USA Women Earn Two Wins on Opening Day of FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup
The USA (2-0) recorded a 19-13 win over Belarus (1-1) and a 21-7 victory against Slovenia (1-1) on the first day of preliminary round play at the 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup on Tuesday in Debrecen, Hungary.
The USA next will take on Mongolia (0-2) at 8:45 a.m. EDT and Russia (1-1) at 11:25 a.m. EDT on Aug. 26. All games are streamed live at FIBA 3x3 YouTube.
“It was a great start,” said USA guard Kiki Rice (Sidwell Friends School/Bethesda, Md.). “There were some adjustments we had to make coming out in the first game. I think you could definitely tell the differences in how we were just more used to playing the pace of the game, and our sets and the style that these other teams play by the second game, so it was a great first day. A lot that we’ve learned, and we are really excited for the rest of tournament.”
The USA women’s game against Belarus also was the first game of the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup. The score was tied at 2-2 and 3-3 before Mikaylah Williams (Parkway H.S/Bossier City, La.) made a 2-pointer to make it 5-3 at 7:59. The USA got some separation with a score from Janiah Barker (Tampa Bay Tech H.S., Fla./Marietta, Ga.) and free throws from Rice to go ahead 9-5 at 5:34. The USA pushed its lead to five, and a jumper from Williams and layup from Barker made it 11-6 at 4:32.
Belarus cut the USA advantage to three points, 15-12, with a 2-pointer at 2:11. The USA responded and restored an 18-13 margin with 22 seconds remaining. Rice, who scored seven points, put the final point on the board with a free throw as the USA earned the 19-13 win.
Williams finished with five points in the game, Barker scored four and Patterson added three points.
“It was a great feeling, being in a different atmosphere, just playing something else besides five-on-five,” Williams said. “It is completely different in a whole new type of basketball.”
The USA’s second game against Slovenia saw the USA hit five 2-pointers on the way to a win that ended with 3:41 on the clock. Williams scored first with a 2-pointer, and the USA raced out to a 5-0 lead. Slovenia’s first four points also came from behind the arc, but the USA built a 15-4 advantage by 5:31. The USA outscored Slovenia 6-3 over the next two minutes, and back-to-back scores from Ayana Patterson (Homestead H.S./Fort Wayne, Ind.) ended the contest, 21-7.
“One of our points of emphasis was finding them on defense in transition and making sure we were matching up every time, because the pace of game is faster and possessions are super quick,” Rice said. “You have to know where your man is, and the transition from offense to defense can be tough. I think we did a much better job of that in the second game than the first, and we’re going to continue to improve on that.”
The USA’s next two games on Aug. 26 will conclude its preliminary round play. Groups A and C wrap up preliminary play on Aug. 27. The top two teams from each pool advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 28, and the quarterfinal winners play in the semifinals on Aug. 29.
The semifinal winners play in the gold medal game at 2:05 p.m. on Aug. 29, and the semifinal losers meet in the bronze medal game at 8:40 a.m. on Aug. 29.
“We did, definitely,” said Williams when asked if she thought the team improved in its two games. “Just getting the feel of it (3x3), because it was our first time playing.”
The 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup also will feature a dunk contest, skills contest and shoot-out-contest, with medals being awarded to the top three finishers in each event.
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 seven previous FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups, the USA women have compiled a 49-7 overall record while winning six medals, including gold in 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2019 and silver medals in 2015 and 2016.