USA Basketball Men Claim Silver, Women Take Bronze At FIBA 3x3 World Championship
-- Alfonzo McKinnie, Natalie Romeo Claim Individual Medals In Skills Contests --
The 2016 USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 World Championship Team (6-1) captured an historic silver medal, and the USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 World Championship Team (5-2) closed out the competition with a win and the bronze medal at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Guangzhou, China. The silver marked the first medal of any type for the USA men in three FIBA 3x3 World Championships, while the USA women have now captured a medal in all three editions of the event after earning gold in 2012 and 2014.
Additionally, Alfonzo McKinnie (Green Bay/Chicago, Ill.) earned a silver medal in the dunk contest, and Natalie Romeo (Washington/Martinez, Calif.) earned the bronze medal in the shoot-out contest.
The USA men edged Qatar (3-2) 12-11 in the quarterfinals and went down to the wire against Slovenia (6-1) before earning a 17-15 semifinal victory. However, its run for gold was stopped short by Serbia (7-0), 21-16 in the final game.
In the women’s tournament, the USA sailed past Argentina 17-5 in the quarterfinals before falling to the Czech Republic 21-18 in its semifinal contest. However, the American women came back strong and exacted a bit of revenge against Spain (4-3), which defeated the USA 21-16 in the preliminary round, to earn a 20-14 bronze medal victory.
Slovenia defeated Spain (5-2) 17-16 in the men’s bronze medal game, and Czech Republic (6-1) downed Ukraine (5-2) 21-11 for the women’s gold medal.
“It’s not what we wanted, but at least we placed second,” said the USA men’s leading scorer Myke Henry (DePaul/Chicago, Ill.), who had 50 points in seven games. “Serbia played real hard, they played really well, so they deserve the gold medal. We wanted the gold but it’s still an accomplishment for the USA to finish with the silver medal.”
“This is very special, to be the first medal that the U.S. got, I feel honored to be a part of the team that was able to do bring a medal back for the first time,” said McKennie.
In addition to Henry and McKinnie, the USA men’s team featured Stefhon Hannah (Missouri/Chicago, Ill.) and Kavon Lytch (Oklahoma City University/Brooklyn, N.Y.).
“It was very important for us to win that last game,” said Alexis Jennings (South Carolina/Madison, Ala.), who scored a women’s tournament third-best 46 points over the USA’s seven games. “We felt like as long as we went out and did our best, gave it our all, we felt like we’d be fine. We just wanted to get a medal for our country.”
Also competing on the USA women’s team were Linnae Harper (Ohio State/Chicago, Ill.) and Chatrice White (Florida State/Shelby, Neb.).
“It’s all about being tough,” said Harper of the bronze medal victory. “We worked so hard coming into this tournament, we stayed together, we stayed as a family and we just stayed tough. We fought throughout the whole entire tournament, and I’m just happy we won. It’s a learning experience. (I give) credit to Spain, they’re a very tough team, very talented, but it was all about revenge. We lost two games in the tournament, so we wanted to reward ourselves and get that bronze.”
Ukraine’s Dymitro Krivenko took gold in the men’s dunk contest and Italy’s Marco Favretto earned bronze.
“I actually entered the dunk contest just to have a little fun,” stated McKennie. “Then I actually completed a few dunks and the crowd gave it a good reception. I got further than I expected, but I had fun doing it.”
The shootout, a mixed competition, was won by Romania’s Angel Santana and the silver medal was earned by Spain’s Paula Palomares, the tournament’s fourth-leading scorer (45 points).
“It was a really awesome experience,” said Romeo on winning the Shoot Out bronze medal. “I’m really happy to have that opportunity and I just tried to do my best. I would have loved to have the gold, but I’m super happy for what I have.”
Hungary’s Alexandra Theodorean earned gold, Romania’s Marta Fodor clinched silver and New Zealand’s Georgia Agnew finished with the bronze medal in the women’s skills competition.
