USA Men 3-0 Heading Into Quarterfinals at FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup
The USA 3x3 U18 Men’s World Cup Team (3-0) wrapped up its preliminary round play with a 22-8 victory against Latvia (0-2) at the 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup on Friday afternoon in Debrecen, Hungary.
As Pool D’s No. 1 seed, the USA will play the No. 2 seed from Pool B at 6:55 a.m. (all times listed are EDT) on Aug. 28. All games are streamed live at FIBA’s 3x3 YouTube channel.
All pool play will conclude today, and the top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 28. Quarterfinal winners meet in the semifinals (6:05 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.) on Aug. 29. On Aug. 29, semifinal winners play in the gold medal game at 2:05 p.m. and semifinal losers compete in the bronze medal game at 8:40 a.m.
“Everybody is in high spirits, of course,” said Eric Dailey Jr. (IMG Academy/Tampa, Fla.). “Getting three good wins as a team, it’s not easy, especially here. But we all have the same mindset. So, we're going to take this win and keep on learning and improve on our mistakes. We’re also going to keep our heads level and go on to the next game, have a next-game mentality."
The USA got a layup from Gradey Dick (Sunrise Christian Academy/Wichita, Kan.), followed by the first of four 2-pointers in the game from Keyonte George (iSchool of Lewisville/Lewisville, Texas), and the USA led 3-0. Latvia scored to make it 3-1, but the USA added five unanswered points, including scores from all four U.S. players, to lead 8-1 at 7:31.
Latvia scored again, but the USA held Latvia empty from the field while it compiled eight straight points, capped by a 2 from George at 4:55 that put the USA ahead 16-2.
“The most important thing for us was just the defensive side of it,” Dick said. “The first two games mostly were us getting used to the competition here, because it is a lot different than practicing back home.
“For the game against Latvia, on the defensive side, we were just trying to get tips on their passes and not let them get on fire from 2-point.”
Latvia traded baskets with the USA for the next few minutes, including two 2-pointers, but the margin was too great to threaten the eventual U.S. win. With the Americans up 20-8, George was fouled in the process of making a 2-pointer, and those two points gave the USA the 22-8 victory with 2:33 remaining on the clock.
George finished with nine points in the game, Kyle Filipowski (Wilbraham & Monson Academy, Mass./Slate Hill, N.Y.) scored six points, Dick added four points and Dailey had three points.
“I think we just try to keep the thing going,” Dick said of the quarterfinals. “We loved how we played defensively. I think we have a great plan for what we need to do on offense with getting to the goal – and then keeping up the defense.”
The 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup, which includes men’s and women’s U18 national teams, also features a dunk contest, skills contest and shoot-out-contest, with medals being awarded to the top three finishers in each event. Dailey Jr. has advanced to compete in the dunk contest semifinals on Aug. 28.
“That was fun,” Dailey said of the dunk qualifying round. “I have participated in a few dunk contests back home, and going out there and showing my ability as a dunker out here is always fun as well. So, I got a few tricks up my sleeve for the next round coming up tomorrow. So, we'll see how that goes.”
The USA coach is Nick LoGalbo (Lane Tech College Prep, Ill.), with Kelly Carruthers (Bowie H.S., Texas) as the USA assistant coach, however, in FIBA 3x3 basketball coaching is not allowed during games.
The FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup has been held annually since 2011, except in years that include a summer Youth Olympic Games (2010, 2014, 2018). In the five previous FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups in which the USA men have played, the U.S. men have compiled a 33-11 overall record while winning gold in 2019 and silver in 2012.