If you hail from Rio, Brazil, waking up before 6am is technically in the middle in the night and more a time where people will be heading to sleep during carnival then actually getting up to have to work or grind in the gym like most other player’s unless your Julius Randle or Kobe Bryant would still be sleeping dreaming about sweet basketball moments. But for Marcelo Ruediger (206-C-93, college: Tampa), having to set an alarm clock before 5Am was something that he had to do on occasion when he was at Monmouth University for a season. It was there that he was introduced to the well known basketball family DiLeo. He was only there one season, but he got that full hot order treatment from DiLeo as Sean Pean legendary character Jeff Spicoli uttered in the classic 80’s movie Fast Times At Ridgemont high. Max Dileo has made a name for himself as a defensive pest as Monmouth head coach King Rice instilled a defensive effort in him and has taken pride in and given the word hustle a new name and a big reason why the Hamburg Towers have been so successful in the last two years. Even if it has been almost a decade since Ruediger and Max DiLeo were teammates, the American from New Jersey left a very lasting impression on the Brazilian big man. ‘Max DiLeo was a Junior when I got to Monmouth. He was like a leader for us. One of the toughest and most intensive players I’ve ever played with. It was like he could never get tired. When everybody was in pain and exhausted he would come in the locker room singing at 5 am cheering everyone up! I have great memories from him, great player, great guy, great personality’, remembered Marcelo Ruediger. But not only does the big man have fond memories of him, but also his ex teammate Max DiLeo. ‘Marcelo was a great teammate, always had a positive attitude and a great work ethic. It doesn’t surprise me that he continues to have success. Any team is lucky to get him to join, not only because he is talented but he’s a great person off the court and in the locker room. Hopefully our paths cross soon I would love to catch up with him in person’, stressed Max DiLeo. Now Ruediger is in Germany and once again is confronted with the DiLeo name. Max Dileo is 465 kilometers away in Hamburg while the Brazilian signed to play for the Telekom Baskets Bonn farm team Dragons Rhondorf who battle in the third league called Pro B. This season the Telekom Baskets Bonn are finally putting smiles into the fans faces again as they are on top of the easyCredit BBL standings after missing the playoffs the last two seasons and giving some of those hard edged fans heartaches. The Telekom Baskets Bonn have easily one the best coaches in the league with Finish master mind Tuomas Iisalo and best point guard with Parker Jackson Cartwright. But despite the success something is still missing in Bonn this season. After five seasons, TJ Dileo decided to hang them up after a solid 8 year professional career overseas and has joined NBA team Philadelphia 76ers staff. One has to truly wonder how much better Bonn would be now with TJ DiLeo on board this season. His combination of hard work, leadership and character was something very special that you rarely see. It is clear that Marcelo Ruediger will never forget the DiLeo name and neither will basketball folk in Bonn.
Marcelo Ruediger who doesn’t remember battling ex Tampa (NCAA) Duke Shelton in 1-1 and is sure he would of lost facing the basket from the three and won posting up was born on November 30, 1993 in Nadal, Brazil. There is a reason why he has a Spanish first name and German last name. His great grandfather was German and during the war moved to Brazil with his grandfather. His father was born in Brazil, but after he got the German citizenship, it gave Marcello the right to also get it. He began his basketball career at Flamengo and at the age of 17 in 2011 moved to the United States to pursue studies and basketball there. He got his first dose of American culture taking a 180 degree turn from the Copacabana, cool sweet drinks and bikini’s to the frost, snow and back woods of Maine at Lee Academy. You can be sure that the rapid change from the exotic to the brutality of winter was like a culture shock. ‘Moving from Rio de Janeiro to Lee Academy was definitely a culture shock and a major change in my life. I went from a huge tropical city in my home country to a small freezing village in a foreign country which I didn’t speak the language. But it was very good for me to grow up as a man and experience a difference culture. In fact, I made very good friends there and end up having a great time even though the beginning was very tough for me’, remembered Marcelo Ruediger.
