USA Women Win Fourth Straight FIBA 3x3 U18 World Title
The USA Basketball 3x3 U18 women’s team sealed their gold medal run on Sunday in Debrecen, Hungary, with a 21-11 victory over Germany, marking their fourth consecutive 3x3 U18 World Cup title.
The women started the weekend and their run to the finals with an early quarterfinal matchup against the Netherlands on Saturday. Led by Sahara Williams, who recorded a team-high nine points, the U.S. was able to hold off their opponents and capture the victory, 21-15, to move on to a semifinal matchup with Spain on Sunday.
After a 40-minute rain delay, the U.S. and Spain tipped off in the first semifinal game Sunday, marking a rematch of the 2021 3x3 U18 final.
In an evenly matched contest, the Americans and Spaniards traded baskets for the first half of the game and showed a tie at seven with around 5:00 to play. Over the next 90 seconds, the U.S. added three hard-fought one-point baskets while also locking down defensively. The run would ultimately push to seven points (14-7) highlighted by a Mikaylah Williams two-pointer.
Spain’s first points in nearly three minutes of game time came via two free throws by Irene Broncano at the 2:12 mark for a 16-9 USA advantage.
The U.S. weathered a late surge by Spain but secured their spot in the finals with KK Arnold’s two-pointer with :31 remaining on the clock.
When asked about the rematch, Mikaylah Williams, the 2021 MVP, noted that “We had the same game plan. We executed the game plan and it ended up working out. We faced adversity and took care of business.”
In the final, the U.S. opened the scoring with a Mikaylah Williams make from beyond the arc, the only two-pointer for the U.S. in the contest. The rest of the 21-11 win was defined by the team’s tenacity in the paint.
Sahara Williams was everywhere, helping on the glass and registering two critical blocks in the first five minutes to help set the tone for the Americans defensively. She finished with six points, helping cap off an impressive string of performances through the single-elimination games.
With just over four minutes remaining, a Mikaylah Williams behind-the-back lay-in pushed the U.S. lead to six (12-6), but Germany was able to make a push to cut the deficit to two (12-10) with 4:30 left to play. The Americans responded, closing their title win on a 9-1 run highlighted by a bevy of physical and determined inside scores. Sarah Strong helped in that way by making her presence felt on the boards and ended the game with four points.
Mikaylah Williams was feeling the love from the crowd following her nine-point performance which helped cement her second consecutive 3x3 U18 MVP award and Team of the Tournament selection.
She also acknowledged the love and bond the U18 teams made throughout this journey, commenting, “It feels amazing. I made a lot more relationships with amazing people. I got to do what I love, have fun while doing it and win gold so it’s just an amazing feeling.”
Head coach Nick LoGalbo was impressed by his team's overall character and performance defensively, saying, “We had to get them bought in to each other and to the vision of what we were trying to do and it was really cool to see that all the girls did that.
“They had unbelievable energy, and they just shared the ball, defended well and I think that’s where we earned our keep...again, the girls deserve all the credit in the world. They bought into the vision of winning it on the defensive end and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”