Aug. 9, 2005
MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA - The USA Men's Under 21 team, coached by Saint Joseph's Phil Martelli, improved to 4-0 at the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship, with a 113-78 win over Nigeria in preliminary round play. With the win, the United States clinched the top spot in Group B and will face the fourth place finisher of Group A in the Aug. 12 medal quarterfinal (time TBD). Before quarterfinals action commences, the U.S. will close out preliminary round play against Slovenia (2-2) on Aug. 10 at 12:45 p.m. (EDT).
Martelli switched things up from the start with a fresh starting five that wasted no time getting things started. Terrence Roberts won the opening tip and five seconds into the game J.J. Redick (Duke) hit a three. From there the starters ran out to a 17-6 lead and by halftime the Americans were up 53-34. The second half was more of the same as Redick hit a USA U21 record-tying six treys, scoring 22 points, to lead the U21 squad to victory.
"I thought that after having a day off and trying to get our energy back, we changed our lineup, tried to do some different things," said Martelli. "We really appreciated the effort that the Nigerian team gave and I felt that we did a really good job of spreading around the opportunities that weren't available in the Puerto Rico game.
"The thing I've been impressed by with these guys is there's no entitlement. There's no, `I'm a starter and he's not.' Or `I should get shots and he shouldn't.' There's none of that. There's been an awful lot of sharing. Tonight was obviously an opportunity to play against ourselves, not really to play against Nigeria. I thought we did a nice job of things, with J.J. (Redick) getting going and Nick Fazekas to have a double-double after he didn't play much against Puerto Rico. I'm very conscious of the psychology of keeping this team together."
With 7:35 to go before half the U.S. was still on top by 11 points, 33-22. Tightening up its defensive pressure, while also making crisper passes that were right on target, the USA took off on a 12-0 run that saw four different players score and at 3:54 the lead had ballooned to 45-22. By halftime the Americans were up 53-34 behind 10 points from Rajon Rondo (Kentucky / Louisville, Ky.), who finished with 19, and eight points and seven rebounds by Nick Fazekas (Nevada / Arvada, Colo.), who notched the game's sole double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The Americans pulled away 64-38 with 16:24 remaining in the game and never looked back. Outscoring Nigeria 30-22 in both the third and fourth quarters, the United States cruised through the latter half of the game for the eventual 113-78 win. Redick hit his final five 3-pointers and scored a total of 17 points over a 5:00 span during a 21-9 run, which started with 11:03 remaining in the contest and closed with the USA up 98-63 with 6:03 to go.
Redick tied the USA U21 single-game record that is also held by former Boston College standout Troy Bell, who nailed his six against Croatia in the 2001 U21 Worlds. The team set a new record for field goals attempted with 93, a record previously held by the 2001 USA team with 85 attempts versus Japan and also tied the blocked shot record, also set in 2001 against Japan, with eight.
"They were in a zone for most of the second half when I got going," said Redick. "My teammates just found me and I got some open shots."