The 25th Albert Schweitzer Tournament has started yesterday in Mannheim. 16 teams from 4 continents will compete to become the successor of Greece that managed to win the Gold Medal 2 years ago behind their spectacular generation of Nikos Pappas, Kosta Sloukas and so on. This first day was marked by a lot of blowouts and confirmed that there are clearly two groups of playing level in the tournament.
Europeanprospects.com was present the whole day in the U.S. Sports Arena in the Benjamin Franklin Village which became really crowded while the day was going on. The special atmosphere between armed soldiers and Mini-Donuts is one of the highlights of every second year and it was time to watch some U18 basketball again.
- The first game of the day was Spain versus Israel and the team around Joan Creus needed 1 quarter and half to get rid of the Israelis. Creus who was hot from behind the arc (5/6 3s) used the open looks he got from Israel while Angel Aparicio did his job from the high post. As the Spanish increased their lead throughout the third quarter and Israel could not oppose a lot more than fight, the Reds had the possibility to use their bench and test some inside options with Fran Guerra or Pierre Oirola.
- The game between Argentina and France was a lot more pleasant to see as one the one had, you had an Argentinean team that tried to put a physical fight against the French team where a dominating Evan Fournier made a first statement for the potential MVP trophy. Both teams were close but a 31-8 third quarter for the French made the decision. Fournier drove at will through the Argentinean defense where he could use his excellent footwork and speed changes to create multiple opportunities to score. He got the support in the back court of Mathis Keita who more than once use his size to go post up smaller Argentinean defenders. For the team from South America, Juan Giaveno showed aggressive defense and nice passing skills out of his wrist while their scoring came mainly from the inside guy Fernando Podesta and three point shooter Lucas Diaz.
- Australia dominated Greece right from the start with their typical beautiful to watch game, building on a highly aggressive defense and immediately running the break with full force. Offensively, the system looks to be perfectly oiled, everybody is running and knowing exactly what to do even against a Greek team that tried to stop this by physical and sometimes over-aggressive defense. Anthony Drmic led the Aussies with 23pts and 11rebs while left-handed Mitchell Creek added 19 points in the paint. Out of Group D, it will normally be France and Australia that move top to Top 8 while Israel and Greece certainly will fight in the Bottom 8 after the first phase.
- After an opening Ceremony that was marked by nothing special, the game of the day was played between USA and Croatia. While 1994 born Dario Saric led the Croatians to an early lead, it was team USA behind the relentless efforts of Mike Chandler and Chris Manhertz in the paint that took over the lead in the 2nd quarter to be ahead by 8 at the break.They managed to stay ahead until about 5 minutes to go in the last quarter when Croatia started their comeback. Ryan Boatright scored 6 point in a row for the USA but in the closing seconds, Marko Ramljak first nailed two free-throws to cut the lead back. Croatia seemed then to have the last offense with a three point deficit and got an open three point shot for Ramljak who got fouled. He made the first two FTs but missed the third but Croatia could foul immediately with 5.2 seconds left and 1 point deficit. USA missed the first shot from the line but scored the second. Despite having placed somebody on the chair to bring to the game, neither the referees nor the scorers table stopped the game after the second free throw and Croatia attacked immediately for a desperation shot that was missed. Roko Rogic did a nice job for them with 19pts 6rebs and 4asts while Saric finished with a double-double 13+12.
- In the MWS Halle, Italy had no real trouble to beat New Zealand behind 18pts of Andrea Traini and a 15pts 9rebs effort of Giovanni Pini. The closest game was the fight between Brazil and Turkey where the game was tight until the final minutes. Felipe Vezaro was hot for Brazil with 17pts and 6rebs but Can Korkmaz (20pts) and Safak Edge (14pts+4stls) were too much for the Brazilians. Afterwards, both German U17 against China and Germany U18 versus Japan earned their first win against two of the weaker teams of the tournament. For the U17, Bogdan Radosavljevic was the top scorer with 15pts 9rebs and 2blks in 20 minutes while Philipp Neumann dominated easily against Japan with 24pts 12rebs and 5blks in 18 minutes.
- The tournament does not only attract a lot of people from around Mannheim but it still has a global attraction. Fans from Spain or even Australia were present in the arena but also a multitude of Basketball professionals have made the trip to Germany. Representatives from the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at least were spotted in the Arena next to the Adidas Eurocamp organizers and a multitude of major agents.
- I will be back on Monday in Mannheim to get a first look at the teams in the MWS Halle.
Other articles on the tournament (Updated throughout the day):
- Game report from the Australian federation: Emus too slick for Greece
- Game report from the New Zealand federation: Juniors drop opener
- Game report from Stars and Stripes (US Military newspaper in Europe): US clips Croatia
- Eurohopes.com recap on Day 1
- Game report from the Spanish federation (in Spanish): Article
- Game report from Kosarka.hr (in Croatian): Article
- Game reports in German and English as well as Box scores can be found on the official website