Following a three-game tournament in Antibes, France, that featured 11 of the 16 finalists for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Team, the roster has been pared to 13 athletes for the eventual 12-member team. Among the finalists to make the team are Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces.
The athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which is chaired by USA Women’s National Team director Carol Callan.
Two-time defending World Cup gold medalists, the USA will compete in the 2018 FIBA World Cup, Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.
Headlined by four-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), who have claimed five World Cup gold medals between them, and two-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Tina Charles (New York Liberty); the list of finalists also includes 2016 Olympic gold medalists Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); as well as 2014 World Cup gold medalist Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks).
The remaining finalists include Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun), and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
“It’s a really hard process,” said USA and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “Because, we’ve got great players and great people. So, they don’t eliminate themselves because of that. What it’s coming down to is, what is our most pressing need? And it changes from day to day, especially because we don’t have our entire team together yet. We’ll get a good birds-eye view of what that team looks like in the next few days, and I would say within 48 hours we should know, and we should have our roster locked in.
“All the players, from when we started out in Columbia, South Carolina, to going all the way to D.C., and then taking 11 players from D.C. to here, they’ve all sacrificed. They all have given up their time. Some of the ones who are not here right now, some of the ones who are going home may not feel like they helped, but they did. They helped us, they helped their cause and gave the committee someone that they can look at and count on when training camps come up again.”
The USA squad will travel from France to Tenerife, where it will be joined by 2018 WNBA champions Bird, Loyd and Stewart, as well as WNBA runner-up Delle Donne.
The final 12-member 2018 USA World Cup Team will be selected by the USA Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee prior to the start of the World Cup.
The USA began training on Sept. 3 in Columbia, South Carolina, with 18 athletes, and Williams joined the team in New York after the Dream was eliminated from the playoffs. After an intrasquad game on Sept. 5 in Columbia, the team earned two exhibition victories over Canada (74-68) on Sept. 8 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Japan (102-87) on Sept. 10 in Washington, D.C. From there, the team captured a round-robin tournament title in France, earning victories over Canada (84-68) on Sept. 15, Senegal (109-58) on Sept. 16 and France (77-60) on Sept. 17.
Griner and Taurasi joined the USA squad in time for the French tournament.
Assisting Staley through the World Cup are Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), who joined the team following the conclusion of the WNBA Finals, Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington).
In addition to Callan, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.
USA Basketball Women’s National Team
Members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team will compete in the 2018 FIBA World Cup and, if the USA qualifies, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.
The U.S. and Staley first will look to capture the title at the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup of Basketball, with an automatic berth to the 2020 Olympic Games being awarded to the gold medalist. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in 2018, it would have two additional opportunities to qualify for the Olympics: the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup (dates and site TBD) and the 2020 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
FIBA World Cup of Basketball
Winners of back-to-back World Cup titles and four of the past five FIBA World Cups, the USA owns a record nine gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Cup play, while compiling an all-time 103-21 record at the event. In 2014, the most recent World Cup, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Australia won bronze.
The USA will compete in preliminary round Group D and will play Senegal on Sept. 22, China on Sept. 23 and Latvia on Sept. 25.
Group A includes Canada, France, Greece and South Korea; Group B is comprised of Argentina, Australia, Nigeria and Turkey; while Group C features Belgium, Japan, Puerto Rico and Spain.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded, and the top team from each group will earn an automatic berth to the quarterfinals, while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from each group will advance to the Sept. 26 quarterfinals play-in round. From there, winners will compete in the Sept. 28-30 medal round.
2018 USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Team Finalists
(Photo Credit USA Basketball- Catherine Steenkeste)