U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Basketball Team Opens Training Camp
Fresh off of their WNBA regular-season games, the four members of the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Basketball Team traveled to Las Vegas and took the court on July 13 to begin Olympic preparations.
Two of the half courts used for FIBA 3x3 basketball were installed at the practice facility, which also was dressed up in red, white and blue and featured player graphics blown up to serve as the baseline backdrop.
“It was awesome,” said USA guard Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings/South Carolina/Sandersville, Ga.). “To see our faces in the gym, it was pretty cool the setup. It's just a blessing to be here, so I'm very excited.
“It definitely motivates you. I mean, you look at the court, you can just tell the energy and how everybody is supporting us and pushing for us to win. So I mean, it's super exciting.”
The squad, including Gray, Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut/Port Jervis, N.Y.), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington/Poway, Calif.) and Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm/Connecticut/Huntington Beach, Calif.) – is scheduled for a total of six practices before departing for Tokyo on July 19.
But, as noted by USA head coach Kara Lawson (Duke), the team is looking to build off of the progress it made at the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament – where the USA’s semifinal win clinched the Olympic berth. On June 23, the same four athletes who qualified the USA for the inaugural Olympic 3x3 tournament officially were named to the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Basketball Team.
“I think their experience having played the discipline, is something that we're going to count on,” Lawson said. “It is our first day of practice here in a couple hours, and we don't have to start at square one with this group. They know our plays. They know the discipline. So the foundation, even though it's maybe not as not as large as the other countries we're going to be playing against, we still do have a foundation of having played together, having been in tough games together, and we're going to count on that to start from in this place, and I'm sure we're going to count on that and lean on that when we get over to Tokyo.”
The debut Olympic 3x3 basketball tournament will see all eight teams play each other in round-robin preliminary play. In its opening games on July 24, the USA will meet the tournament’s No. 1 seeded team, France, at 4:55 a.m. (all times listed are EDT), followed by Mongolia at 8 a.m. EDT. On July 25, the USA will play Romania at 4:30 a.m. and Russian Olympic Committee at 8:25 a.m. On July 26 the USA will meet Italy at 4:55 a.m. and China at 8 a.m., and the final preliminary contest will be against host Japan at 12:30 a.m. on July 27.
After group play, the first and second ranked teams earn an automatic bid into the semifinals on July 28, while the third-through-sixth place teams will meet in semifinal play-in-games on July 27. The bronze and gold medal games will be played on July 28.
“I think it's exciting,” Samuelson said of the 3x3 schedule, which will see teams play nine or 10 games in five days if they reach the finals. “There's not too much downtime to worry about stuff or get nervous. It's just kind of go, go, go. We're all ready to get started. And those games once they come, they're going to go fast, and they're not going to stop until the tournament is over.”