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Phil Martelli to Lead USA Basketball U21 World Championship Team
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  05/09/2005

May 9, 2005

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - Saint Joseph's University head coach Phil Martelli will return to the USA Basketball sidelines this summer as the head coach of the 2005 USA U21 World Championship Team, USA Basketball announced today.

Helping Martelli defend the USA's gold medal at the FIBA U21 Worlds, featuring athletes age 21-years-old and younger, will be collegiate head coaches Dennis Felton of the University of Georgia and Drexel University's James `Bruiser' Flint. The selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee, chaired by Syracuse University head coach Jim Boeheim.

"There's a couple of levels to what this means to me," said Martelli. "It's quite humbling to be asked to represent your country. It also gets the competitive juices flowing in that you know that you're going to have the chance to work with the best players in the country and some of the best coaches in the country in preparing guys for what you would hope would be the memory of a lifetime - winning a gold medal.

"Bruiser and Dennis are not just colleagues or associates in terms of other head coaches. These guys are both friends of mine. They've been friends of mine for a long time. I'm expecting that we'll have a chemistry that will kick off right away. So the players will see that not only will we be working to bring out the best for USA Basketball, but we're going to enjoy being together. That to me is important," added Martelli, who was a St. Joe's assistant alongside Felton during the 1991-92 season, and was an assistant for the Hawks during Flint's final two collegiate basketball seasons in 1985-86 and 1986-87.

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Scheduled for Aug. 5-14 in Cordoba and Mar del Plata, Argentina, the 2005 FIBA Men's U21 World Championship will consist of 12 national teams split into two groups for preliminary round-robin play. The top four teams in each group will advance to the medal quarterfinals, while the 5th and 6th place finishing teams in each group will compete for 9th-12th place. The U21 World Championship draw took place March 10 in Argentina and the USA (Americas No. 1) will compete in Mar del Plata in preliminary round Group B, opening up Aug. 5 against China (Asia No. 2). Facing Lithuania (Europe No. 3) on Aug. 6, the United States will go up against Puerto Rico (Americas No. 2) on Aug. 7, before closing out the first round against Nigeria (Africa No. 1) on Aug. 9 and Slovenia (Europe No. 1) on Aug. 10. Group A, which will compete in Cordoba, includes Argentina (Americas No. 3 & host), Australia (Oceania No. 1), Canada (Americas No. 4), Greece (Europe No. 4), Iran (Asia No. 1) and Israel (Europe No. 2).

Initiated in 1993 as the FIBA 22 & Under World Championship, the USA captured gold in the inaugural tournament with a perfect 8-0 record. In 1997, the Americans compiled a 5-2 record and finished fifth. Most recently in 2001, with the event known as the FIBA World Championship For Young Men and Martelli assisting on the sidelines, the USA was impressive, rolling to an unblemished 8-0 mark to capture gold.

The USA men are not only defending FIBA world champs at the U21 level, but the U.S. squad last summer dominated its FIBA Americas competition by rolling to the gold medal with a 5-0 record in the qualifying tournament. Overall, in the three previous FIBA World Championships for this age group, the USA has won gold twice and compiled a 22-2 record.

The 2005 USA Basketball Men's National Team Trials, which will be used to select the final 12-member team, will be held in Dallas beginning on July 21 and the U.S. will use the July 25-30 Global Games in Dallas as a tune-up for the U21 Worlds. Athletes eligible for this age-based competition must be a U.S. citizen 21-years-old or younger (born on or after January 1, 1984).

Felton is beginning his third year as head coach at Georgia. Previously, he was at Western Kentucky where he compiled a 100-54 overall record while taking the Hilltoppers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Flint, a 1987 SJU graduate, just finished his fourth season at Drexel. The two-time CAA Coach of the Year (2002, 2004), guided the Dragons to a 17-12 mark in 2005.