Winners Named At USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournaments
Ariel Slow & Steady (7-1) went down to the wire in the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 National Tournament title game against Harlem (6-2) and pulled out a 22-19 victory for the gold medal, while the University of Washington Huskies (6-1) outscored the University of Oregon Ducks (5-2) 20-17 to take the USA Women’s 3x3 National Tournament crown on Sunday afternoon at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A trip to France was on the line in the men’s open division final as the winner would have the opportunity to represent USA Basketball at the 2017 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, held June 17-21 in Nantes. With a chance to go to the 3x3 World Cup on the line, and Ariel ahead 20-19, tournament MVP Daniel Mavraides (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.) drained a 2-pointer to seal the win and punch his team’s ticket to France.
Rounding out the Arial squad, which was named as the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s 3x3 World Cup Team, are Zahir Carrington (Lehigh/Philadelphia, Pa.), Damon Huffman (Brown/Petosky, Mich.) and Craig Moore (Northwestern/Doylestown, Pa.).
“The competition was very tough from yesterday all the way through the final shot,” said Mavraides. “We stuck to our guns and played through all the adversity. At the end of the day, we made shots, which is fortunate. It doesn’t always happen that way, but we stayed focused and they went in.”
Ariel finished preliminary play as the second seeded team out of Pool H to earn a direct entry to the quarterfinals where it took down TNT (4-3) 21-12 before clipping 3BALL Select (5-2) in the semifinals.
This is the second time that an Ariel team has won the USA 3x3 National Tournament, and Moore was on the team that advanced to compete in the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Cup.
“It was a lot harder this time,” said Moore. “This tournament is unbelievable. The competition has gotten better and better. There are NBA players playing in it now, NBA Development League players, European all-stars. It’s awesome. It’s a great tournament, and I love playing with my guys.”
The women’s game also was close throughout until the Huskies exacted a bit of revenge (Oregon upset Washington in the 2017 Pacific-12 Conference Tournament with a pair of free throws from Lexi Bando (Oregon/Eugene, Ore.) with 6.9 seconds to play that put the Ducks up 70-69).
“We do know their style because we played them in conference,” said women’s MVP Natalie Romeo (Martinez, Calif.), who won a bronze medal at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Championship. “We know Bando is a straight shooter – and we know she can do a lot of other stuff, too, but she’s a really good shooter, so we tried to stay with her. And, Ruthy [Hebard] is a really good post, so we matched her up and tried to keep her out of the post.”
Also competing for Washington were freshmen Mai-Loni Henson (San Diego, Calif.) and Amber Melgoza (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and sophomore Deja Strother (Kenmore, Wash.).
Washington, which was first in its pool ahead of the No. 2 Ducks, defeated Ariel Investments (1-3) in the quarterfinal game and overwhelmed an undermanned University of California (4-2) team 21-6 in the semifinals.
Cal’s Kristine Anigwe (Phoenix, Ariz.) did not compete in her team’s semifinal game after being elbowed in the face in the quarterfinals.
“It was a great opportunity for us,” said Henson. “We were really excited to be here to represent the Pac-12 and Washington, and ourselves, overall. It was just about trying to work together. We don’t’ have a coach, so it was about trying to work together, and on our own as we tried to grind and figure it out.”
Under FIBA’s 3x3 rules, each game consists of one, 10-minute period. The team leading after completion of regular playing time, or the first team to score 21 points is declared the winner. If the game ends in a tie, the first team to score two points in overtime earns the victory. Shots made outside the arc are awarded two points, shots made inside the arc are awarded one point and each made free throw is worth one point. Additionally, a 12-second shot clock is utilized.
This year marks the sixth annual USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, which was first held in 2012. Last year’s champions in the men’s tournament, 3Ball Premier, made history at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup after capturing the silver medal – marking the USA’s first medal of any kind at the men’s tournament – while the women’s team, Defend, claimed the bronze medal.
As part of a pilot program to help increase the number of women competing in 3x3, USA Basketball invited teams from the Pacific-12 Conference to participate in the tournament.
FIBA 3x3 World Cup
The third FIBA 3x3 World Cup, an event launched in 2012 and scheduled to be held every other year, is now an annual event and is expected to feature 20 men's teams and 20 women's teams in 2017. In addition to the men’s and women’s 3x3 tournaments, included in the 2017 3x3 World Championship program will be skills contests, giving athletes chances to win additional medals.
In addition to host France, nations qualified to compete in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup for Men 2017 are: Andorra, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, USA and Uruguay.
The USA men 3x3 teams have compiled a 13-7 overall record and claimed the silver medal, its first podium finish at the 2016 3x3 Worlds.
The 2012 USA 3x3 team included Adetayo Adesanya, Ira Brown, Tyree Hardge and Allen DuBois Williams; the 2014 team was comprised of Mack Darrow, Demetrius Miller, Moore and Jitim Young; and the 2016 featured Stefhon Hannah, Myke Henry, Kavon Lytch and Alfonzo McKinnie.