Pac-12 sends 6 teams to USA Basketball 3-on-3 tournament
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By DOUG FEINBERG
Sabrina Ionescu is excited to battle for Pac-12 bragging rights this weekend.
Oregon's star freshman will be part of a 3-on-3 team the Ducks are fielding at the USA Basketball national tournament in Colorado.
Oregon is one of six Pac-12 teams in the open women's division of the tournament that will begin play Saturday morning.
"Yeah, I already was joking around that we're going to start having plays and play calls," Ionescu said during the NCAA Tournament. "It's going to be a great experience for us, and we practice 3-on-3, 4-on-4, 2-on-2 every day in practice here at Oregon, so I think we're kind of used to playing not 5-on-5. But I think we're excited just for the opportunity to represent our country in that."
Washington, Colorado, USC, Washington State and Cal are also in the nine-team tournament. The schools are picking up the cost of transportation to the tournament, and USA Basketball is taking care of the housing and food.
"There is no question that 3-on-3 is becoming more of a prominent thing on the international stage," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "It will be an Olympic sport. USA Basketball has done a tremendous effort to grow the game and grow interest in 3-on-3."
Gottlieb's star player Kristine Anigwe is playing this weekend. She has experience in 3-on-3, winning a silver medal in the 2015 under-18 World Championship.
There is also a men's open division as well as under-18 men's and women's tournaments. Both the men's open and women's U-18 teams will qualify for the World Cup. The men will play in France in June while the women's team will be in China in early July. The other two divisions will just have to settle for bragging rights.
The ultimate goal is to have 3-on-3 added to the 2020 Olympic Games. The IOC vote for that to happen is set for July.
"Everyone seems positive about it," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said. "The conversations I've had in my FIBA board meetings is very bullish about it. Now it's up to the IOC. If it is passed, we have to say what will be the process to get there."
The rules for 3-on-3 are a bit different than what the college players are used to. It's only one 10-minute quarter with a 12-second shot clock, which creates a fast-paced halfcourt contest. Teams win by reaching 21 points or leading when time expires.
If 3-on-3 does get approved for the Olympics, Gottlieb wouldn't mind seeing it eventually become an NCAA sport.
"I haven't heard anything about that possibility, but it would be a great way to grow the game," she said. "Look at the growth of beach volleyball and how it's an NCAA sport now."
Gottlieb said that USA Basketball women's team director Carol Callan reached out to the Pac-12 schools to field teams.
"Maybe next year it will be a difference conference," Gottlieb said. "It will continue to grow."
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Updated April 8, 2017