USA Basketball’s 3x3 World Championship Teams Finish Day One 4-0
The 2016 USA Basketball Men’s and Women’s 3x3 World Championship Teams finished the first day of competition at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Guangzhou, China, unscathed after each squad went 2-0.
The USA men topped Netherlands (1-1) 15-11 and Turkey (0-2) 20-12, while the USA women beat Italy (1-1) 21-14 and Japan (0-2) 21-12.
“I think we played alright,” said USA men’s guard Stefhon Hannah (Missouri/Chicago, Ill.). “I think we can play a lot better. We are still getting adjusted and working on our chemistry. What got us through the day was our defense. Our offense was just okay, but if we can play defense like we are doing, and then our offense kicks in, we’ll play much better.”
With the hot hand in the USA’s game against the Netherlands, Hannah scored the USA’s first six points on his way to 10 in the game. The Americans led 10-3 with 6:03 left, but Netherlands responded to make it 10-7 with 2:31 remaining. Two of Hannah’s four 2-point scores from behind the arc helped the USA go ahead 14-7. Myke Henry (DePaul/Chicago, Ill.) had three points in the game, and Alfonzo McKinnie (Green Bay/Chicago, Ill.) scored the USA’s final point from the line.
In a 20-12 win against Turkey (0-2), Henry led the USA in scoring with nine points, while Hannah added seven and McKinnie contributed four. The teams traded baskets before a 6-0 run gave the Americans a 10-5 advantage. Leading 14-10 with 1:56 remaining, the USA compiled a 5-0 spurt to go ahead 19-10 and secure the game’s momentum.
The USA men’s team also features Kavon Lytch (Oklahoma City University/Brooklyn, N.Y.).
The USA women opened with a win over Italy that saw Linnae Harper (Ohio State/Chicago, Ill.) lead the way with nine points. Alexis Jennings (South Carolina/Madison, Ala.) and Chatrice White (Florida State/Shelby, Neb.) each added five points, while Natalie Romeo (Washington/Martinez, Calif.) had two points. All four U.S. players were on the scoreboard in the first two minutes, and the USA worked its way to a 14-5 lead with 3:17 remaining. Italy put together a 6-0 run, however, to make it 14-11 with 2:15 on the clock. Jennings converted a two-point play to end the streak, and Harper scored the last three points from the free throw line, including the winning free throw with 10 seconds left.
“I feel like we came out and just put our foot on the pedal early,” said Jennings. “We kind of set the tone in the first game and let everybody know that we are here to compete. Italy was a very tough team, but at the end it came down to who wanted it the most, and we wanted it the most, so we got the win.”
In its second contest against Japan, the U.S. women took advantage of their size advantage, and forwards White and Jennings led the way with nine and eight points, respectively. Harper added four points as the USA earned the 21-12 win with 2:15 remaining on the clock.
“We knew Japan was shorter than us, so we figured we would go with what we are best at, and that’s back-to-the-basket,” Jennings explained. “Me and Chatrice, and even Linnae Harper – she can post up as well. So, having that versatility in our game helped us get some easy buckets.”
On Oct. 13, the USA men continue preliminary round play against Japan (2-0) at 3 a.m. (all times listed are EDT) and China (0-2) at 5:20 a.m.
“We watched a little bit of a China game, and we watched a little bit of a Japan game” said Hannah. “They are a little bit smaller than the teams we played today, the Netherlands and Turkey, so I think we will have to adjust to their quickness and attack the rim.”
The USA women continue preliminary round play on Oct. 13 against Taiwan (1-1) at 2:20 a.m. and Spain (1-1) at 5 a.m.
“We did get a chance to watch both of those teams today,” Jennings said. “They will be good matchups. We are going into it with a positive mindset.”
Also on Oct. 13, McKinnie will take part in the dunk contest qualifying round at 6:20 a.m., while Hannah and U.S. women’s team member Romeo will team up in the shoot-out qualifying round at 8:10 a.m.
Watch all of the action on Oct. 13, including the men’s and women’s games and the skills contests, live online at: http://bit.ly/2016FIBA3x3Day3
The top two teams from each of the four preliminary round pools advance to the Oct. 15 knockout round of quarterfinals. The semifinals and gold and bronze medal games also will be played on Oct. 15.
The USA 3x3 World Championship Teams earned the right to represent the USA at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Championship by virtue of winning the 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament on Aug. 27-28 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Championships feature a total of 40 teams from 30 different countries and every continent in Guangzhou, China.
2016 marks the first time the competition is being held in Asia. Previously, it has been in Athens, Greece (2012) and Moscow, Russia (2014). The event is held every other year in even numbered years.
The USA women won both prior championships and headed into 2016 with a perfect, 18-0 overall record in FIBA 3x3 World Championship play.
While Qatar’s men struck gold in 2014 and Serbia earned gold in 2012, the U.S. men are seeking their first medal. They begin the 2016 event with a 7-6 overall record.
Nations participating in the men’s competition are: Andorra, host China, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay and USA.
Nations playing on the women’s side include: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, host China, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine and USA.