Team USA has won the first-ever 3×3 women’s basketball gold medal at the Olympics. During the tournament, the USA only lost one single game and won eight games. The final was a hard-fought match with the Americans beating the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 18-15.
The U.S. team consisted of four members: Stephanie Dolson, Alisha Gray, Kelsey Plum, and Jackie Young. Dolson scored the highest number of points for the team in the final, netting seven points. Plum led the early charge, scoring the team’s first five points to put America in a leading position. Plum also scored the most points for America in the tournament; her final tally was 55 points in nine games.
“I’m so proud of this team and myself too. We fought so hard to get here and it wasn’t always easy and we’re really happy with what we’ve done… [Winning gold] gives me goosebumps. It’s special to be the first of anything but basketball runs deep in American blood, so this is very special,” Dolson said in a statement.
Gray dedicated the gold to her parents who “sacrificed so much” for her, supporting her dreams “all the way.” Young, who replaced Katie Lou after she tested positive for COVID-19, was on vacation when she got the call.
“I’m so happy to have been a part of this,” Young said.
All four American players have led successful careers in the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) tournaments. Except for Plum, the other Team USA members have all won national intercollegiate titles.
In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from international sporting competitions, including the Olympics, for four years. An investigation had uncovered a widespread state-sponsored doping network.
The ban was reduced to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport; it ends on December 16, 2022. Russian athletes are officially participating in the 2020 Olympics under the title, ROC. They do not sport the Russian flag. If a player wins, “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky is played instead of the Russian national anthem.
In the women’s bronze medal match between China and France, the former shocked the world’s number one ranked basketball team by securing a narrow 16-14 win. The Chinese team was the youngest among the final top four teams. Though France had a chance to tie the game in the final moments, the Chinese defense held strong and clinched the win.
“The game was very tough. It was up and down all game long, but we managed to be on top in the end… We’re very excited because we’ve won the bronze medal at the first time that 3×3 basketball has been in Olympics… It’s more than we expected,” Lili Wang said in a statement. Wang scored nine points in the game. Her explosive performance in the initial phase of the game gave the team a 6-1 early lead over France, which proved crucial for the win.