Postcard from Phil: SJU Coach's Journey to Argentina
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  08/02/2005

Aug. 4, 2005

MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli writes home about his trip to Argentina with Team USA as defends its gold medal in the 2005 FIBA Under 21 World Championships.

MAR DEL PLATA - August 14: The trip is ending as it began here in Mar del Plata, with very, very cold and rainy conditions and some big winds. We lost on Friday. We didn't fail, but it is a disappointment. Clearly we were the best team here and we chose to have a non-thinking day and it cost us. But overall it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to getting back to Philadelphia.

All the players have been very respectful of the opportunity that they've been given. I think that they all feel that they were treated with respect and they were given an opportunity to experience not only the similarities that they all have, but also the differences and to be respectful of that. Also to be respectful of the level of basketball that you have to play because they all want to go to the next level and have the opportunity to be successful.

MAR DEL PLATA - August 11: I think that now you can feel the change in atmosphere as you approach the medal round. The players are much more attentive. We're trying to tighten things up now. Instead of just six teams in our hotel, now we have all 11 teams here. The games obviously will take on real significance as we go forward. It's been some trip so far, but we didn't come to win the first five games, we came to win the last three.

MAR DEL PLATA - August 8: The church experience was unique. This is a church that had masses at 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, and then 7 and 8 at night. You don't find that anymore where we live. The country's 95 percent Catholic. The average at the 8:00 a.m. mass was between 95 and 101 and it was cold at mass, too. Everybody but the priest wore a coat on the altar. No cushions on the kneelers. It was spartan existence at its best, but it was a beautiful church and it tested my ability to understand Spanish. I found out that my ability is zero.

We just finished a practice in which, if we had stayed outside we would have been warmer than we were in the gym. We've adapted to the elements. Certainly it's cold. But the sun is out and winning makes it seem a lot warmer than it is.

MAR DEL PLATA - August 4: We have been able to get in some good practice sessions in some unusual gymnasiums. For all the people back home who are baking, it's probably 40 degrees here. We went into a gym for practice the other day and it was probably 35 in there. But the players persevered, gave us a good effort in practice and now I think everybody's ready to play. This is now going to be an NBA-type schedule. Eight games in 10 days. But the players seem anxious and properly prepared for this opportunity.

One of the things that happens in international tournaments is that there's a meal room. So everybody eats the same food. It may not be eye-appealing, but you have to get past that to taste it, and it's been pretty good. The players have been somehow able to find a McDonald's, which is about a 10- 15-minute walk from the hotel. But the coaches and the staff have been eating the local cuisine.

DALLAS- July 31: After four games in four days we thought that it was really important to give the team a mental break. So Sunday consisted of haircuts for those that needed them. I'm not one who worries about hair cuts, so it was church for me. Even at Mass here in Texas I met a Philadelphian who was down here visiting his daughter.

Sunday night consisted of bowling. The disappointment in the bowling was only getting a 299, while thinking I could get a 300.