U.S. Olympic 3x3 Team Earns Wins Over Italy and China to Secure Bye into Semifinals
After fighting its way to a 17-13 win over Italy (2-4) earlier in the day, a game-winning 2-point shot from Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington/Poway, Calif.) gave the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Basketball Team (6-0) a thrilling 21-19 victory over China (4-2) on Monday night at Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.
With one game left to play in the preliminary round, which will be against host Japan at 12:30 a.m. EDT on July 27, the USA at 6-0 has secured the No. 1 seed into the medal round. The USA awaits the winner of the A4/A5 quarterfinal game, which will be played on July 27, for its semifinal at 4 a.m. EDT on July 28. Streaming and broadcast information is available at the USA Basketball Olympic schedule page.
Neither the USA or China led by more than two points in the game, and the U.S. made the offensive plays down the stretch to earn the victory.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut/Port Jervis, N.Y.), who had three points and six rebounds against China. “They were physical, probably the most physical team we played. But we were able to just keep playing our game, keep battling and made big shots, like Kelsey made that big shot at the end.”
The game was tied up a total of nine times, including at 17-17 when Dolson scored at 1:33 to push the U.S. ahead 18-17. China again evened the score 18-18, but Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings/South Carolina/Sandersville, Ga.) countered on the following possession with 48 seconds to go to lift the U.S. ahead 19-18. China tied the score at 19-all with 41 seconds left, and Plum ended the affair with her game-winning 2-pointer with 34 seconds left on the clock.
Plum scored a game-best 10 points in the win, Gray added five points, five rebounds and three blocked shots, while Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces/Notre Dame/Princeton, Ind.) contributed 3 points and two boards. The USA outrebounded China 18-9.
“I pride myself on being ready when my number is called and trying to make some plays,” Plum said of her game-winner.
“They played really super physical,” Plum added about China. “For us, it is tough. This is a hard tournament, and you do not have an easy game. There is no rest. I thought we battled through things, and there were no mistakes. And they hit some big shots, so credit to them for putting up a good fight.”
Against Italy in the USA’s first contest of the day, the game was tied three times in the first few minutes. But with the USA holding a 7-6 lead midway through the contest, Dolson scored six consecutive points to put the Americans in front 13-10. Italy fired back with its second straight 2-pointer, however, to close within one point, 13-12. After swapping baskets, Plum made it 15-13 with under a minute to play, and neither team was able to connect from the field from there. With 18.7 seconds remaining and Italy over the foul limit, Gray swished in two free throws to give the USA a little breathing room and a 17-13 lead. Italy missed on the next possession, and Plum shot a final attempt as the game clock expired.
"Just knowing that we needed them," Gray said of what she was thinking when she stepped to the line for her two free throws. "You look at the score, if they were to make a 2, it would be a tie ball game. So, the biggest thing with me is just to focus in and make my free throws"
The USA has won six games in three days and is hoping to play three more games over the next two days.
Following the preliminary round, in which all eight teams play each other once, the first and second placed teams earn an automatic berth into the semifinals on July 28, and the third through sixth placed teams will meet in semifinal play-in games on July 27 at 7:30 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. The seventh and eighth place teams after the preliminary round conclude their Olympic play.
On July 28, in addition to the USA’s 4 a.m. EDT matchup (all times listed are EDT), the second semifinal is set for 5:10 a.m. EDT. Also on July 28, the semifinal losers will meet in the bronze medal game at 7:45 a.m., and the semifinal winners will play in the gold medal game at 8:55 a.m.
The USA coach is Kara Lawson (Duke University). In FIBA 3x3 basketball, coaches are not allowed during games.