The 27-year-old has already displayed his talent in his rookie BKT EuroCup season, but he still wants more.
Ulm’s Georginho wants to show that all Brazilians can do 'something special'
ratiopharm Ulm has developed a strong recent history with Brazilian players. Following in the footsteps of Cristiano Felicio, Yago Dos Santos and Bruno Caboclo is Georginho de Paula, who wants to do something special with the German club, just like his predecessors.
A couple of seasons ago, in the 2021-22 campaign, former NBA big man Felicio made his mark in southern Germany until an injury got the better of him. Then, last season, Dos Santos and Caboclo played key roles as Ulm won its first-ever German League championship.
Making the move to Ulm
When it became clear that star playmaker Dos Santos would not be returning, Ulm returned to the Brazilian market and found the 27-year-old Georginho, whose full name is George Lucas Alves De Paula. The club viewed him as the perfect replacement for Yago, who made the jump to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade.
“I made my decision when [Ulm head coach Anton Gavel] told me that I was going to play point guard,” said the 1.97-meter playmaker from Diadema, Sao Paulo. “That is my main position and they were really, really interested in having me here. It means a lot to me because they just won the championship and were the best team last season in Germany. So, it means a lot to me.”
Having played 100 games with Franca Basquetebol Clube and the Brazilian national team, Georginho had not had the opportunity to follow Ulm, Dos Santos and Caboclo last season until the German League finals, which saw the club take on Telekom Baskets Bonn. After seeing how Ulm played and then speaking with Coach Gavel and his agent, he decided that was enough for him to commit to the reigning German champs.
Georginho signed a two-year extension with Franca at the end of June, but about a month later he joined Ulm after it paid the buyout included in his contract.
“I was thinking about leaving Brazil anyway, either [going to the] NBA or Europe, because I wanted more,” he commented. “I wanted to go outside Brazil and keep growing my basketball skills and IQ. So, I made my decision before signing the contract.”
Georginho did not, however, need to talk to any of the three Brazilian internationals who played at Ulm before.
“I made my decision before I talked to my Brazilian boys, but they say a lot of good things about the team and about the city and I was pretty comfortable when I said yes to them,” Georginho noted. “They had a great season over there. Everyone loved Cristiano. They say he was a lovely teammate, and Bruno and Yago had a great season over here – everyone’s talked about it.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Georginho has started the season with some growing pains. Not only is he playing for the first time in Europe, just like Dos Santos last season, but he was a very late arrival.
First off, Georginho played for Brazil at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where the Selecao bowed out after the second round. He averaged 6.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists across five games, with Brazil’s final fixture coming on September 3.
His ‘last dance’ with Franca
Georginho then kept his word to his former club, Franca, by playing at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup in Singapore in late September. After helping Franca win the Basketball Champions League Americas title in April 2023, Georginho went on to average 11.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.7 rebounds at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup. What’s more, he had 8 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in the final, a thrilling 70-69 win over Telekom Baskets Bonn on September 24.
"I really appreciate Ulm letting me play for Franca for a couple more weeks,” Georginho declared. “I've been playing in Brazil for so many years and there are some goals [I wanted] to achieve in Brazil. And the highest point is the Intercontinental Cup.
“I told the team that even if I was leaving the team, I wanted to be part of everything that we fought for. So, the last dance was the Intercontinental Cup and we played three great games against good teams. And for Franca, it means the world to win the Intercontinental Cup.
“Franca had a big, big party [back in Brazil afterwards] and I wasn't there. But my heart was with the team and I'm grateful to be part of something like what Franca had.”
Getting used to Ulm, Europe
Georginho is now working on getting comfortable at Ulm and with his new teammates as he looks to mesh his playing style into the system that Coach Gavel wants to implement. He is much taller than Dos Santos, is left-handed and can really finish at the rim, besides being an excellent distributor.
Having averaged 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and a 15.0 PIR through his first six appearances in the 2023-24 BKT EuroCup Regular Season, the Brazilian playmaker is confident that he will catch on quickly and prosper in Europe.
“I think it's going to be a great season for me to show all the world that I can play overseas and I can have a great career here in Europe,” he said.
And Georginho is ready to live up to the expectations set by his countrymen before him.
“I'm aiming for something bigger than being just the best regular basketball player. I'm a Brazilian guy who wants to show that every Brazilian guy who steps in here is going to do something special.”