Can Anybody Stop The Rebound Kings?

13 August 2013
12. Leon Kratzer (Germany)
Always ready to throw down a big dunk: Leon Kratzer dominates inside for Germany

Germany coach Alan Ibrahimagic has a frightening message for the other teams at the U16 European Championship Men.

After watching twin towers Leon Kratzer and Niklas Kiel combine for 34 rebounds in their second round defeat of Spain, he said he was still waiting to get the best out of them.

"We didn't have them during our preparations," he said. "Kiel missed the first couple of weeks and Kratzer only joined us in the last couple of weeks. We're still in the process of integrating them."

Opponents will have to hope that job is almost done, because as Spain can attest, they already represent highly formidable opponents.

Kiel, the 2.06m forward/centre, arrived here with a track record after averaging 6.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as a 15-year-old in last year's tournament, but in combination with the 2.05m Kratzer, he has been wreaking havoc so far.

"Coach tells us to rebound and to dominate inside because this is what we're good at," Kiel said. "With the two of us, we're both big guys. It's something we can use to our advantage."

Kiel is averaging 13.5 boards a game, Kratzer 8.5 after grabbing 20 against Spain.

14. Niklas Kiel (Germany)
Can work inside and out, but makes sure he is close to the baskets to pick up the rebound: Niklas Kiel

There is nothing complicated about what they do, but trying to stop it is another matter.

"I know I'm a good rebounder, so I just go out there and grab every ball I can get," Kratzer said. "(Our averages are) not a surprise to us"

"We do rely on them a lot," admitted Ibrahimagic. "Kiel - we need him, he's our leader. He's the only guy who has already played in a European Championship."

Together, the pair have lifted Germany to three straight wins following the opening, narrow loss to an impressive Turkey team.

Bigger challenges lay ahead, but size is not something Germany need to be intimidated by.

If they keep crashing the boards like this, they have every chance of crashing the party when we get to finals weekend.

"It is our dream to get to the finals of this tournament," Kiel said. "That is what we keep working for."


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