USA Women Ready To Open Play In 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship
After 17 practices, an exhibition win against France and a thrilling scrimmage victory over Australia since beginning training camp on June 8, the 2016 USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team is on the eve of opening play in the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
The USA opens play in Group C against South Korea at 2:30 p.m. (all times listed are EDT) on June 22, followed by Czech Republic at 8:15 a.m. on June 24 and a final preliminary round game against Italy at 3 p.m. on June 25.
“One day away, it feels great,” said 5-foot-10 USA guard Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian/Little Rock, Ark.). “We’ve been preparing for weeks. The energy is high, because we have so much momentum going in.”
From Colorado Springs, Colorado, where trials and training camp began, the USA traveled to Anglet, France, where it played an exhibition game against France’s U17 national team and also traveled to nearby Biarritz, France, on the coast for some sightseeing.
After three days in France, the USA bused to Zaragoza, Spain, and on the first evening had the opportunity to visit the city center of Zaragoza, including the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar.
“It’s different. Everything is tinier, but it’s really pretty,” Williams said. “The people are very nice. I’m having a lot of fun.”
On the basketball court, the USA topped France 58-46 on June 18, and mounted an impressive comeback from down by 19 points to win its scrimmage against Australia 70-67.
“Mentally going in, we’ve been preparing, and I think we are well prepared. I think we have a really good chance. I think we are all on the same page,” said Williams.
“The team has improved a lot, especially after our scrimmage against Australia. I think we are coming closer every day.”
The USA squad includes 10 players who are playing in international competition for the first time, including Williams, who said the different FIBA rules and style of play is a non-issue.
“The rules are a little different, but it’s basically the same as it is in the U.S. I’m comfortable, so it’s easy now.”
What has been a challenge is figuring out the team’s dynamics, but not off the court, where the players have enjoyed hanging out together.
“The hardest part has been adjusting to my teammates on the court. Off the court, it’s easy. On the court, figuring out how everyone plays and things like that.”
Williams is without a doubt up to the task in front of her and motivated to be successful.
“I’ve worked so hard to play with USA on my chest, and I’m honored,” she said. “It’s very humbling, and I’m so blessed to be one of the 12 on the team.”
As for the USA’s opponent, Williams admits she knows nothing of the team from South Korea, except that the USA coaching staff of head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.) and assistants Dianne Lewis (Thomas Edison H.S., Va.) and Samantha Quigley (University of St. Francis, Ill.) will give the team a scouting report.“I am ready,” Williams said. “I am ready mentally and physically. We’ve been working so hard for this, and we are prepared.”
Follow Williams and the USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team on Twitter at twitter.com/usabasketball or #USABWU17, and watch the team during the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship at www.youtube.com/user/FIBAWorld