USA Women Power Past First Two Opponents in Youth Olympic Games Action
Steamrolling its first two 2018 Youth Olympic Games preliminary round opponents Monday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the USA offense was both impressive and balanced as the U.S. women posted a 21-9 victory over Venezuela (0-2) in the day’s first game, and followed that up with an equally dominating 21-8 win over Sri Lanka (1-1).
Although all four USA women's team members won gold earlier this summer at the FIBA U17 World Cup, the experience of representing the United States and wearing the red, white and blue uniform isn't getting old.
"It’s always a huge thing, it kind of gets me shell-shocked a little bit sometimes (to realize) that I’m out here in Buenos Aires, wearing USA across my chest, it’s really unexplainable,” said (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.). "Once you’re in the game your obviously focusing on the game, but just seeing before where you’re at, all the crowds, all the people, it’s just amazing."
Opening the 2018 Youth Olympic Games competition against Venezuela, Venezuela hung with the USA for the game’s first two minutes before the American women put their foot to the gas pedal and roared to the 21-9 victory.
Tied 5-5 two minutes into the game, the USA, getting points from all four team members, went on a 9-1 scoring spree to take a commanding 14-6 lead with 5:35 remaining.
Owning a 14-7 advantage, the USA closed strong and behind four points from (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI) cruised in for the 21-7 win with 3:23 to play in the 10 minute game. Boston finished the contest with seven points and six rebounds, (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.) and (Cashmere High School/Wenatchee, Wash.) each added six points, while (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.) recorded two points and a game-best five assists.
"We didn’t know what the teams were about, we didn’t know much about them at all," said Bueckers on her team's game planning headed into the opening day of games. "So we went into the game knowing that we had to play our best game, just worry about ourselves."
Much like the USA’s opening game, Sri Lanka came out flying and with 8:21 left to play actually held a 6-5 lead. Brunelle scored in the paint to tie the score 6-6 and that was the start of 14 straight points by the U.S. as it took full control, 19-6. Boston scored the USA’s final two points and the U.S. posted a 21-8 victory with 4:45 remining on the clock.
Brunelle paced the USA offensive effort with nine points, Boston accounted for six points and was credited with six assists, Bueckers added five points and Van Lith had one point and four assists.
"We played smaller teams today, so it was pretty much get it out past the line where you have to check it back to and then get it right back in. As fast as you can score it, that’s how fast you want to play," said Bueckers. "We’re not worried about who scores, it’s all about who has the mismatch that game, if they’re small or tall, it can vary who scores.
"Defensively everyone is trying to guard everyone, we’re switching everything pretty much and everybody needs to guard everybody. We’re playing physical because they let us play so playing physical and not letting them get easy baskets and forcing them off of the two," added Bueckers.
The USA women will complete preliminary round play Friday, Oct. 12, meeting Egypt (0-2) at 9:30 a.m. (EDT) and Ukraine (2-0) at 11:30 a.m. (EDT). Watch the action live at .
What will the USA game plan be for the last two preliminary round games?
"Play physical," admitted Bueckers. "We’re a pretty strong team and that’s one of our strong suits, just playing physical. They let a lot stuff go that they wouldn’t let go in the U.S. Then just executing our offense, executing what we have on defense and just playing our game and we’ll get pretty far, hopefully we’ll get the gold."
In other Group B preliminary round play Monday, Ukraine record a pair of wins, downing Venezuela 22-11 and defeating Egypt (0-2) 21-6; and Sri Lanka edged Egypt 17-15.
"It’s really cool," said Bueckers of her experience representing the United States at the Youth Olympic Games. "The Olympic village we’re staying in is like a mini college campus. Each country has its own part of the building that you stay in. The dining hall where everyone goes to eat is really cool.
And for the setting of the 3x3 games, Bueckers said: "It’s different. The Argentina home crowd is really loud and there’s a lot of people who come to watch the games. The outside environment kind of makes it even louder and definitely hotter, it’s pretty hot out there."
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 event will have representation from 206 different countries in 28 sports, including 3x3 basketball.
The basketball competition at the Youth Olympic Games is organized by the IOC and FIBA. The 2018 Games will include 20 men’s teams and 20 women’s teams, as well as a dunk contest for men and a shoot-out contest for women.
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 p.m. EDT), and the semifinal losers will battle for the bronze medal that same day (12 p.m. EDT).
The USA women have competed in both prior editions of the Summer Youth Olympic Games and own a 19-1 record overall, and have captured gold at in 2014 and bronze in 2010. , , and teamed up on the 2010 squad, while the 2014 USA team was comprised of , , and .