USA Women’s 3x3 World Cup Team Takes Down Defending Champ Russia, Finishes Preliminary Round 4-0
The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 World Cup Team (4-0) added a pair of wins Monday to finish preliminary round play owning a perfect 4-0 record at the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup in Manila, Philippines. The USA squad opened the day with a lopsided 22-9 win over Uganda, then facing 3-0 and defending 3x3 World Cup champ Russia (3-1), claimed an impressive 21-13 victory.
With Monday's two victories, the USA advances to the medal round quarterfinals as Group C's number one seed. The U.S. will play Group A's number two seed, Italy (3-1). The USA quarterfinal contest tips at 4:05 a.m. (EDT) on Tuesday. Watch all of the 3x3 action, including the men’s and women’s games and the skills contests, live online in the United States exclusively on ESPN3 and ESPN+.
“We’re going to have three games just like this one against Russia and in order for us to win each game we have to come out and play like we did in this last game and if we do that I don’t think there will be problem. But we’re just going to have to take it one game at a time and continue to get better each game,” said Ionescu about the USA advancing to the medal round.
The 2018 USA Women’s 3x3 World Cup Team is comprised of four University of Oregon basketball team members: Erin Boley (Oregon/Hodgenville, Ky.); Otiona Gildon(Oregon/Spokane, Wash.); Ruthy Hebard (Oregon/Fairbanks, Alaska); and Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon/Walnut Creek, Calif.). The foursome won the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 National Championship in April to earn the opportunity to play for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup title.
The final game of preliminary play featured the premiere match-up of Group C’ as the two undefeated teams, the U.S. and Russia, met. USA 5-foot-11 guard Ionescu was unstoppable and accounted for 11 points, while Boley and Gildon each added four points and Hebard tossed in two points.
“We were nervous, we knew it was going to be a big game but I think we came out and played the best we have in the pool play so far,” said Ionescu, who will be a junior at Oregon in the fall. “Everyone played well and that just kind of sparked us all. You know Oti (Gildon) and Ruthie (Hebard) playing big inside, then Erin (Boley) hitting her shots, and I think that gave us all confidence and a better flow to the game.
“Our scoring balance is very important. The fact that we have three strong guards slash post players, it’s just hard to guard. Erin (Boley) can be a load inside but her shot is just something that people are going to have to honor and step out on and I think that helps me getting to the basket and opens up the floor a lot. And then Ruthie (Hebard) and Oti (Gildon) are just playing incredible down low and using their size and strength to get put backs and get strong post moves ,and I think we’re just continuing to get better every game.”
Russia opened the game’s scoring, but the USA countered as Hebard scored and Ionescu, in a hint of what was to come, nailed a two-pointer to help the USA to a 3-1 lead. Boley scored a point , Gildon scored two and with 6:55 to play the Americans had opened up a 6-3 lead.
Russia ripped off four consecutive points to grab a 7-6 advantage, but Ionescu scored off an offensive rebound to even the game at 7 with 5:38 to go. A Gilden bucket made it 8-7, and Ionescu scored the USA’s next five points as the U.S. expanded its advantage to 13-9. Leading 17-11, Ionescu scored and was fouled on the play, and because Russia was over the foul limit, she got two free throws and after making both, the USA was on the verge of the victory, leading 20-11. Gildon scored inside with 1:52 remaining to give the USA the 21-13 win.
“I think we played great defense. We contested all their shots. We knew what we had to do and we stuck to the game plan defensively,” stated Ionescu. “We knew defense was going to win this game, I think we knew offensively we were younger and a little bit quicker than they were, but we knew defensively they were going to be strong and we had to impose our will defensively in order to gain momentum offensively and I think we did that.”
In the USA’s first game of the day, the USA and Uganda battled evenly for the first 2:47 of the game, but the USA found its stride and went on to stake claim on a convincing 22-9 victory, a win that came with 2:21 left on the clock. Tied 6-6, the USA outscored the African nation 16-3 to blow the game wide open and take the win. Gildon pushed the U.S. out ahead 7-6 with a free throw, then behind two points from Hebard and a point from Ionescu, the U.S. expanded its led to 10-6 with 5:34 remaining and it was smooth sailing from there. Boley, draining three 2-point shots, and Hebard, each recorded seven points, Ionescu added five and Gildon tossed in three points.
In other Group C preliminary action, Russia slammed Iran 22-12, Iran (1-3) defeated Andorra 21-12 and Uganda (2-2) downed Andorra (0-4) 18-12.
Following the round-robin preliminary games, teams will be seeded, and the top two finishing teams from each pool will advance to the June 12 quarterfinals. Winning teams will advance to the semifinals, and the gold and bronze medal games will be held June 12.
The USA women won the event in 2012 and 2014, took bronze in 2016 and missed the event in 2017, when the FIBA 3x3 World Cup switched from an every-other-year format to an every-year format. The United States is 23-2 all-time in 3x3 World Cup play.
Twenty women’s national teams are competing in the fifth FIBA 3x3 World Cup, including: Andorra, Argentina, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, host Philippines, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, Uganda and United States.