German U17 Head Coach Frank Menz (picture) talks about the challenging preliminary group B in which the German hosts were drawn last week. The 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship opens for Germany with the game against Canada on July 2nd, 2010. Then Germany will take on Spain, Poland, Australia, and Korea.
For Menz, the first German game at the WCFM is a tough and important challenge: “Of course we want to accomplish a good start into the tournament. Playing a great team such as Canada we are the underdogs. I expect Canada to be a very athletic team, possibly the second most athletic team of the US. Apart from being very athletic, Canada is likely to play high speed basketball. Our opening game will be a tough fight against a very strong opponent. Therefore, we strongly rely on our fans and the home crowd to cheer us on and possibly lift us to a great performance.”
On the second game day, Germany faces the current European Champion Spain and as to Menz most likely the best team in the preliminary group. “Spain has a tremendous team that is on a very high level offensively and defensively. We played them last year at the European Championship and at that point we had admit that Spain is on a higher level. It would be a huge surprise if Spain would not advance to the quarter finals and beyond”, Menz explains.
After the day of, the German team faces the third European team within the group: Poland. U17 Head Coach Frank Menz eagerly points out that host of the Eurobasket 2009 should not be underestimated. “In European Basketball Poland’s reputation cannot be compared with Spain or Greece but their youth teams are very strong. This is especially true for the U17 team. At the U16 European Championship last year, Poland had an awesome game in the semi finals against Lithuania and had good chances to win the game for the third place. It would be a huge mistake to underestimate the Polish team!”
The preliminary round closes with games against Australia and Korea. The Australian team that won the FIBA Oceania championship after exciting games against New Zealand arises certain expectations for Coach Menz. “From what we have experienced at the Albert Schweitzer Tournaments is that Australia played extremely structured. They gather their national team players very soon so that way all the youth teams play with the same style and structure. This has been very impressive in the past. It will be interesting to see the team at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in April.”
Menz admints that getting information on the last German opponent Korea is comparatively tough. Therefore, only general assumptions can be made. “As most Asian teams, Korea is likely to have small, flexible and agile players. Also, they I expect them to shot the ball very well. Korea came in second at the FIBA Asia Championship so they should not be underestimated either.”
The German team is hoping to have the fans behind them to cheer them to some wins nobody would expect yet. “We are the underdogs at this world championship, this is for sure,” Menz said. “But we will fight our heart out and give all we have to play out best Basketball! I hope that the gym will be full of Basketball fans to cheer us on!”