USA Women Defeat Hungary And Japan To Start FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup 2-0
The USA Women’s 3x3 U18 World Cup Team finished its first day of competition at the 2017 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup on June 29 in Chengdu, China, with a 2-0 record after fending off Hungary (0-2) 13-9 and downing Japan (1-1) 21-15.
“I think we just needed to get those first game jitters out,” said Destiny Littleton (The Bishop’s School/San Diego, Calif.). “With how physical that first game was, I think that shocked us. Of course coach [Kara] Lawson had talked to us about how physical the game is, but we didn’t really know until we played. But, we were down 4-0 and didn’t think anything of it. We just played our game.”
The USA trailed 4-0 out of the gate against Hungary before mounting a 7-1 run behind a pair of 2-pointers from Littleton and Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.). An Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s H.S./Sacramento, Calif.) 2-pointer with 3:34 to play gave the USA a three-point lead before a Williams buzzer-beater crept the margin to four points (11-7) with just under three minutes left. Janelle Bailey (Providence Day School/Matthews, N.C.) scored three buckets in the paint in the final three minutes to close the door on the game. Bailey was joined by Williams with four points apiece to pace USA scorers in the 13-9 victory.
Against Japan, the USA jumped out to a 5-0 advantage and never relinquished the lead. Japan narrowed the gap to 7-6 with seven minutes to play, but a quick burst behind two DeCosta and-1 conversions put the USA up 15-9. After Bailey went for four-consecutive scores down low, Littleton finished off the game with a left-handed layup with 45 seconds on the clock. DeCosta led the charge with eight points, while Bailey added seven points and Littleton finished with six. The USA overpowered Japan in the post, scoring 14 points in the paint in the 21-15 victory.
“We did well staying composed,” said Littleton. “That second game, we stuck to our strengths and played a lot more team ball. That helped us. We looked to our post play and Janelle scored well and that helped us a lot. We tried not to stray away from who we are.
“This was definitely important for our confidence going into Saturday,” Littleton added. “We still have to play two very good teams, so going into that 2-0 – I wouldn’t say the weight is off our shoulders, but we have a head start in our pool and for bracket play on Sunday.”
The USA will round out Group A preliminary round play against Australia (2-0) and Switzerland (0-2) on July 1.
The medal round, played in a knockout format, will be held July 2.
The top two finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will advance to the quarterfinals on July 2, where A1 will play D2, B1 will play C2, C1 will play B2 and D1 will play A2.
The quarterfinal winners will advance to the semifinals (5:15 a.m. EDT and 5:45 a.m. EDT). Semifinal winners will compete for the gold medal (8 a.m. EDT), while the semifinal losers will play for bronze (7 a.m. EDT).
Medals are also available in three skills contests, which feature a shoot-out contest for men and women, a skills contest for women and a dunk contest for men. DeCosta earned a spot in the semifinals of the skills contest with the second-fastest qualifying time of 27.72 seconds, and will compete in the semifinals at 5:25 a.m. EDT on July 1. Littleton will compete in the qualification stage of the shootout contest on July 1 at 7:10 a.m. EDT.
Now an annual event, the first FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup was held in 2011.
Including the two wins in the 2017 U18 3x3 competition, USA 3x3 Women’s World Cup Teams have compiled a 37-7 overall record, with two gold medals (2012, 2013) and two-consecutive silver medals (2015, 2016).