If some wise man had predicted at the beginning of the Pro B South season that after seven games you would have the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and Fraport Skyliners Juniors at one and two, people would have not called you a genius, but a fool while fans in Elchlingen would have flipped you the bird as how could the multi talented and 2018 Pro B champion not be anywhere but at the top. Ok so the ScanPlus Baskets are near the top in third place with a record of 6-2, but are at the moment breathing up the backs of Leverkusen and Frankfurt waiting to prance on them like a famished cat waiting for their mistakes. It has been a very refreshing season for the German BBL title record holder Bayer Giants Leverkusen as they have built up an offense led by German Tim Schonb born and Frenchman Ron Mvouika and American Nick Hornsby that average 87 points per game and also have found chemistry on the defensive end allowing only 70 points per game. They also have gotten good support from their German role players and are also the best rebounding team in the league. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors were born in 2009 and have put together their best start in their history going 6-1. They have continued to uphold the Frankfurt basketball tradition of having a strong defense and have sparked their offense along the way as they average 77 points per game. The young German´s know each other since years and have added the needed athleticism with Swedish shooting star Elijah Clarance, sniper power from American JT Roach and German young big men Aaron Kayser to make a deep squad that is hungry for success. The two top teams met in Frankfurt on a mild autumn Saturday night and the Bayer Giants Leverkusen demonstrated why they went into the game undefeated and why they returned home unbeaten. They simply did everything a tad better than the Fraport Skyliners Juniors like shooting and rebounding, moved the ball better, made the smarter plays, took Elijah Clarance out of the game and got the big shots from Tim Schonborn and Nino Celebic who also controlled the game for the guests. “We struggled at the start of the game on defense, but knew that they were a good scoring team and picked up our intensity. We did a good job on Clarance and also on Zeeb, but he still played a great job. Dennis Heinzman did a great job getting the rebounds”, added ex Giessen Rackelos forward Nick Hornsby. After the 17 point loss the players escaped to the dressing room, but returned and were horrified by their poor defense. “We weren´t happy with our defense. We gave up way too many easy baskets. They did a good job taking Clarance out of the game and hit many tough shots”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Junior forward Konstantin Schubert.
At this time last season the Dragons Rhondorf were hovering on cloud 9 and seemed invincible as they were led by future Pro B MVP Kameron Taylor who had an answer for almost everything on the court as was leading the team to brutal success and was time in and time out the savior. This season it has been like night and day for the former Pro A team as they are sitting in the Pro B cellar with an 0-3 record with the only good news that there are three other teams suffering the same fate as the Dragons with identical records. Nothing has gone right for the ambitious farm team of easyCredit BBL team Telekom Baskets Bonn as they are averaging a dismal 63 points and giving up a mediocre 83 points where any novice mathematician would come to the conclusion that you can´t win games like that. The Dragons Rhondorf have a talented roster, but still have to find themselves on the court as Lithuanian big man Zygimantas Riauka has been the only real bright spot averaging 15 and 13 through the first three games and is keeping the paint area clean. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen are making amends for their lax start last season where they lost three of their first five games by racing out of the gate this season with a perfect 3-0 record. They haven´t faced the most stifest competition yet beating FC Bayern Munich that breeds young German talent and two 0-3 teams Erfurt and Coburg. So far 1993 European champion Hansi Gnad has done a fine job in his first season as head coach taking over the reigns from Leverkusen Achim Kuczmann and formed a good early season chemistry that will continue to build. With top player Ron Mvouika and a class of solid Germans, Leverkusen has been a pleasant surprise in the Pro B considering other top import Nick Hornsby doesn´t have to bring that big production he had to last season with Giessen. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen returned back to Rhondorf and wanted to get revenge for last season´s 90-72 spanking and did winning 84-68 despite getting a small scare at the start of the fourth by the Dragons Rhondorf, but buckled down and in the end won with ease. Leverkusen head coach Hansi Gnad had a long post game talk with his team, but when American Nick Hornsby returned back on the court to face the press, he didn´t try to avoid the difficulty of the game, but agreed that it was a hard fought win for his team. “It was a tough game . Rhondorf played a lot more physical. The bigs were stocky and the guards very fast and they played very physical. But we settled down in the second half and played diverse, taking care of the ball well and getting less turnovers while slowing down the game and playing inside out ball. Our guards Celebic and Blessig were a big help today”, stressed ex Sacramento State forward Nick Hornsby. After the game a pooped Zgyimantas Riauka who looked like he had just completed a marathon as he was still sweating like crazy minutes after the loss reflected on the game. “The difference was that they hit more shots than we did. They shot the three very well. We played tough, but they went on more runs. Our defense was great and we brought a lot of energy”, stressed Rhondorf center Zygimantas Riauka.
