Years come and go in Bonn and in the end it is never them heaving that BBL plaque in the air, but moreover watching on the other side of the court as their opponent is doing the celebrating or watching on television. Since reaching the BBL in 1997, they are still seeking their first professional title despite having reached 8 finals. With so many opportunities of being better than their opponent over 40 minutes, one has to wonder if the basketball God is doing something to keep them from getting that championship. If one look at their neighbors Fraport Skyliners, they came into the BBL a few years later and in 7 finals have won three titles. Basketball life can be very difficult in Bonn and it doesn´t get any easier when you have to battle the EWE Baskets Oldenburg who have been a nasty thorn in their sides for many years. The Telekom Baskets Bonn have played the EWE Baskets in three playoff series since the 2008-2009 season and lost all three in five games. They lost back to back series in 2013 and 2014 and were always so close, but just couldn´t make the right decisions and small things cost them each time. Their most bitter series was in 2009 where they were as close to winning that first title, but then let it slip away losing 71-70. Basketball can be so curious and fascinating and who knows what their future would have looked like had they won that first title back then. Current Telekom Baskets Bonn guard TJ DiLeo wants no part of a curse, but then again he is from New Jersey and not from Boston and never had to deal with unwanted long losing or stupid curses. He never thought of a curse being present in Bonn. “ I can’t speak for others. But I look at every season as a new opportunity. I think everyone just wants us to go out and fight and make them proud”, stressed ex Giessen guard TJ DiLeo. Usually three is a charm, but Bonn lost that third straight playoff series to Oldenburg in 2014. Maybe the Telekom Baskets Bonn can start a new trend with four is a charm? The only bad news is that Mr Oldenburg and BBL legend Rickey Paulding was present in all three series and has a 3-0 playoff series record against Bonn. If that isn´t a bad omen.
It was a very strong season for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg who for the first time in many many years didn´t have the extra load of inter week international club competition. They had the luxury of being able to prepare extensively each week just for BBL teams which they definitely profited from. They finished the regular season with a 28-6 record. The Oldenburg troops had a very consistent regular season winning 12 of their first 14 games to get a good grasp with the top teams in the league. It then lost two of three games including a bitter buzzer beater in Frankfurt at the hands of Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson, but then proceeded to finish the season strong going on a 15-2 record despite slipping and losing the last game on the road against the weak Crailsheim squad 99-87. Their biggest wins was the thrilling 83-82 victory against FC Bayern Munich, sweeping Brose Bamberg and also winning against Alba Berlin. The team was able to shine at both ends of the court as they had a lethal offense that averaged 92 points per game best in the league scoring 90 points or more in 18 contests. But after scoring an amazing basket, they didn´t let up on the defensive end, but continued to give it their all allowing only 83 points on average third best in the league. They also belonged to the top rebounding teams grabbing 31 on average fifth best on the club. There was already a healthy team chemistry as the season started as only three new players were hauled in. The team featured five players scoring in double figures and head coach Mladen Drijencic had the right feeling getting point guard Will Cummings(20,5ppg,3,0rpg,4,3apg) who led the team with the perfect combination of scoring/playmaking and won the MVP award. With him as a go to guy, the club also had two others that can decide games at any time with Rashid”Mr triple double” Mahalbasic(13,8ppg,8,9rpg,4,8apg) who belongs to the top centers in the league and Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding(13,3ppg,3,9rpg,1,8apg) who at age 36 still plays at a extreme high level. Three other versatile offensive forces that shoot above 40% from outside is American Nathan Boothe(12,1ppg,4,5rpg,1,0apg 48,5% 3pt) who is also a force on the defensive end, energizer Franz Massenat(11,5ppg 40,5% 3pt) and experienced sniper German Philipp Schwethelm(8,8ppg,3,4rpg, 43% 3pt). Ex Alba Berlin guard from Macedonia Vojdan Stojanovski(8,2ppg) also gives scoring punch. The club has a number of young German players with Marcel Kessen, Haris Hujic, Marko Bacak and veteran Karsten Tadda, but don´t get many minutes as the club has concentrated on giving it´s top players the majority of the minutes and limit the development of further role type players.
