Day One in the Books for the 2021 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals
- 2021 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals Schedule: Men // Women
- 2021 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals Rosters: Men // Women
In a competitive first day of preliminary round games at the 2021 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals on Saturday, Harlem (2-0), Princeton (2-0), 3Ball Select (2-0) 3BALL Chicago (2-0) and NY Select (2-0) emerged unscathed on the men’s side, while Legacy (3-0) was the lone women’s team to finish the day undefeated.
Day two of the 2021 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals will feature men's and women's elimintion round games. The women’s championship game will be held 2:15 p.m. and the men’s championship game will be played at 2:40 p.m. All of Sunday’s games will be streamed live at twitch.tv/usabasketball.
HUNT FOR MEN’S 3X NATIONALS TITLE REMAINS WIDE OPEN
Saturday proved one thing – the men’s field is stuffed with quality teams capable of winning it all. It may come down to experience, or who is best conditioned, or it might just come down to the simple reality of who gets hot at the right time.
Saturday’s men’s competition saw 3BALL Chicago slip past 3BALL Minnesota 21-18 to stay perfect and claim Pool D’s No. 1 seed for the quarterfinals. Lightning-quick Eugene German, who finished his career in 2020 as Northern Illinois University’s all-time leading scorer with 2,203 points, the fifth-most in Mid-American Conference history, help lead his team to a perfect record and he was pleased overall with this team's progress on Day One.
“I didn’t like how we started off, we had to figure out we were in a game. We started off a little slow. It was a very physical game and we just had to be resilient and keep pushing,” said German. “We just got to keep pushing and come out with better starts.
“It’s fun, it’s a good tournament, good exposure, good players. We just need to compete every time we step out there.”
NY Select claimed the top finish in Pool E and outscored its two opponents 42-21 and 3BALL Select likewise cruised to its 2-0 record, defeating its two opponents by a combined score of 42-18.
3BALL Omaha earned Pool B’s top seed for the elimination round after disposing of Princeton (1-1) 21-10. The loss could prove even costly for Princeton as Damon Huffman, a member of the USA team that won the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, injured his calf potentially leaving Princeton with just three players for Sunday.
“We knew this was going to be our toughest game in the pool,” said 3BALL Omaha’s Trey Bradley who hit several 2s to create momentum in the win over Princeton. “We’re familiar with these (Princeton) guys, we’ve played them a lot, we knew they were going to be tough team. Basically, our strategy was we knew they had some knockdown shooters so we were trying to make them put it on the ground and get to the hole if they were going to beat us. Our defense was pretty solid, they missed a couple of easy ones, but our defense was pretty solid from the get-go and we finally started hitting shots a little bit later to extend the lead and it worked out for us.
“Early on it was really tough to get open because they know our team well and towards the end they started playing with three guys and got a little bit tired so I got a little more space and was able to knock them down.
“You get beat in this game when you take a play off and give up a 2 or give up a couple of easy ones right in a row. So no let down and we’ll be in good shape (Sunday),” added Bradley on his keys to taking the 3X National title.
Harlem, thanks to Michael Poole’s early on-target shooting stroke, jumped out to a 8-0 lead on ShootersgoneshootATL (0-2) and rolled to a 22-8 victory to lock up Pool A’s no. 1 seed.
“In game one we didn’t shoot the ball well and we wanted to focus on us making shots because me and Domo (Jones) are the shooters and we felt like we should be making more shots. In the second game we locked in and got it going and kept it going.
“Stops are everything because even if we can’t score there’s a time limit and we have to keep teams from scoring. So keep playing defense and defense equals easy shots so the more stops we get the more we get.”
In Saturday’s quarterfinals play-in games NY Select stayed unbeaten with a solid 22-13 win over ShootersgoneshootATL (0-3). 3BALL Chicago defeated Da Ballers (0-3) 22-11, Team Los Angeles (1-2) held off 3BALL Select (2-1) 21-17, and 3BALL Omaha upended Carol Lives (0-3) 21-8.
Quarterfinals play-in games continue Sunday morning with Bronx facing 3BALL Minnesota (8:00 a.m. EDT), Team SLAM plays 3BALL Olympic (8:25 a.m. EDT) and Princeton meets Creator's Basketball (8:50 .m. EDT).