Ron Mvouika is a 26 year old 196cm forward from France that played a short second professional season and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen playing only 4 games before an injury cut his season short. He was able to make an impact in the pro B averaging 17,0ppg, 4,5rpg and 3,5apg while shooting 45% from outside. He started the season with the Plymouth University Raiders (United Kingdom-BBL). Last season as a rookie he played with Aurore de Vitre (NM1). He spent a lot of time in the states going over in 2010 going to Huntington, WV / Huntington-St.Joseph Prep School. He then played two seasons with Sheridan JC (JUCO). In 2013 he transferred to Missouri St. (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 6.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 59.2%. In his junior season at Missouri St. (NCAA) he played 2 games averaging 5.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.0spg. For his senior St.John’s (NCAA): 32 games: 8.5ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 38.4%, FT: 66.2%. German Hoops spoke to him when he was playing in Germany for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen before his injury.
Ron thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. For a guy that is from France, but lived for 6 years in the States, did you have any previous dealings with the country Germany? What do you in general about it´s basketball?
I don’t have any previous dealing with Germany, Its my first time here and I enjoy it. Over the past years, Germany has had a great reputation when it comes to basketball. Dirk played a huge role in that, after the career he is having in the NBA, he put Germany on the map. New guys like Dennis Schroeder is bringing even more light into the country so its positive and beneficial for all the leagues here.
You lived 6 years in the States and are back in Europe to play professionally. Do you ever wonder where your basketball career would have gone had you stayed in Europe? Where do you think could you be today without the American experience?
Yeah, I wonder sometimes where I would be if I didn’t play in America for so long. I’m sure I would of been playing in France somewhere, but I don’t regret anything if I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t change anything. Live my life with no regrets is my way of life.
Congrats on signing with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. How did the club wet your appetite best for signing with them?
It´s a honor to play for the winningest club ever in Germany. A club with so much history and a historical Coach is something that I couldn’t turn down. I was fortunate enough to play in great and historical programs in the NCAA, hall of famers like Coach Mullin but also Mitch Ritchmond and Coach Achim is a figure in Germany so I take it as a blessing to learn from these masterminds. I stay in sponge mode and learn everything I can while I’m here.
Head coach Achim Kuczmann is extremely impressed with your leadership qualities and the need to take responsibility on the court? What other strengths do you have on the court?
I could always score the ball with ease since I was young but a part of my game that people are not really aware of is my ability to pass the ball. I love getting assist for my teammates. I like it just as more as scoring. Outside of that, I love rebounding the ball also, get in the mix with the bigs and fight for it, I enjoy it, I´m a fighter so its a fun thing.
A little more than two months ago, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed another great performance on the road taking apart the Bayer Giants Leverkusen for the second straight year as German wunder kid Isaac Bonga led the charge with 26 points last season and 19 points this season. Like so often this season, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were unable to give a very good performance for 40 minutes as they have proven this season to have been underachieving despite having a very solid guard rotation of Alexander Blessig and Marvin Heckel and two potent import inside players with Bruce Beckford and Donovan Jack and all rounder CJ Oldham. The biggest problem has been their inability to defend at a high rate on a consistent level as they allow 80 points per game while scoring 78 per game. The club reacted at the start of 2018 bringing in talented 26 year old 196cm small forward Ron Mvouika from France who after a roller coaster ride from Sheridan JC (JUCO) and Missouri St. (NCAA), he finally landed with St Johns in his senior season 2015-2016 where he captained the team for legendary 1992 Dream team player and now coach Chris Mullin who treated him like a pro from day one. Leverkusen landed a coup with Mvouika as he prompt led the team on a two game winning streak. They did lose last weekend to Iserlohn as their lackluster defense reared it´s ugly head again on the court losing 95-84. However Mvouika who compares his game to Paul George has been more than just a fresh breath of air, but been a lot more as he has taken the Pro B by storm and proven to be a very versatile player that can do it all on the court as through three games he was averaging 19,0ppg, 5,0rpg, 4,0apg, 1,3 and is shooting 47,1% from outside. He has never had it easy in his career, but he has always believed in his abilities and his road up the basketball ladder continues now with Leverkusen. “I am a very confident person because I know the work I put in every day. Basketball is not a sport to me, it’s my life so me not finding stability since coming out of college never really made me doubt myself or anything else. I was just working very hard every day, waiting on the right opportunity to present itself, an opportunity where I could express myself and show the world what I can do and Bayer was the perfect marriage. I don’t feel or add any pressure, if anything, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time so now its time to show all the work that I was putting behind close doors”, warned Ron Mvoiuka.
