In the past 25-40 years there have been very little birds chirping anything positive about the New York Knicks who had success in the 70´s with the leadership of Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe winning titles in 1970 and 1973 or the Detroit Pistons with their success with Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman winning back to back titles in 1989 and 1990 and not to forget their win in 2004 and one could hardly call these two basketball cities a rivalry, but both cities have two exceptional players balling in Europe with Ricky Paulding and Jordan Theodore. Paulding who was drafted by his home town team Pistons in 2004 coming out of Missouri(NCAA) has had a brilliant career overseas and has been with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg since 2007 and most likely will be built a special statue the day he hangs up his sneakers, while Theodore is a guy who hails from Engelwood, New Jersey, but was quicker in New York city on the I-95 than Spike Lee could depart Madison Square Garden after a Knicks win. While Paulding has won the 2009 Beko BBL title and 2015 Beko BBL cup, the ex Seton Hall star Theodore hasn´t won anything meaningful in hardware playing for losing teams in Turkey and France, but this season with the Fraport Skyliners, he could pull even with Mr Oldenburg, because the New Jersey native who hung around in New York growing up has good chances to win the Europe Cup where Frankfurt is 10-0 so far and the cup, but to do this he needs to win three games. However Paulding was standing in the way in that first win for the ticket to reach Munich in the cup top 4 at the end of February. Theodore was seeking revenge after the first loss in Oldenburg where Frankfurt lost on the last possession 82-80. In that contest, Paulding had 10 points, four boards and five assists while Theodore led his club with 17 points and was so close to escaping with a victory. With the Pistons and Knicks far away from their minds, it was the Beko BBL showdown between Detroit and New York and it was the big apple that prevailed, but Jordan Theodore didn´t have the motor city and Rickey Paulding on his mind, but actually Dyckman playground in the Bronx as he had some added fuel in his tank playing against his childhood friend Scott Machado who was injured in that first meeting of the season. Machado has made the NBA playing 6 NBA games for the Houston Rockets and led the NCAA in 2012 in assists with 9,9 with Iona feeding the ball to ex Fraport Skyliner Sean Armand all night long and had had enough friendly games against Theodore on the court, but never in a professional game. Theodore and Machado had played a lot at the Dyckman playground in the Bronx so playing this so important game for the ticket to the cup top 4 meant a lot to both players. Theodore got the best of his close friend Machado leading the Fraport Sklyiners to a 80-68 win against the 2015 Beko BBL cup winner EWE Baskets Oldenburg. “This wasn´t something personal, but something I looked forward to. He is from Queens and I am from Engelwood, Nerw Jersey which is 5 minutes from New York. When he was a senior he was #1 in the nation in assists and I was something like fifth or sixth. Our match ups were pretty even growing up. But we played street ball so there was a lot of talent around with NBA players around”, stressed Jordan Theodore who scored 12 points and dished out eight assists in the win against Oldenburg. After the win a disappointed Scott Machado who has played in France and Estonia departed from the locker room and quickly was put into a land of reminiscing as he was reminded of his childhood basketball days with Theodore. “As kids we played streetball against each other. We work out with the same trainer and Jordan is like a brother to me. He works so hard and would run through a brick wall. He just loves the game so much. He got the better of me tonight”, warned Scott Machado.
