For basketball fans in the easyCredit BBL, basketball life has been rather brutal since the pandemic hit in 2020, but with the visit back into arena’s has been a massive bright spot. Being able to be back in their living room and to see their favorite team and players and being able to cheer nonstop has been dearly missed. So imagine what kind of feeling you can get when the two league identity figures (only Per Guenter is missing) Rickey Paulding and Quantez Robertson don’t clash two times, but three times in a season? Well that is exactly what will happen this season as the Fraport Skyliners and EWE Baskets Oldenburg drew themselves in the first round of cup play. Being able to see a Paulding and a Robertson for an additional new season is very similar to what fans during the magical NBA Showtime era must of felt getting to witness a new Bird and Magic playoff series. Combined these two extra special players are playing 28 seasons in the easyCredit BBL and quite honestly don’t seem to be slowing down. These guys always give their all in every game and it isn’t any different when the two future BBL legends battle for the win. ‘Tez is a special player. He is someone you watch and see that he’s giving his all every play. What I admire most about him is leadership. There’s been times for instance last season when the team isn’t doing well. He never let up. That’s the best example especially for young players’, stressed Rickey Paulding. Ex Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert who now is the German national team coach hadn’t even heard of the Paulding announcement that this would be his last year. ‘I saw two legends going at it today. Both are in the twilight of their career’s but still play major roles within their clubs. Rickey has been one of the best imports to ever play in Germany. He is even a better person. I saw his son play in Heidelberg. He looks pretty good’, smiled Gordon Herbert.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg came into the game with a 1-1 record having played two real nail biting gems first losing a tough 79-78 contest to the always surprising and pesky Ninners Chemnitz and then eking out a hard fought 82-79 victory over the Hakro Crailsheim Merlins while the Fraport Skyliners are still far away from any solid form having lost their opener at home against Braunschweig and then getting blown out in Berlin 101-63. The EWE Baskets wanted a good start into the cup season while the Fraport Skyliners was seeking their first positive moment on the court with an upset. It was an even game at the start, but the guests took control in the second quarter as they let it rain three’s, but in the second half, suddenly the three onslaught stopped as Frankfurt picked up their defense and always stuck with Oldenburg as the guests couldn’t shake the Skyliners. ‘We couldn’t close them out. We were up 10 and Tez was in foul trouble in the third quarter with four fouls. But I have to credit Frankfurt. They killed us on the offensive board and with second chance points. This isn’t a very good feeling at the moment’, stressed ex Missouri (NCAA) standout Rickey Paulding. The Fraport Skyliners gave a tremendous spirited effort and never gave up keeping them in the cup competition. ‘It is a good feeling beating a tough team like Oldenburg. We fought until the end. We played as hard as we could and when we got down, we got up again. We got the needed stops and transition baskets. This win is a huge moral booster for us’, stressed ex Auburn (NCAA) great Quantez Robertson. ‘Frankfurt’s defense was good in the second half. They took Oldenburg’s three out of the game’, said Gordon Herbert.
The Fraport Skyliners came storming out of the gate climbing all over the EWE Baskets Oldenburg taking a rapid 12-4 advantage with almost five minutes having been played. In the run as usual it was a motivated Rasheed Moore who does his magic on or off the bench scoring 8 points draining two three’s. Frankfurt also received a lay up from their identity figure Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt played with vengeance and was very focused getting an offensive rhythm quickly. Oldenburg seemed there, but then again wasn’t there as the only bright spot was 2,0 Keith Hornsby reloaded guard Max Heidegger who recently had a solid NBA Summer League campaign with the Atlanta Hawks nailed a few baskets. His energy kept the EWE Baskets in the game as he connected on another three as Frankfurt led only 12-7. A 10-3 Oldenburg run got them back into the game as they trailed only 15-14. In the run the guests got vital support from Paulding, ex MBC scoring champ Michal Michalak and ex Texas Tech (NCAA) forward T.J Holyfield with buckets. The game remained tight now as there were a few lead changes, but Frankfurt kept control. One player that really stuck out was 19 year old German guard Len Schoorman who really picked up the slack for the sick Donovan Donaldson. Schoorman had been out and was expected back in a few months, but returned a lot quicker. He had no fear and was the go to guy in the latter half of the first quarter supplying 6 points. He made a two handed dunk, but also a pretty acrobatic lay in form the wing. ‘That was a pretty good lay up. Len hit big shots and gave us a push. But he did get blocked by the old guy. But so did I when he was still a young guy my rookie year’, smiled Quantez Robertson. Of course the old guy Tez was referring to was Rickey Paulding. Paulding remembered that game where he blocked Tez. ‘That was the first game we played against each other. I remember him going up for the lay up and he wasn’t expecting me as I blocked him. But that was my last block on him. I haven’t blocked him since’, said Rickey Paulding. Ex Alba Berlin forward Lorenz Brenneke got the last laugh hitting a timely three pointer at the buzzer to give Frankfurt the 22-20 lead after 10 minutes.
