Rasid Mahalbasic Has The Balkan Name, But Brings That Refreshing Austrian Flair To Oldenburg

In the last 10 years the most prolific and most talked about EWE Baskets Oldenburg player has been Rickey Paulding who has become a BBL icon and player that will be talked about the way guys like Wendel Alexis or Henning Harnisch have been remembered over the past 20 years in the BBL. Nothing else in EWE Baskets country has been able to outshine what the former Missouri standout has accomplished in his 11 year career and not even the Bobby Brown ego escapades have been able to put even a tiny dent in the attention that Paulding has gotten in the region. There have been many side notes and memories over the years and one is the abundance of Balkan big men that have landed with the team and given their valuable two cents to the success of the team over the years with the likes of Luka Bogdanovic Milan Majstorovic, Jasmin Perkovic, Marko Scekic, and Oliver Stevic. Rarely have the EWE Baskets Oldenburg hauled in big men from anywhere except the Balkan region, States or Germany until this season. This season they reeled in the Balkan sounding name with Rasid Mahalbasic with that Austrian flair. He is a 27 year old 210cm center that was born in Jesenice, Slovenia, but grew up in Austria starting his career with Worthersee Piraten (A Bundesliga). He has had a positive and gradual rise as a professional as he has played in nine different leagues and in eight countries with teams such as Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey-TBL), CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL), and BC Astana (Kazakhstan-D1) just to name a few winning titles with the last two. Last season he split time with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-BSL) playing 9 games averaging 11.2ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 71.4%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 78.3%, in Dec.’16 moved to Betis Energia Plus Sevilla (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 22 games averaging 10.1ppg, Reb-4(6.6rpg), 1.8apg, FGP: 57.5%, FT: 71.2%. He has been a solid performer wherever he has played an averaged 9,1ppg and 6,8rpg in 10 Euroleague games with Asseco Prokom Gdynia (Poland-TB) in 2012-2013. Not only in club play has he been a menace, but also with the Austrian national team has belonged to their top players since years and in the last two qualifying tournaments put up great numbers at the Qualifications to European Championships 2017 averaging 16.0ppg, 7.5rpg, 3.3apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 67.6% and at the World Cup 2019 European Pre-Qualifiers averaging 17.0ppg, 6.5rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 61.4%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 73.3%. A couple years ago, he described the mentality he has as an Austrian national player having so much responsibility on his shoulders. “I do feel a little pressure, but I know that at the end of the day that I will always get the support of the coaching staff and my teammates. I always give my best and do whatever it takes to help give my team a win. I know that if I score 20 points and we don´t win that I didn´t do my job”, stressed Rasid Mahalbasic. The big man now is on a team that is stocked with a lot of fire power with guys like Rickey Paulding and Byron Allen and other scoring threats and won´t have as much responsibility clinging to him. He will be able to play his dominating inside play that focuses on everything in the paint area. His massive experience will be a vital component for the success of the team. “My life showed me a lot places in the world, and I met a lot of people who helped me develop my personality and also the way I play, without the ups and downs in my career, I would not be the same player I am today”, warned Rasid Mahalbasic. Even if ex Oldenburg big man Brian Qvale had outstanding stats in his two years there, one can´t deny that Mahalbasic has been able to replace the American as he is currently averaging 16,1ppg, 5,9rpg, 3,7apg and shooting an amazing 77% from the field. He is more versatile than the American and has been one of the big steals in the BBL this season. Without a doubt, he belongs to the top Austrian players in the last decade together with fellow Austrian Thomas Schreiner and will make the list of ex Balkan big men a tad more forgotten this season while adding a new refreshing Austrian basketball spice to the EWE Baskets game.