Flashing that big smile and showing those glistening whiteys as if one had always heeded the warning of mom to never skip a night of brushing your teeth or just come off the set of a Crest commercial is something that basketball players are projected to do after a hard 40 minute battle that resulted in a huge victory. No guys have displayed their pleasure of winning in the form of a excited smile over the years in the Beko BBL better then guys like former Fraport Skyliner Jimmy Mckinney who will now drop shots with the Telekom Baskets Bonn, ex Rhein Cologne point guard Michael Hakim Jordan who actually should of tried his go at Hollywood after his few masterful scenes in the German documentary Phoenix in Der Asche, but instead is an assistant at Colgate university which name is also the name of a well known American tooth paste company and Rickey Paulding who is also known as Mr Oldenburg or if the city should ever be renamed then it would be fitting to call it in typical German manner Pauldingburg as he has made the comfortable city in north Germany his home since 2007 and never turned his back. The former NBA Draft Pick of hometown team Detroit Pistons is also a guy who can smile with the best of them. His enjoyment and smiling were at their all-time high in 2009 when the EWE Baskets Oldenburg won their first league title at the expense of the Telekom Baskets Bonn in a tough 5 game series. However between 2009-2015 a span of almost 6 years, the American went without a title, but reached a final against the Brose Baskets Bamberg a few years ago. However last season, which was a season to forget in the regular season, but still came title number two as Oldenburg masterfully disposed of Bamberg at home in the cup final as Paulding was smiling again as if there was no tomorrow. At the age of 33, Paulding isn´t getting any younger and for those that have been caught in a cage for a few years will notice less hair on top, but he can still play with the best of them. If there is a time where he might be slowed down is when he is playing with his gang of kids, but on the floor especially in the shooting department he has risen as in his first four seasons he shot under 40% from the parking lot, but 40% or better in the last four seasons in the Beko BBL. Last season he played 36 BBL games averaging 11.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 80.0%; Eurocup: 10 games: 9.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 86.7%. There isn´t a more consistent player in the BBL as he has averaged 12,0ppg in his eight seasons in the Beko BBL. It really doesn´t matter if the basketball fan is in Bernau, Trier, Rosenheim or Schwenningen, Paulding is liked everywhere and is a winner. As is the case each season the club has put together another very potent roster that has to reach the playoffs, but does it have the goods to beat one of the big 3 of Munich, Bamberg or Berlin in a 5 game series? The club hopes that last season´s fireman Mladen Drijenic will carry over the euphoria from the cup win and that Scot Macado will be the point guard that can successfully lead the charge. Their best chance will be in the cup again where you have to qualify in the top 7 and then play two amazing great games to win that coveted cup. If Paulding can win another title is unknown, but one thing is for sure if Oldenburg would ever start their own version of a walk of fame in front of city hall then Mr Paulding would get one and sit between legendary producer Dieter Bohlen and comedian Wigald Boning.
If there is one thing that Alba Berlin head coach Sasa Obradovic hasn´t had a lack of in his basketball career, it has been tasting different types of Champagne over the years as a player and coach as he won two league titles in the former Yugoslavia with Crvena Zvezda Beograd and Buducnost Podgorica, in Germany three cups with Rhein Energie Cologne, a Korac cup with Alba Berlin and two European championships and one World championship with Yugoslavia and as a coach he took home a league title with Rhein Energie Cologne and won the 2013 and 2014 BBL cups with Alba Berlin. Even with so many titles under his belt, the 46 Serb continues to have that drive to want more and more. A few weeks ago Alba Berlin and Obradovic were rudely dismissed by the Brose Baskets Bamberg in the cup semi´s in Oldenburg and did it again on the last game day winning in Berlin 78-72. It hasn´t been an easy last few weeks for the ex point guard who is always thinking and looking ahead as he did shortly after the cup loss to Bamberg. Instead of going back to the hotel to grab a bite to eat and do some early video of the loss, he remained in the Oldenburg arena, found a seat between various media representatives and followed the second semi final between Oldenburg and the Telekom Baskets Bonn like a diligent professor. At times it seemed like he would have enjoyed stepping in for one of the head coaches of the respective teams and given his two cents concerning the course of the game. It seemed like the basketball god from above might have given Obradovic the tip that one of these two teams might just be the next playoff opponent for the 8 time Beko BBL champion. Just how much smarter Obradovic could become from the masterful 72-70 Oldenburg win concerning how to shut down a Casper Ware from making impossible off balance shots in the lane, Rickey Paulding nailing another three pointer or annoying the beast Philipp Neumann is unknown, but one thing is for sure, Alba Berlin has only one more title to play for after being denied a third consecutive cup win and won´t be ready to go home for an early summer vacation.
