July 27, 2021 

Team USA 3X3 earns top seed in Olympic semifinals

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'Going into the semifinals, we're confident'

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Despite a 20-18 loss to Japan early Tuesday morning to conclude pool play, the U.S. women’s 3X3 basketball team will be the top seed and advanced directly to the semifinals of the event’s inaugural Olympic competition.

The U.S. (6-1) will play France in the first semifinal at 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday followed with China and the Russian Olympic Committee in the second. China was a 19-13 victor over Italy, and France beat Japan, 16-14, in the quarterfinals, which took place just hours after Japan’s win over the U.S. Romania (1-6) and Mongolia (0-7) failed to advance to the knockout round of the eight-team event despite valiant efforts from nations without traditional basketball pedigrees.

“We’ve been ready for every game and today was no exception,” U.S. center Stefanie Dolson said of the Japan loss. “A big emphasis for us has been our defense. People (think) with 3X3, (we) just score and do all of these crazy moves. But for us, we focused a lot on defense to make it hard for teams. In the games that we’ve played close and won, a large part of it has been because of our defense.

“Sometimes shots are going to go in, and sometimes, shots are not going to go in, but defense, as long as it stays stable, we’re always going to be confident. Going into the semifinals, we’re confident. Today’s game was not ideal for us, but we will learn a lot from it and be ready.”

While the Americans’ first three wins were relatively decisive, four-point victories over the Russian Olympic Committee and Italy followed, then a 21-19 squeaker with China.

“Our last couple of games were very competitive,” U.S. guard Allisha Gray said, “something I am glad we were able to advance forward to the semifinals. Even though we dropped one today, we’d like to get redemption later.”

Although she was held to two points against Japan, Kelsey Plum has propelled into the tournament’s leading scorer with 44 total points.

“I think it’s really cool to be part of the team, people are really tuning in,” Plum said. “People are waking up at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and watching our games. How cool is that? What a way to be introduced to 3X3!”

France was the top-seeded team entering the Olympics, and its star, Laetitia Guapo, was FIBA’s top-ranked player. The U.S. won the first game on Saturday, 17-10, and held Guapo to two points.

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