USA 3x3 Men’s U18 World Cup Team Prepares for Aug. 25 Opener
When the USA men take the court in their first game of the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup against Estonia at 9:25 a.m. EDT on Aug. 25 in Debrecen, Hungary, it will be the first time any of the USA team members have represented the United States in international competition.
“Wearing USA across your chest, you're playing for something bigger than yourself,” said USA guard Keyonte George (iSchool of Lewisville/Lewisville, Texas), who verbally committed to Baylor University for 2022-23. “So you know, it's really a blessing.”
All four team members will graduate high school in 2022. George and Kyle Filipowski (Wilbraham & Monson Academy, Mass./Slate Hill, N.Y.), who verbally committed to Duke, both are in their inaugural USA Basketball camp. Teammates Eric Dailey Jr. (Sunrise Christian Academy/Wichita, Kan.) and Gradey Dick (IMG Academy/Tampa, Fla.), who verbally committed to the University of Kansas, have participated in three and four camps, respectively, with USA Basketball.
“Definitely,” said Dailey when asked if that previous USA Basketball experience has helped during this 3x3 camp. “A lot of the concepts that we were taught at other USA Basketball training camps are applying now. Like the dribble-handoff stuff that we've been working on. Just experiencing that intensity also has prepared me for this. So, I'm just excited to be here and actually make a team.”
The USA will have just three days of training camp in the United States before the team departs for Hungary and the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup, where the team is expected to have two more practices before its first game on Aug. 25.
“It’s been a ton of fun,” Dick said of training camp. “Most of the guys, we’ve actually played with or against each other at some of the past camps and some of the summer circuits, so we already kind of have that bonding going. We already had that chemistry right from the start. So that's just a big advantage for us.”
The team members are not just learning how to play with each other, they also are learning about 3x3 basketball.
“I think once I got a couple of days with my teammates and with the coaches telling you how to play, then I got it down very quickly,” said the 6-foot-11 Filipowski. “I think my style and how I play it fits in perfectly, just being a really big player but also versatile, so I can still spread out the court. And then when there's no help defenses, we will be looking for mismatches all the time.”
Also on Aug. 25, the USA will play Slovenia at 10:40 a.m. EDT, before wrapping up pool play against Latvia at 8:15 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27.
“3x3 is kind of based on instinct,” Dick said. “Obviously, we have some sets to run, but there’s no coach in the game. So, it kind of comes down to the chemistry that we build off the court.”
After playing each of the teams in its group, the top two finishing teams from each of the four pools advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 28. Quarterfinal winners go on to the semifinals on Aug. 29. Also on Aug. 29, the two semifinal winners play in the gold medal game, and the two semifinal losers meet in the bronze medal game.
“I think we're all going to be ready,” Dailey noted. “I think just the bond and connection that we have is building even more since we're playing with each other at camp. So, we got a great group of guys, and I think we're all going to be prepared, because we know how much we want to win this gold medal.”