Four WNBA players have been selected to represent the United States in the inaugural Women’s 3×3 Olympic competition in Tokyo next month.
All-Star center Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), fifth-year guard Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings), former first overall pick Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), and third-year forward Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm) will all be making their first Olympic appearances.
The 3×3 event in Tokyo features a distinct set of rules, differing significantly from the four 12-minute quarters in the WNBA and NBA.
The games are played outdoors in under 10 minutes, with a 12-second shot clock. Baskets are counted by ones (inside the arc) and twos (behind the arc); the winner being determined by who scores 21 first, or who is leading by the end of the 21 minutes.
While this format may differ from what Dolson, Gray, Plum, and Samuelson are used to professionally, they are by no means out of their element: The four won the Big Twelve International Tournament in France, and then finished 6-0 in the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Austria to secure an Olympic bid.
They are all also decorated individually in national team events, including 3×3 and 5×5: the four boast a combined record of 157-11 with USA Basketball teams.
Plum won a gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Cup, while Samuelson won a gold medal with the USA National Team in the 2019 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup.
Kara Lawson, the Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball head coach, will be coaching the team.
While 3×3 rules dictate that in-game coaching is prohibited, Lawson will lead team practices and help the team prepare to take home gold.
They’re going to Tokyo! 🇺🇸— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) May 30, 2021
Congrats to Stef Dolson, Katie Lou Samuelson and USA 3×3 on qualifying for the Olympics! pic.twitter.com/ouXsCd2QDB
“Their dedication these past 18 months to help position USA Basketball in Tokyo is being rewarded,” Lawson said. “Now, the real work begins. I’m confident that this group will be able to put together performances that represent our standard. This will be our most challenging tournament to date, but I love the competitors that we are bringing with us.”
The U.S Squad will face off against China, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, France, Japan and Italy in the preliminary round, from July 24-27.
The quarterfinals take place on July 27, while the semifinals and finals will take place on July 28.