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2022 3x3 U18 World Cup

Back for more, Williams and Dailey Jr. take on another U18 3x3 World Cup

  • Author:
    Ian Kayanja
  • Date:
    Aug 26, 2022

 

One wasn’t enough.

 

Mikaylah Williams and Eric Dailey Jr. both won gold medals in the 2021 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup. Williams claimed the tournament MVP for the women, while Dailey put on a show in the dunk contest for the men. Each experience was described as unforgettable, so when USA Basketball called, asking them to run it back with the 2022 Men’s and Women’s 3x3 U18 National Teams, they accepted. 

 

“I really wanted to win another gold medal,” Williams said. “I really loved it, the experience, winning MVP and just being in that environment. It was fun.”  

 

Dailey held his experience in 2021 in similar regards, take in the atmosphere of 3x3 all over again – déjà vu.

 

“My teammates and I, last year, did a good job of staying focused,” Dailey said. “I am one of the returning players. I know people are going to remember me for my dunk contest and winning gold, and you know, there is no pressure coming back into it. I’m just here to have fun, do what I do.”

 

With commitments to play in the 2022 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary, from Aug. 23-28, both Williams and Dailey harbor devotion toward building USAB’s 3x3 program.

 

Despite holding gold medals from five-on-five competitions earlier in the summer, each carved out extra time to compete in 3x3, a form of basketball that enamored them during their initial experience in 2021. 

 

For Dailey, he won a gold medal with the 2022 USA Basketball’s U18 Men’s National Team at the FIBA Americas Championships in June. Meanwhile, Williams won gold with the 2022 USA Basketball U17 Women’s National Team at the FIBA U17 World Cup in July.

 

Playing in the 2022 3x3 U18 World Cup was more about a love of the game and the different style of basketball than anything else.

 

“I fell in love with the game of 3x3, the rules and the environment of it,” Dailey said. “So, I figured, why not return? I know we are going to have fun.” 

 

Williams echoed a similar sentiment, believing that 3x3 fosters an environment that is conducive to player development and fun.

 

Patrick Williams, Mikaylah’s father, doubled down, maintaining that 3x3, and the travel it brought her, helped her mature as a player and all-around person.

 

“It’s been a great growing experience for her,” he said.

The aspect of Williams’ game that improved directly because of 3x3 was isolation scoring, she said. 

 

With only three opposing defenders on the court, players are forced to make decisive decisions as to whether they need to pass, cut or try and score, lending to a fast-paced game in which outcomes are decided in mere moments.

 

That’s what Williams loves about 3x3. It's an environment where all her skills coalesce.

 

“3x3 fits my game,” Williams said. “Iso-ball is my strong suit and specialty. 3x3 is basically that, so with the amount of time I put in the gym, I just thrive in that type of environment.”

 

In Dailey’s case, it’s the quick actions that require teamwork to achieve success that endears him to this style of basketball.

 

Whether it be coming off screens, offensive actions centered around ball movement or simple conditioning, Dailey utilizes his time on a 3x3 court to sharpen his team-based skill set that carries over to all forms of basketball.

 

“First off, you’ve got to be in good condition to play 3x3,” Dailey said. “In 3x3 there are a lot of quick actions, pick and roles and just quick stuff to get to the basket that helps you take your game further.”

 

Dailey’s father, Eric Dailey Sr., expressed that 3x3 has pushed his son to develop different skill sets, which will prepare him for a more successful future in basketball.

 

“It’s really helped him develop the other parts of his game,” Dailey Sr. said. “There are only 12 seconds, so you aren’t thinking for as long. You got to be able to catch and shoot and create your own shot. 3x3 has helped him develop that, so he can be a more versatile player in the future.”

 

And part of building that sought-after versatility is curating leadership skills that lead to tangible results.

 

For both, what leading looks like is leading by example.

 

“As a player who played last year, I have a little knowledge of the game of 3x3,” Dailey said. “It’s on me to show my teammates things, but they will also be teaching me stuff, as well.” 

 

In Williams’ case, leading at the 3x3 level also means letting her teammates know that it’s ok to make mistakes.

 

She embraces and understands the difficulties and nuances of 3x3, and in turn, wants her teammates to simply try and be the best players they can be amidst the challenge of the 3x3 World Cup.

 

 “I’m going to go in and instill confidence in my teammates, letting them know that they can compete, score buckets, play defense and get stops,” Williams said. “I want to give them the confidence to be the player that they are.”

 

3x3 head coach Nick LoGalbo expressed that both Dailey and Williams bring the one thing that last year’s 3x3 teams didn’t have – experience, a trait that will lend a helping hand in familiarizing the new players with the expectations of 3x3.

 

“Mikaylah and Eric, what they are going to bring to the table for us is continuity and leadership,” LoGalbo said. “As coaches, we are going to lean on them to be some voices for us during games.”

 

The first experience wasn’t enough, the energy and spirit of 3x3 have them coming back for more.

 

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