|17 June 2008|
Germany will go into this summer's U16 European Championship Men with one aim and one aim only - secure promotion to Division A
Now under the leadership of Alex Krüger, the Germans will compete in the Division B tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
They are in Group A with Luxembourg, Belarus, Belgium, Estonia and the Slovak Republic.
"It's difficult ahead of time to (give an) estimate of a U16 European Championship since there is not really a comparison of the year's class," Krüger said told FIBA Europe.
"But without a doubt, the aspiration of German basketball is to be in the top flight - or in our case, to get there. We will play to win.
"The guys know exactly where they want to go and are ready to move on together with all the energy and concentration they have."
Krüger took over the under-16 team from Kay Blümel, who has moved up to the U18 level.
Since 2002, Krüger has served as Blümel's assistant at the U16 level as well as Michael Schwarz and Heimo Förster at the U18 level.
Krüger said he does not plan on integrating any specific style into the team right away.
"We want to keep it easy and not overload the guys with too much tactics in such a short preparation time," he said.
"They should learn to make good decisions and take responsibility for the team and success. We would like to get some fast break points with a good defence."
After finishing 10th last summer in Skopje, Germany will face off against Belgium, Belarus, Slovak Republic, Estonia and Luxembourg in Group A of the U16 European Championship Men Division B in Sarajevo from August 15-24.
The preliminary German squad has none of the players from last summer's team, but Krüger doesn't believe that will have an impact. One of the players the coach pointed out as a possible leader is Kevin Bright of SG Urspringschule.
"Kevin Bright left a pretty good impression from the first tournaments," Krüger said.
"He leads the team mainly through his exemplary manner on and off the court."
In a warm-up tournament in March in Italy, Germany played games against Italy, Spain and Russia - losing all three. Bright led the Germans in scoring in the first two games with 19 and 23 points, respectively. And his 11 points against Russia trailed only Jarelle Reischel's 13.
Germany earlier participated in a tournament in February in Turkey, collecting wins over Bulgaria (twice), Greece, Croatia and Poland while losing against France, Italy and Slovenia to take seventh place in the tournament.
"Those tournaments were important because we were able to gather experience from 11 international games. In addition, we learned in Turkey how to win," the coach added.
The team has a series of training camps planned before the European Championship as well as another international tournament in Italy in late July as well as a camp and game in Belgium in early August.