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Two forwards who were instrumental in their teams’ European basketball championships have been selected to play for the United States in next month’s Albert Schweitzer International Youth Basketball Tournament in Mannheim, Germany.

C.J. Battle, a 6-foot-2 junior for Division IV champion Giessen, and Marvin Gholston, a 6-3 junior for Division III champ Bamberg, were selected for the team at a tryout in Mannheim last weekend.

“It is an honor to be selected,” Battle said by telephone Monday night.

“This is a golden opportunity. I won’t take it for granted.”

Battle and Gholston, former football teammates at Bamberg in 2004, will join 10 U.S.-based Division I prospects to form the U.S. squad for this biennial 16-team event. Both DODDS players recognize the chance this tournament offers for their skills to become known among college scouts and coaches.

“This could lead to a scholarship,” Gholston said.

Although past players brought from the United States have included talents such as Magic Johnson, Glen Rice, Vince Carter and Tim Duncan, neither of the DODDS players expressed any trepidation about playing in such rarefied company.

“I’m going to be competitive,” Gholston said by phone Tuesday. “I think I’m ready to play.”

Said Battle, “I’m nervous, but I’ll use my nervousness to boost my work ethic. The harder I work, the less nervous I’ll be.”

He added that he is also thrilled by the opportunity to represent the U.S.

As of Tuesday, the complete U.S.-based contingent for the 23rd edition of the AST had yet to be announced. Members of the 2004 team included Kyle Lowry, presently the starting point guard for Villanova; Brandon Costner, now of North Carolina State; Desean White, currently playing for Providence, and Ramon Sessions, who started 30 games this season for Nevada.

The Schweitzer began in 1958. Mannheim native and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer personally approved the use of his name for the tournament, which the U.S. team has won a record 10 times since it began bringing players from the States in 1973.

With the growth of international basketball, however, and the siphoning off of some of the top U.S. blue chippers to competing all-star tournaments in the States, the Americans have not won it all since 1996.

Typifying the problem is 2006 pick Luke Babbitt, 16, of Reno, Nev. The 6-7 guard will miss a tournament for his AAU team while playing in the Schweitzer in Germany and will play in another just two days after returning to the States.

The U.S., which finished fifth in the 2004 tournament, will begin play in the April 15-22 event in a pool with Spain, Israel and Croatia. The other teams in the 2006 field are defending champion Turkey, Germany, China, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Serbia-Montenegro, Canada, France, Lithuania, Ukraine and Australia.

“It’s going to be fun,” Gholston said of wearing a USA jersey against the best under-18 players in the world.

“I’m going to go out there and see what happens.”

Ticket information

Tickets for the 2006 Albert Schweitzer tournament, to be played in Mannheim, Germany, April 15-22, can be ordered in advance. Instructions and order forms are available from the tournament Web site, www.ast-basketball.de.

The U.S. team will play all its games at the Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena, which also will host both semifinals and the championship game on April 22. Mannheim’s MWS Halle Am Herzogenried is the tournament’s other site.


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