The German federation published on the official website of the Albert-Schweitzer Tournament the first preliminary rosters of several participating nations. I took a quick look at the already published European teams and give you some first indications concerning the quality of the rosters.
The German coaching staff has indicated the Top8 as goal for this year’s edition but to me, the goal of this highly talented German generation (#7 in our 1992 ranking) may even be the semi-finals as the higher ranked teams are either not present in Mannheim or are not in full force. The roster is of course built around the core of players that have been a major part of last year’s U18 National team already with the dominating Philipp Neumann in the middle. But with the emergence of players like Patrick Heckmann, Daniel Theis or Bill Borekambi, the German team has some serious depth on nearly all the positions and head coach Kay Blümel has probably one of the most talented German teams ever for the tournament.
The German U17 team comes to the tournament with the main goal to prepare the U17 World Championship. The team of coach Frank Menz is undergoing a major preparation process for the summer event, so that a participation at the prestigious tournament is helping them a lot. The roster features some very interesting players like the recent Jordan Brand Classic MVP Malik Müller (born in 1994) but also the highly regarded Serbian-born Center Bogdan Radosavljevic who should be able to compete after long stretches without playing due to different injuries.
The Greek team features the highly talented 2m05 tall Linos Chrysikopoulos who already played an interesting U18 tournament last summer. The rest of the teams seems though a bit limited both in talent and in size. But this does not mean that much as the Greeks are known for their fighting spirit and are often overachievers on the junior level.
The Israeli team is built around the players from the Maccabi Tel Aviv team that finished 3rd at the recent NIJT Barking Abbey tournament in London. Tomer Ber Aven is the clear leader of the group. The 1m94 tall PG is already pretty experienced and has a nice feel for the game. His leading skills will certainly help the team of coach Danny Franco to go for some wins during the days in Mannheim. He has the support of the athletic swingman Sean Labanowski and pass-first PG Tamir Simchony.
Italy will probably live and die with the presence of Alessandro Gentile. The highly talented guard saw regular minutes with the Benetton Treviso senior team before his injury but struggles to get back on the court on a regular basis since then. So it is not sure if Gentile will be on the Italian team or not. With him, Italy has probably one of the most dominating guards of the whole tournament. The rest of the team is less talented (“by farisssssssimo” as told by some Italian sources to me) but features some players to watch like Francesco Ramenghi or 2008 Jordan Brand Classic MVP Fabio Mian.
The Croatian 1992 generation does not feature many outstanding talents but the preliminary roster has some other names that intrigue. The 1994 born Dario Saric and the 1993 born Marko Ramljak can be considered as the best talents of their respective age group in Croatia and having both of them in Mannheim can be very interesting. Boris Barac (brother of Stanko) is the leader of 92 born players and the recent MVP of the Croatian U18 championships. The talented US-born Croatians Marin Kukoc (son of Toni) and Dujan Dukan are not on the roster.
The Turkish team comes with a very interesting mixture of 92, 93 and even 94 born players but the roster does not feature the 92 über-talent Enes Kanter. Safak Edge played a great U18 European Championship last summer and he will get the back-court support of Can Korkmaz. It will be interesting to see how the huge but raw Ramazan Tekin has developed since last summer and what is the value of 1994 born Burak Hacıismail.