He last watched the classic movie Matrix and began his college career at Monmouth where he played 24 games. Despite not playing a real role there on the court, it was a time in his life that he won’t forget, because he was treated right. ‘Monmouth University was a big challenge. The Coaching staff was great and very demanding. I wasn’t very lucky there, I got hurt a lot but still learned a lot from coaches and my teammates. They were probably the most correct and united team I’ve played for, they were literally like a family’, warned Marcelo Ruediger. He then decided to attempt another step by attending Utah State University Eastern (JUCO), but never played. He was supposed to go to Chicago State (NCAA) from Utah, but had misfortune that a math course he had to take in order to get an associates degree wasn’t added to his schedule so he couldn’t return to division one. He had been recruited by Chicago State, had signed, but was supposed to go, but couldn’t. ‘Utah was a bad experience, the one place I regretted going’, said Marcelo Ruediger. Somehow his college basketball time was always plagued by misfortune and it wasn’t any different in Tampa. He played only 27 games in his two year stay, but he was able to take advantage of his stay in other area’s ‘I got two bad injuries that kept me off of the court for a long time. My Junior Year I had the 3rd surgery in my elbow and my senior year I started having problems with my feet and had an achilles injury that kept me out for a long time too. It was still a good place, maybe not a lot for basketball but I got to study, work some and I got my diploma’, expressed Marcelo Ruediger. Tampa head coach Richard Schmidt wanted the best for the big guy, but his focus on hard work put him mentally going in a wrong direction which he later luckily was able to correct. ‘Coach Richard is a great guy but he had an old school style. He put me to run a lot, do wall sits and jump rope for about 30 minutes every day. That was when my feet problems started. But I can’t blame it on him, I was dumb and I thought the more and the harder I worked the better, stronger and faster I would be. So I would work extra. I didn’t take care of my body properly and didn’t give it enough rest. So I ended up like I said injuring myself. When I got back to Brazil I didn’t know if was going to be able to play at all because of my feet. But fortunatelly I met a very good physiotherapist that taught me many things and changed the way I took care of my body. I lost weight, got my feet better and was able to get back into playing in Brasilia’, commented Marcelo Ruediger.
The ex Monmouth center who lists Max DiLeo, Brose Bamberg guard Justin Robinson, Duke Shelton, and Chris Brady his best teammates in school and Zach Graham Ronald Rudson Nezinho Arthur Belchor and Sammy Yeager his best teammates at the professional level returned home in 2017 and played three seasons with Torcida Uni Brasilia Basquete playing a total of 64 NBB games improving his points and rebound average each season and in his last season averaged 4,8ppg and 4,8rpg. These three years back home were vital in his basketball development as he looks to make the next step in Europe. ‘I think I’ve improved my game and specially my mentality as a player and the understanding of the game in Brasilia. I’ve played with and against very good and experienced players so it was definitely a big learning curve for me’, stated Marcelo Ruediger. The last two years weren’t easy for him during COVID like for everyone else on earth, but he had to cope with it and it won’t be any different in Germany. ‘Covid has been really tough in Brazil, many people died. I actually came in to Germany and tested positive and yesterday I finally tested negative and was my first day out of quarantine. Enter season 2020-21 many games were canceled. Postponed. Teams would play incomplete because of people testing positive. My team struggled a lot’, stated Marcelo Ruediger. COVID also brought him closer to his family something he may not have experienced had COVID not struck. ‘ I believe Covid has taught all of us many lessons. For me personally, I had to look out for my family specially the elderly ones and keep the distance from them’, stressed Marcelo Ruediger.
So now let’s fast forward to 2022. The big man who lists Lebron, Kobe, Jordan, Shaq, and Giannis Antetokounmpo on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is in Germany taking on a new challenge with Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf. Being able to experience a new culture where his ancestors came from is very exciting for him. ‘I am very excited to play for the Dragons. To be honest I don’t know a whole lot about Germany, I am very excited to explore and learn more about German people and their culture. I know it’s a very organized and developed country very different from Brazil. Also a much older civilization with a very rich history. I’ve always wanted to get to know Germany’, added Marcelo Ruediger. Coming to the Dragons Rhondorf was a no brainer as head coach Julius Thomas and CEO Yassin Idbihi were able to sell him their product well, but overall, they didn’t need to do much convincing because there was no other country he would rather have gone to. ‘Both Coaches were always very honest and so far they have been super nice! The team offered a great opportunity for me to get in German territory and keep going with my career and life. Like I said I have always wanted to play/ live in Germany’, expressed Marcelo Ruediger. It will be interesting to see how rapidly the physical 206cm 114 kilo player will be integrated to the Dragons offense. You can compare his game to guys like David West, Luis Scola or Nene Hilaro and the Dragons know exactly what they have gotten. ‘”He will bring us more physicality and stability. In comparison to the other bigs, he is a real center. I’m very happy that he will help us”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf head coach Julius Thomas. He isn’t quite a modern day center yet, but he is constantly working on it.. ‘I like setting screens and getting my teammates open and roll hard to the paint. But I also enjoy the post up game, middle range shots and have been working on lot on my 3 pointers’, said Marcelo Ruediger. Working on his shot is his biggest priority, but rebounding and defense are also area’s where the Dragons will be able to profit from. ‘Rebounding has always been one of my main characteristics. I like to hit the boards hard and be physical. On defense I try to always be in the right place and look out for my teammates. So yes I believe those are areas where I can affect the game’, warned Marcelo Ruediger. The Dragons Rhondorf started 2020 off with a bang beating top Pro B north team Wolmirstedt and continue to improve and grow as a very young unit with an average age of 19 years. The Dragons finally have a physical banger who will allow Marek Kotineo to spread the floor more while he can play his more inside game. He will definitely feel very comfortable in the Dragon Dome and won’t have to be surprised if he is asked for a DiLeo story and if he has a desire to visit Max DiLeo, Hamburg is only 4 hours away by car. I’m sure Max will like to test how good the Brazilian’s defense has grown since Monmouth.