USA Women, Jalek Felton Earn Silver Medals At FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship
After being edged out by France (8-1) 20-19 in a hard-fought gold medal game, the USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 World Championship Team (8-1) earned a silver medal at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship on June 7 in Debrecen, Hungary. And while the USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 U18 World Championship Team (4-3) fell to France 20-18 in the quarterfinals to end its run at the event, USA guard Jalek Felton (Mullins H.S./Mullins, S.C.) won a silver medal in the Dunk contest.
“It was, so far, one of the best experiences of my life,” said U.S. guard Natalie Chou (Plano West Senior H.S./Plano, Texas). “It was great meeting everyone from the U.S. and other countries. It was also great getting closer with my teammates, since we already knew each other. It was a great experience, one that I will never forget.
“I was a bit nervous before the game, which is normal,” Chou added about the USA’s final match up. “We knew France was going to come out really strong, because everyone plays good against us, but we didn’t come back with our best.”
The USA Women began the final day in a quarterfinal contest against Belgium (4-3). After three tied scores to start the game, the USA began to pull away. Allowing Belgium just two more points after a 5-5 tie, the USA went on to an 11-7 win that included a team-high five points from Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.).
In the semifinals against Israel (5-4), the USA reached 21 points before the 10 minutes had expired to earn a 21-8 win and advance to the gold-medal game. The USA led 6-3 two minutes into the game and then 9-6 midway through, and from there, put together a 9-0 run to take control of the game. Every U.S. player scored, including Ogunbowale with 10 points and Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) with five points.
Against France in the championship game, the USA women built a small lead of 12-9 midway through before France made its run. Helped along by three 2-pointers in the game from Lisa Berkani, France took an 18-15 lead with 2:18 to go. The USA battled back to tie the game at 18-18 and 19-19. Berkani gave France the winning one-point advantage with a made free throw with 17 seconds remaining. The USA missed its last attempts as time ran out on the game.
Erin Boley (Elizabethtown H.S./Hodgenville, Ky.) rounded out the U.S. women’s team, which averaged a tournament-best 18.1 points per game (163 points), and with 60 points throughout nine games, Ogunbowale was the women’s tournament’s leading scorer and was named to the all-tournament team.
In the women’s bronze medal game, host Hungary (8-1) defeated Israel (5-4) 14-11.
USA women’s 3x3 U18 teams have compiled a 49-6 overall record and have won 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.
The U.S. men took on France to start the day, and despite mounting a comeback, were defeated 20-18 in the quarterfinals. Felton had 12 points for the USA in the game, including two 2-pointers in the last 1:30 to help the USA cut the deficit from 18-11 to 19-16. Time ran out on the USA’s rally, however, and the 10-minute game ended with the USA trailing 20-18.
“We needed to fight, compete a little more,” Felton said. "It is much rougher and tougher overseas, but if we come back next year, I think we will be better. We will be use to playing. I think we played great though.
“It was a great experience,” Felton added.” I actually did better than what I thought I was going to do. I learned that I can help my teammates out more. I need to be tougher. I need to help my teammates the best way I can.”
Zach Collins (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.), Payton Pritchard (West Linn H.S./West Linn, Ore.) and P.J. Washington Jr. (Findlay College Prep/Frisco, Texas) rounded out the U.S. men’s roster.
With 53 points in seven games, Pritchard was the men’s tournament’s fourth-leading scorer.
“It was a tough game,” said Collins of the USA’s quarterfinal loss. “We did not execute our game plan the way we wanted to, but I think we felt it all on the floor. My teammates did a great job. They played with their hearts out, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”
In the men’s gold medal game, New Zealand (8-1) outlasted Argentina (7-2) 20-18, and France (8-1) took home the bronze medal after defeating Spain (7-2) 16-13.
Including results from the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, which was a 3x3 U18 competition, and results from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, the USA men are 31-13 all-time and have won silver in 2012 and finished fourth at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
The 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship featured 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams from around the world. Athletes must have been 18-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1997) in order to compete.
In addition to the men’s and women’s tournament, included in the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship program were a women’s Skills contest, a men’s Dunk contest and a men’s and women’s Shoot-Out.
Kobe Paras (Philippines) took gold in the Dunk contest, which also featured bronze medalist Agustin Da Costa (Uruguay) and fourth-place finisher Mark Boros (Hungary).
In the Shoot-Out competition Bathiste Tchouaffé (France) won gold, Lucía Alonso (Spain) took home silver, Giulia Ciavarella (Italy) won bronze and Dawid Gruszczynski (Poland) placed fourth.