There was a time when winning titles in bunches was as frequent for the Brose Baskets Bamberg was as it has been witnessing complete domination and beast mode of Pittsburgh native Brad Wanamaker in the BBL this season, Oldenburg forward Ricky Paulding showing his constant unselfishness and team player side as his passing abilities can be as dangerous as his scoring at times, or Alba Berlin head coach Serb Sasa Obradovic making his unending hand movements on the sidelines when one could wonder if it’s a secret communication of his own special form of sign language. However the last time that the Brose Baskets Bamberg won a BBL title was in 2013 where they brought home the league title and one has to go back even further to 2012 when they last won a cup title. After seven titles in four years, not winning anymore in Bamberg was a very difficult habit to break for Freak City fans like refraining from beer for a longer of period of time. After a stellar performance in the semi´s against 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin, where Bamberg showed a nasty combination of physicality and bang, bang, bang intensity the club had to face off against 2009 Beko BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Oldenburg made a great comeback against the Telekom Baskets Bonn in the other semi final and just buckled down on defense thrashing most Bonn scoring opportunities in crunch time. Under the watchful eyes of ex Bamberg head coach and new German national head coach Chris Fleming, the Brose Baskets Bamberg were unable to win their first title after he had won seven titles with the Bavarian team as the EWE Baskets staged a late comeback in the five minutes to prevail 72-70 winning their second team title after the 2009 league title. Ex NBA player Casper Ware who could pose as a Chris Rock double with his expression has had some huge games this season, but also less big games, but when it counted he stepped up hitting big shots and winning his first professional title and second after winning the Big West in college. “It feels really good to win a title again as I hadn´t done it in three years. It seems like Bamberg was shocked. Nobody thought that we could win a title, but we always believed in ourselves. We never gave up. Our new coach Mladen Drijencic really brought energy and motivated us. He prepared himself and us for beating Bamberg”, expressed Oldenburg point guard Casper Ware. The Brose Baskets Bamberg played almost flawless basketball against Alba Berlin 24 hours earlier, but just couldn´t shake off Oldenburg as they were always in striking distance and even led at times, but were unable to stop a late fourth quarter push by OLdenburg. Ex Pittsburgh(NCAA) point guard Brad Wanamaker was on MVP course as he combined for 40 points in both games, but in the end was unable to do what he does best score and his teammates also had problems with their shooting accuracy. “We weren´t as efficient as in the semifinal. They made the big plays when they had to and we didn´t. Basketball is a game of runs and usually the team with the last run wins and that is why they are the champs. We really wanted this win. This loss is tough and now we will focus on the BBL”, stressed Bamberg American Brad Wanamaker.
FC Bayern Munich might be the most famous and well known German sports team, but when it comes to German basketball competition the biggest duel and most intense rivalry of the last 10 years belongs to the two big B´s Alba Berlin and the Brose Baskets Bamberg as they have been battling each other for titles seemingly forever, but currently the Bavarian team having the 9-4 edge, but Alba Berlin has won the last two cups. Both teams are currently also the crème de la crème in the Beko BBL as they are 1 and 2 in the standings boasting a 23-4 record and hoping for bragging rights before the playoffs start in a month. Bamberg came into the game well rested having last played last weekend while Alba Berlin were still digesting their bitter 71-64 Euroleague loss to top Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv 48 hours ago as they were denied the ticket to the quarterfinals as the experience factor played a massive role in crunch time. Both teams had battled only one time this season as 6 time Beko BBl champion Brose Baskets Bamberg destroyed Alba Berlin 98-69 as the Bavarian team shot out the light Stephen Curry style hitting 13 three pointers and displaying six players in double figures. Alba Berlin was unable to crack the Bamberg defense hitting only four three pointers and presenting splitting head aches for head coach Sasa Obradovic all night long. Even though this semi final was the top game, it started at the unconventional time of 5.00pm a time where Brad Wanamaker or Reggie Redding are usually getting ready for a light pre game snack while the other semi final of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Telekom Baskets Bonn was the top draw at 8:00 pm to help cater to the home crowd. Despite a small lull in the third quarter, the Brose Baskets Bamberg controlled the game for 33 minutes and easily reached the final disposing of Alba Berlin 86-65. “We played very aggressive defense, had nice ball movement and took the lead quickly. We allowed Alba Berlin to come back, but we stepped up our defense in the fourth quarter and were able to finish the game in fine fashion”, stressed Brose Baskets Bamberg forward Karsten Tadda. “We were a bit tired coming into the game and Bamberg limited our pick and roll and just didn´t let us play to our strength. We played more intensive defense in the third quarter being able to come back. We decided to stop pick and roll and just banged the ball inside to Mclean and Banic and that worked. But they came back hitting big three pointers and Dalibor Bagaric hurt us inside”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Ismet Akpinar. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Brad Wanamaker with 21 points. American Ryan Thompson added 18 points. Elias Harris and Trevor Mbakwe added 12 points a piece and Janis Sterlnieks contributed 11 points. Alba Berlin were led by their big men Marko Banic and Leon Radosevic with 11 points a piece. Jonas Wolfarth-Botterman gave energy from the bench with 10 points. Bamberg had a hot shooting night shooting 53% from the field and 41% from outside while Alba Berlin shot 40% from the field and couldn´t hit the side of a barn from downtown shooting a miserable 12%. Alba Berlin did win the rebound battle 30-29, but had 13 turnovers while Bamberg had 11 turnovers.
