Brionna Jones, USA 3x3 Team Ready to Make a Stand at AmeriCup in Miami
After getting a taste of international competition six years ago, Brionna Jones is hungry for more.
The emerging WNBA star will be representing the United States at the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup Nov. 12-14 in Miami, where a berth into the 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup is on the line. She previously helped the U.S. secure a first-place finish at the 2015 World University Games — a five-on-five event held in South Korea — and she is eager to add more gold to her collection.
“I had a great time with that team,” said Jones, a 6-foot-3 forward/center for the Connecticut Sun. “It was fun to represent my country. It was a really cool experience.”
Jones, of course, has played five-on-five throughout her career, first as a standout with the University of Maryland and now with the Sun, which posted the league’s best record in 2021. But she is doing everything she can to prepare for the 3x3 competition, which begins on Friday.
Jones’s USA teammates include Cierra Burdick, Blake Dietrick and Haley Gorecki.
The U.S. opens on Saturday, with Group B games against Venezuela and Argentina. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday, and the tournament concludes with the semifinals and finals later in the day. The winner earns a 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup berth.
3x3 is a fast-growing format in international basketball, and the U.S. women won the sport’s first Olympic gold medal earlier this year in Tokyo.
“I haven’t played 3x3 before, but I’ve watched it, and I know it’ll be a little different,” Jones said. “I know that 3x3 is a lot faster and more physical, and it’s just about being able to guard different people in 3x3, because you don’t get much help on defense. But I’m excited to start working with the group that we have. As far as what I’m doing to prepare, I’m just trying to work on my skills.”
Those skills blossomed during Jones’s fifth WNBA season. The 25-year-old averaged career highs in points (14.7), rebounds (7.3) and assists (1.8) for the Sun, increasing her production in the absence of Alyssa Thomas (torn Achilles). Jones earned her first career All-Star honor this past season and was named the league’s Most Improved Player.
“Personally for me, it was a breakout season,” Jones said. “After I found out Alyssa was going to be out, I knew that I had to step up. Being an All-Star for the first time and winning Most Improved was just icing on the cake. It was all worth it.”
As usual, Jones spent a couple of weeks in the U.S. following the conclusion of the WNBA season before heading overseas to play for USK Praha in the Czech Women’s Basketball League and the EuroLeague, where she averaged 16.7 ppg. and 7.0 rpg. in three EuroLeauge games. She flew from Prague to Miami on Sunday and will return to the Czech Republic on Nov. 15.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in Miami,” Jones said, “and also to playing 3x3 for the first time. It will be a whirlwind.”
In the 2015 World University Games, Jones shot 19-of-26 from the field and finished with averages of 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in helping the U.S. earn a perfect 6-0 record. Another efficient performance this month in Miami sounds just fine to Jones, but what she really wants is another unblemished record — and of course another first-place finish.
“I just want to represent Team USA in the best way that I can,” Jones said. “Just being able to play for my country and put that ‘USA’ across my chest is exciting. I’m honored to do it.”
Drew Silverman is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.