USA Women’s 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Team & USA National Team Meet on the Half Court
One USA Basketball training camp wrapped up while another kicked off on Tuesday in San Antonio, and the two met in between. Members of the USA Women’s 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Team competed for a final day as members of the USA National Team joined them on the court for a 3x3 tournament.
Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings) and Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), ended with a flourish, winning the 3x3 tournament with a last-second, game-winner. Without the fourth member of their team, Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm), who is playing for Spanish team Perfumerias Avenida, the squad is preparing for the May 26-30 FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where the USA will have its final chance to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games 3x3 competition. The top three finishing teams at the OQT will earn an Olympic berth.
Dolson was proud of the win and of the progress the team made over the past several days.
“It feels good to win,” Dolson said. “The tournament was great. Everyone played hard. I'm just glad we won.
“One hundred percent,” Dolson added when asked if the 3x3 OQT had gotten better. “We're learning how to play with one another. Our chemistry is building. We'll keep getting shots in and reps, and we’re looking forward to the qualifying tournament.”
Dolson, Gray and Plum also are members of the USA National Team and will continue training through April 2.
For the USA coaches, the 3x3 tournament was a fast-paced start that opened camp with some healthy competition.
“It's a game that I don't think I've really studied until recently, with it coming into the Olympics, but there are transitional things, both offensively and defensively, that you can learn a lot from,” said Dan Hughes, USA assistant coach and WNBA Seattle Storm head coach. “You can learn about priorities, you can learn about spacing, and there's an immediacy, because you’re attacking right away. There’s a strategy in transition defense, and you’re not running the floor and getting back. It’s immediate.
“It is so fast paced. All of a sudden you're coming out of scoring a basket, and you're spacing the floor. So, you're learning about match-up situations and where your priorities are in defending, but you're also learning offensively about how to attack, whether you're coming off a miss or off the make. It's an interesting study and it gives the players really a good break down situation both offensively and defensively. I think it was really good, because they feel engaged.”
For Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), it was a flashback to 2014, when she won a gold medal playing for USA Basketball at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup.
“It's a different game, for sure,” Loyd said. “I haven't been playing 3x3 for a while. It's nonstop basketball, it's back and forth and it takes a minute to get a rhythm and understand the rules. That’s a big factor. It was fun to kind of get back out there and warm up today with the 3x3 tournament.
“It gets your body moving. Most of us are tired, which is good. We're playing hard. We're competing. It gives us a good perspective on things, and I think it gets us tuned up for training camp.”
The tournament was the first 3x3 experience for Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm), who was happy to be back with USA Basketball, regardless of the discipline.
“It was definitely different, but I enjoyed it,” Canada said. “The game is different. The rules are different, but just to be back out here, it's just a great feeling. So, I'm glad to be a part of this.
“I like how fast it is. It's nonstop, and there's no stoppage within the game except for dead ball. What I don't like about it is, obviously, you get mismatches. So, sometimes I'm getting posted up by big posts. That's probably the only thing I didn’t like.
“It was a good start to camp. There’s a lot of great energy. Everybody's glad to be back. I'm glad to be back. I haven't been back in a while, so I just love the energy to start off practices.”
The focus will be all five-on-five for the next three days as the USA National Team looks ahead to the Tokyo Olympic Games, where it will be competing for a seventh-straight gold medal.