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Olympic gold medalist Allisha Gray hopes to be part of US 3×3 team in Paris Games

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Allisha Gray is glad to be back playing 3×3 for USA Basketball with an eye towards being a member of the team at the Paris Olympics this summer.

She’s the only player returning from the foursome that took home the gold at the Tokyo Games three years ago. That was the inaugural appearance of the sport at the Olympics.

“To be the first team to do it and it being the first time in the Olympics, it was amazing,” Gray said. “It’s great to be back and get back into the groove of things.”

Gray was one of eight players selected from the 15-person training camp over the weekend to participate in a 3×3 tournament in Springfield, Massachusetts at The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. She’s on a team with Dearica Hamby, Cameron Brink and Linnae Harper.

Brink and Harper helped the U.S. win the 2023 FIBA 3×3 World Cup. Hamby made her 3×3 debut winning the gold at the Women’s AmeriCup the same year.

The other U.S. team in the tournament features Cierra Burdick, Rhyne Howard, Lexie Hull and Hailey Van Lith. Burdick and Van Lith were also on that World Cup team last year. Howard has the least 3×3 experience, only playing in USA Basketball nationals in 2019. She’s also in the Olympic 5-on-5 national team pool.

“I think 3×3 is more intimate and it really tests your patience a little bit because you have to think about what you’re doing in order to get good looks,” Howard said. “You don’t have a lot of people to help you get open so you have to create for yourself a lot.”

Hull began her 3×3 career in 2016 and also medaled in the sport in 2022 and 2023.

The Americans will eventually choose the four player roster for Paris. Two of the players must be in top 10 for points accumulated for the U.S. The other two players on the team either have to also be in the top 10 or have played in at least one official FIBA 3×3 competition between Jan. 1, 2023 and June 24, 2024.

National team coach Jennifer Rizzotti said that the selection committee will have a tough job picking the four players to compete in Paris.

“What makes it hard is there are also some women who have committed to this game for four years,” she said. “They’ve earned the points for the U.S. and earned the points for themselves. They’ve done all the groundwork and laid the foundation for us to be able play in the Olympics and not all of them will get to go. We tried to find a way to make them know that they are part of the process and you try to keep them here as long as you can.”

The 3×3 game is played on a half court with a 12-second shot clock and the winner is the first team to score 21 points or to be leading at the end of a 10-minute period. Baskets inside the arc are worth one point and shots outside it are worth two.

Rizzotti said USA Basketball had a 3×3 camp last May that featured a lot of the college players who were playing the game for the first time. She’s seen a lot of growth from them.

“It’s impressive to see in a short amount of time and limited repetitions of playing that they’ve picked things up,” she said. “Made us really have a competitive camp in a way that I wasn’t really expecting.”

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer

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