USA Women Stay Perfect, Men Fall In Overtime Now 3-1
Debrecen, Hungary – The USA Women’s 3x3 U18 National Team continued to roll in day two of preliminary round play at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship in Debrecen, Hungary, winning both of its games to improve its record to 4-0, while the USA men split its two games to finish the day with a 3-1 overall record.
The USA women, defending FIBA 3x3 U18 world champions, posted a pair of convincing wins Friday, handing previously undefeated Italy (3-1) 18-5 and then closed out the day with a lopsided 21-6 victory over Egypt (2-2).
Holding a 4-2 early advantage on Italy, the USA women reeled off five consecutive points to open a 9-2 lead. Italy cut the gap to 9-5, but the Americans finished strong and scored nine-straight for the win. University of Notre Dame verbal commit Erin Boley (Elizabethtown H.S./Hodgenville, Ky.) led the USA’s scoring with nine points, and Notre Dame commit Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.) added seven points.
Jumping out to 5-0 lead versus Egypt, the USA’s long-range shooting was on target as the U.S. hit six 2-point bombs in the contest to pave the way to the 21-6 win. Ogunbowale drained four balls from beyond the arc and finished the game with nine points to lead the Americans’ balanced scoring. Boley added six points, Natalie Chou (Plano West Senior H.S./Plano, Texas) scored five, and 6-foot-4 University of California commit Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) scored one point while helping the U.S. control the glass and protect the basket.
“Definitely today was better than yesterday. I think I got the anxious nerves out and started getting more used to it,” said Boley, who tallied 15 points in Friday’s two games after scoring four points in the two games Thursday. “I think we’re making progress every game, we’re playing better together every game.
“Our balanced scoring is definitely going to be very beneficial for us. Everyone can score. Everyone is just equally as talented on the floor so I think it definitely helps because the defense can’t take away just one person or just one shooter. Everyone can shoot,” she added.
“We’re playing really tough defense. We’re doing a really good job of denying the post players the ball. We’re just doing a really good job of each of us taking care of our man.”
The U.S. women will conclude preliminary play Saturday versus Andorra (0-4) at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The top four finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round groups advance to the final round of 16 that is being contested on Saturday. Final 16 round winners advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday, and semifinals and finals are being conducted on Sunday as well.
“It’s been a great experience so far and I think it’s only going to continue to get better,” said Boley. “I’ve already learned a lot. I didn’t know what to expect coming into it, but it’s been great.”
The U.S. men opened the day with a heart-breaking 20-18 overtime loss to Argentina (3-1). In a game that saw the lead switch hands several times, the U.S. led 13-11 but Argentina roared back to take leads of 14-13 and 17-16. University of North Carolina verbal commit Jalek Felton (Mullins H.S./Mullins, S.C.) connected on his third shot from behind the line to give the USA an 18-17 lead with 1:07 left. However, Argentina tied the game six seconds later. Neither team scored in the game’s final 1:01 and the game went to overtime, where the first team to take a two-point advantage wins. After a U.S. turnover on its opening possession of OT, Argentina, with the shot clock about to expire, launched a deep 2-point attempt that found nothing but net, dooming the American men to the loss.
Felton, making his first appearance after sitting out the USA’s games on Thursday because of a sore knee, finished the contest with nine points, Payton Pritchard (West Linn H.S./West Linn, Ore.) was credited with five points, and P.J. Washington Jr. (Findlay College Prep/Frisco, Texas) recorded four points.
Owning a major height advantage on the team from Indonesia (0-4), the USA took advantage and quickly earned a 21-4 victory. Washington led the USA effort with seven points, Zach Collins (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) and Felton each accounted for five points, while Pritchard scored four points.
“We were all mad, we felt like we could have won that game,” said Washington of the overtime loss. “We can score; each of us can score. But our problem is just playing defense and giving up ones instead of twos.”
Washington Jr. stated that the loss did teach the USA team a few things.
“You learn you have to fight at all times and that you’d rather give up one-point shots than two-point shots.”
The USA men conclude preliminary play Saturday versus 4-0 Spain at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The importance of the team’s final preliminary round game wasn’t lost on Washington. “We just have to get a win. We want to get first in our pool so we can get the good seed.”
The top four finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round groups advance to the final round of 16 that is being contested on Saturday. Once there, its win or go home as only the winners keep their gold medal dreams alive.
“Those games get way more serious,” added Washington about the elimination games. “All we have to do is just play hard, give it our all, and I feel like we can win every game.”
The 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship features 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams from around the world.
“To represent our country is everything, it’s all we dream about when we’re young. I’m just thankful they picked me to play,” added Washington.
Athletes must be 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 for the weekend will be assorted skills contests, including a women’s skills session, men’s dunk contest and men’s and women’s shoot-out.