USA U16 Women Anxious To Open 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship
The process for the 12 members of the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team began back on May 21 when they first tried out for the team as one of 149 athletes, so it should come as no surprise that now on June 23, one day before the team plays its first game, every one is anxious to take the court.
“I’m so excited,” said 6-foot-3 forward Jade Williams (Prestonwood Christian Academy/The Colony, Texas). “This is my first time ever playing internationally. I get to show other people from around the world what I’m about and play with my team in Puebla, Mexico – I had never even been to Mexico.”
The team began training camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 14, and practiced twice nearly every day before departing for the competition in Mexico on June 21.
And only one day after arriving, the USA wasted no time and took part in a clinic for members of the Mexico Special Olympics Team, alongside the Mexico Women’s U16 National Team.
“That was fabulous,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.). “I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it turned out really, really well. It was a great union of Mexico, the United States and the Special Olympics.”
During the clinic, the USA players took part in passing and dribbling drills and took dozens of pictures.
“I loved it,” said USA guard Destiny Littleton (The Bishop’s School/San Diego, Calif.). “It was fun, and they made my spirits go up. Helping somebody by doing what I love is probably the greatest thing ever.”
The USA went straight from the clinic to a nearby gym to take on Brazil and Canada for two quarters each of scrimmaging. Those scrimmages likely count among some of the USA’s most critical preparations due to the fact that the U16 age group is USA Basketball’s youngest, and everyone, players and coaches, will take part in their first international basketball game when they open against Argentina at 7 p.m. (EDT) on June 24.
“I think the way that we played this scrimmage was really good,” said the 5-foot-11 Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Blair Academy, N.J./Ossining, N.Y.). “The way we came out in our scrimmage against Brazil was excellent, and I’m just really happy at how we played overall.”
While unofficial, the USA won its two quarters against Brazil 39-26 and against Canada 33-23.
For 5-foot-10 guard Honesty Scott-Grayson (Blair Academy/Brick, N.J.), the scrimmages helped her understand what the USA will be up against in the tournament.
“We played well,” Scott-Grayson said. “We played well together as a team. Brazil and Canada are great teams. They are very aggressive, and to be able to play against that competition was a great opportunity.”
Certainly things will be different during the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, but the “preview” was just what Oldaker wanted to see.
“There is always room for improvement,” said Oldaker. “It was exactly what we needed – two good scrimmages, tough competition – and it give us room to grow.”
Watch all of the USA’s play in the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship live online at www.FIBAAmericas.com
USA-Argentina • June 24 @ 7 p.m. EDT
USA-Honduras • June 25 @ 3 p.m. EDT
USA-Mexico • June 26 @ 9 p.m. EDT
Semifinals • June 27 @ TBD
Finals • June 28 @ TBD