U.S. Youth Olympic Women’s Team Puts Away Previously Undefeated Belgium, 21-6; Keeps Andorra Winless 22-5
Facing what on paper would be their toughest opponent yet, the 2014 U.S. Youth Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (6-0) had no difficulty taking care of business against previously undefeated Belgium (5-1) 21-6, and defeating winless Andorra (0-6) 22-5 on Aug. 22, to secure its status as the top team in Group B and only undefeated team left on the women’s side of the 3x3 basketball competition at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
The games versus Belgium and Andorra also marked the first time the entire U.S. team played together on a competition court since Aug. 17, when Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.) suffered a slight ankle sprain that had sidelined her for five days.
Samuelson’s first bit of action was on Aug. 21 when she participated in the women’s individual shootout contest. She finished in third place and earned the bronze medal, but her first full game came today versus Belgium.
“It was awesome,” Samuelson said of finally being back on the court competing. “I wasn’t thinking about my ankle at all, I was just pumped to be back on the court with my teammates. Yesterday allowed me to get warmed up for today.”
Samuelson left no doubt that she was back as she came out red hot during the USA’s first game of the night, shooting 5-for-6 from the field for 83.3 percent, including a 4-for-5 performance from 2-point range to finish with a game-high nine points.
“In the first game I thought we did really well,” Samuelson said. “We came out with a lot of energy because we knew Belgium was a tough team, and I thought we all played well. I was happy with it being my first game back. It was fun and we were excited to play. We came out on fire and just ready to do what needed to be done and it worked out.”
“Today’s games were really good,” agreed Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.). “I think with Katie Lou back, it helped us a lot, especially on the first game. She was killing it and we all still worked well together; we haven’t missed a beat with her being gone.”
Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.) carried on attacking the inside, and had yet another stellar game, finishing 5-for-6 from the field and contributing six points. Ogunbowale and De’Janae Boykin (Charles H. Flowers H.S./Springdale, Md.) chipped in four and two points, respectively. Each made one 2-pointer, helping the USA amass more than half of its points (12) from beyond the arc.
In their second game of the day, the USA women held Andorra to 13 percent shooting from the field and outrebounded Andorra throughout the entire contest to secure their second easy victory of the day and improve to 6-0.
Ogunbowale led all scorers with nine points, followed by seven points from Collier.
With the USA up 20-5, Boykin flew to the basket to block a shot and regained possession for the red, white and blue. She followed her defensive effort by sinking a 2-point basket and closing out the game in favor of the North Americans. Samuelson only saw two minutes of action and scored one point.
In addition to being the only undefeated women’s team left, the USA is averaging 21.2 points per game in fewer than 10 minutes per contest; both leading marks amongst all 20 teams competing on the women’s side.
“Playing tougher teams helps us play harder and stronger,” said Ogunbowale of facing the second-best team in the USA’s group today. “It helps us elevate our game.
“Now, I just think we just have to remain calm and humble. We’re the only team that’s still undefeated, but we still have to play like this is the beginning of the tournament if we want to win a gold medal. We have to keep fighting like we have been doing and not let down at all.”
As preliminary play starts to wind down, the USA has only three more games left before the medal round. The team, which is assured a spot in the round of 16, will take on Taiwan on Aug. 23 at 7 a.m. EDT, and face the Czech Republic and Guam on Aug. 24 at 6:20 a.m. EDT and 9:00 a.m. EDT respectively, to finish with Group B play.
The top eight teams from each group will advance to the round of 16 on Aug. 25 starting at 5:00 a.m. EDT. The winners of each of those games will move onto the quarterfinals, which will also be disputed on Aug. 25 at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Semifinals and finals will take place on Aug. 26 and are scheduled to begin at 5:30 a.m. EDT.
In other Group B preliminary action today, Romania (4-2) defeated Thailand (3-3) 16-4; Taiwan (3-3) downed Guam (2-4) 21-9; Czech Republic (4-1) beat Andorra (0-6) 21-7; Egypt (3-3) won versus Indonesia (0-6) 18-11; Belgium (5-1) bounced back versus Romania 12-10; Thailand split the day by taking one from Indonesia 16-9; Egypt earned its second win of the day against Guam 21-8; and the Czech Republic beat Taiwan 14-12.
Playing in Group A are Brazil (1-5), China (4-2), Estonia (5-1), Germany (3-3), Hungary (5-1), Netherlands (5-1), Slovenia (1-5), Spain (4-2), Syria (0-6) and Venezuela (2-4).
The U.S. team is led by head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.), who conducts practices, but as per 3x3 rules, is not allowed to coach during games.
The basketball competition at the Youth Olympic Games is a 3x3 format organized by the International Olympic Committee and FIBA. The 2014 Youth Olympic Games includes 20 men's teams and 20 women's teams, as well as the Shootout for women and a Dunk Contest for men. Each team is comprised of four players, and athletes eligible for this competition must have been born between Jan. 1, 1996 and Dec. 31, 1997.
Follow the 2014 U.S. Youth Olympic Women’s Basketball Team on their road to gold using #YouthOlympics, and on the official USA Basketball website usab.com and app, now available for free download. Stay connected with us on facebook.com/usabasketball, twitter.com/usabasketball, plus.google.com/+usabasketball,instagram.com/usabasketball and youtube.com/usab.
Also, watch coverage of all 28 sports live and on VOD on several platforms, including Olympic.org, Olympic.tv, YouTube.com/Olympics and via the Olympic TV App, and in China with CNTV and CCTV apps. You can also visit the Youth Olympic Games’ official website: Nanjing2014.com