2015 USA 3x3 U18 National Tournament Winners Earn Right To Represent USA At FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship
By virtue of winning the 2015 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament, for men and women, respectively, on May 3 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the team members of Stars (8-0) and Defend (7-0) have earned the right to represent USA Basketball at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship that will be played June 4-7 in Debrecen, Hungary.
Led by men’s tournament MVP Jalek Felton (Mullins H.S./Mullins, S.C.), the Stars secured a convincing 21-12 victory over Titans (6-2) in the championship game.
“That was my whole goal coming out here – making my team better,” Felton said of earning MVP. “I just wanted to win.”
On the women’s side, Defend topped Southern Starz (6-1) 18-14 in the championship game, while Erin Boley (Elizabethtown H.S./Hodgenville, Ky.) of Southern Stars was named the women’s MVP.
“I was honored,” Boley said. “It is a really special thing. I didn’t see it coming at all. It means a lot, especially since there is really good competition here.”
Athletes from the winning teams will reconvene at the USOTC May 29-June 1 to train prior to representing USA Basketball at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
Along with Felton, traveling to Hungary as the 2015 USA 3x3 U18 Men’s World Championship Team will be: Zach Collins (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.), Payton Pritchard (West Linn H.S./West Linn, Ore.) and P.J. Washington (Findlay College Prep/Frisco, Texas).
The 2015 USA 3x3 U18 Women’s World Championship Team features: Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.), Natalie Chou (Plano West H.S./Plano, Texas), Asia Durr (St. Pius X Catholic H.S./Douglasville, Ga.) and Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.).
While the men’s final ended with the Stars reaching 21 points before the end of the 10-minute time period, the women’s championship game was close until the final minutes. After Defend secured a defensive stop and Durr scored from the field, Defend captured the game’s momentum and the eventual win.
“We expected a close game,” Durr explained. “They are a very talented team. We got it rolling, but we started a little slow.”
On the men’s side, after quarterfinal victories to start the day, Stars downed Hoopla Wildcats (3-2) 21-13 and Titans (4-1) edged out D-Town Blazers (4-1) 21-19 in the semifinals.
The women’s semifinals earlier in the day saw Defend down Colorado Elite Blue (3-2) 21-15, while Southern Starz beat CBC (3-2) 19-14.
The weekend also included a skills challenge, 3-point shooting competition and a partner hot-shot competition, all of which were contested on May 1. Winning the men’s hot-shot competition were Joe Miks (Chatfield H.S./Littleton, Colo.) and Cam Pearson (Chatfield H.S./Lakewood, Colo.) of Tradition, and the women’s hot-shot winners were Boley and Shaquera Wade (Huntsville H.S./Huntsville, Ala.) of Southern Stars. Darren Huntley (College Prep H.S. at Madison/St. Louis, Mo.) of Arch Ryvals won the men’s 3-point competition, which Tommi Olson (Highlands Ranch H.S./Highlands Ranch, Colo.) of CBC won on the women’s side. Finally, the skills challenge winners were Derrick Bussey (Sandra Day O’Conner H.S./Newark, N.J.) of MCL for the men and Nia Hollie (Hopkins H.S./Brooklyn Park, Minn.) of Southern Starz for the women.
While all the members of Stars will be playing on their first junior national team, Collins and Washington participated in a USA Basketball Junior National Team mini-camp in October 2014, and Pritchard participated in the 2012 and 2013 USA Junior National Team October mini-camps.
All four members of the USA women’s team won gold together this past summer at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship, while Durr and Ogunbowale also helped the USA to gold at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Additionally, Ogunbowale won gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games 3x3 basketball competition and at the 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship, after she and Chou helped Defend win the 2014 USA 3x3 U18 National Tournament.
FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship
The FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship has been held on an annual basis since 2011, except in the years of the Summer Youth Olympic Games (2010, 2014). Twenty-four men’s and 24 women’s teams are expected to compete in the four-day event.
In order to be eligible, athletes must participate in at least one FIBA-sanctioned 3x3 tournament in 2015 prior to participating in the 2015 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament that is scheduled to be held May 1-3 at the USOTC. To receive an invitation to participate in the 2015 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, teams must be selected through a qualifying 3x3 tournament and approved by USA Basketball. Athletes eligible for this team must be 18-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1997) and U.S. citizens.
In addition to host Hungary, teams qualified for the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship for Men include: Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, USA and Vietnam.
In addition to host Hungary, teams qualified for the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship for Women include: Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Guam, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, USA and Venezuela.
Including results from the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, which was a 3x3 U18 competition, and results from the 2011-2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, the USA men are 27-10 all-time and earned the silver medal in 2012 and placed 4th in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. The USA women’s 3x3 U18 teams have compiled a 41-5 overall record and captured gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and the 2012 and 2013 FIBA U18 World Championships, while winning a pair of bronze medals at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and 2011 FIBA U18 World Championship.
Some of the athletes who have competed on USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Teams include: Cliff Alexander (2013), Larry Austin (2012, 2013), Napheesa Collier (2014), Kaela Davis (2011, 2012), Diamond DeShields (2012), Sterling Gibbs (2010), Rondaé Hollis-Jefferson (2011), Arike Ogunbowale (2013, 2014), Katie Lou Samuelson (2013, 2014), Kiah Stokes (2010) and Brianna Turner (2012, 2013).