldenburg have any energy left in their gas tanks. Starters Paulding, Kramer, Qvale and Massenat have been averaging 30 plus minutes in the playoffs and have to continue for their team to have any chance at all. It doesn´t help either that key American Vaughn Duggins isn´t totally fit and has missed some playoff games. In the heart of Paulding and Kramer, they would go in the ring with Anthony Joshua today and with Mike Tyson back in the day and not think much of it and that is how they will approach each game against Bamberg, but the reality is it is almost impossible for this team to be able to withstand Bamberg in a 5 game series. One should never underestimate the very special basketball character of Paulding/Kramer that lives at their own level above all the rest in the BBL, but something would have to go very very wrong for Bamberg to lose this series as they won´t be stupid enough to underestimate Oldenburg for even one second as they will be focused to get business done. Bamberg should sweep Oldenburg, but with all respect to Paulding/Kramer, the sentimental fan is hoping that they can win at least one game. The chance of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg miraculously getting by Brose Bamberg is about as likely as Paulding ex teammate at Missouri(NCAA) Jimmy Mckinney signing with EWE Baskets Oldenburg next season.