Even if the EWE Baskets Oldenburg didn´t win any titles last season, it belonged to one of their most successful and most memorable in the Rickey Paulding era because of how their playoff run went even if it didn´t end with a happy end. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg had a solid season finishing in fifth place, but their season really began a new life in the playoffs. They didn´t play their best basketball near the end of the regular season having a 4 game losing streak and losing to lesser teams like Vechta and Wurzburg, but played their best basketball in the post season. Their Cinderella playoff series started by beating one of the big surprise teams medi Bayreuth of the regular season getting by them 3-1 and jumping all over the Bavarian team with a quick 2-0 lead in games as they displayed their lethal offense averaging 92 points. They closed out the series with a super Paulding game of 18 points and didn´t play their best defense in the series, but on account of being very consistent offensively beat Bayreuth at their own game. They went into the semi-finals as the big underdog against the other big surprise team of the season ratiopharm Ulm who had won the regular season title and nobody outside of Oldenburg was giving them very much of a chance to beat them in a five game series. The series went back and forth as Paulding and Chris Kramer led Oldenburg to the final. Paulding played his best playoff series as an Oldenburg player scoring 24, 28 and 27 points leaving ratiopharm Ulm shocked. Key in the series was having the better nerves and eking out two crunch-time wins. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg had more experience, class and heart which ruined an almost perfect season for ratiopharm Ulm. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg lost many key players, but will they be able to have another successful season like last year with the new additions? When a Paulding is around anything is possible something they learned in their special post season form last year.

Success is usually always helped when a club can keep a core of last years team added with the right mix of new players. The club would have loved to have held on to their stars Chris Kramer and Brian Qvale, but their budget just didn´t have the necessary resources to do that. The club was able to add eight new interesting and talented players while keeping four with Rickey Paulding, Maxime De Zeeuw, Franz Massenat and Philipp Schwethelm. Paulding is a 35 year old 196cm guard/forward that just keeps chugging along and is playing his 11th season with Oldenburg and 14th overall after getting early experience in Israel and France. He may not have the quickness of 6-7 years ago, but there is nothing that is slowing down with his game, but moreover his game is aging as nicely as fine wine. Last season he had his best scoring season in the BBL averaging 16,1ppg,  2.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 83.4%; In the BCL, he averaged 12.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 77.8%. He is still a scoring option and a real team player, and when all is said and done, the ex Missouri(NCAA) stand out who won 2 titlles with Oldenburg will belong to the greatest Americans that ever played in the BBL. De Zeeuw is a 30 year old 206cm forward played a solid 2017 European championship with Belgium averaging 10.4ppg, 4.2rpg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 77.8%. The ex Czech champion with Nymburk who also played at the European championships in Slovenia in 2011 last season for Oldenburg averaged 9.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 56.7%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 82.1%; In the BCL, he averaged 9.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 78.1%. He is a strong inside player that can score in many ways around the rim and will be a nasty tandem with Mahalbasic in the paint area. Massenat is a 25 year old 193cm combo guard that is playing  his fourth professional season and fourth in Germany after playing his first two seasons with MBC: Last season the ex Drexel(NCAA) star who averaged 17,5ppg as a senior averaged 10.2ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 79.2%; In the BCL, he averaged 8.9ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 71.8%. He loves to show his accuracy getting to the rim, but has proven over the years that he has a reliable three pointer and will be another valuable scoring commodity for Oldenburg this season. Schwethelm is a 28 year old 201cm guard/forward that has been around in the BBL for ages having played his first BBL game at age 16 with Cologne. He has had a solid BBL career playing with teams like Bremerhaven, FC Munich, and ratiopharm Ulm and going into his third season with Oldenburg. Last season he averaged  7.2ppg, 2.4rpg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 43.6%, FT: 80.0%; BCL: 18 games: 7.2ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 75.0%. The 49 time German national player who played at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey is a very versatile player that will always bring valuable minutes. His three point shooting remains a big strength of his as well as his defense as he can defend many positions.

