USA Girls Finish 4th, Boys 8th in FIBA 3×3 Youth World Championship

Courtesy of our friends at USA Basketball:

RIMINI, ITALY (Sept. 11, 2011) –  The USA Basketball Girls 3×3 Team (7-2) will take home an honorary bronze medal after an impressive effort on day three in Rimini, Italy, while the USA Boys 3×3 Team (7-5) finished in eighth place after falling to Canada in its final game of the tournament.

Approximately one-and-a-half minutes into the USA Girls’ semifinal game against Italy, the U.S. went down to two players after Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic H.S. /Owensboro, Ky.) suffered a knee injury. The USA’s fourth player, Taya Reimer (Hamilton Southeastern H.S. /Fishers, Ind.), had been sidelined Friday by a sprained ankle. The game was delayed by about an hour and 30 minutes before Kaela Davis (Buford H.S./Suwanee, GA) and Linnae Harper (Whitney M. Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) finished out the contest playing two-on-three. The duo battled Italy into overtime before succumbing by just two points 21-19. Davis finished with 14 points, while Harper added five.

“It was one of the most amazing games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Jamie Carey, USA Basketball Assistant Women’s National Team Director and girls team leader. “It was unbelievable to watch. This game is hard as it is, and then to play with two people, it was amazing to watch those two girls compete. It seemed like the entire gym was around our court watching the game. Kaela and Linnae couldn’t have done anything more, and Taya and Becca were just as into it cheering from the sideline. It was an amazing team moment, and I’m very proud of these players.”

Slated to play Japan in the bronze medal game, the USA forfeited due to injury and technically finished fourth, however, FIBA recognized the USA’s effort and awarded the team honorary bronze medals.

“I think at this point it doesn’t take a medal to show that we did something great, but it is very humbling for FIBA to award us honorary bronze medals,” Davis said. “We played our hearts out, and we are all proud of the effort we put forth today. The atmosphere was crazy, and at one point it seemed like every one in the gym was surrounding the court and cheering both teams on. It was pretty amazing.”

The U.S. boys squad faced Estonia in a medal quarterfinal Sunday morning, and held their opponent to just five points in the second period but could not recover from Estonia’s 16 first-quarter points, losing 21-12 to end the USA’s medal hopes. Rondaé Jefferson (Chester H.S./Chester, Pa.) led the red, white and blue with seven points. That same story was repeated in the USA’s 21-15 loss to Russia, with the USA unable to rebound after allowing 16 first-period points. Jefferson tallied six points against Russia, while Jordan Swopshire (SportsQuest Academy, Va./Ofallon, Mo.) and Malik Price-Martin (Monsignor Edward Pace H.S./ Miami, Fla.) added four points apiece.

“We just didn’t play with the intensity that we needed to today,” said B.J. Johnson, USA Basketball Assistant Men’s National Team Director and boys team leader. “We gave up a lot of second-chance points, which really makes it tough because it just helps the other team build confidence and really makes the basket look big. If you know you can get rebounds, you’re not afraid to take long shots with confidence.

“We played well against some of the better teams in this competition, but we started off slow today and that set the wrong tone for the day. After losing to Estonia we got down on ourselves, and the one thing about 3-on-3 is you have to have short memory. Our guys played hard, but it was tough to overcome that first loss.

“There is no question that these players got better,” Johnson continued. “From the time we started through our final game, I’m really proud of how far they’ve come and how much they improved.”

The USA finished in 8th place after falling to Canada 20-11 in its final game of the 36-team tournament.

Shaqquan Aaron (Taft H.S./Apple Valley, Calif.) led with four points, followed by three points from Jefferson and Price-Martin, who suffered a shoulder injury late in the second period and did not return.

“We are all a little down,” Jefferson said. “We are sad to have had a chance to compete for something and then lose. It hurts to lose. All around today, the teams we played wanted it more than we did. They were more aggressive getting to lose balls and doing the little things. We tried to maintain control when we were down, but we struggled on defense.

“Out of all of the basketball I’ve played, this experience really taught me about never giving up. No matter what the score, any team can win and you can never let up or take a play off.”