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USA's Brunelle embracing leadership challenge on golden mission in Minsk
MINSK (FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - Samantha Brunelle is the sole survivor from USA’s roster which two years ago suffered a first-ever defeat at the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup.
Not a favorable memory, but one that the Virginia native has grown from in becoming a leader on the current side.
Despite the defeat to Australia in the Semi-Finals two years ago, Brunelle has taken a lot of positives from the 2016 event in Zaragoza, Spain, and has been working towards regaining the gold in Minsk.
"It was an amazing experience and I got to learn a lot my first go around," she recalled. "It's a different role for me this time. I'm a little more experienced on the team and know what to expect more so than I was a couple of years ago.
"I've been learning how to be a good leader for the team and what it takes to win a medal. We came up short our first year [in 2016] but gold has been our highest standard since then."
USA stormed their way to the title at last year’s FIBA U16 Women's Americas Championship with a 45-point win over Canada in the Final and it is no surprise they are considered favorites in Minsk with the bulk of the roster still together.
"USA Basketball always does a great job of putting teams together and we have really great chemistry, both on and off the court," the 17-year-old said. "If you want to win gold, you have to do everything you can; [have] toughness, passion and play every single game as hard as you can play it. Nothing comes easy."
Looking beyond these 9 days in Minsk, Brunelle is hoping for more success on the international stage as part of the USA side to compete at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October.
"That's what we're shooting for," she said. "I'm very excited - 3x3 is different to what me and my team-mates are used to, but we've been doing well and hopefully that can continue."