The United States used the 2005 Global Games as a tune-up for the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship, scheduled to be played Aug. 5-14 in Cordoba and Mar del Plata, Argentina.
"I think that this is a team that really shares the ball. They're getting a feel for that," said USA and Saint Joseph's University (Pa.) head coach Phil Martelli. "But I'm still concerned about turnovers. We've got too many turnovers for this level of players. I also think our rebounding needs to improve immediately or we're going to be in trouble in Argentina."
The United States jumped out early and Texas was never able to recover. However, the Texans were never really out of it in the first half due to collecting 13 points from the line.
Justin Gray scored eight points in the USA's opening 12-2 run that ended at 6:33 with a Nick Fazekas (Nevada / Arvada, Colo.) basket inside. Texas hit its first field goal at 6:18, followed by another pair of free throws at 5:39. But Rudy Gay (Connecticut / Baltimore, Md.) swished a three, followed by a Marcus Williams (Connecticut / Los Angeles, Calif.) steal, which he fed to Gay inside for a slam dunk. At 3:32 Gay finished his 6-0 run after connecting on his second charity shot and the USA was up 18-6. By the end of the first period the United States led by 10, 23-13.
Increasing its lead in a second quarter that saw Team Texas hit just four field goals, the United States closed the half with a 45-30 advantage. Trips to the line kept the game relatively close in the first half as, despite its frigid 25.0 percent shooting (8-31 FGs), Texas capitalized on 13-of-19 attempts from the line in the first 20 minutes.
Allowing Texas the second half's first bucket 17 seconds in, the USA U21 National Team upped its defensive pressure and outgunned Texas 14-2 over 5:24 to put the game away 59-34 with 14:19 to go in the contest. Outscoring Texas 28-8, the USA closed the third quarter with a commanding 73-38 lead and allowed just two field goals by Texas (at 9:43 and 0:52) in the third.
"We turned it up defensively, got some more steals and started to make a lot more plays," said Roberts of the team's third quarter domination. "We stopped trying to force things and stuff like that. And that's what you have to do to make it work."
The young Americans sailed through the final 10 minutes for the eventual 104-62 victory and the 2005 Global Games gold medal. F
"It's always good to get MVP, I'll add it to the collection at home," said Justin Gray. "It felt good to get the gold medal, play with the guys and get to know them a little bit better. Hopefully these games got us ready for Argentina. (But) this is not what we're here for. We're not playing for the Global Games gold medal, we're playing for the World Championship gold. That's our goal."
In addition to Taj Gray and Redick's 15 points, Justin Gray and Roberts each chipped in 11. Taj Gray grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, Rajon Rondo (Kentucky / Louisville, Ky.) passed off for a game-best eight assists to go with his seven points, while Mardy Collins (Temple / Philadelphia, Pa.), who had a pair of assists, was credited for a game-high four steals.
Eugene Spates paced his Texas squad with 16 points.
The U.S. had its best shooting night of the four-game tournament hitting a sizzling 54.8 percent (40-73 FGs) overall, 50.0 percent (11-22 3pt FGs) from 3-point, and held Texas to a paltry 29.0 percent (18-62 FGs) from the field. However, the squad faltered from the line, shooting just 52.0 percent (13-25 FTs) as compared to Texas' 79.3 percent (23-29 FTs). Winning the battle of the boards 50-29, the U.S. collected 19 offensive caroms. The young Americans also passed off for 23 assists on 40 field goals.
Acting as Martelli's assistants are collegiate head coaches James `Bruiser' Flint from Drexel University (Pa.) and Dennis Felton from the University of Georgia.
The U.S. will take a well deserved day off on Sunday and following a 10:30 a.m. practice on Aug. 1 at Collins Community College, the American team will travel to Mar del Plata, Argentina, for its final practices before tipping off play at the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship against China on Aug. 5 at 3:30 p.m. (all times EDT). The United States will then face Lithuania on Aug. 6 at 2:30 p.m. and Puerto Rico on Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. After a day off, the USA is slated to face Nigeria on Aug. 9 at 3:00 p.m. and will close out preliminary round play on Aug. 10 with a 12:45 p.m. contest against Slovenia. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be played Aug. 12-14.
Contested 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.
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 in striking gold with a 5-0 record. Overall, in the three previous FIBA World Championships for this age group, the USA has won gold twice and compiled a 22-2 record.