Women of the United States have dominated Olympic 5 × 5 basketball winning the last six gold medals. The Americans are also off to a good start in a first sport: 3 × 3 basketball.
The Americans won their two 3 × 3 matches on Saturday, including beating France first 17-10 in the presence of First Lady Jill Biden. Then the Americans beat Mongolia 21-9.
“What an honor and what an opportunity to play in front of the first lady,” said US guard Kelsey Plum. “As soon as we got out, we saw her in the stands. She waved and brought all the energy in, so we are grateful to her for that.
“I think there has been a lot of build-up; it was pretty good to get rid of the nervousness. The tournament will only get better. This is your first game on a world stage, but once we started and the shots started falling we were just able to be ourselves. “
Just a year ago, Plum was repairing an Achilles tendon injury that forced her to miss the 2020 WNBA season. She is back in the WNBA this season and scored six points against France and Mongolia on Saturday.
Fellow Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young was a late addition to the four-member U.S. squad because Seattle Storm’s Katie Lou Samuelson had to withdraw from the Olympics after entering COVID-19 protocol just before to make the trip to Tokyo.
It’s been a whirlwind for Young, who, like Plum, is a former WNBA No. 1 draft pick. Saturday marked Young’s first international 3 × 3 game since playing in a 2019 tournament. She had one point against France and Mongolia.
“I was definitely nervous at first; I haven’t played in a while, ”Young said. “I did a few training camps. It’s definitely an adjustment. The physique is a little different, so I’m just getting used to it. But I feel good after the first game. “
Chicago Sky center Stefanie Dolson scored seven points against France and five against Mongolia. The other team member, Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray, had three points against France and nine against Mongolia.
The 3 × 3 format is played on a half court with a bow and basket, and a 12-second stopwatch. Free throws and baskets inside the bow are worth one point, and baskets behind the bow are worth two. The first team to reach 21, or the team that leads at the end of a 10-minute period, wins the game. If the score is tied, the first team with two points in overtime is the winner.
Two years ago, Americans feared they would compete in the 3 × 3 Olympics due to the lack of points the country had accumulated in FIBA-sponsored events. But with stronger attendance and the focus on these events by professional players, the United States improved their standings and went undefeated in their Olympic qualifying tournament in May to travel to Tokyo.
The United States has two more games on Sunday: against Romania at 4:30 a.m.ET and against the Russian Olympic Committee at 8:25 a.m.