Young Team USA star says FIBA 3x3 'a learning experience'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2018 04:25 PM

Sabrina Ionescu of Team USA. FIBA photo

MANILA, Philippines – Despite falling short in their campaign in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Cup, the United States women's team still gained plenty of valuable experience.

The United States, which won the women's division of the 3x3 World Cup in 2012 and 2014, sent a young team composed of collegiate stars from University of Oregon to the tournament held last June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Seeded 13th among 20 teams, the Americans rolled through their schedule in pool play, even pulling off a 21-13 upset of defending champion Russia. 

But their march through the tournament was halted in the quarterfinals, when they ran into the Rae Lin D'Alie-powered Italian squad. The Americans fell behind midway through and could not recover, as the Italians seized a 17-14 win to advance to the semis.

"Of course, it does suck losing," Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu told ABS-CBN News last Tuesday at the Philippine Arena.

"But this is our first time ever playing together and playing 3-on-3, so it's definitely a learning experience," she added.

Ionescu and her teammates - Erin Boley, Otiona Gildon, and Ruth Hebard – have played 5-on-5 basketball together, but this is their first international 3x3 tournament. They earned the right to represent the US by winning the national 3x3 competition back in April.

The 20-year-old Ionescu, who led Oregon to an Elite 8 appearance in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, scored 31 points in just five games in the event, the most in her team.

"3x3 has been very fun," she said. "Adjusting to the game and the officials and the atmosphere has been really fun here."

The Oregon junior said she would be willing to compete in a 3x3 tournament again, while also welcoming the opportunity to play for Team USA in 5-on-5 competition.

"I mean, I like both games, to be honest, so whichever team I can make," said Ionescu, who is a part of the United States Under-23 women's basketball team pool.

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