2020 USA E-National Team Well Prepared and Ready for FIBA Esports Open II
The inaugural USA Basketball E-National Team was selected on Nov. 9 and has been practicing and scrimmaging at least five days a week since then.
Defeating Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain, Guatemala and Italy in friendlies, the only team to down the USA was Spain. On Dec. 15, Spain took two games in the best-of-five series. However, sometimes a loss is good for a team to refocus, which is just what the Americans did and capped their training Friday evening with three-straight victories over Spain, putting an exclamation point on training camp.
Ending training on a high note was important for the team that will tip-off the FIBA Esports Open II in the North and Central America Conference in less than 24 hours.
“Our games against Spain today were great,” said 76ers GT head coach Jeff Terrell, who has been working with the USA squad. “Being able to go through some in-game adversity and propel through and win games is a true testament of how far we have come as a collective unit. I am extremely proud of this team and excited for them to display their hard work in the tournament this weekend.”
The U.S. opens against Puerto Rico at 12:55 p.m. (all times EST), followed by Honduras at 2:05 p.m., Canada at 3:20 p.m., Dominican Republic at 6 p.m. and Guatemala at 7:45 p.m. The squad will close out round-robin play against Costa Rica on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 4:05 p.m. Following the preliminary round, the top two finishing teams advance to the best-of-three finals, which begin at 6:40 p.m.
“Everybody’s from different teams, and everyone has different viewpoints,” said Spencer “Ria” Wyman, a center for Jazz Gaming, who has enjoyed training camp. “It’s good putting all those heads together. You’ve got seven different heads working as a cohesive unit. Everyone’s on the same level in terms of how smart they are with 2K and everything, so it makes for a really good environment. It’s really scary to see how good you can get playing with these people around you.”
Being together, albeit virtually, over the past month has made the seven team members grow into a cohesive unit, something not lost on Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey. “I definitely saw us getting better, and I don’t see anybody stopping us,” he said.
As with all USA Basketball teams, the singular goal is to win the championship, and Terrell believes the team has what it takes to do just that.
“For us to win gold we have to stay true to the core values that we have built this past month of training -- communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride,” said Terrell. “If we play as a fist, we will be a hard team to beat. We all are excited and ready to represent our country.”
In addition to Kenny Got Work and Ria, the USA Basketball E-National Team includes Wendi “ALittleLady87” Fleming, Rafel “Crush” Davis, John “JBM” Mascone, Malik “OriginalMalik” Hobson and Ramo “Ramo” Radoncic.