|08 October 2012|
|Rickey Paulding is one of the older players of the EWE Baskets|
EWE Baskets Oldenburg realize they are not the youngest team in the EuroChallenge and know that fitness will be a key for their chances of taking the next step in the competition.
The northern German team has five important players between the ages of 29 and 31 - Ronnie Burrell (29), Adam Chubb (31), Julius Jenkins (31), Rickey Paulding (29) and Konrad Wysocki (30).
"We are a bit older of a team, so we will really need to take care of our bodies with playing two games per week," said Oldenburg center Robin Smeulders.
"Our goal is clearly to advance from the regular season and reach the Last 16."
Oldenburg, who were drawn into Group F of the EuroChallenge, actually are looking to move past the Last 16, something they failed to do last season with a loss at ZZ Leiden on the final game day costing them a spot in the quarter-finals.
"We are still disappointed that we didn't advance after we lost in Leiden," said the German-born Dutch international. "We take that result as a warning."
Oldenburg went undefeated in the EuroChallenge Regular Season last season but lost all three of their road games in the Last 16 to finish third in Group I and out of international play.
The 2009 German league champions also ended up missing the playoffs for just the second time since 2003-04.
Oldenburg made some big changes to their team, bringing in up-and-coming coach Sebastian Machowski as well as two-time German league champion Julius Jenkins, German international Konrad Wysocki, and American guards Dru Joyce and Chris Kramer.
"We were really disappointed that we missed the playoffs and got some strong players and a very good coach," said Smeulders.
"Dru Joyce is a very big addition. He really does a good job getting everybody in line. And Rickey Paulding is such a big player for us. He has been here so long and means so much to this club with his dedication and will. He makes everybody fight a little harder."
Smeulders also spoke of the veteran leadership that Jenkins provides.
|Robin Smeulders put on the Oranje jersey in the summer, missing out on qualification for the EuroBasket 2013|
"Julius has so much experience. He helps the younger players and even me in talking about different situations. And he also takes big shots and has that winner mentality," the center said of Jenkins, who won the 2008 and 2012 league titles with Alba Berlin and Brose Baskets Bamberg, respectively.
It is that leadership which helps teams win big games on the road internationally. And that's what Oldenburg must do if they want to reach the Last 16.
Machowski's team starts with three home games before heading on road for games against Szolnoki Olaj from Hungary, Romanian side BC Timisoara and Hungarian club Lami-Ved Körmend.
The schedule can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
"If we win our three home games then we are more or less in the next round. Then we just need to win one of our last three games," said Smeulders.
"But on the other hand, there is a bit of pressure that we must win all three."
Smeulders said the team cannot take the opponents lightly despite not coming from big basketball nations.
"We played against Romania in the EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers," said the Dutch center. "So we know they can play."
"And we cannot take the Hungarian teams lightly either."
Oldenburg have the talent to advance from the group. But there are also plenty of reasons why Machowski and his older team must be careful on the road there.