As is expected whenever the USA faces Serbia on the court, the men’s gold medal game was a tough battle. The teams went back and forth for about the first six minutes of play until Dusan Bulut banked in a 2-pointer to break open a tied game, 15-13, at 4:12. That sparked a 5-0 run from which the U.S. would never recover. McKennie drove to the basket to halt the run, but that was countered by a Serbian point at 3:12 to bring the score to 19-14. Hannah drained a 2-pointer eight seconds later, but Bulut, the tournament’s leading scorer (58 points) iced the win with Serbia’s fifth 2 of the game to give his team the gold.
The semifinal against Slovenia was a tight affair that saw five lead changes and three tied scores. The USA struck first and went up 10-9, but Slovenia connected on two 2s for a 13-10 advantage. Up 14-12, Slovenia went 0-of-4 from the line, while Henry scored on two buckets and a free throw that put the U.S. on top for good, 15-14, with 1:40 to play. Hannah then had back-to-back baskets to cap a 5-0 run that gave the USA a comfortable 17-14 lead with 15 remaining.
After spotting Qatar a 3-0 lead in the quarterfinals, McKinnie slammed home an offensive board to spark a 3-0 run that tied the game at 7:56. The lead flip-flopped twice and with 5:32 to play Qatar evened it up at 7-all. After a 4-0 spurt, it looked as if the USA, up 11-7 at 2:46, was starting to pull away. However, Qatar scored a 2-pointer and a bucket inside to draw to 11-10. The U.S. followed that by committing its seventh foul at 1:37, sending Qatar to the line for two attempts and a chance to take a lead. The opponent made just one of two tries to knot the score at 11-11. Henry put up the game’s final point with 1:12 still to play. Neither team managed to net a bucket the remainder of the game and the U.S. claimed the quarterfinal victory.
“It was a great event,” added McKennie. “Just being in China, there were a lot of great teams, great staff members. As far as our team, we just wanted to go out and play with a purpose, go out and defend and play smart. We did that for the most part. That last game we just slipped up a little bit and had a few breakdowns. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the experience that we had.”
In the women’s bronze medal game, the USA jumped to a 3-0 lead, but Spain worked its way to a 6-5 edge and the lead changed hands again before Spain went back in front 12-11 with 3:02 to on the clock. That’s when Romeo came alive. She scored six of her team-high nine points in an 8-0 run to give the USA a comfortable 19-13 advantage with 1:21 on the clock. Spain scored from the line at 1:09, but after a Harper put-back, neither team managed to score in the final minute and the USA came away with the 20-13 victory.
“My teammates are really good about telling me to keep shooting it and finding me when I was open,” said Romeo of her shooting in the bronze medal game. I kind of let it flow and I got a rhythm. My teammates were helping a lot with that, too.”
The women’s semifinal game against the Czech Republic was hotly contested from the start. After the Czechs took a 6-2 lead, the USA stormed back to move ahead 9-8 on a Romeo 2-pointer with 4:48 to play. The Czechs reclaimed the lead on a 4-0 run and with 2:33 to play, the Europeans were up 16-13. Countering with five consecutive points, three from Harper and two from Romeo, the U.S. took its final lead of the game, 18-16, at 1:52. After a Czech put-back, the USA committed its seventh foul and Czech Republic took the lead for good after swishing in both tries with 41 seconds left. Jennings was sent to the line for two attempts at :33, but could not convert either tries. Two seconds later, two-time Olympian and eventual tournament MVP Michaela Uhrová dashed the USA’s gold medal hopes with a 2-pointer to seal the win for her side, 21-18.
“We fought as hard as we could,” said Jennings of the USA’s semifinal loss. “We felt that we gave it our very best effort, so at the end of the day as long as we’re giving our best effort, that’s all we can do.”
The women broke open an early 1-1 tie against Argentina in the quarterfinal, getting four points from Jennings in an 8-0 run that virtually put the game away, 9-1, at 4:48. After an Argentina point, the USA outscored Argentina 7-1 to take a 16-3 advantage with 1:54 to play and cruised in for the win to advance to the semifinals.
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 have now medaled in all three editions and have a 23-2 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 finished as high as seventh in 2012 and captured the USA’s first medal of any color and upped its overall record to 13-7.
Nations participating in the men’s competition were: 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 included: 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.