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Aces’ Kelsey Plum sinks China, advances U.S. to 3X3 semifinals

Updated July 26, 2021 - 10:06 pm

Kelsey Plum is a confident shooter, a player who often will go on 3-point rolls for the Aces.

Her attitude hasn’t changed now that she’s on the U.S. 3-on-3 basketball team, where 3-point shots count as two.

Plum delivered Monday night in Tokyo, making a 2-pointer to beat China 21-19 and give the U.S. a bye into the semifinals of the Olympic Games at Aomi Urban Sports Park.

Games are played to 21 points or in 10 minutes, whichever comes first, so Plum knew if she missed the shot, China had a chance at the winner.

“I thought, why the hell not?” Plum said. “I pride myself on being ready when my number is called and trying to make some plays.”

That was the second U.S. victory of the day. The Americans, unbeaten in their first six games, also beat Italy 17-13. However, they were defeated 20-18 by Japan on Tuesday.

The U.S. plays its semifinal at 1 a.m. Wednesday. The bronze medal game later that day is at 4:45 a.m. and the gold medal contest at 5:55 a.m.

Plum and Aces teammate Jackie Young make up half of the four-player team.

In addition to making the winner against China, Plum led the U.S. with 10 points. The Americans needed every one of those against a tenacious Chinese team.

“They played really super physical,” Plum said. “For us, it is tough. This is a hard tournament, and you do not have an easy game.

”There is no rest. I thought we battled through things, and there were no mistakes. And they hit some big shots, so credit to them for putting up a good fight.”

Plum has made no secret of her desire to play for the five-on-five national team, but she is showing what she can do in this format. She leads the U.S., averaging seven points.

“For me, this was an opportunity, right?” Plum said. “I would not pass this up, given the opportunity.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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