SYDNEY (AP) — The U.S. ladies’s basketball roster has undergone main modifications because the Individuals gained gold on the Tokyo Olympics final 12 months with Sue Fowl retired and Brittney Griner in a Russian jail.
Even with out Fowl and Griner — and no Diana Taurasi — the U.S. is the favorite to win a fourth consecutive FIBA World Cup championship that begins Thursday. The Individuals final misplaced a serious worldwide sport within the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship, falling to Russia. The U.S. hasn’t misplaced an Olympic sport or World Cup contest since.
The Individuals have gained 10 of the 19 World Cups however will certainly miss Griner, who was arrested, then wrongfully detained and later convicted of drug possession prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Griner was sentenced final month to 9 years in jail. She averaged 16.5 factors a sport in Tokyo, tying her with A’ja Wilson for the team-high.
“It should look completely different with out the dominant drive of Brittney,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve stated of the American’s type of play. “We need to put it inside as that’s the energy of USA Basketball. We’ll proceed to have the ball inside.”
The Individuals nonetheless have Wilson, who earned her second WNBA MVP award earlier this month and led the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA championship. Breanna Stewart also needs to make her presence felt, giving the U.S. a 1-2 punch within the ahead place that no nation can match.
The duo will counted on to fill a management void left by the retirement of Fowl and the absence of Taurasi, who’s sidelined with a quad damage. There are seven first-time World Cup gamers on the U.S. crew.
“You possibly can’t drive” management, Reeve stated. “You’ve conversations and gamers like Chelsea Grey acknowledged it. Chelsea’s actually prepared for that. I’d say the identical factor for Stewie. She’s very conscious. … That’s one of many first conversations we had. Not simply together with your play, however we additionally want your voice.”
Another issues to search for within the match:
Lauren Jackson got here out of retirement to assist Australia try and win its first gold medal because the 2006 match. The 41-year-old isn’t the identical participant who averaged 18.9 factors throughout her WNBA profession for Seattle, however the 6-foot-5 ahead has proven she has the flexibility to nonetheless compete with the world’s greatest.
Jackson retired in 2016 after knee accidents derailed her profession. She had hoped to compete within the Olympics that 12 months, however an ACL damage ended that dream. She stopped enjoying within the WNBA in 2012, strolling away as among the finest gamers in league historical past.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Belgium’s Emma Meesseman averaged 26.8 factors within the Tokyo Olympics and had a robust WNBA season with the Chicago Sky this previous 12 months. She’s hoping to get Belgium again to the medal spherical for the second consecutive World Cup. The crew misplaced to host Spain within the bronze medal sport in 2016.
Jonquel Jones is making her debut with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 2021 WNBA MVP helped Connecticut attain the WNBA Finals earlier than they misplaced to Las Vegas.
Marine Johannes of France, who had a stellar season enjoying for the New York Liberty, will miss the World Cup due to a thigh damage. The French crew is already lacking injured veteran middle Sandrine Gruda. France misplaced within the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup to Belgium.
Tokyo Olympics runner-up Japan modified coaches with Tom Hovasse taking up the lads’s nationwide crew. His former assistant Toru Onzuka takes over the ladies’s program. … Solely 4 international locations have gained the gold on the World Cup: U.S., Soviet Union (6 occasions), Brazil and Australia as soon as.
LOOKING FOR A WIN
South Korea has now performed in 16 consecutive World Cups, tied for the U.S. for many ever. However South Korea hasn’t gained a sport since 2010 when it beat Japan by one level.
The South Koreans are 0-9 since that victory and might be lacking WNBA participant JiSu Park for the match. They aren’t alone in seeking to get at the least one win within the match. Puerto Rico was winless in its three video games in 2018 and likewise didn’t have a victory within the Olympics final 12 months. Mali — a late alternative for Nigeria — is enjoying in its second World Cup, going 1-4 in 2010.