The 27th Albert Schweitzer Tournament (AST) is officially in the books and the team from the United States came one game from pulling off the unanticipated. Not since 1996 had the USA team, who has won the most AST championships (10), won an AST title but on Saturday against Italy they had that opportunity.
With transition baskets by Ethan Happ and long range shooting from New Yorker and Rutgers commit Mike Williams, the USA Select 18U held a 41-35 half-time lead. A second half surge led by Federico Mussini would knot the game at 61 at the end of three and eventually push the Italian team to an 86-73 victory.
It would be a heartbreaking loss for the USA team, paced by Happ's double-double of 20 and 11 rebounds. The Rivals.com 3-star was also the leading scorer in the tournament. Williams and St. Joe's bound fellow NYer Shavar Newkirk added 17 point and 13 points respectively.
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Mussini was high man for the team from Italy with 20 points. The AST championship would be the fourth for the Italian team and its first since 1983.
USA would take 2nd place honors while Serbia would come in 3rd defeating Turkey 76-70.
Happ, who's committed to Wisconsin, would earn tournament MVP honors and was also selected to the Albert Schweitzer All-Tournament Team for his outstanding play throughout the weeklong event.
The Albert Schweitzer Tournament has been held in Germany every two years since 1958. It features 18U teams from 16 countries. Notable NBA players who have participated in the prestigious event throughout the years include: Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Vince Carter, Ronny Turiaf and others. The 2012 champions were Spain.