The USA 3×3 Women’s National Team (2-0) earned wins in its first two contests at the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament on May 27 in Graz, Austria, including 21-7 against Indonesia (0-2) and 21-17 versus France (1-1).
The USA women will complete pool games on Saturday, May 29, against Germany (2-0) at 7:05 a.m. (EDT) and Uruguay (0-2) at 9:10 a.m. (EDT).
The top three finishing teams at the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament will earn a berth in to the inaugural Olympic 3×3 competition, including three women’s and three men’s teams, and the event is live at FIBA’s 3×3 You Tube Channel.
“I definitely think we have a ton of room for growth,” said Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington/Poway, Calif.), who had six points against France in the second matchup, including the final free throw to seal the 21-17 win with 21.9 on the clock.”
“Every time we play together, it’s like we’re learning each other still and learning the game in general, the little nuances, and it’s really hard to learn that when you’re not playing live. We haven’t had a ton of experience playing live, so I just think it’s an opportunity to get better every time, and I think we’re doing that. So, I’m just super proud of everyone.”
In the USA’s first game against Indonesia, the Americans cruised to a 21-7 win when Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings/South Carolina/Sandersville, Ga.) capped the contest with a made free throw with 4:03 left on the clock. Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut/Port Jervis, N.Y.) and Gray combined to help the USA get out to a 7-0 lead as the USA sank six 2-pointers against Indonesia. Dolson finished with eight points, Gray had seven and Plum added four.
Against France in its second game, the USA faced FIBA’s No. 1. ranked women’s federation (the USA women are No. 12), and after a slow start, fought its way to a 21-17 victory that included five tied scores and three lead changes.
“France was more competitive,” Gray said. “They have great players, and they are the No. 1 team in 3×3, so it was a big win for us, and it was a measuring stick to see where we are at in the 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and I would say we measured pretty well.”
The USA trailed 5-1 to start but rode a 9-3 run to pull the game to 10-8 in the USA’s favor at 5:51. A 2 gave France the lead back, but the USA pushed ahead to 16-14 with points from Gray, Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm/Connecticut/Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Dolson. After a France score, Gray drove to the basket and Samuelson sank a 2-pointer to put the USA up 19-15. France threatened at 19-17, but Plum closed out the win with a driving basket at 40.0 and the free throw to end the game.
“I was kind of mad at myself for missing the two open 2s before that, but we are just excited to get the win,” Plum said. “This is so new for us, and we really had no idea what we were going up against in terms of, you know, we had never played them, and they’re the No. 1 team in the world. So, it was really fun. It was really fun to compete.”
The top two finishing teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the quarterfinals on May 30, and the quarterfinal winners will advance to the semifinals.
The two winning semifinal teams will earn two of the three women’s Olympic berths at the event, and semifinal winners will not play a championship game. Instead, the two losing semifinal teams will play for third place and the last Olympic spot.
3×3 basketball is played with a 12-second shot clock on a half court. Baskets inside the arc and free throws are worth one point, and baskets made from outside the arc are worth two points. The winner is the first team to score 21 points, or the leading team at the end of the 10-minute game clock.
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