01 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
23 Rickey Paulding (GER)
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Clutch Paulding's put-back lifts Oldenburg over Ventspils at the death

VENTSPILS (Basketball Champions League) – A few days shy of his 34th birthday, Rickey Paulding elevated like a teenager and tipped-in the ball with just 0.5 second left on the clock to gift EWE Baskets Oldenburg a 77-76 win at BK Ventspils in their Group C opener on Wednesday night.

The gripping clash featured 17 lead changes and saw the scores tied on 16 occasions, while neither team ever led by more than five points. "First and foremost it was a great game," said Chris Kramer, who led Oldenburg with a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists.

"Ventspils scored some easy baskets in the second half and got a five-point lead. But we were able to come together as a team, make a run and battle all the way down the stretch. We came in with mindset that the injuries are not an excuse, we came here to win the game."

With Oldenburg leading 75-74, Ventspils came off a time-out and run an exemplary pick'n'roll play for Andrejs Grazulis to push the hosts ahead 76-75 with just eight seconds left on the clock.

Oldenburg had no time-outs left so Chris Kramer received the in-bound pass and chose to go it alone but his runner over the raised hands of the entire defence hit the glass. The veteran Paulding had already sneaked underneath the rim however and put back the game-winner.

"At our last time-out we talked about our offensive concept, we wanted Chris to take the last shot and he went for it," said Oldenburg head coach Mladen Drijencic. "Rickey had not played such a good game but he came up big on the last play. I am very happy and proud for my team, for us it was not easy to play against a team that leads its national league when we have had so many injuries since the start of the season."

Kramer insisted the German team will keep their feet firmly on the ground despite the thrilling road win. "I think we have a tough group and this is only Game 1," the Oldenburg point guard said. "ASVEL are the French champions, Varese are a great team and I can go on and on. The media can make their predictions but the great thing about basketball is that any team can beat anybody and if you don't play well on the night you are going to lose."