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MANNHEIM, Germany — For the first time in nearly 30 years, a U.S. team will not be one of the final four in the biennial Albert Schweitzer International Youth Basketball Tournament.

The U.S. fell 90-89 Thursday night to Argentina, knocking the Americans into Saturday morning’s fifth-place game.

“These are uncharted waters for me,” said U.S. coach Dick McCann, who has been guiding the U.S. teams since 1975. “This is the first time in 29 years I haven’t made the final four.”

Even so, McCann said he was proud of this year’s team, which fell a missed free throw short of overcoming a nine-point deficit in the final two minutes Thursday.

“They worked hard,” McCann said. “We could not have asked them to do more. They left everything on the court.”

Philadelphia senior Kyle Lowry, a Villanova recruit who has averaged 21.3 points and 5.5 offensive rebounds in the tournament, wasn’t able to enter the game until the 4:40 mark of the third quarter because of an illness. Lowry, who was suffering from stomach troubles, played the rest of the way, but said he wouldn’t have been able to continue had he been able to force overtime from the foul line with 7.3 seconds left in regulation.

“I was done,” he said. “I gave it all I had.”

Lowry finished with 16 points and three rebounds. With the U.S. trailing 90-88 with 7.3 seconds left, Lowry was fouled going to the hoop, but missed his first free throw.

He made the second, but it wasn’t enough to get the U.S. to overtime and a chance to reach the semifinals.

A U.S. victory would have forged a three-way tie in the pool with Argentina and Serbia-Montenegro. Each team would have had one loss, but since Argentina beat Serbia-Montenegro by five points and the Americans lost to the Serbs by 14, the U.S. needed a 10-point victory to erase Argentina’s points edge.

After Lowry’s second shot went in, Myrtle Beach, S.C., senior Ramon Sessions fouled Ricardo Busciglio on the inbounds play. In order to prevent a possible U.S. tie by keeping the game at a one-point margin, Busciglio appeared to miss both shots deliberately.

Lowry came down with the rebound and quickly dribbled down the left sideline, but missed a potential game-winning layup.

Sessions, who took up the slack for Lowry in the early going, scored a team-high 23 points and registered six rebounds.

Despite Argentina’s apparent willingness to lose if it meant advancing to the semifinals, McCann said he wouldn’t advocate a knock-out tournament after the preliminary round.

“It’s fun the way it is,” he said. “You have to play hard all the time. You have to bear down all the time.”

Argentina had a 39-9 scoring advantage on three-point shots and a 21-11 edge on points off turnovers.

Unbeaten Argentina advanced to Friday night’s semifinals against Spain. Serbia and Montenegro was to face unbeaten Turkey in the other semifinal.

According to Mannheim sports official Mike Newsome, there will be no admission charge for Saturday morning’s games, a seventh-place tilt matching Poland and Germany A and the 11 a.m. fifth-place contest between the U.S. and Finland. Tickets for this afternoon’s third-place and championship games are sold out.

Even though the U.S. players won’t go home with medals for the second straight tournament, McCann said his team should cherish its experience.

“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “They should hold their heads high.”


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