USA Men Claim First Back-to-Back Gold at FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup
The USA 3x3 U18 Men’s World Cup Team (6-0) won its semifinal game in convincing fashion, 21-13, over Belarus (5-2) and its gold medal contest 21-14 in a similar style against Estonia (4-2) to win the 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup on Sunday night in Debrecen, Hungary.
Keyonte George (iSchool of Lewisville/Lewisville, Texas) was named MVP. He was the tournament’s leading scorer in points per game (8.2 ppg.) and the second leading scorer in total points (49). George was joined on the all-tournament team by Estonia’s Markus Heinakroon and Belarus’s Illia Milasheuski.
“It means a lot, winning MVP, especially when you have USA across your chest, coming out here and playing for something bigger than yourself,” George said. “I wanted to come out here and play my hardest. The outcome of being MVP is just a blessing.”
The USA men previously won gold in 2019 and silver in 2012, and 2021 was the first time the U.S. men have won back-to-back FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup titles. In the six FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups in which the USA men have played, they have compiled a 39-11 overall record.
“It’s an incredible honor,” said Kyle Filipowski (Wilbraham & Monson Academy, Mass./Slate Hill, N.Y.). “Regardless of how many wins we had, we were never satisfied until we got that gold medal. So, I'm just happy, happy for the guys, happy for myself, it's been an unbelievable experience.”
The gold medal game was a rematch of the first game of the tournament for both teams, which saw the USA beat Estonia 21-17 on Aug. 25.
This time, Estonia got out to a 6-2 lead, but the USA worked its way back to tie the game 7-7 on a 2-pointer from George at 5:22. After Estonia scored a free throw, a point from Filipowski, George and Gradey Dick (Sunrise Christian Academy/Wichita, Kan.) launched a 10-0 U.S. run that ultimately decided that game, and the score was 17-8 when George made another 2 at 2:48.
Estonia continued to battle throughout the game, but Dick made it 20-12 with a 2-pointer at 1:08, and after a 2 from Estonia, Eric Dailey Jr. (IMG Academy/Tampa, Fla.) ended the 21-14 win with a driving score with 38.0 seconds on the clock.
Filipowski had nine points, George had seven points, Dick added three and Dailey finished with two points.
The 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup also featured a dunk contest, which saw Dailey win the gold medal before the championship game.
“We played well,” George said. “We came together as a team. At the beginning of the game against Estonia, we talked about the different adjustments we needed to make, and then we were able to come out and get the gold.”
In the semifinals, the USA led 5-1 before Belarus tied up the score 5-5 at 6:57. After a 2-pointer from each side, the USA added four straight points to go ahead 11-7, and Belarus could not catch up after that point.
Belarus came within three points, 15-12, after a 2-pointer and score at 2:45, but George responded with four points to give the USA a 19-13 lead. Filipowski scored the final two points for the USA, ending the game 21-13 at 44.0 seconds.
George had eight points, Dailey finished with five points, Filipowski contributed four points and Dick had three.
The USA coach was Nick LoGalbo (Lane Tech College Prep, Ill.), with Kelly Carruthers (Bowie H.S., Texas) as the USA assistant coach. 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).