USA U16 Women Ready for to Take the Court at FIBA Americas U16 Championship
The 12 athletes representing USA Basketball this week at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Puerto Aysen, Chile, have been on a journey since May 22, long before the official event will start.
The USA women open play in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship against Mexico at 6 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June, 16. All games will be streamed live on YouTube.com/FIBA.
But back on May 22, 146 hopefuls for the team began trials at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After three rounds of roster reductions, 18 finalists participated in a four-day training camp, and the team members were named on May 30. All of that before the first bag was packed for Chile.
The team trained for eight days at the USOTC and then departed on an approximately 26-hour trip to Puerto Aysen.
Two hours after arriving at its hotel, the team was on the court against Canada for a warm-up scrimmage, which the USA unofficially won 70-50.
“We definitely started off slow, coming off the plane and the bus ride, which should not be an excuse,” said Sonia Citron (The Ursuline School/Scarsdale, N.Y.). “Towards the end we warmed up and started playing as a team and playing together. This is like a second family, really, so we just got to do what we love together, which is awesome.”
For all eight countries in the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, the athletes cannot be older than 16 (born on or after Jan. 1, 2013) and many are 15 years old. For most of the U.S. players, this is their first trip out of the United States.
“Overall, it was definitely a new experience for me, with us being so young and how long the flight was,” said USA guard Londynn Jones (Santiago H.S./Riverside, Calif.). “It was really just a mentality, being strong, realizing this is what we came for and this is what we’ve worked for.”
Throughout training camp and travel, the athletes have bonded as a team, which is important, because they will only have had a dozen or so days together before their first game.
“It’s been really good,” said USA forward Timea Gardiner (Fremont H.S./Ogden, Utah) of the experience thus far. “It’s been really, really fun.
“Our team chemistry is very important, and all of it translates onto the court. So, the trust off the court, shows on the court when we play.”
The USA not only will be looking to defend its 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal, it also will need to secure a top four finish, because the top four teams at this event will qualify for the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup.
“We’ve been working for this for so long,” Citron said. “All our hard work is about to be tested, and we are just going to go after it. We are all really excited.”
Follow the USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team at @USABJNT.