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MANNHEIM, Germany — When the U.S. entry in the 25th biennial Albert Schweitzer opens pool play against the national junior team of Croatia on Saturday, expect the emphasis to be on rebounding.

“We don’t have the totals, but I’d say it was 20-plus offensive rebounds in their favor,” U.S. coach Larry Krystkowiak said after Thursday night’s 76-66 overtime loss to the German Under-18 national team at the Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena.

The rebounding deficiencies negated a strong defensive effort, especially on the perimeter, by the Americans, who showed plenty of desire and clutch play in their first try at international basketball.

Most clutch was 6-foot guard Ryan Boatright, a junior at East Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill., who led all scorers with 19 points. Boatright canned two three-pointers in the final minute of regulation to erase a 61-55 deficit and force the overtime.

Boatright’s threes were the second time the approach of the halftime or regulation horn got the Americans going. Their first run came with 6:34 left in the first half, when two baskets by Ramstein All-Europe guard Dillon Wadsack fueled a 14-4 run that put the Americans up 34-28 at intermission.

“This is a different level of play,” said Wadsack, who finished with eight points. “I’ve never played with guys this talented.”

The run grew out of a defensive effort that held the Germans, who surrendered the ball three times on shot-clock violations, to just eight points in the 10-minute second period. But the effort extracted a price, according to Krystkowiak, former coach of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

“They’re good at penetrating and kicking the ball out,” he said. “It was like a prize fighter body-punching us. When the overtime came, we had nothing left in the tank.”

Former Mannheim Bison Kevin Bright, who transferred to German schools after his freshman year, and lumbering 7-footer Philippe Neuman led the Germans with 14 points each, but it was Neuman who gave the Americans, who were playing after just four practice sessions, a bruising introduction to the international game.

Neuman’s game consisted mainly of getting to the rim by lowering his shoulder and bulling through any defenders in his way. He did make a three-pointer, one of only seven of 24 the Germans managed to sink against the American perimeter defenders.

“At times, we played good defense,” said Krystkowiak, who accepted the job as U.S. coach just two weeks ago, “but it rests on getting the rebound. They were getting way too many.”

The Americans had a chance to win the game in regulation, when they took the ball out under their basket with a half-second to play. Boatright inbounded to Michael Chandler at the top of the key, but the catch-and-shoot attempt by the 6-10 power forward from Indianapolis, who’s committed to play for Louisville, bounced off the front of the rim.

Krystkowiak, who succeeds Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins in leading the American teens in this event, took something positive from the first-ever U.S. loss to a German team in this event.

“I’m glad we had this game,” he said. “I wish we could have another one before the tournament.”

Saturday’s game against Croatia, at 8 p.m. at the BFV Arena, will cap the first day of the 16-team tournament. It will be followed by two more days of play in four pools, then two qualifying games and a championship round. The title game is scheduled for April 10.

Germany Under-18s 76, U.S. 66 (OT)(Exhibition Thursday at Mannheim)

Germany ..........20 8 16 17 15—76U.S. ..........16 18 12 15 5—66Scoring—Germany 18: Kevin Bright 14, Philippe Neuman 14, Thomas Reuter 10, Falko Theilig 10, Lars Wendt 9, Mario Blessing 5, Daniel Thies 5, Bill Borekambi 4, Martin Breunig 3, Nico Barth 2; U.S.: Ryan Boarright 19, Michael Chandler 14, Royce Wollridge 14, Damian Leonard 9, Dillon Wadsack 8, Andre White 2

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