For the past two off-seasons, management at EWE Baskets Oldenburg has concentrated on continuity within the team, keeping down the number of players leaving and entering the team. And coach Predrag Krunic hopes that continuity can help his team overcome the lack of Euroleague experience to challenge in Europe’s best league.
A handful of players have some Eurocup experience, but point guard Jason Gardner is the only player on Krunic’s squad who has appeared in the Euroleague, playing two games for Krka Novo Mesto during the 2003-04 season.
However, Krunic kept the main core of his team from last season, which won Oldenburg’s first-ever German league championship. Back from that historic squad are Gardner, Rickey Paulding, Jasmin Perkovic, Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and Je’Kel Foster, as well as Milan Majstorovic and Marko Scekic. The only departures were Miladin Pekovic and Gerald Wallace, with Josh Carter and Acha Njei as the only two acquisitions.
All this stability leaves Krunic with a team full of players who know the system and what the others will be doing.
Krunic relies on a three-guard system with Gardner, Paulding and Foster, while Boumtje-Boumtje and Perkovic patrol the paint. As a shot-blocking specialist, Boumtje-Boumtje has also been doing an excellent job cleaning up any defensive mistakes the perimeter players may make.
Euroleague fans may wonder, though, how this team can be from Germany, as Daniel Hain is the only German player to have logged any minutes for Oldenburg this season: a total of 16 minutes in the first three games for the number nine after an eight-man rotation.
So what are Oldenburg’s chances in Euroleague Group D playing with defending champions Panathinaikos, Real Madrid, BC Khimki, AJ Milano and Asseco Prokom? The first game is on the road at Prokom, the team most likely to challenge Oldenburg for last place. If Krunic’s men can grab a road victory in their debut Euroleague game, that would be a huge boost of confidence, with the second game coming at home against Milano.
Prokom have started in fine form in Poland with three straight wins, including two on the road. And playing their sixth straight season in the Euroleague gives the Polish giants the experience that Oldenburg is missing.
All this means that Oldenburg fans will be in for a long season in Europe, as Krunic’s men should finish at 2-8.
— written by David Hein of heinnews.com