Altidor-Cespedes In U-21 Championships
Aug. 5, 2005
CORDOBA, Argentina - Gonzaga University sophomore guard Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes will be among the competitors when his native Canada opens play Saturday in the 2005 FIBA U-21 World Championship basketball tournament.
Canada, which qualified for the championships for the first time, will make their debut against Australia at 2:15 p.m. Pacific Time (6:15 p.m. in Argentina).
Altidor-Cespedes, who hails from Montreal, appeared in all 31 games a year ago for the Bulldogs. He averaged 15.0 minutes/game, 2.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg and 2.4 assists/game. Gonzaga went 26-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs seventh straight appearance in the tourney.
Having faced Australia twice in the 2005 season already, Canada holds a 2-0 record against the former 2003 FIBA Junior Men's World Champions. The two previous games against Australia, including the final Gold Medal match, were played as part of the inaugural Jack Dononhue International Classic, a preparation tournament for the World Championships held at Mississauga's Hershey Centre, July 25-28. Canada won the tournament that also included teams from Greece and China, compiling a perfect 4-0 record.
Greece and Australia join Canada in Group A for the round robin portion of the Championship, along with Israel and tournament host, Argentina.
The Canadian squad will be led by Levon Kendall (Vancouver B.C.), whose 13.3 points and 5.5 rebound average earned him the honour of MVP in Canada's Gold Medal win at the Jack Donohue International Classic. In addition to Altidor-Cespedes, the Canadian team consists of seven other NCAA players including national team stalwart Kendall (University of Pittsburgh), Andy Rautins (committed to Syracuse University), and Majak Kou (Loyola University of Chicago). The team also features three CIS players, including two from St. Francis Xavier University (Garry Gallimore, Neil MacDonald) and one junior college player (Kevin Francis, Vincennes University).
"We've got a mix of players who have been part of the program for a number of years and some new players that have improved as they have gotten older," said U21 National Team Head Coach Dave Crook.
Saturday's game against Australia would have been Canada's second of the competition, however, the last minute withdrawal of Iran from the tournament left Canada without an opponent for Friday's scheduled game.
After facing Australia on Saturday, Canada will have Sunday off, and will play again on Monday at 5:50 p.m. Pacific Time against host Argentina.
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