USA 3x3 U18 Teams Ready For FIBA Americas Challenge
-- Experience Abounds For USA 3x3 U18 Team Members --
Aug. 30, 2013
• FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship Men's Schedule
• FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship Women's Schedule
• USA Men's 3x3 U18 World Championship Team Roster
• USA Women's 3x3 U18 World Championship Team Roster
The road to the 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship crown that officially began two weeks ago at the USA Basketball National Championship Tournament picks up momentum this weekend when both the USA men’s and women’s 3x3 U18 teams participate in the inaugural FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship.
One four-member men’s squad and one four-member women’s team, both filled with players owning valuable USA Basketball and international experience, emerged as the USA 3x3 U18 National Championship Tournament champions and thereby qualified to represent the United States at the Sept. 26-29 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship that will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
But before taking on 3x3 teams from around the world, both the USA men’s and women’s teams will get an opportunity for some additional 3x3 experience when they take part in the FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship that is being held Saturday, Aug. 31 and Sunday, Sept. 1, at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Washington D.C.
The men’s tournament (click here for the schedule) features seven national 3x3 U18 teams – Belize, Canada, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, USA, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela. The teams will play a round-robin schedule and the top four finishing teams go into the championship round semifinals Sunday afternoon.
The women’s championship (click here for the schedule) in addition to the U.S. team features 3x3 U18 national teams from Canada, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The four teams will play a round-robin tournament Saturday and the semifinals and finals will be played on Sunday.
USA Men Looking For Redemption
The 2013 USA Men’s 3x3 U18 team is a talented hoops squad that features 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).
Led by Alexander’s MVP effort, the four-some collected the USA 3x3 U18 National Championship Tournament title on Aug. 11 and by doing so earned the USA’s qualifying spot for the 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
While Austin, Collier and Flannigan all possess USA Basketball experience, Alexander is a newcomer to USA Basketball whot is currently ranked by ESPN as the No. 2 recruit of the Class of 2014.
Austin, Collier and Flannigan were members of the 2011-12 USA Basketball Developmental National Team program and Austin and Collier were selected for the 2011 USA U16 Championship that finished 5-0 and won the FIBA Americas U16 title.
Additionally, both Austin and Flannigan were members of the 2012 USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team that returned home from the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship in Spain with the silver medal.
Last year’s showing at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship was bittersweet for Austin and Flannigan.
The silver medal finish was the USA men’s first medal in 3x3 U18-aged championships since FIBA initiated the 3x3 event in 2010, but it wasn’t the gold medal that the U.S. team wanted and had come so close to capturing.
Leading 20-19 against Serbia in overtime of the 2012 gold medal contest, the U.S. team’s golden dreams were shattered when Serbia tossed up a 3-pointer that banked in, giving them a 21-20 win over the USA and the gold medal.
“I remember them just shooting it,” Flannigan said of the game’s final play. “It’s crazy because Rondae (Hollis-) Jefferson was right in his face, and I just knew it was going in.”
Austin too recalls the disappointment that he and his teammates felt after coming up just short.
“We were representing USA, and we didn’t really want to lose.
We played hard. I thought we all did pretty good, actually. We were down in the game, but we kept fighting back,” said Austin after the heartwrenching loss.
With that experience behind them, the two returning members of that team now have a shot a redemption and they know just getting to the championship game is no easy task.
“I’m very excited to have the chance to go back and try to get what was ours, because we should have won it last year,” said Flannigan. “We just have to go back and try to win it again.”
While Austin and Flannigan returned to give it another shot, Alexander and Collier are 3x3 newcomers.
“Cliff and Dom, they pick up things quick,” Austin said during play at the USA 3x3 U18 National Championship Tournament. “They’re picking it (3x3) up pretty well.”
“If we play hard every possession, we should win,” Collier said. “If we just play hard, play smart and play together.”
Women’s 3x3 U18 Team Eyeing Gold Medal Repeat Performance
Boasting of one member from last year’s gold medal winning USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team, the U.S. women in 2013 are an experienced crew that has set its sights as repeating as FIBA 3x3 U18 World Champions.
But before tackling that assignment, the U.S. will get some valuable 3x3 experience at the FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship.
Featuring four highly regarded high school players, the U.S. team is comprised of Gabby Green (St. Mary’s College H.S./Oakland, Calif.), Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.), Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.) and University of Notre Dame commit Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S./Pearland, Texas).
Green, although just 17 years old, and Turner, who was just 16 at the time of the competition, were selected for the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team that finished 9-0 and captured the gold medal earlier this summer. Turner posted averages of 5.7 ppg., 5.1 rpg. and was third on the team in blocked shots with seven. Green, who had also tried out for USA teams in 2011 and 2012, averaged with the USA U19 Team 3.5 ppg., 2.6 rpg., 2.0 apg. and 1.4 spg.
The team’s shortest player, 5’9” Ogunbowale, earned MVP honors at the USA Basketball National Championship Tournament and earlier this summer, along with Samuelson, played for the USA U16 team that won gold. Ogunbowale at the U16 Championship averaged 10.0 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 1.6 apg., a team second best 2.4 spg. and shot 47.1 percent (8-17 3pt FGs) from 3-point, and Samuelson started in all five games and contributed a team second best 16.0 ppg., 5.6 rpg. and shot a sizzling 52.4 percent (18-34 3pt FGs) from beyond the 3-point line.
Being the lone team member with 3x3 international experience, Turner offered some insight to her three teammates before they began play at the USA 3x3 U18 National Championship Tournament.
“I was able to tell them about how quick it is and how to get points so quick and rebound. If you rebound, we’re all tall, so we can get points in transition.”
Last time around, Turner teamed with Diamond DeShields, Kaela Davis and Erica McCall and that feeling of winning gold hasn’t been forgotten.
“It felt really great, because we worked hard for every game, especially the championship,” said Turner.
While the U.S. contingent has its sights set on again claiming gold at the 3x3 u18 World Championship, the FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship will provide an excellent opportunity to get more accustomed to the exciting and faced paced action of 3x3 hoops.
The third annual FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship, which was billed as the 2011 FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championship in its inaugural year, is expected to feature 24 women’s teams and 32 men’s teams and the top teams will qualify 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. In 2012 the 3x3 U18 skills competitions included a 3-point shootout (women only), a dunk contest (men only) and a “2 Ball” contest (mixed) in which each person from a team of two athletes shot from five different positions on the court in a 60-second span.