USA Men Capture Inaugural FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup Gold Medal
Fending of Brazil (4-1) for a 21-15 victory in the championship game, the USA 3x3 Men’s AmeriCup Team (5-0) went undefeated on its way to the gold medal at the inaugural FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup on Nov. 14 at Bayfront Park in Miami.
USA forward Charlie Brown Jr. (Delaware Blue Coats/Saint Joseph’s/Philadelphia, Pa.) was named MVP of the tournament after he averaged 8.2 points per game, which ranked second in scoring among all men’s players. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Brazil’s André Ferros and Dominican Republic’s Diego Moquete.
“This means everything to me,” Brown said. “I’m playing for my country, the name on the front of the jersey and the name on the back of the jersey.”
Trey Bardsley (Nebraska Wesleyan/Beatrice, Neb.) won a silver medal in the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup shootout competition, which was won by Barbara Cousino from Chile, while Chile’s Fernando Schuler won the shootout bronze medal.
The gold medalist men’s and women’s teams at the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup will earn a qualifying berth into the 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, however, the USA men already had qualified based on the USA’s 3x3 federation ranking points as of Nov. 1.
In the championship game, there were four tied scores in the first half of the contest, and the game was knotted at 12-12 after Kareem Maddox (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.) scored inside the paint at 4:43. Brazil scored to go ahead for the last time, 13-12 at 4:21. Bardsley put the USA back on top with a 2-pointer, which was followed by a score from Canyon Barry (Iowa Wolves/Florida/Colorado Springs, Colo.) and a 2 from Brown, and the USA led 17-13. After trading baskets, Brazil was whistled for its seventh foul and was in the penalty, and Brown made one of two free throws to give the USA a 19-14 lead. Barry drove and scored for the USA’s 20th point, Brazil reached 15 points with a score at 2:02, and Maddox ended the game with a jumper at 1:49 to give the USA the 21-15 gold medal win.
“That was a great team, Brown said. “Brazil came out and fought hard and gave us a good fight.”
Maddox had six points and six rebounds in the gold medal game; Barry contributed six points and four rebounds; Bardsley tallied five points and three rebounds; and Brown had four points and three rebounds.
“Anytime you get to represent your country and come home with gold it’s an absolute honor,” Barry said. “I got to give all the credit to my teammates. They played great. It was an awesome group of guys, and it was super fun to come out here for the first 3x3 AmeriCup and deliver.”
The USA had a comfortable 15-7 lead at 4:50 in its semifinal, but Puerto Rico fought back with an 8-3 run that made it a three-point margin, 18-15, with 2:22 to play. Brown sank a 2-pointer at 2:08, which Puerto Rico immediately answered from deep, and it was 20-17 with 2:00 minutes to play. Barry was fouled driving to the basket, and with Puerto Rico over the seven-foul limit, would have two chances from the free throw line to seal the win. Barry only needed one try and sank his first shot to give the USA a 21-17 win with 1:56 left on the clock.
Brown finished with nine points and three rebounds; Barry had five points, three rebounds and three assists; Maddox contributed four points and four rebounds; and Bardsley tallied three points.
“We try to be solid on defense, communicate early on our switches, and then on offense just play fast and free,” Barry said. “I think we executed well. We got Puerto Rico into foul trouble, and we were able to capitalize on that.”
In the quarterfinals against Jamaica, the USA survived a comeback attempt to secure the 22-17 win. Brown got the USA started with two 2-pointers in the first minute, and the USA jumped out to a 4-1 lead. The USA kept its cushion over the next few minutes, and after an offensive rebound and score from Bardsley, led 13-7 at 5:51. Jamaica, however, reeled off seven-straight points to pull ahead 14-13 at 4:00. Jamaica fouled Maddox for its seventh team foul, and Maddox made two free throws to put the USA back in front and then scored a jumper to give the USA a 16-14 advantage. Jamaica scored on its next possession, but then Brown made another two 2s to put the USA on the verge of the win, 20-15. Jamaica scored twice, and it was 20-17, before Bardsley ended the game with a shot from behind the arc at 2:27.
Brown shot 5-of-9 from 2-point on his way to 13 points; Maddox added five points and four rebounds; and Bardsley scored four points and collected three rebounds.
“It took every bit of focus and taking advantage of every opportunity,” Brown said of the USA’s quarterfinal win. “We watched film on them, and I think the win was in the preparation.”
Dominican Republic (3-2) defeated Puerto Rico (3-2) 21-20 in the bronze medal game.
The USA 3x3 Women’s AmeriCup Team (5-0) also won the gold and, by virtue of the USA’s gold medal finish at the Tokyo Olympic Games 3x3 tournament, also already had qualified for the 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup.
Joe Lewandowski (Point Park University), who has been coaching/advising USA Basketball 3x3 national teams since 2014, served as head coach for the USA men’s and women’s teams.