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Catch Up With U17 Women Kristine Anigwe and Arike Ogunbowale

  • Date:
    Jun 25, 2014

Pilsen, Czech Republic

By the time the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women tips off on June 28 in Pilsen, Czech Republic, the USA Women's U17 World Championship Team will have completed a June 12-17 training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, played three exhibition games in Nogent Sur Seine, France, enjoyed a day tour of Paris on June 23 and practiced June 25- 27 in Pilsen.

We caught up with two U.S. team members to find out what they had to say about the USA’s journey thus far, including USA Basketball rookie center Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) and veteran guard Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.), who has won gold medals with USA Basketball at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.

Kristine Anigwe
Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista, H.S./Phoenix, Arizona)
How did the Colorado Springs training camp help this team prepare?
I think it helped us play better together, because we weren’t used to playing with each other, since we are all from different states and different teams. It helped us build a foundation. We learned each other’s weaknesses or strengths.

How was your time in France when you were staying at a boarding school outside of Paris?
It was different, because I had never been to a boarding school before. It was cool to be able to be away from home and know what that felt like.

There wasn’t much Internet access. Did that help the team bond?
I felt like we forced to get to know each other more. We’ve all just really bonded and become a team. I feel like we are a family kind of.

Tell me about playing in your first international games, which were against China and Canada?
I feel like the rules are a little confusing, but not really confusing. For the coaches it’s a lot harder, I think.

Do you feel like now you have a good understanding of the international rules?
Yeah, kind of. Again today we learned something new: You can’t foul from behind on a breakaway because it’s an intentional foul.

Is the loss to France a bad memory for you?
I don’t think it’s a bad memory. We lost to them when it didn’t matter, but we are going to beat them when it matters. We lost to them once, and we know how it felt to lose and we know how frustrating it was and we know how we need to change our game. Now we know what to do to beat them.

*The USA plays France on June 29 in the preliminary round of the FIBA U17 World Championship Team.

What has been the best part of the trip?
Making new friends.

What has been the hardest thing?
Leaving my family. I get homesick. You are overseas, and you don’t know the language, you are just learning how to say hello, goodbye, thank you and you’re welcome.

What has helped you deal with that homesickness?
Just being able to confide in people here that you have made friends with and who are basically your family now. The staff and the coaches really help you feel at home.

Can you tell me about visiting Paris?
That was so fun! I thought it was really fun because we went to so many places. Seeing Notre Dame was really cool, the Eiffel Tour, it was just a great experience. No other teams got to do that, and I just felt really special that Carol (Callan) and USA Basketball let us go there.

What would it mean to you to win a gold medal?
It would be really cool and really meaningful – a really great accomplishment.

Arike Ogunbowale
Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.)
How is this year similar to last year at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship?
We have seven people back. It’s just really the same principle – work hard. A lot of the same play, but a lot of new plays, too. Everyone really wants to compete and win, so that is the same.

What is different from last year?
We have some new plays, and the tournament is way more competitive, so we have to elevate our game lot for this one.

How did the Colorado Springs training camp help this team prepare?
The altitude really got us conditioned, and training for a week with each other, practicing and playing against the boy’s high school team really helped us prepare.

How was your time in France when you were staying at a boarding school outside of Paris?
It was different, but it was cool to talk to all the kids who lived at the boarding school. The food was really good, and it was interesting food. The bread was the best.

Can you tell me about playing against China and Canada?
They were good games to get us started and prepare for the tournament. They were good competitive games I would say.

What is your perspective on the loss to France?
I would rather lose in an exhibition game than in the actual tournament, so if we had to lose, I would have chose there. We can learn from it.

What has been the best part of the trip?
Probably just bonding with the girls. The Wi-Fi is terrible, so you really have to find other tings to do. My teammates are hilarious. It really wouldn’t matter, Wi-Fi or not, it’s cool to hang out with all of them all of the time.

What has been the hardest thing?
Probably just being away from my family and friends back at home.

Is there an area where you have grown personally in these past few weeks?
Yeah, I would say communication and defense. I think I’ve grown a lot with the coaches helping me learn to play help-side. I’m better than I was before, and I’m still trying to improve.

Can you tell me about visiting Paris?
That was really fun. It was really pretty and way different than where I’m from, so I was excited to go there. It’s funny because my brother went to Paris and he brought back all this stuff and he said it was super exciting, so I wanted to go there. It was like five years ago that he went, and I never thought I would go there. So, that was really cool to go.

What would it mean to you to win a gold medal?
It would just be amazing, a great honor. That is our goal, for sure.

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