USA Women Capture Third-Straight Gold Medal at FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup
The USA women (6-1) edged past Germany (4-2) 15-14 in the semifinals before claiming the 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup gold medal with a 21-14 win over Spain (6-1) that concluded with 3:44 left on the clock on Sunday evening in Debrecen, Hungary.
Mikaylah Williams (Parkway H.S/Bossier City, La.) was named MVP of the tournament. She led the tournament in scoring and points per game (56 points, 8.0 ppg.). She was joined on the all-tournament team by Spain’s Elena Buenavida and host Hungary’s Zita Szabó.
“It is truly a blessing,” Williams said of the MVP honor. It goes to show all the work I put in. It’s just an honor to be able to represent my country and to win.”
In the eight FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups that have been played since the inaugural tournament in 2011, the USA women have compiled a 55-8 overall record while winning seven medals, including the past three gold medals (2017, 2019, 2021). The U.S. women also won gold in 2012 and 2013 and silver in 2015 and 2016.
“It feels amazing, spectacular,” said Kiki Rice (Sidwell Friends School/Bethesda, Md.). “It’s everything we dreamed of. We worked so hard for this over the past few weeks, a lot of time, a lot of energy, away from our families. Coaches have sacrificed a lot. So, I think we're all extremely excited.”
The gold medal game was tied seven times in the first 5:10. Spain scored first and neither team led by more than two points until it was 14-14 with 4:50 on the clock. Williams scored four points, followed by a score from Janiah Barker (Tampa Bay Tech H.S., Fla./Marietta, Ga.), and the USA led 19-14 at 4:10.
The under-four-minute timeout was called at 3:46. Williams stood at the top of the arc to enter the ball and pulled up for a 2-pointer to end the gold medal game as a 21-14 with 3:44 left on the clock.
Williams had 10 points, Barker scored six points, Rice added three points and Ayana Patterson (Homestead H.S./Fort Wayne, Ind.) contributed two points.
“They are a spectacular team, extremely fundamental,” Rice said of Spain. “They do their cuts, all that kind of stuff, and it was really difficult to defend, but we adjusted. I know it took some time in the beginning of the game, but we got it done, and that's all we needed to do.”
In a tightly contested semifinal, the USA held on for the 15-14 win against Germany. Germany went ahead 3-0, but the score was tied at 5-5 at 5:43. Two scores from Williams gave the USA a two-point margin, 7-5.
The USA twice pushed its advantage to five points, including after a 2-pointer from Williams at 2:24 gave the USA a 12-7 lead and at 2:06, when a score from Patterson made it 13-8.
Germany scored and hit a 2-pointer to start its comeback attempt, trailing 10-13 at 1:17. Rice scored for the USA, but Germany again added consecutive points to make it 14-12 with 25 seconds left in the game.
Williams made a layup coming out of a timeout, and the U.S. led 15-12 at 16 seconds. Germany made a 2-pointer with one second left in the game to make it 15-14, and the game clock expired on the USA victory.
Williams had eight points, Barker and Rice each scored three points and Patterson added one point.
“From the start of the tournament to the end, it was a huge improvement for our team, just from a learning aspect and actually executing it,” Williams said.
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 is played annually, except in years that include a summer Youth Olympic Games (2010, 2014, 2018).