LEGACY’S PERFECT DAY SETS THE TABLE FOR 3X NATIONALS TITLE RUN
Legacy, a team made up of two current collegians, Lexi Donarski (Iowa State) and Michelle Onyiah (Cal Berkley), and two former collegians, Aleah Goodman (Oregon State) and Hayley Peters (Duke), posted three convincing wins, defeating NC State 21-9, Kansas State 22-12 and Midwest Money Makers 21-5 to earn Group A’s No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.
“This is the first time we’ve played together, we’re just having fun, playing basketball like we know how,” said Goodman. “Two-pointers are really important, its double. It’s really hard to score 21 one-pointers so you’ve got to be able to shoot 2-pointers in 3x3,” said the 5-foot-9 guard, adding the biggest adjustment from five-on-five is, “The transition time going between offense to defense and then defense to offense, just being able to transition super fast, seeing the floor, and then everyone’s able to go one-on-one because there’s no help defense.”
Kansas State finished the day 2-1 in Group A, NC State (1-2) was third and Midwest Money Makes (0-4) was fourth.
The women’s Group B preliminary ended with Louisville, defending champion Oregon and Force 10 finishing with identical 2-1 records. Based on FIBA tie-breaking formula, Louisville earned the No. 1 seed, while Oregon was No. 2, Force 10 was No.3 and Maryland, who lost three games by a total of just five points, was fourth.
After starting the day in the wrong end of a 16-10 score versus Louisville, Force 10 rebounded to win its last two preliminary round games, narrowly nipping Maryland (18-17) and Oregon (15-14).
“That first game (versus Louisville) was real rough, it was our first time playing for two years,” said Force 10’s Cierra Burdick. “3x3 is not a game that you can just come in and play and expect to rely on your skill and your experience. We knew that these games were going to be practice games for us this first day and hopefully we can finish strong down the stretch in bracket play.
"Just slowing down," said Burdick as the big reason for her team's back-to-back wins. "We think since it’s a 12-second shot clock we’ve got to rush. It’s a ten minute game so every possessions matters, but it’s actually a lot of time. We just need to slow down and make the right read and then small adjustment like changing angels on our screens have been a huge help and playing aggressive. I think the first game we were really passive and these past two games we’ve been attacking the rim more and making the defense really move their feet and that’s probably the big difference for us.
"Defense is huge in 3x3. You’ve got to be able to get stops and you’re on an island so you don’t want to give up 2s and there’s really no help so you’ve got to be able to slide your feet. You can get away with playing much more physical here than in 5-on-5, especially playing against these college teams. We’ve got a little bit more strength than them right now just cause we’re older, we’re more experienced, we've been playing for a little bit longer and so we just try to use our physicality against them and just our experience with the 3x3 game.
"I love the game, I just love playing basketball period. No game is easy. Every single game is hard and you’ve got to come in with the right mentality and the right focus or else you’ll get embarrassed like what happened to us in that first game. I’m happy to be here this is an awesome opportunity."
Oregon has captured back-to-back Red Bull USA Basketball 3X National titles (2018 and 2019) and after finishing Saturday 2-1 and the Group B No. 2 seed, the Ducks remain a solid contender for a third-straight title.
“3-x3 is hard. It’s a long game and it feels a lot longer than 10 minutes and those last three possessions at the end (versus Louisville) we needed to have everyone going in and out,” said Sydney Parris about her team’s 15-12 victory overtime win versus Louisville. “We left Te-Hina (PaoPao) and Kylee (Watson) in there for a while because Te-Hina can score the ball really well and Kylee’s in there because they (Louisville) had a really good big on their team so those last two possessions were really big for us. We held on. We held on the first game, the second game we held on so I’m proud of our team.”
Sunday’s women’s quarterfinals will feature Legacy vs Maryland (9:15 a.m. EDT), Oregon vs NC State (9:40 a.m. EDT), Louisville vs Midwest Money Makers (10:05 a.m. EDT) and Kansas State vs Force 10 (10:30 a.m. EDT).