USA reign supreme in FIBA 3x3 Women's Series Katowice Stop 2023
KATOWICE (Poland) - The Burdick-Harper duo was unstoppable as USA beat fairytale finalists Lithuania 17-20 in the FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series Katowice Stop 2023 on August 14 - 15.
Here’s how it went down on the sixteenth stop of the season.
The Winners: USA
Linnae Harper joining the team in Poland made team USA an even bigger threat, not that they needed it given that they won the Pristina stop not too long ago.
They started off as expected, cruising past Ukraine 18-8 off the back of an 8-point showing by Harper and a huge 9-rebound game for Cierra Burdick, a trend that would continue throughout the competition.
They suffered a blow against Spain in their next game. Harper, Burdick and Zimmerman all scored 5 points but Spain fought back, taking the game to OT, and it was Vega Gimeno who called game to leave USA a result apiece.
There was no stopping them on Day 2 though, taking on a gritty Italian side. It was a battle of boards between Burdick and Sara Madera with the World Cup Gold Medalist emerging on top with 10 which turned the tide in their favor. Zimmerman put up a team-high 6 points to lead her side to the Semi-Finals.
Gyor made a surprising deep run led by Klaudia Papp, but they would just come short with Harper putting up a huge 7 point, 5 rebound performance to book a spot in the final.
Perhaps their success isn’t a surprising, given how strong the team has looked in their recent appearances in the competition, but Lithuania came to ball in Katowice.
A name you’ll hear mentioned a lot is Special K, Kamile Nacickaite. She was on fire from the first game against a lethal Neftchi. A close game which went to OT, Nacickaite scored 9 points including the dagger two to hand Lithuania a superb start to the tournament.
Special K put up a huge 8 point performance, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to Italy to close out the day.
Day 2 however, was legendary. It was the battle of giants as they took on Spain. It was an intense back and forth, with Nacickaite and Gimeno going at it. With the Spaniard putting her side a point away from victory, Special K delivered yet another clutch two to seal the game for Lithuania.
In the Semi-Finals, they went up against the best there is in the competition in China. Every time it seemed like China would separate themselves, Lithuania stayed in. They tied the game with mere seconds to go. To end the game, who else? Going to the same play that defeated Neftchi, Special K found space to drill the two to beat the Giants. They had a dream run, and had made their way to the final.
Lithuania 17 - 20 USA
USA started strong, going on huge runs to keep themselves ahead. They collectively maintained a healthy 8-3 lead, but Lithuania fought back off the back of some timely shots from Martyna Petrenaite. They went on yet another run that left team USA with a 7-14 lead, the World Cup winning duo combining offensively. Lithuania would just not quit though with Special K hitting some huge shots. The lead dwindled down to 15-20 but with time running out, USA had done enough. Nacickaite hit a two to bring their total to 17 but that was all the time they had. A clinical performance by team USA handed them the win in Katowice. Harper finished with 10 points as the leading scorer.
MVP - Cierra Burdick
Burdick was the conductor once again, running the game for her side on the offensive end while also clamping down. She averaged a whopping 7.4 rebounds per game which proved to be key in Team USA’s success in Poland.
4. Gyor (HUN)
8. Dusseldorf ZOOS (GER)
10. Neftchi (AZE)
The FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series heads to Spain for the first time as the Melilla stop 2023 takes place on August 18 - 19.