USA Men and Women Win 3x3 U23 Nations League Americas Conference
After six days of competition at the 2022 FIBA 3x3 U23 Nations League, the USA men and women secured their bids into the Nations League Final by finishing atop the Americas conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The USA 3x3 U23 Nations League teams are set to compete at the Final in Constanta, Romania, from Sept. 14-16.
“One of our goals in the Dominican Republic was to make it to the Finals next month,” head coach Damon Huffman said. “To do so, we had to finish this event in first place and that is exactly what we did. Hopefully our teams can build off these days because we are going to be facing the best teams in the world soon. It is going to be exciting to see how we come together for the Final.”
The women’s path to the Final came via an unblemished record in the Dominican Republic. The USA went 18-0 in the Americas conference, wining each of the six Stops in the competition.
The sixth Stop began with a contest against Argentina. Maddy Westbeld and Alyssa Ustby each scored six points in the game where the USA held a 14-4 lead after the first five minutes of play. Rounding out the U.S. scorers were Celeste Taylor and Aaliyah Moore with four apiece in the 20-5 win.
Ustby was the leading scorer in the USA’s 19-8 victory over host country Dominican Republic. Her eight points factored into an early 11-1 lead for the red, white and blue. Moore (five) and Westbeld (two) combined for seven points as the Americans were able to score at the rim throughout the game.
Taylor was the hero for the USA in the final against Venezuela. The game was the toughest challenge yet as the U.S. trailed with under two minutes remaining in regulation for the first time this week. Down 13-12, the Americans went on a 5-1 run to hold a 17-16 lead with 17 seconds left. Venezuela made a free throw to tie the game and on the final possession, Taylor hit a running jumper for the dramatic 18-17 victory.
For the men, they stand tall in the Americas conference by winning four Stops and finishing the week with a 15-2 overall record.
Bryce Butler had a strong opening pool play game against Puerto Rico. Butler scored a game-high 10 points including two two-pointers. Eric Dixon added five points as the U.S. distanced themselves in the game with two 5-1 runs. With more than 90 seconds remaining in the game, the U.S. sealed the game 21-12 on a Dixon layup.
Chris Arcidiacono (seven) and Dixon (seven) combined for 14 points against Argentina. The U.S. was in control by limiting the Argentinian attack at the rim. Khalid Thomas and Dixon protected the basket and did not surrender an offensive rebound. Effective on offense and locked in on defense, the USA advanced to the final by a score of 21-9.
After splitting the first two final matchups with the Dominican Republic earlier in the week, the U.S. had a poised effort to take the third 21-15. Dixon led with eight points, including two two-pointers, but his connection inside with Thomas was too much for the Dominicans. Several nice passes from Dixon to Thomas resulted in timely two-pointers, helping the U.S. end the week on a high note.
The 2022 FIBA 3x3 Nations League will feature 11 countries that won their conferences and host Romania.
ABOUT FIBA 3x3 NATIONS LEAGUE
The FIBA 3x3 Nations League is comprised of 57 different national federations and 11 different conferences. Each conference has six one-day events which includes daily pool play and final. Teams earn tour standing points after each one-day event. The best-ranked team in the standings after the sixth day are declared winners of their conference and qualify for the 2022 FIBA 3x3 Nations League Final in Constanta, Romania, on Sept. 14-16.
ABOUT FIBA 3X3
Different than five-on-five, 3x3 is played on a half-court with a 10-minute game clock and 12-second shot clock. Play is continuous, as teams “clear” the ball behind the 2-point line following a made basket, defensive rebound or steal. The first team to score 21 points via 1-pointer field goals or 2-pointers behind the arc is victorious; or if time expires then the team leading wins.