USA Men Advance into Quarterfinals at FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament
The USA men (3-1) topped Kazakhstan (0-4) 22-19 and fell to Belgium (3-1) 20-16 to close out pool play at the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament on May 29 in Graz, Austria, and in spite of the loss, the USA emerged as Pool B’s No. 1 seed and will take on Netherlands (2-2), the No. 2 seed from Pool D, in the quarterfinals at 9:40 a.m. EDT on May 30. The event is live at FIBA’s 3x3 You Tube Channel.
Finishing preliminary play in a three-way tie with Belgium and Lithuania (3-1) in Pool B, the USA scored the 16 points it needed against Belgium to break the tie in its favor. Lithuania, which the USA defeated 21-20 on May 27, finished as the No. 2 seed from Pool B.
“The loss doesn’t sit well with us, but it was a learning experience, and now we got to come back better tomorrow,” said Dominique Jones (Fort Hays State/Harlem, N.Y.).
On May 30, the quarterfinal winners will advance to the semifinals, and the two winning semifinal men’s teams will earn a berth into the inaugural Olympic 3x3 competition. The two losing semifinal teams will play for third place, and the winner will earn the final men’s Olympic bid.
What started out as a game the USA had in hand saw Kazakhstan come back from 20-13 to make it 20-19 before the USA sealed the 22-19 win with a 2-pointer from Robbie Hummel (Purdue/Valparaiso, Ind.) at 1:08.
“It was strange in the first game, because we got to 20 points, and with points being so important, we wanted to get to 22,” Hummel said. “So, we launched a few 2s that didn’t go in, but we were able to knock one down to win the game.”
The USA led 4-0 to start the game and was ahead 20-13 at 3:30 before Kazakhstan started to climb back, making six 2-pointers in the game. The USA struggled to make shots down the stretch as it looked for a score from deep to earn a 22-point win, but Jones dished to Hummel for a 2-pointer at 1:08 to complete the 22-19 U.S. win.
Hummel and Joey King (Minnesota/Eagan, Minn.) each had seven points in the game, Kareem Maddox (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.) had five and Jones had three.
The USA entered the game against Belgium knowing it would need to score 16 points to secure its advancement to the quarterfinals, and the USA did just that in a tight loss to Belgium that featured 11 tied scores.
A made 2-pointer gave Belgium a 12-11 edge at 2:58, but the USA responded with scores from Jones, King and Maddox to go ahead 14-12. Belgium put together two 2s and swung back in front 16-14. King pulled the USA back to 16-16, but Belgium again had an answer and made two more 2s to earn the win 20-16 as time ran out.
“Belgium was tough,” Hummel said. “They had only lost to Lithuania by one point in their first game. I think we got a bit fatigued, but we were able to score enough points to get the No. 1 seed in our group, and that was one of our goals.
“We had a tough group. We are excited to move forward and get started tomorrow in the quarterfinals.”
The three other men’s quarterfinals on May 30 will feature Poland (3-1) – Slovenia (2-2) at 7:35 a.m. (all times are EDT); D1 – Lithuania at 8 a.m.; and France (4-0) – Brazil (3-1) at 10:05 a.m.
The men’s semifinals are at 12:45 p.m. and 1:10 p.m., and the third-place game is at 3 p.m.
“We are feeling good,” Jones said of the team. “We got to put this loss in a box and just fight forward. That’s what we want, is a chance on that final day to get to our ultimate goal. We are just going to take it one game at a time and do what we can do.”
3x3 basketball is played with a 12-second shot clock on a half court. Baskets inside the arc and free throws are worth one point, and baskets made from outside the arc are worth two points. The winner is the first team to score 21 points, or the leading team at the end of the 10-minute game clock.