After a successful 2018-19 season in the German League, EWE Baskets Oldenburg opted to keep as much of its core. The only changes that the club made were in the backcourt, where Oldenburg revamped with a mix of experience and promising talent. Braydon Hobbs, who came from FC Bayern Munich, is the new veteran presence that the team sought, while the remaining three additions are younger guns without previous experience in the 7DAYS EuroCup. On-loan point guard Robin Amaize also arrives from Bayern, while Kevin McLain is a first-year pro. Shooting guard Gerry Blakes has been climbing up the professional ranks and will be looking to prove he can deliver at this level, too.
Oldenburg's new backcourt starts with something old, club legend Rickey Paulding, soon to turn 37 years old. In his 13th season with the club, Paulding is still a dangerous and an efficient swingman. The new pieces around him start with Hobbs, a veteran three-point ace with a proven ability to sink shots in bunches. Amaize and McLain might lack experience, but have flashed potential that will make coach Mladen Drijencic comfortable giving the duo opportunity to run Oldenburg's offense. And Blakes is a up-and-coming scorer who could make a lethal combination alongside Paulding. Help on the perimeter comes from forward Philipp Schwethelm and veteran shooter Karsten Tadda. Robert Drijencic, 23-year old son of the head coach, and 21-year old Jacob Hollatz will add depth.
Oldenburg left its frontcourt intact, but is essentially deeper due to re-signing of forward Justin Sears, a proven battler who played just two games at the start of the last season. Veteran center and fan favorite Rasid Mahalbasic, a workhorse whose versatility makes the team's offense work, will be a focal point. The only other true center behind Mahalbasic is 22-year old big man Till Isemann, who earned some limited experience last season. Stretch fours Nathan Boothe and Marcel Kessen, who will have an important role in easing the load on Mahalbasic and helping to spread the floor. At 24 and 22 years old, respectively, both forwards have an ability to sink long shots. That's especially true for Boothe, who shot a team-high 46.7% from downtown last season and was a big factor on the boards.
PLAYER TO WATCH:
It's been four years since the last time Rasid Mahalbasic played in the EuroCup, and it will be fun to witness how much this 28-year old center has improved in the interim and all that he will be able to showcase this season. At 2.11 meters, Mahalbasic has been Mr.Everything for Oldenburg. Last season, he not only averaged 9.0 rebounds per game, third best in the German League, but he also led the team with 4.9 assists per contest -- mighty impressive for a big man. Add his 14.5 points and 1.3 steals into this equation -- both were second best on the team -- and it is clear how much Mahalbasic has meant to Oldenburg, and how fun it will be to watch him preform.
With the core of the team mostly unchanged, Oldenburg will look to build on a strong last season that saw the club take more German League regular season wins than any team other than eventual champion Bayern. Back to the EuroCup for the first time since the 2015-16 season, when it reached the eighthfinals, Oldenburg will aim for an extended stay in the competition once again. Having most of the team back together from last season not only helps the team, but will surely make it even more interesting for Oldenburg's loyal home fans, who have grown to love the likes of Paulding and Mahalbasic. With a roster that features proven veteran leadership mixed with a young, revamped backcourt, Oldenburg could have plenty to say in the upcoming EuroCup campaign.