The French man came with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen to Frankfurt and was looking to start a new winning streak while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were looking for their second victory in a row in 2018 and they overcome a quick start by the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and controlled the game from the second quarter until the 40 minutes had eclipsed playing consistent offense and playing with passion on the defensive end winning 81-65.
CJ Oldham is a 26 year old 203cm forward that was born in Berlin, but grew up in the States and also in Germany. He started his basketball career at Akron in 2010, but played only 17 NCAA games in two seasons. He then transferred to Gannon(NCAA) in 2012 playing a total of 57 games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 5.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 52.1%, FT: 73.2%. He started his professional basketball career in 2015 with BSG Bremerhaven (2.Regionalliga) playing 7 games averaging 14.6ppg. Lasts eason he played for the Kongsberg Miners (Norway-BLNO) playing 31 games averaging 9.9ppg, 9.5rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6spg, Blocks-5(1.0bpg), FGP: 57.5%, FT: 75.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about Basketball.
CJ thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer coming along?
I appreciate the opportunity to get a chance to talk with you. At the moment I am in Erie, Pa where I finished my college career. Summer has been great so far. I got a chance to spend time with my girlfriend, family, and friends after being away during my season.
Congrats on signing with the German pro B team Bayer Giants Leverkusen. You are coming from the first division in Norway from Konigsberg. After being a rookie with BSG Bremerhaven, how important was it for you to come back to Germany and play for a team?
Germany has always been like a second home to me. It’s a place where I grew up and learned a lot. To have the opportunity to come back to Germany to play is really exciting, especially Leverkusen where I spent many years.
Your dad Calvin has been affiliated with many teams in Germany like Bayreuth, Ulm, Alba Berlin or Bremerhaven. After being in the Bremerhaven organization you now are with Leverkusen where your dad once coached as well. What was the deciding factor that made you sign with this traditional team?
Leverkusen is a great club to play for and having a previous relationship with both the head and assistant coach made it an even better choice. I have known Achim Kuczmann and Hansi Gnad since I was young and I know having them as my coaches will help me improve as a basketball player.
Kerry Carter is a 26 year old 188cm guard from West Covina, California that completed his second professional season and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-ProB). Last season as a rookie he played for Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 5 games: 3.2ppg. He started his basketball career with Citrus College and then moved to St.Mary’s, CA (NCAA) where he played 63 NCAA games and as senior played 31 games averaging 12.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5spg. He currently is tearing up the German Pro B league averaging 29,0ppg and spoke to eurobasket after being ousted by the Astrostars Bochum ending his season.
Kerry thanks for talking to German Hoops. You and the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were dismissed in the first round of the playoffs by Bochum. Are you back in the States or still in Germany? What did you do in your last days in Germany?
I’m still in Germany at the moment. I am not sure what’s next but I’m just training and staying sharp. The season ended too early for my liking, I’m not ready to go into offseason yet.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen lost 2-1 against Bochum. How disappointing was this for you personally not being able to make a longer run in the Pro B playoffs?
Leverkusen had made it clear that the goal was to win the league and get promoted to Pro A, so losing was obviously a huge disappointment. No discredit to Bochum though, they brought more energy and they were the tougher team. A few plays could have changed the outcome of the series but that’s how it goes.
Kerry Carter is a 26 year old 188cm guard from West Covina, California that is playing his second professional season and first with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-ProB). Last season as a rookie he played for Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 5 games: 3.2ppg. He started his basketball career with Citrus College and then moved to St.Mary’s, CA (NCAA) where he played 63 NCAA games and as senior played 31 games averaging 12.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5spg. He currently is tearing up the German Pro B league averaging 29,0ppg and spoke to German Hoops after the 95-79 win against the ScanPlus Baskets.
Kerry thanks for talking to German Hoops 2017 is here and already in full swing. Did you make any new years resolutions this year or are you more a guy that doesn´t get involved with that?
I didn’t make any resolutions but shortly before the new year I gave up meat & poultry and adopted a pescatarian diet. It’s took a lot of discipline not to cave in at first but I’ve gotten acquainted with it.
Congrats on the big 95-79 win against the Giants Nordlingen. The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were already down by 10 after one quarter, but stepped up the defense in the second quarter while scoring 28 points. What adjustments did the team make to get back into the game?
We made a few adjustments to our line up and defensive approach but mostly we just kept playing. It’s a 40 minute game, so down 10 early never gave us any doubt. We never thought we weren’t going to win.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen did a good job averaging 27 points in the last three quarters and winning the game with their offensive arsenal. Was the consistent offense in the last three quarters key for the win?
Offense was key. We had more guys in double figures tonight than the average night. Anytime we score that way, with several guys contributing, we’re a tough team to beat.