USA Men's and Women's Team Conclude Play in Stop 6 at FIBA 3x3 U23 Nations League
The USA 3x3 U23 women’s and men’s teams both went 2-1 on Wednesday in Voiron, France, with both teams making it to the final at stop 6 to close out the 2021 FIBA 3x3 U23 Nations League.
The USA men’s team, comprised of Chris Arcidiacono (Villanova/Langhorne, Pa.), Eric Dixon (Villanova/Willow Grove, Pa.), Trey Patterson (Villanova/Somerset, N.J.) and Brandon Slater (Villanova/Centerville, Va.), held off France (1-1) 21-17 and Spain (0-2) 21-19, before dropping an overtime game in the final to Israel (2-1) 19-18.
In the USA’s first game with France, buckets were exchanged from start to finish with the largest lead of the game being only four points (14-10) by the USA. France held tough, scoring a late basket with less than a minute to play to make the score 20-17. The Americans sealed the 21-17 win over France with a bucket from Slater with 30.6 seconds left. Arcidiacono led the USA in the win with a game-high 12 points, hitting three 2-pointers in the contest.
In the USA men’s second game of the day, solid perimeter shooting late in the contest led to a 21-19 victory over Spain to advance the USA to the final. Spain led 6-2 early, before three straight baskets for the USA tied things up 6-6. Spain regained the lead (14-11) with just over three minutes to play. The next three baskets from the field for the USA were 2-pointers, one from Slater and two from Arcidiacono, giving the USA the 17-14 advantage with 1:22 left in the game. A 2-pointer from Spain tied the game late (19-19), but the USA pulled away with a free throw from Arcidiacono and layup from Dixon with 45.0 seconds left, sealing the 21-19 win for the USA.
In the final, Israel came out with a 9-5 lead before the USA would go on an 8-2 run to go up 13-11 with just over four minutes left in the game. The USA was ahead 17-16 with less than 10 seconds left when Israel hit a layup with 8.2 seconds to send the game into overtime. Israel held off the Americans to capture the 19-18 win in the final. Slater led the USA in scoring with nine points, making four 2-pointers in the contest.
“It was great to get to play outside of the country, see different play styles and just being in this environment,” said Dixon. “Playing with my Villanova guys was priceless. It made winning and losing a lot easier. It is a super different game, and I just tried to be tough and physical, and these other countries have some tall and bigger guys.”
The USA 3x3 U23 Women’s Team, which features Emily Engstler (Louisville/New York, N.Y.), Madison Hayes (NC State/Chattanooga, Tenn.), Hailey Van Lith (Louisville/Wenatchee, Wash.) and Kylee Watson (Oregon/Linwood, N.J.) won its first pool play game in a high intensity match up with a balanced offensive effort for a 19-17 win over Great Britain (0-2). Quick work for Great Britain to start the game led it to a 6-3 lead out of the gates. The USA answered back with a 7-0 run to go up 10-6, including three buckets from Engstler during that stretch. Exchanging blows, Great Britain got the game back within two points (17-15) with two minutes to go, but a couple late baskets for the United States and tough defense led them to edge out the win as time expired in the 10-minute contest. Engstler led the Americans with five points and Van Lith added four points.
In the USA women’s second game, they out-paced Israel (1-1), winning convincingly 19-9. After Israel scored the first basket and got out to a 4-2 lead, the USA scored six unanswered points and held on to the lead the rest of the way. Van Lith led the Americans with nine points, scoring six of the USA’s first seven points of the game.
In the women’s final, The USA met France in a defensive battle, losing 15-13 in a game that came down to the last shot. The Americans came out on a 4-0 run, holding France scoreless for the first 3:25 of the game. France tied the game 6-6 at the 5:30 mark and took an 11-10 lead with two minutes remaining. Two late buckets from Watson kept the USA in the game, but with the USA trailing 15-13, the final 2-point attempt by Van Lith was blocked by France to end the game. Van Lith finished with five points to lead the USA in the final of stop six.
“I thought we battled tough,” said USA guard Van Lith, who along with Hayes won gold at the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup. “It was fun and I really enjoyed my teammates. I think part of my game is that I am a very strong and physical guard. Just the pace of 3x3, I’m in pretty good shape. I understand the movements, and my team picked up on It pretty fast.”
The format for both the men’s and women’s teams each day included two pools of three teams, and each team played the two other squads in its pool. The No. 1 team from each pool played in the title game.
Twenty-six national federations registered both a men’s and women’s 3x3 team for the 2021 FIBA U23 Nations League, with teams being allocated in five different conferences: Africa, Asia, Europe-America, Europe 1 and Europe 2. The U23 Nations League helps countries prepare talent for future international competition.