3x3 is the magic number
As the FIBA 3x3 World Cup continues in the Netherlands, olympic.org takes a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the fast-paced basketball discipline at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
China and Serbia make history in Singapore
The YOG Singapore 2010 marked the first time that 3x3 basketball had been played on the international stage, and it was China and Serbia who wrote their names into the record books as the inaugural champions of the women’s and men’s events respectively.
China had posted a perfect record in the pool stage, beating Brazil, Czech Republic, Mali and Thailand, before victories over Japan and Canada set up a gold medal clash with Australia, who had overturned an eight-point deficit to clinch a shock overtime win over the USA in the semi-finals, with Hannah Kaser and Olivia Bontempelli both on form in a famous victory.
With Bontempelli’s shooting unusually off-target in the final, China were able to surge into a 20-9 lead at half-time. And while Bontempelli and Kaser found their rhythm after the break to help cut the deficit to four points, Xueya Ma and Yi Shen soon reasserted China’s authority to secure a 33-29 victory.
Serbia also enjoyed an unblemished run in Singapore, seeing off Greece, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and India in the pool stage. After a comfortable quarter-final win over Lithuania, they needed overtime to get past the USA in the final four, with a superb display by Sasa Avramovic eventually securing a 34-29 victory.
The gold medal match then pitted Serbia against Balkan rivals Croatia, where they underlined their dominance with a comprehensive 22-9 win, as Avramovic and Marko Radonjic both starred for the men in white.
Buzzer-beater clinches gold for Lithuania
Lithuania and France faced off for men’s gold at the YOG Nanjing 2014, with the nail-biting finale going right down to the wire.
Kristupas Zemaitis looked to have won the game for Lithuania in regulation time, giving his side a one-point lead with 10 seconds remaining, only for France’s Lucas Dussoulier to sink a lay-up with four seconds left on the clock to tie the match at 16-16.
After both teams missed chances to win the game in overtime, the dying seconds saw sharpshooting Zemaitis launch a long-range jump-shot from the edge of the court to clinch a dramatic 18-16 victory, sparking wild celebrations with his team-mates Jonas Leksas, Martynas Sajus and Justas Vazalis.
“There was luck in the ending,” admitted Zemaitis afterwards, “but I believed I would make the shot and I did.”
Samuelson stars for USA
Before starring for the University of Connecticut and being drafted by the WNBA’s Chicago Fire, Katie Lou Samuelson lit up the YOG Nanjing 2014 with a series of impressive displays.
The then 17-year-old had already won a bronze medal in the women’s individual shootout, when she overcame an ankle injury to lead the USA to gold in the team event, scoring a game-high eight points in the final as they overcame the Netherlands 19-10.
"Of course, it's such an amazing memory for me because in 2014 I was able to win a bronze and a gold medal, but it's so much more than that,” recalled Samuelson recently. “It was such a life-inspiring moment to travel all the way to China and meet athletes from different cultures and backgrounds, and it’s such a great event.”
Argentina crowns new “golden generation”
Inspired by the country’s so-called “golden generation” of basketball stars who won gold at the Olympic Games Athens 2004, Argentina’s men’s 3x3 team created one of the most memorable moments of the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, as they topped the podium in front of raucous home supporters.
The quartet of Juan Hierrezuelo, Fausto Ruesga, Juan de la Fuente and Marco Giordano had come close to crashing out at the semi-final stage, having struggled to deal with the threat of Ukraine’s colossal Ihor Serheiv, but eventually clinched an 18-16 overtime win to secure a place in the final against an unbeaten Belgium team.
Roared on throughout the Games by thousands of fans at the city’s Urban Park, the vociferous support reached a crescendo when the talented Argentines – led by a game-high 11 points from Giordano – proved too strong for their Belgian rivals, holding them off for a 20-15 win.
“This means a lot to us as Argentinians; the last time we won a basketball gold medal in the Olympic Games was in 2004, so this is amazing,” explained Federico Quarin, a 22-year-old fan from Buenos Aires who was among those cheering in the Urban Park. “Argentinian athletes have won a lot of gold medals in these Games, but we love basketball in this country almost as much as we love football, so this one may be the most memorable. The atmosphere was incredible; there was so much happiness and euphoria.”