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Rodl giving next wave of young German talent a chance
REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - Germany may not have to worry about qualifying for the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 since they are co-hosting the event, but head coach Henrik Rodl clearly wants to use the first EuroBasket qualification games later this month to give some of the country's next top talents a chance to shine internationally.
Rodl nominated 14 players - plus two more on call - for Germany's first qualification games at home against France on February 21 and at Great Britain on February 24. Six of those players have yet to wear the country's senior national team jersey and three more have two of fewer appearances for Germany.
|Germany's roster for FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers window|
|Ismet Akpinar||Robin Amaize||Robin Benzing||Philipp Herkenhoff|
|Bennet Hundt||Karim Jallow||Leon Kratzer||Joshua Obiesie|
|Andreas Obst||Louis Olinde||Joshiko Saibou||Christian Sengfelder|
|Jan Niklas Wimberg||Maik Zirbes||David Kramer (on call)||Lukas Wank (on call)|
The only three players with more than 10 caps are captain Robin Benzing (144 appearances), Maik Zirbes (71) and Andreas Obst (21) while Joshiko Saibou has played for Germany eight times - all eight in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers. Akpinar played in all 12 games in the run-up to China 2019 while Zirbes played in 11 games, Obst 10 games and Benzing appeared in eight qualifiers.
Rodl showed already in the World Cup qualification campaign that he wants to see his young players get some exposure with the senior national team - giving appearances to youngsters Philipp Herkenhoff, David Kramer, Isaac Bonga and Tim Schneider.
EuroBasket Qualifiers nominee Herkenhoff has two caps as does second-year big man Christian Sengfelder, while Kramer, who is on call from the Northern Arizona Suns of the NBA G-League, played one game.
The sextet of German players who cannot wait for the next FIBA window are Bennet Hundt, Leon Kratzer, Joshua Obiesie, Louis Olinde, Jan Niklas Wimberg and Lukas Wank - the latter who is also on call. All six of those players have already worn Germany on their chest a number of times - five of them at least three times.
Bennet Hundt has worn the Deutschland jersey a number of times - but until now all at the youth levels
Hundt and Olinde, who were both born in 1998, played at the FIBA U16 European Championship, FIBA U18 European Championship and FIBA U20 European Championship as well as the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. Wimberg, who will turn 24 years old on February 11, and the 23-year-old Kratzer both played at the U16, U18 and U20 European Championships as well as the 2019 Summer Universiade while Wank played at the U18 and U20 European Championships and last summer's Universiade. The 19-year-old Obiesie meanwhile has only played at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2019.
Germany's clubs are definitely doing a good job in producing young talents and that will make Rodl's job that much harder when it is time for him to pick his roster for the EuroBasket 2021, especially if many of these youngsters are really able to shine, as they are doing in the German BBL league.
And there is still the trio of Berlin natives Jonas Mattisseck (20 years), Moe Wagner (22 years) and Fritz Wagner (18 years), who are not available for the up-coming window as they play for Alba Berlin, the Washington Wizards and University of Michigan Wolverines, respectively. Throw in there Isaiah Hartenstein, who is only 21 years old, the 20-year-old aforementioned Herkenhoff and Bonga and Germany is sitting on a treasure chest of young talent waiting to carry Germany to high places.
One important factor to consider with this group of Germans is that they have gone through some highs and lows at the international level. Herkenhoff, Hundt and Olinde all helped Germany win the U18 Albert Schweitzer Tournament in 2016 while Mattisseck, Obiesie and Franz Wagner won it in 2018. Herkenhoff, Hundt and Olinde (and Hartenstein) were all part of the team that lost in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016 and then fell to Italy in the Third Place Game to miss out on Germany's first U18 podium finish - though they reached the top four for the first time since 1986.
Hundt, Olinde and the rest of the 1998 generation did grab third place at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2018 - the country's first European medal since back-to-back bronzes at the U16 European Championships in 1981 and 1983. Herkenhoff, Mattisseck and Obiesie followed up that lead and took third place at the U20 tournament last summer.
Those teams from 1981, 1983 and 1986 produced a handful of the biggest names in German basketball with Christian Welp, Kai Nurnberger, Mike Koch, Henning Harnisch and Rodl.
The current crop of youngsters now can look directly at their head coach and know that Rodl has been through it all already - and now he can guide them to the next level at the senior level.
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