MANNHEIM. Germany — As it was in the beginning, so it was in the end of the ninth Albert Schweitzer basketball tournament.
Despite what coach Dick Stewart called "by far our worst game of the tournament," the U.S. repeated its opening-day victory over Spain with a decisive 137-110 victory to nail down its third straight Schweitzer championship before a full house at the Carl-Diem Halle Saturday.
"Maybe we were overconfident because we had beaten them so handily (118-65) in the first game or maybe it's because the kids were tired, but we didn't look very good. We were very sluggish and because of that Spain looked much better against us this time," Stewart said.
"Our success has been geared to defensive quickness and it wasn't there today. We also weren't going to the boards today like we had been the first three days or so. We were content to shoot from outside and we were not getting the second and third shots we used to get. Both the slowness and the lack of consistent rebounding probably can be attributed to the guys being tired.
"It may sound funny to say we played our worst game because we had 72 points in the first half. However, we gave up 60 points in the first half which proves we weren't working like we should have been. The highest score against us in previous games was 75 by a pretty good Italy team. Giving up 110 points isn't my idea of good defense."
Officials Teodore Schober of Germany and Jiri Klime of Czechoslovakia called a very tight game and both teams were in foul troubles very early, which may have accounted for some of the defensive laxity.
Spain, which never was in the first game against the U.S., came out shooting and stayed with the Americans throughout most of the first half, leading 28-25 with 10:10 remaining in the half. The U.S. surged ahead on a 10-point spree as Tommy Baker hit a three-pointer, Pete Budko slammed a dunk through the nets, Tracy Jackson came up with another three-pointer and Art Jones popped in one from the side before Spain could score again.
The U.S. never trailed again, building up a 12-point lead by intermission and maintaining that spread for the first four minutes of the second half before going on a 28-14 spree that wrapped up its third straight championship and ran its Albert Schweitzer win skein to 21 games.
While the defense was sluggish, the offense was a little more polished and the U.S. bounced seven men into double figures with a 55-for-100 shooting demonstration from the field. Many of those shots came from outside, but there were a few of the crowd-pleasing slam-dunks and several layups off fast breaks.
Tracy Jackson and Tommy Baker carried most of the attack with 25 points apiece, Darnell Valentine added 20. Eddie Johnson followed with 13, Jeff Lamp notched 12 and Art Jones had 10. Pete Budko got only five points, but he pulled down 12 rebounds.
The final scoring statistics showed that all eight high school stars McDonald's brought over for the tournament wound up with double-figure scoring statistics, Earvin Johnson topping the cast with an even 20.0 average and 140 points.
Baker won the Best Player award, probably on the strength of his final-game 25-point, eight-assist and seven-steal performance. Some of the fans disagreed with the selection of the coaches, but Stewart said it was a good choice.
"There were three or four players on our team who would have been a good choice for the Best Player award. Certainly Tommy was one of them and I can't fault the coaches for voting that way." Stewart declined to say who got his vote.
Verifying Stewart's statements regarding the defense not playing its best game was the fact that four of Spain's starters scored 20 or more points and the fifth man had 13!
Lopez Iturriaga led the parade with 25, six in the first half. Gento Lorrente scored 19 in the first half, but picked up only one basket in the second half before fouling out with 11:55 remaining. Vasquez Diaz and Ruil San Epsfanio each dialed 20 and neither finished the game. Epsfanio leaving with 7:38 remaining and Diaz departing five minutes later. Pereiro Romay scored 13 points.
Perez Abadia. Romay and Iturriaga all finished with four fouls. The U.S. lost Budko and Baker via fouls and Valentine and Jones finished with four apiece. All told the U.S. was hit for 33 infractions and Spain was assessed 28.
"We played a better game today than last week." Spain coach Vasquez Pinedo said. "We did a better job against the U.S. press because we moved the ball better. This was good experience for us because next year we play for the European Cup and facing that good U.S. team will help us win next year."
Pinedo is an optimist. After his club got clobbered by the U.S., he predicted that his team would win the remaining Group II games, beat the Group I champion and play the U.S. again for the championship and give them a better game.
The U.S. reached the championship game Friday night by hammering Germany, 146-47, as 10 players hit double figures. Lamp led the parade with 19 points. Spain conquered Turkey, 81-69, in its semifinal win.
U.S. tourney scoring