BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Spain celebrating their win at the 2012 edition of the Albert Schweitzer Tournamen |
Spain had waited a long time to win the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Tournament again, but Josep Perez, Guillermo Hernangomez and Albert Homs etched their names in history in carrying the Spanish to a 90-85 victory over Serbia to win the 2012 edition of the biennial spectacle.
Homs scored 18 points in the final while Perez and Juan Sebastian Saiz each tallied 11 points and Hernangomez chipped in 10 points and six rebounds for Spain, who won the tournament in Mannheim, Germany for the first time since 1998.
It's not a surprise that the Spaniards were anxious to follow in the footsteps of the 1998 team, which was led by Pau Gasol, Jose Manuel Calderon, Raul Lopez, Carlos Cabezas and Berni Rodriguez.
"It's amazing," said Saiz. "We have only won once here and the players who won that year were guys like Gasol and Calderon. So it was very important for us."
Spain coach Juan Orenga said his men were well aware of the history of this competition.
"They knew that the senior team guys were watching them because they all played in this tournament too," said Orenga.
Besides the prestige of the tournament, Saiz said the event was big in Spain's preparations for the U18 European Championship this summer, where they will try to defend their crown.
"We know now that we can win if we work as a team, just like other teams have done in the past," said Saiz.
|Small forward Albert Homs had 18 points for Spain in the final against Serbia |
Spain actually beat Serbia twice at this year's Albert Schweitzer Tournament.
And the two giants of European basketball will square off already in the Preliminary Round Group A of the 2012 U18 European Championship - which will be a re-match of the 2011 U18 final.
The other two teams in the group are Germany and Ukraine.
"It's important to beat Serbia," said Orenga.
"This is a very important in general because you can play against most of the team you will play in the summer. It's a point where you can test your preparation and where you are at."
Serbia, who were playing at the AST for the first time since 2006, grabbed second place despite missing a number of top players, including 2011 U18 European Championship All-Tournament Team member Vasilje Micic as well as Nikola Jankovic.
The team was led by point guard Nikola Radicevic, whose 19 points were not enough in the final but helped him to win the Albert Schweitzer Tournament MVP award.
The other four players on the All-Tournament Team were Perez and Hernangomez as well as Serbian forward Mihajlo Andric and German Paul Zipser.
The Germans finished fourth in the Albert Schweitzer Tournament, losing to Turkey 90-85 in the game for third place.
Tayfun Erülkü scored 24 points in Turkey's victory while Burak Can Yildizli had 17 points and James Metecan Birsen chipped in 13 points.
Cedi Osman, who like Birsen is 17 years old, added 6 points and 4 rebounds before being given the Burkhard Wildermuth Award for the most talented player in the tournament.