Besides Mahalbasic, the club brought in seven new talented players with Mickey Mcconnell, Bryon Allen, Isaiah Philmore, Christian Jones, Karsten Tadda, Brad Loesing and Marcel Kesson. Mcconnell wasn´t only the clubs best signing, but also belonged to one of the best in the BBL. Mcconnell is a 28 year old 182cm point guard from Mesa, Arizona who had a stellar career at St Mary´s winning the WCC tournament and MVP title in 2010. As a professional  he gathered valuable experience in Italy, D-League, France and Germany where he played with the Telekom Baskets Bonn in the 2014-2015 season. Last season he made the next jump to Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro CAB (Spain-Liga Endesa) averaging 11.2ppg, 2.0rpg, Assists-1(6.4apg), FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 30.1%, FT: 89.5%. He is a very versatile point guard that had a short stint with the Dallas Mavericks in training camp in 2013 and with snipers like Paulding and Allen around and Mahalbasic and De Zeeuw lucking in the paint will compete for the assist crown this season. Allen is a 25year old 193cm guard from Maryland going into his fourth professional season. The ex George Mason standout has been a pure scorer since his senior season in school and lit up arena´s in Poland, Kuwait, Italy and the Czech Republic the last years. Last season he won the double with CEZ Basketball Nymburk (Czech Republic-NBL) averaging 14.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.1apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 72.6%; In the BCL, he averaged 15.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 76.1%. The explosive scorer who shows his unselfish side as well liking to find teammates that are in an even better position than him will finish in the top 10 in scoring and give fans many high lights this season. Philmore is a 28 year old 203cm forward with valuable NCAA experience with Townson and Xavier and in Germany having played with ratiopharm Ulm, Telekom Baskets Bonn and last season balled with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen averaging 9.9ppg, 3.8rpg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 79.8%The German who was born in the States has a physical game that will add depth to the Oldenburg inside game, but he also likes to step outside as he was able to improve his trey last season. Jones is a 24 year old 201cm forward from Arlington, Texas that hails from an athletic family as his dad played college ball at Tulsa. He is playing his rookie season after playing three seasons at St Johns and last year at UNLV (NCAA) playing 23 games averaging 10.2ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 45.4%, FT: 61.8%. He is a strong inside player that also has solid mid distance jumper. He will battle for minutes in a deep rotation. Tadda is a 28 year old 190 cm shooting guard that belonged to the great Bamberg teams of head coach Chris Fleming where he won 8 titles. Last season he played with Ratiopharm Ulm (BBL) playing 43 games: averaging 4.7ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg; In the Eurocup, he played 14 games averaging 2.3ppg, 1.4rpg, 2.2apg. He will fit in great with Oldenburg supplying energy on both ends of the court as he is a strong defender being able to defend the position 1-3 and will drop his share of three´s. His vast experience with Bamberg and having played at three European championships will be an added spice to the growing team chemistry through out the season. Loesing is a 28 year old 182cm guard playing his fifth professional season after being a rookie with PVSK Pannonpower Pecs (Hungary-A Division). The ex Wofford(NCAA) star then came to Germany in 2014 needing a season of grooming in the Pro A with Gotha and then played the last two seasons with the  MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL) and last season played 38 games averaging 4.2ppg, 2.1apg; In the BCL he played 20 games averaging 3.9ppg, 1.1rpg, 1.6apg. The American also has the German passport that is an aggressive and quick guard that is also a good shooter. This energy rabbit will be an annoying player to deal with for opposing teams when he is inserted from the bench. Kesson is a 20 year old 207cm big man that brought 25 BBL games experience with Phoenix Hagen. Last season he played with the Baskets Akad.Weser-Ems/Oldenburger TB (ProB) playing 12 games averaging 11.3ppg, 4.9rpg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 70.6%, played also at TSG Westerstede (Regionalliga) playing 10 games:averaging 7.7ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 56.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 84.6%. He has a double license with Baskets Akad.Weser-Ems/Oldenburger TB (ProB) and will have to fight for BBL minutes.

So where will the BBL journey of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg go this season? You just have to follow this team a bit more closer simply with the presence of a Rickey Paulding who is always worth a visit no matter what even if a person is very sick or just broke up with their significant other. A big goal of the club is too improve their defense as they gave up 79 points per game last season as well as rebounding as they hauled down only 28 per game in the BBL. They also may surprise a lot of teams with their increased usage of transition basketball which they will scatter into their game more. Losing the minister of defense with Chris Kramer hurts as well as the versatile Brian Qvale, but if one inspects the two rosters carefully, the club may be a tad more talented this season than last season. If one adds up what new players Mcconnell and Mahalbasic bring to the table then they are very adequate replacements for Kramer and Qvale. Mcconnell is a totally different player to Kramer and will be an upgrade on the offensive end while Mahalbasic will bring the stats or even better than what Qvale brought. The bench is deeper and the club has more experience. Allen will be the key player this season in that if he can have a big season like he has had in the past years then the club will have that added scoring presence that they didn´t have last season. The EWE Baskets as usual will play in the shadows of the top 3 Bamberg, FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin, but are always good for a surprise in the playoffs. They might not have the special kind of run they had last season where they reached the final, but should reach the semi-finals if they don´t get infected by serious injuries. They will end the regular season somewhere between 4-7. But then again with Paulding on the court, everything is possible.







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