USA Men Finish 1-1 On First Day of Youth Olympic Games
The USA Men’s 3x3 Youth Olympic Games Team finished its first day of competition at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games on Oct. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a 1-1 record after falling to Russia (2-0) 18-16 in a down-to-the-wire game and then narrowing edging Mongolia (0-2) 21-19.
The loss to Russia was a back-and-forth battle that was not decided until time expired.
Russia led 7-5, and following back-to-back baskets from Dudley Blackwell (Westminster Academy /Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) the game was tied at 7. The contest remained a tight affair, and guard Carson McCorkle (Greensboro Day School/Greensboro, N.C.) nailed a 2-point basket to lift the Americans out in front 13-11. Russia responded with 7-1 scoring run to grab control 18-14 with just 27 seconds remaining in the 10-minute game.
McCorkle hit his third 2-point basket of the game to pull the USA within two, 18-16, and following a defensive stop by the Americans and with time running out, McCorkle missed a desperation game-tying 2-pointer. McCorkle finished with seven points, Blackwell added five points, Patrick McCaffery (West H.S./Iowa City, Iowa) contributed three points and Jyare Davis (Sanford School /Hockessin, Del.) accounted for one point.
McCaffery noted that the USA’s first game was a learning experience for the American team, which has limited 3x3 experience.
“We definitely learned a lot on the defensive end for sure, and then on the offensive end Russia was really physical, so we had to just figure that out and learn how to combat that and be able to use that on the defensive end for our advantage.
“We learned a lot of stuff on defense, like guarding screens is really important and making sure we don’t give up a lot of wide-open 2s, because that’s a really valuable shot in this game, and making sure we don’t take any possessions off and we’re always focused.”
Facing Mongolia two hours later in the day’s second preliminary round game, it was another test for the USA men, but this time the U.S. came out on top 21-19.
Trailing 8-6 after Mongolia made three 2-point shots in the game’s first 2:30, the USA’s 6-foot-7 McCaffery went to work and scored three straight points and McCorkle added a basket as the USA pulled ahead 10-8.
The game continue to see-saw back and forth, and with 2:32 remaining, Mongolia hit its fifth 2-pointer of the game to take an 18-16 lead. With 2:25 showing on the clock, McCorkle scored and was fouled, and after sinking the free throw to complete the two-point play, the contest was once again tied 18-18.
McCaffery pushed the USA in front 19-18 with a free throw with 1:53 to play, but Mongolia scored 10 seconds later to once again even the score. McCaffery again responded to put the U.S. up 20-19 with 1:33 to play. The USA captured the win when McCorkle made a steal and was fouled. With Mongolia in the bonus, McCorkle stepped to the line for two free throws, and after missing the first, swished the second to earn the USA the 21-19 win with 1:19 left on the clock.
“I got confidence in my guy. I knew he was going to make it,” said McCraffery of McCorkle’s game-winning free throw. “He’s a really good shooter, and I knew he was going make one of the two, so I knew as soon as he went to the line and that he had two free throws that the game was in the bag.”
McCaffery paced the USA’s scoring in the win with nine points, McCorkle added seven points and Blackwell was credited with five points and added eight rebounds.
With the USA’s next games not coming until Thursday, McCaffery noted the team has time to work on some things.
“We need to work on moving on offense, just moving the ball and working together more offensively and defensive as a unit,” McCaffery said. "We need to come together more as a group and try to always be on the same page because sometimes we just kind of switch and just think that one can read the other’s mind. We just need to make sure we communicate and everything like that. Just come together more as a unit, because that will help us on offense and defense."
In other preliminary round play Sunday, host Argentina went 2-0, defeating Estonia 22-19 and upending Russia 21-14, and Estonia earned a 22-13 win over Mongolia.
The men will complete preliminary round play Thursday, Oct. 11, going against Estonia (1-1) at 10:30 a.m. (EDT) and Argentina (2-0) at 1:30 p.m. (EDT). Watch the action live at https://www.youtube.com/olympics.
“The opening ceremonies (held Saturday night) we’re really cool,” added McCaffery. “There were a lot of bright lights, they shut down the whole city for it. There were people watching from buildings, it was really cool, a really neat experience. We were with all the other United States athletes, so being with them and being able to interact with a lot of other high-level athletes is a really neat experience.”
The 3x3 basketball environment has also been a new experience for the four USA men’s team members.
“It’s definitely an exciting environment. It’s outside, there’s like a tent over us, but it’s still outside, so that’s really cool because you don’t get to play a whole bunch of games outside anymore,” said McCaffery. “The court, it’s like a plastic sport court, it’s not like hardwood like we’re used to.
“The crowd really likes the United States. We didn’t even play that well today and there were still lines of people coming to take pictures. There were a lot of people who came to watch us play, and there’s a lot of energy. Whenever anybody comes to something like this everybody kind of goes crazy and they’re just really passionate about the game here and are really into it.”
A multi-sport event, the Summer Youth Olympic Games are being held Oct. 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the basketball competition will be played under FIBA 3x3 rules. It is anticipated that the 2018 Youth Olympic Games will have representation from 206 different countries in 28 sports, including 3x3 basketball.
The top two finishing teams from each of the Youth Olympic Games’ four preliminary round groups will advance to the quarterfinals on Oct. 16, where A1 will play C2, B1 will play D2, C1 will play A2 and D1 will play B2.
The quarterfinal winners will play in the semifinals on Oct. 17. The semifinal winners will compete in the gold medal game on Oct. 17 (1:30 p.m. EDT), and the semifinal losers will battle for the bronze medal that same day (12:30 p.m. EDT).
The USA men competed in the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games and finished in fourth place with a 5-2 record. That team was comprised of , , and . The USA did not qualify a men’s team for the 2014 YOG.