In the second quarter the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were able to make some ground thanks to three point execution, but could never shake the Fraport Skyliners, because their rebounding kept them in the game. The first few minutes saw the team trade lead changes. Diminutive German national player Bennt Hundt dropped two three pointers while Frankfurt got loyal support from their young bigs Lorenz Brenneke and 18 year Alexander Richardson who’s development has been rising. He was fortunate to get BBL time, because Brooks DeBisshop has been out. Richardson finished with 5 points and 4 rebounds in 11 minutes and definitely has been noticed by head coach Diego Ocampo. ‘He is young. He has good size and hands. Most important is he enjoys what he is doing’, warned Diego Ocampo. Oldenburg then caught some fire going on an annoying 11-3 run to take the 37-30. In the run, the EWE Baskets showed their snipper qualities getting three three’s. Michalak, ex Crailsheim guard Sebastian Herrera and Heidegger connected. Oldenburg had some momentum and kept their offense rolling as now it was time for Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding to get himself some action scoring 5 points as Frankfurt trailed 42-36. Heidegger then made a big hustle play following his miss and making a put back for the 44-36 Oldenburg advantage at the break. The EWE Baskets had shot 70% from the parking lot and weren’t too shabby form the field either shooting 55%. Frankfurt was ruling the boards with the 19-14 advantage. One interesting instance late in the second quarter involved Oldenburg head coach Mladen Drijencic. Shortly before Paulding nailed his three pointer, he went a few steps on the court and disposed of a wild Butterfly and then threw it into the trash can while somehow still following the game. ‘I didn’t realize that was happening. That’s hilarious. It doesn’t surprise me that he would be able to do something like that’, stressed Rickey Paulding. ‘We didn’t pay attention on defense. We didn’t communicate and didn’t fight through screens. They had good looks’, added Quantez Robertson.
In the third quarter with the Fraport Skyliners down 10 points and Quantez Robertson being hit with his fourth foul at the 7 minute mark, the future didn’t look too rosy in the game, but the cup competition always brings out the best and has surprise moments. Badio began the second half with a lay in which was followed by a high floater off the glass by ex Boston Celtic Phil Pressy and a beautiful left handed hook shot from ex BG Goettingen center Tai Odiase for the 48-38 Oldenburg lead. But the Fraport Skyliners continued to battle and despite Tez getting into foul trouble took it upon themselves to go on a 9-1 run to trail only 49-47. In the run Frankfurt got good support from 221 Dutch giant Matt Haarms with two baskets, Rasheed Moore beat everyone on transition for a quick lay up and Schoorman hit another three pointer. The German had his BBL break out game finishing with 17 points and a lot of praise from Ocampo. ‘He worked hard in his recovery. Him coming back so early was a surprise. He is young and played solid. He created and played with a lot of self confidence’, stated Diego Ocampo. But Frankfurt also had some fortune in this phase getting crucial loose balls and the guests missing some easy give me baskets. The game of runs went back and forth as now the EWE Baskets Oldenburg found some daylight going on a 10-2 run to get another 10 point lead 59-49. In the run, their three wasn’t falling so they had to find other means to score. They got baskets inside from ex MHP Riesen center Martin Breunig and Michalak and the only three of the second half from Paulding. Frankfurt did come back closing out the third quarter strong with a 6-0 run to trail only 59-55 after 30 minutes. In the run they got more solid production from Len Schoorman who scored posting up, Richardson made a nice hook shot and Tez made a left handed lay in. ‘We fought better through screens and talked more and were more aggressive. We rebounded better on defense and Haarms altered shots well and Richardson was a monster at both ends’, stressed Quantez Robertson. ‘Frankfurt stepped up. They played harder and we didn’t execute. We allowed them to get easy baskets’, expressed Rickey Paulding.
The fourth quarter was a real dog fight as the Fraport Skyliners made their comeback and secured the lead and never relinquished it as Badio was the crunch-time hero. The team basketball effect was missing from the EWE Baskets Oldenburg on this afternoon as they had too much hero ball on their mind while the Fraport Skyliners fought together and went on a 6-0 run to dead lock the contest at 61-61. Richardson got key offensive rebounds while Rasheed Moore made another key basket and German national player Lukas Wank who had an off night on the scoring front snuck in for the lay in. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg still had some energy left and grabbed the lead back 65-61 as Breunig got a basket and two free throws. A Paulding block on Schoorman led to the free throws. Frankfurt continued to buckle down on defense and got stops as Tez and Brenneke free throws allowed Frankfurt to tie the game at 65-65. Heidegger would give Oldenburg their last lead 67-65 with free throws as crunch-time had arrived. Then came the big moment for ex FC Barcelona 2 player El Hadji Badio (188-G-99) who hadn’t had the best game shooting 1/9 and having 5 turnovers, but the athletic youngster stepped up. First he tied the score with free throws and then scored two key baskets for the 71-67 lead as Frankfurt had stopped Oldenburg twice. Badio made a lay in on transition and then made a massive one handed dunk as some were wondering who was that guy. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg seemed helpless as they gave the word force a new meaning as they tried crazy plays and crazy shots that had a few people who know the game shaking heir heads. This led to Robertson and Schoorman free throws which iced the win. ‘Badio is a young athletic player. He saw the opportunity and opening and made big plays. But we expect that from him. He was our spark plug’, commented Quantez Robertson. ‘We are a young team. In the past we would have found a way to win this game. We are still a new team finding our way. Badio made big plays. All of the Frankfurt young guys made plays’, expressed Rickey Paulding. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Len Schoorman with 17 points while Rasheed Moore added 14 points while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were led by Max Heidegger with 15 points while Michal Michalak and Rickey Paulding added 10 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners shot 45% form the field and 29% from outside and had 43 rebounds and 15 turnovers while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 37% from the field and 33% from outside and had 27 rebounds and 10 turnovers.