It has been almost six years since a two man wrecking crew of Americans named Rickey Paulding and Je Kel Foster led the EWE Baskets to their only BBL title and since then the Detroit native Paulding has remained in Oldenburg getting legendary status with his play and loyalty while Foster has been around Europe almost as much as a Paris Hilton is jetting from posh city to city as the American has played in Italy, Belgium, France and even donned the jersey´s of top German clubs FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. Foster and Paulding have many similarities in that they are over 30, can score in bunches, exhuberate this aggressive ntensity on the court that not many have and have less hair on their scalp than in earlier days. Foster is back in Germany playing for his fifth team medi Bayreuth where he can annoy Brandon Bowman daily about that 2009 series that he lost to Bonn while he and Paulding were sipping champagne and smoking cigars after the win. Despite being in sixth place, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg have had an up and down season and before their huge win in Berlin last weekend were riding a four game losing streak. Even in slumps one can dream about the old days when a guy like Foster was nailing clutch shots, but for now he will be watching from a far to see if his ex team can continue to thrive from the win in Berlin and transport some of that momentum into the next games. Oldenburg after reaching the BBL final in 2013 and losing in the semi finals last season in a hard fought series to Alba Berlin want to take that next step this season started the season hot winning six of their first seven games and seemed to have made the perfect choice with veteran point guard Tywain Mckee who was the floor general in this great season begin seeming to be an upgrade to last seasons point guard with Dru Joyce that he was so much more versatile than the friend of Lebron James. However then out of the blue, Mckee asked the club to go on account of personal reasons leaving the team in a bind with no point guard and three big games against Munich, Berlin and Bamberg. The club had to react quickly bringing in ex NBA player Caspar Ware who compares himself to the smaller feisty guards with Nate Robinson and J J Barea. Ware is a scoring point guard that dazzled in his second game scoring 26 points and helping the team to a big 78-73 win against the Brose Baskets Bamberg. After that followed a loss against Alba Berlin and win against Bremerhaven where Ware scored in double figures. However in Frankfurt, Oldenburg was sent home with a bitter 93-74 loss where Ware was completely shut down scoring five points on 2/12 shooting. When teams find a way to take Ware out of the game the total offense of Oldenburg is lifeless. Oldenburg then beat Ludwigsburg, but then lost to TBB Trier 71-65 as Ware was limited to four points on 1/7 shooting. Oldenburg then defeated BG Goettingen and Bonn where Ware was his old self again combining for 46 points on 34 shots as he continued to be shot hungry like an Allen Iverson. The shooting influx is something that doesn´t seem to help the Oldenburg find their rhythm on offense. Then followed a four game losing streak where the club lost to Braunschweig by nine points and Bamberg by seven, but stunk up the house losing to BG Goettingen by 19 and Ludwigsburg by 22, two teams they had already beat in the season. Ware had some very solid scoring games, but only combined seven assists in the four loses as that creating effect has gone missing that has limited that offensive flow. There also have been other factors for the Oldenburg demise as the once feared defense hasn´t been on the same page as they have given up an excess of 80 points in the last five games. Other factors include players having to take on new roles which has disrupted the harmony of the team chemistry while other players just not producing the way they know how. Sometimes a club just needs to find that success experience as they did in Berlin. Even if Ware wont be taking 37 shots in a game as ex Oldenburg guard Bobby Brown did this season netting 64 points, Ware is on course to lead the team to the playoffs even if there have been road blocks unlike Brown who missed it in 2012.
Casper Ware is a 24 year old 178cm point guard that is playing his third professional season and first with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. He started his basketball career at Long Beach St. in 2008 where he played until 2012 playing a total of 131 NCAA games and as a senior played (NCAA) 34 games averaging 17.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 79.3%. In 2012-2013 he started his professional basketball career with Novipiu Casale Monferrato (Italy-Lega2, starting five): 36 games: Score-2(20.4ppg), 3.9rpg, 4.2apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 87.3%. Last season he played for Granarolo Bologna (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 22 games: 11.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 43.2%, 3FGP: 26.4%, FT: 65.4%, left in Mar.’14, later that month moved to Philadelphia 76ers (NBA): 9 games: 5.3ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 83.3%. This past summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Philadelphia 76ers) Champion: 5 games: 19.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.2apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 88.2% and NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Philadelphia 76ers): 2 games: 7.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 29.4%, 3PT: 20%. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Casper thanks for talking to German Hoops. When seeing the skyline in Frankfurt, does it remind you of home around Los Angeles? How do you like Germany?
My first impression of Germany is good. The people are very nice here. Frankfurt reminds me of the big cities in California. Seeing Frankfurt is like having a taste of home.
After playing your first two professional seasons in Europe in Italy you are playing your first season in Germany. What has been your impression of the Beko BBL so far?
My first impression of the BBL is good. It is a very good league. You cant take a day off here as anybody can beat you. The level is about the same as what I experienced in Italy.