USA Women's 3x3 U18 Team Moves Into Quarterfinals, USA Men's 3x3 U18 Team Eliminated
September 28, 2013 • Jakarta, Indonesia
Both the USA men’s and women’s 3x3 U18 World Championship teams suffered losses to Lithuania in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday. The women’s 11-9 setback to Lithuania came in preliminary round play and makes the team’s road to gold a little more difficult, while the men, after rolling in preliminary round play to a Group B first place finish with a spotless 7-0 record, saw their gold medal dreams end when Lithuania handed them a 15-12 loss in the Round of 16.
The USA women, carrying a 3-0 record into the continuation of preliminary round play on Saturday, fell to Lithuania (5-0) 11-9, but rebounded to defeat Spain (3-2) 14-11 to cap preliminary play with a 4-1 record and earn a second place finish in Group B.
“We definitely struggled (versus Lithuania). I think we just came out feeling too comfortable from the day before and we just couldn’t hit any shots. Lithuania came out playing really hard, we’re lucky it came in pool play so that we have another chance because it really helped us get better and realize what we have to do,” said the USA’s Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.).
The team regained its form in the win over defending 3x3 U18 silver medalist Spain.
“We were really pumped to come out for that game because we had just lost and we were ready to play. We knew that once we got halfway through we could do this if we kept playing the same way we were. Our defense was really good and we played overall really well.”
Moving into the knock out round of 16, the U.S. took out Thailand 21-14 to earn a spot in Sunday’s quarterfinals. The USA women will face 6-0 France, top finishers in preliminary round Group C and 13-10 winners over Brazil (2-4) in the Round of 16.
“It was definitely better and we’re getting back to how we played in D.C. (at the FIBA Americas Championship) and I think we’re going to do pretty well tomorrow if we keep playing that way,” added Samuelson. “Tomorrow we have to come out from the very beginning really hard and we need to rebound better and play better defense.”
“I love 3x3,” Samuelson said. “It’s awesome and it’s really fun to play. It’s really fun to be playing outside, there’s music playing, it’s a lot more fun to me than five-on-five.”
In the other Round of 16 action, Spain eliminated Belgium 21-14; Czech Republic surprised previously unbeaten Canada 19-15; Estonia edged Bulgaria 19-17; Italy defeated Puerto Rico 12-10; Ukraine beat Taiwan 17-13; and England shocked Lithuania 13-12.
The U.S. women’s squad consists of University of California commit Gabby Green (St. Mary’s College H.S./Oakland, Calif.), Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.), Samuelson, and University of Notre Dame commit Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S./Pearland, Texas).
The U.S. men, who entered Saturday’s play with a perfect 5-0 record, continued on their roll and routed Taiwan 21-7, then earned a solid 21-14 victory over Philippines to finish Group B preliminary play with a 7-0 record. The USA men were the only nation in the 32-team championship to have scored 21 or more points in all seven of its preliminary round games. Averaging a tournament best 21.1 points a game in its first seven prelim contests, the U.S. limited its preliminary round opponents to just 7.0 points game.
The 2013 USA U18 3x3 team is comprised of Cliff Alexander (Curie H.S./Chicago, Ill.), University of Tennessee commit Larry Austin, Jr. (Lanphier H.S./Springfield, Ill.), University of Colorado commit Dominique Collier (Denver East H.S./Denver, Colo.) and Cleveland State University signee DeMonte Flannigan (Villa Angela-St. Joseph H.S./Cleveland, Ohio).
“Lithuania played a lot more physical than how other teams played us, they also played harder than we did and we also didn’t knock down our shots,” said Austin. “They got the loose balls and outrebounded us a lot, so it really came down to them being physical, being a tougher team.”
The American men from the start of the Lithuania game struggled to find their offensive rhythm. Back-to-back two-point plays by Lithuania earned them a 12-7 lead midway through the game. The U.S. worked hard to regain the momentum and managed to close the gap to 13-10, but the inability to hit shots from the field or even the foul line doomed the team to the 15-12 loss.
“We missed five straight free throws as a team and those would have helped us a lot,” added Austin.
Despite not returning home with a gold medal, Austin and his teammates enjoyed the experience and having another opportunity to play 3x3.
“Playing 3x3 is a fun thing, I like it,” said Austin. “It’s tough competition. As you advance the teams got tougher.”
The FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship concludes Sunday with quarterfinals, semifinals and gold and bronze medal games.
The USA’s Flannigan participated in the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship Dunk Contest and advanced to Sunday’s finals. Fifteen players participated in the Dunk Contest and just the four players with the highest scores in the qualifying advanced on to the Final, which consists of two rounds. Flannigan scored 28 points to move on to the finals. Kobe Paras from the Philippines and China’s Sun Ming Hui were top finishers in the qualifying round with 30 point scores, while Spain’s Antonio Morales tallied 25 points to earn the fourth and final qualifying spot.
The third annual FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship (billed as the 2011 FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship in its inaugural year) features 24 women’s teams and 32 men’s teams from around the world. A gold medal isn’t the only thing on the line as the top three finishing men’s and women’s teams will also qualify their countries for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Athletes must be 18-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1995) in order to compete. In addition to the men’s and women’s tournament, included in the 3x3 U18 World Championship program for the weekend will be skills contests and a mixed-team tournament with two males and two females competing on one team for their country.