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Woman referees men's pro game

PHILADELPHIA -- Sandhi Ortiz-DelValle became the first woman in history to officiate a men's professional basketball game Monday night when she called the Philadelphia Spirits' 110-104 victory over the New Haven Skyhawks in a United States Basketball League game at Holy Family College.

'I officiate because I love the game and while I don't know if I'm breaking down doors or opening minds, I do want to be recognized as a qualified referee first and not just because I'm a female,' said the 40-year-old Ortiz-DelValle, whose whistle and jersey from the historic game were requested for display by the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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An official in the Greater New York and Los Angeles Pro-Am Leagues since 1984, Ortiz-DelValle officiated the Pro-Am National Championship game this year prior to becoming a USBL official.

USBL Chief of Referees Terry Fiorito scouted Ortiz-DelValle in a Pro- Am game and subsequently offered her a position on the USBL staff.

Pro-Am summer leagues are the circuit traveled by prospective NBA officials who hope to reach the next level.

Ortiz-DelValle will coach her second USBL game between New Haven and the Long Island Surf at the University of New Haven Thursday night.

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