The Heidelberg women and Mannheim will try to repeat as U.S. Forces-Europe basketball champions when the final four tournament tips off Thursday at Patton Barracks gym in Heidelberg, Germany.

Ramstein’s women will take on USAREUR runner-up Mannheim in the day’s first game at 2 p.m.

Three other games in the double-elimination tournament will follow on Thursday: Mannheim’s Army-Europe runner-up men vs. Ramstein at 4 p.m., Spangdahlem’s women vs. Army-Europe champion Heidelberg at 6 p.m., and Heidelberg’s Army-Europe champion men against Aviano, Italy, at 8 p.m.

Four games will be played Friday, including the women’s winners-bracket final at 6 p.m. and men’s winners-bracket final at 8 p.m.

Saturday’s schedule consists of the losers-bracket finals for the women and men at 4 and 6 p.m., respectively. The title games are set for noon (women) and 2 p.m. Sunday (men). If-necessary games are to follow at 4 and 6 p.m.

Heidelberg’s women, undefeated in the extended 2002-2003 season, are seeking to repeat as U.S. Forces-Europe champions. The Mannheim men, who lost two games to Heidelberg in the Army-Europe tournament by a total of three points, will be trying for a fourth-straight Final Four crown.

There is no admission charge.

The Final Four, which ordinarily pits the Army-Europe champions and runners-up against their Air Force counterparts, was originally scheduled for the first week of April. However, mission requirement and security concerns brought about by the war in Iraq forced the postponement of this event as well as the cancellation of the 2003 USAFE tournament.

Since there are no official USAFE champions or runners-up, USAFE sports officials used proximity to the tournament site as the selection criterion for their entrants in the Final Four. Spangdahlem’s men, however, were unable to play because of duty commitments, so Aviano took their place.

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