Dirk Bauermann has named his 21-man squad for the German national team’s first training camp later this month. And there are plenty of top topics to break down.
First off, here is a listing of the 21 players (with last club in brackets) being brought to the training camp from July 28-August 6 in Leverkusen.
Dominik Bahiense de Mello (Deutsche Bank Skyliners/ TV 1862 Langen), Robin Benzing (TV 1862 Langen/Deutsche Bank Skyliners), Bastian Doreth (Franken Hexer/Brose Baskets Bamberg), Gordon Geib (Giants Düsseldorf), Per Günther (ratiopharm Ulm), Steffen Hamann (ALBA Berlin), Elias Harris (Gonzaga University/USA./BiS Baskets Speyer), Johannes Herber (ALBA Berlin), Yassin Idbihi (CSP Limoges/France), Jan-Hendrik Jagla (DKV Joventut Badalona/Spain), Johannes Lischka (Lti Gießen 46ers / Lti Lich), Tim Ohlbrecht (Brose Baskets Bamberg), Ademola Okulaja (without club), Tibor Pleiß (Köln 99ers), Heiko Schaffartzik (New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig), Sven Schultze (Olympia Larissa/Greece, Junior Casale Monferrato/Italy), Philipp Schwethelm (Köln 99ers), Lucca Staiger (Iowa State University/USA), Konrad Wysocki (Deutsche Bank Skyliners), Maik Zirbes (TBB Trier), Philip Zwiener (ALBA Berlin)
Obviously the number one point to look at is: no Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman.
This is not a surprise. Nowitzki still has a couple of weeks before he must decide if he’s going to play. And that will obviously play a huge role on whether Kaman will suit up in Poland.
But … moving onto the listed squad
The next biggest news coming off this group is that Ademola Okulaja has been included. The 33-year-old forward apparently has overcome his bout with cancer and is close enough to being able to play that Bauermann decided to bring him on board. Okulaja will also be auditioning for a job after Brose Baskets Bamberg released him on Wednesday. His health and conditioning will obviously play the biggest role in “The Warrior” celebrating his return.
The main players in the remainder of this group are playmaker Steffen Hamann, big man Jan-Hendrik Jagla and versatile forward Sven Schultze. A couple of important players will be Konrad Wysocki and little-used guard Johannes Herber. And Lucca Staiger of Iowa State will likely become a new force for Germany and German fans will love watching him down the road.
A couple of mid-to-early 20-year-old players will be fighting for some of the spots available with the retirements or non-commitments of veterans Patrick Femerling, Pascal Roller, Robert Garrett, Mithat Demirel and Demond Greene. Among them are Dominik Bahiense de Mello, Gordon Geib, Yassin Idbihi, Johannes Lischka, Heiko Schaffartzik and Philip Zwiener.
A special case all on his own is Tim Ohlbrecht. The Bamberg center, who will turn 21 shortly before the Poland tournament, had a very up-and-down 2008-09 season – more downs than ups. He was even ripped publicly by team general manager Wolfgang Heyder about his work ethic and fortitude. But Bauermann must bring the über-prospect with to Leverkusen and hope Ohlbrecht can finally snap out of his funk.
Bauermann meanwhile clearly showed a sign that he is ready to bring in the cavalry of his top young talents to see what he has right now. Included are 21-year-old Per Günther, who more than earned his extensive minutes at Ulm, as well as four players who would be 20 years old should they make the final roster for Poland: Robin Benzing, Bastian Doreth (still 19), Elias Harris (still 19) and Philipp Schwethelm. Emerging low post stars Tibor Pleiss and Maik Zirbes would be 19 in Poland but both will make it a difficult decision for Bauermann if Nowitzki and Kaman do not make the trip eastwards.