By Sieg Heppner, USAG Mannheim Public AffairsApril 15, 2010
MANNHEIM, Germany - If someone had predicted a week ago that a German team would be facing Australia in the championship game, their sanity and knowledge of basketball may have been questioned. But that's exactly what happened in the final match of the 25th Albert Schweitzer Basketball Tournament at the Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena, in Mannheim.
Australia took the title 68-51. The German Under 18 team earned its berth in the final by beating the U.S. team April 9, 64-59. Australia defeated the German Under 17 team 75-53.
The U.S. team finished fourth, losing its final game to a more energetic German Under 17 team, 68-79. The Under 17 team had already upset the likes of Italy, China, New Zealand and Turkey in the preliminary games.
"We only met each other two weeks ago while other teams have been playing together for two years or more," said Larry Krystkowiak, U.S. coach, about how the U.S. team finished.
For the Australians, it was their first appearance in the final since 1998 when they lost to Spain. This time, their endurance and perseverance kept them a steady six points ahead of the German team for the better part of the second half.
Top scorer for Australia was Mitchell Creek with 20 points. Creek also won the award for Best Power Forward.
On the German team, Philipp Neumann scored 15 and was named the top center in the tournament.
The tournament's best small forward, Hugh Greenwood, scored 12 points and is also the only Australian player to make a return visit to Mannheim after participating in the 2008 tournament when he was 16.
The younger German team was the surprise of the tournament, playing with poise and determination to finish in third place ahead of the Americans. Top scorer for the U.S. team was Ryan Boatright with 18 points. Boatright was the tournament's high scorer overall (137 points in seven games) but finished second to Evan Fornier (136 points in six games) as the best shooting guard.
The U.S. team finished ahead of favored teams such as France (13th), Greece (ninth), Spain (fifth) Italy (sixth) and Turkey (eighth).
U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado praised the U.S. team players for "keeping (their) cool and never getting flustered when referee's decisions didn't go (their) way."
Over 28,000 spectators watched the games at the MWS hall and U.S. Sports Arena April 3-10. All of the results and statistics can be found at http://statistik.basketball-bundesliga.de/AST/spielplan.php.