This Saturday started the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim. The meeting is one of the most important events of high-level Youth basketball and also this year’s edition has a some teams which feature very high potentials.
I arrived for lunch time in Mannheim and my direction was the MWS Halle to follow four games this afternoon. The other teams, I will follow them next Monday in the US Sports Arena.
The opening game between Spain and New Zealand was not really a game of huge interest. Except the traditional Haka Dance performed by the Juniors of the Tall Blacks before the game, which made the Spaniards a bit nervous so that the Kiwi went up for a short lead. However, the Iberians took control of the game quickly after and went ahead and increased their lead comfortably until the end. They did not even need to force their talent as for example Albert Jodar just spent 18 minutes on the court. However, I don’t think that Spain is among the top teams of the tournament after their showing of today while the New Zealand team probably competes to avoid the last place.
The playing level increased immediately with the next game where two of the top teams of the tournament played each other. Croatia, with their top prospect Tomislav Zubcic started with great intensity pushed by their loud coach Josip Grdovic. Zubcic was everywhere on the court in the first quarter but Hrvatska could not make the difference. The game was close all over but the Gauchos could move ahead a bit during the second quarter especially because of their excellent shooting and explosive defense. Pablo Orlietti was doing his job inside while the shooters hit against the Croatian zone. The second half was still close and in the end, it were the Argentineans that went ahead and remained in the lead to win it closely by 2. Zubcic disappeared totally after his big 1st quarter and it was Mario Delas who kept his team in the race but he fouled out in the crucial moments.
The third game of the night was probably decided already before the start, at least in the stands. Approximately 100 Turkish fans supported their players with full force and the Red Flags were waved in the Arena. A very offensive first quarter kept the game open as the Turkish team only went 7 points ahead. The attraction was the 1992 born (and 2 years younger than most of his competitors) Turkish inside player Enes Kanter. The 2m04 tall power forward already dominated recent U16 competitions, he was even the best player today on the U18 level. All the Swedish inside guys had trouble to guard him and Turkey could take the youngster out as their advantage went up to more than 20. The Nordics however started a late run to come back into the game at -8 in the fourth quarter. However, the return of Kanter sealed the deal and Turkey came up with their first win in the tournament.
The last game of the night was a clear victory for Germany. The Dutch could hold during one quarter but then the German inside force was too much for the short Netherlands. The man of the night for the Germans was the surprising SF Femi Oladipo who came up with some athletic dunks and good rebounding. However, you have to admit that the Netherlands were nowhere close of being a serious opponent for the team of head coach Blümel.