Schweitzer basketball: Italy downs 'flat' U.S. squad, 95-82
MANNHEIM, Germany — Italy decked a deflated United States squad 95-82 Thursday night, consigning the Americans to Saturday morning’s seventh place-game in the 23rd Albert Schweitzer International Youth Basketball Tournament.
The Americans will take on Germany at 9 a.m. at the BFV Sports Arena, assured of their worst finish since 1971 in this 16-team biennial tournament for players younger than 18. That was the last tournament in which the United States used players exclusively drawn from DODDS-Europe.
“We were flat,” said Dick McCann, the United States coach for every Schweitzer tournament since 1975 who has steered the U.S. to nine gold medals. “You can’t give these kinds of teams 15- or 16-point leads before you decide to play.”
Italy, third in the 2005 European junior national tournament, led by 17 points with 8:51 to play in the second quarter before Florida State-bound Josue Soto of Jacksonville, Fla., scored the first two of the 30 points he’d total by game’s end. Soto scored 14 points before halftime to help the Americans whittle the deficit to five points.
“It took me a while to get my rhythm,” said Soto, who went 10-for-12 from the floor after missing his first three field-goal tries. For the game, he was 3-for-4 from three-point range.
Unfortunately for the Americans, who were coming off a hard-fought 83-80 loss to Serbia and Montenegro that cost them a berth in Friday night’s semifinals, the Italians, too, found their rhythm, particularly in the final quarter.
By that time, their ball-movement game had worn out the U.S. defense. After the Americans had pulled as close as 69-66 with 8:28 left in the game, the Italians went on a 12-2 run over the next 2:56 to put the game away.
“We hadn’t faced a team like that all week,” Syracuse-bound Scoop Jardine of Philadelphia said. “They moved the ball around, ran us from side to side, then hit the open man. It was tiring.”
Outrebounded 50-43 by the U.S. as Syracuse-bound Richard Jackson of Philadelphia was on his way to 22 points and 13 rebounds, Italy sank 11 three-pointers to more than counter Jackson’s efforts inside. The United States, meanwhile, was just 3-for-15 from beyond the arc.
Jackson and Kansas-bound Cole Aldrich of Bloomington, Minn., dominated play inside but found their tip-in tries on missed buckets going anywhere except in the basket.
“We couldn’t get any tip-ins to fall,” said Aldrich, who had nine rebounds and three blocked shots. “On one possession, we had, like, 45 taps, but the ball wouldn’t go in.”
Unlike the loss to Serbia and Montenegro, in which the opponents went to the line 33 times to just nine for the Americans, the United State enjoyed a foul-shooting edge on Italy. However, the Americans missed 14 of their 25 attempts.
“They were completely different from Serbia,” Aldrich said. “Serbia would get it inside, we’d rough each other up, and they’d take it to the glass. The Italians would get it inside and then kick it out.”
The loss leaves the Americans playing just for seventh place, and their country, on Saturday morning.
“We’ll play hard,” vowed Jardine, who scored 13 points and had seven assists. “We’re still playing for the USA.”
Albert Schweitzer TournamentItaly 95, USA 82
(Thursday at Mannheim, Germany)
Italy ..... 25 19 25 26—95
USA ..... 14 25 22 21—82
Scoring — Italy: Pietro Aradori 22, Giancarlo Ferrero 19, Daniele Bonessio 13, Riccardo Castelli 12, Andrea Renzi 9, Giovanni Tomassini 7, Mitchell Poletti 6, Nicola Natali 4, Massimo Chessa 3. United States: Josue Soto 30, Richard Jackson 22, Antonio Jardine 13, Anthony Stewart 6, Cole Aldrich 5, Luke Babbitt 2, Andre McFarland 2, Sam Muldrow 2.
Rebounding — Italy: Renzi 10, Bonessio 6, Aradori 5. United States: Jackson 13, Aldrich 9, Stewart 8.
Assists — Italy: Aradori 6, Bonessio 3, Ferrero 3, Tomassini 3. United States: Jardine 7, Soto 4, Jackson 3.
Ukraine 79, China 63
Australia 79, Sweden 74 (OT)
Lithuania 80, Germany 64
Spain 73, Canada 59
Israel 76, Greece 74
Italy 95, USA 82
France 82, Turkey 78
Croatia 78, Serbia and Montenegro 67
China 109, Canada 81
Ukraine vs. Greece
Spain vs, Sweden
Australia vs. Israel
France vs. Serbia and Montenegro
Croatia vs. Turkey
at BFV Sports Arena
Germany vs. United States, 9 a.m.
Lithuania vs. Italy, 11 a.m.
Semifinal losers, 2 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.