The Telekom Baskets Bonn experienced a turbulent regular season that saw head coach Predrag Krunic have to pack his bags as assistant coach Chris O´Shea took over, have players come and go as well as underachieving in the Basketball Champions League. But in the end, the club was able to give their fans another playoff appearance extending their season a few weeks more. Often when a season starts off one can´t always understand it, but then again can´t understand how a quick good start translates into sudden losing. Bonn won it´s first three games, but then lost 8 of 10 games as Krunic obviously wasn´t reaching his players anymore and it seemed like they didn´t know how to win anymore and had difficulties beating weak teams like Science City Jena and the Crailsheim Merlins. The team brought in O´Shea who made changes and the team responded playing better team defense and letting the transition game shine more again. The team then won 9 of 11 games to get back on track. They had a weak April losing four of five games, but got the needed wins at the end against Braunschweig and Jena to get into the playoffs. They closed out the regular season with a big 102-98 win against FC Bayern Munich, but with the playoffs starting got a bit lost in the shuffle and upcoming challenge against the EWE Baskets. They are a good offensive team averaging 86 points per game eighth best, but also allow 86 points per game 12th best in the league. The team do a good job under the boards getting 31 per game sixth best in the league.The team has a nice 9/10 man rotation led by guard Josh Mayo(14,3ppg,50%3pt) who is really shooting the lights out this season. Center Martin Breunig(10,6ppg,4,6rpg) who had his break through season after Charles Jackson got injured. Charles Jackson(13,0ppf,6,2rpg) was injured for some time, but is back giving the club the needed extra physicality and stability in the paint. The guard duo of TJ Dileo(8,5ppg,4,9apg) who made another step as a playmaker and athleticism and defense continues to be vital and Yormon Polas(9,0ppg,4,3rpg) who belongs to the best defenders in the league can always change the impact of a game in seconds with their energetic play. They have two further big men with Bojan Subotic(8,6ppg, 3,8ppg and Stefan Bircevic(7,1ppg,3,8rpg) who spread the floor with their inside/out game. Ex NBA player James Webb(6,0ppg, 4,2rpg) didn´t become the consistent scorer, but can explode at anytime and is a key helper under the boards. Ex Boston College guard Oliver Hanlan(8,3ppg) has been a solid player from the bench and ex Euroleague player Nate Linhart(4,6ppg,3,3rpg,2,4apg) hasn´t exploded, but gives energy and superb basketball IQ from the bench.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Rickey Paulding in 2019 in Frankfurt
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg swept the regular season series without problems winning 98-78 with Rickey Paulding exploding for 32 points at home and 109-95 on the road where Will Cummings had 32 points and Rasid Mahalbasic a 28/13 outburst. In their home win, they shot out the lights from the two point range while Bonn made only 1/3 of their shots from there. On the road, Bonn rebounded better, but their inability to take care of the ball hurt their chances of winning. The EWE Baskets have the best offensive machine in the league and if the Telekom Baskets Bonn aren´t able to set some vital impulses on defense then this could even result in a sweep by Oldenburg. The Telekom Baskets Bonn are a good rebounding team, but so is Oldenburg and will have to take advantage of the extra chances. Even If Bonn can slow done 1-2 of Oldenburg´s best players which isn´t a given, Oldenburg still have enough options to get enough scoring from other guys. Bonn has a lot of talent and are deep and have to come together for once and play consistent. Josh Mayo is having his best season with the Telekom Baskets Bonn and it´s time that his leadership qualities get rewarded with a brilliant series from him. But the EWE Baskets Oldenburg simply have too much fire power that the Telekom Baskets Bonn won´t be able to stop in a five game series. History and luck have been on the side of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the last three playoff series against the Telekom Baskets Bonn and nothing will change this time as they will lose for the eighth time in a row in the quarterfinals.