USA Men Bow Out of FIBA 3x3 U23 World Cup After Preliminary Play
The USA men (0-4) put up a good fight, but in the end fell to Kazakhstan (1-3) 21-18 and China (4-0) 21-15 to close out Group B preliminary play at the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U23 World Cup on Friday evening in Lanzhou, China. With only the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinal round, the USA’s play in the FIBA 3x3 U23 World Cup has concluded.
Ronald Fairrow III (Point Park University/Pickerington, Ohio), David Payne (Cleveland State University/Chicago, Ill.), Mark Shehady (Point Park University/Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Juwan Willis (Point Park University/Swissvale, Pa.) represented the USA in China.
“There were two tough games,” said Payne, who averaged a USA high 5.5 points over the team’s four games. “I thought they were winnable for us, but I’m proud of how all my teammates competed. We all went out there, we played with our hearts, we played together, and we didn’t back down from any of the competition. They were hard-fought games, and we competed hard.”
The USA opened the day against Kazakhstan and went up 6-1 in the opening minutes. However, the Kazakhs fought back and took a 9-8 lead midway through the game. The USA tallied a 4-0 run with a pair of drives by Sheady and a 2-pointer from Willis to retake the lead 12-9. Kazakhstan responded and went ahead 17-14 with a little more than a minute remaining. A pair of long balls by the U.S. gave the squad its final lead, 18-17, but the Americans were unable to connect after that and Kazakhstan closed the game out on a 4-0 run. Willis scored a team-high seven points in the loss.
Facing undefeated China in front of a packed arena cheering for the hosts, the USA fell behind early and trailed 8-1 after 2:30 of play. The U.S. began to match China’s buckets, but the gap was too much to overcome and the Americans finished out their 3x3 U23 World Cup experience with the 21-15 loss. Shehady scored seven points and Payne had five.
“This was a great experience,” added Payne. “It was an honor to be able to represent our country at an event like this. All these teams coming together, we were all out here, competing and having fun together. What I can take from this experience is just knowing I need to keep working, and to remember that this is a privilege. A lot of people want to be in this spot, but we were the ones who were chosen to represent our country. It’s an honor to me to be able to say we came out here and did that.”
The top two finishing teams from each pool advanced to the Oct. 6 quarterfinals, in which Russia (4-0) will play Italy (3-1), Serbia (4-0) will play Latvia (3-1), China will face Netherlands (3-1) and Ukraine (3-1) meets Argentina (3-1). The semifinals and championship game also will be played on Oct. 6.
Traveling as the team advisor is Joe Lewandowski, the head men’s basketball coach at Park Point University and a USA Basketball 3x3 regional coordinator.
One previous FIBA 3x3 U23 World Cup was held in 2018, however, the USA did not participate. Russia claimed the 2018 FIBA Men’s 3x3 World Cup title with a 7-0 record, Latvia finished second and Hungary placed third.