No Bird, Griner, Taurasi: The United States remains the favorite to win the World Cup

SYDNEY (AFP) – The list of women’s basketball in the United States has undergone significant changes Since the Americans won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year with Sue Bird and Britney Grenier retiring in a Russian prison.

Even without Bird and Greiner – nor Diana Torassi – the United States is the favorite to win the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup for the fourth time in a row, which begins on Thursday. The last time the Americans lost a major international match in the semi-finals of the 2006 World Championships, they lost to Russia. The United States has not lost an Olympic match or World Cup competition since then.

Americans have won 10 of 19 World Cups, but they will surely miss Greiner, who was arrested, then unjustly detained and later convicted on drug possession charges amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Greiner was sentenced last month to nine years in prison. She averaged 16.5 points in the Tokyo game, and tied her to Aja Wilson at the team’s highest level.

“It would look different without Britney’s dominant force,” said American coach Sheryl Reeve of the American style of play. “We want to put it inside because that is the strength of American basketball. We will continue to keep the ball inside.”

The Americans still have Wilson, who picked up her second WNBA MVP earlier this month and led the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA Championship.. Breanna Stewart must also make her presence felt, giving the United States a 1-2 punch in the forward stance that no country can match.

The duo will count on filling the leadership void left by Bird’s retirement and the absence of Torassi, who has been sidelined with a quadruple injury. There are seven players for the first time in the World Cup in the US national team.

“You can’t force” driving, Reeve said. “You have conversations and players like Chelsea Gray have known them. Chelsea are really ready for that. I will say the same to Stewie. She is very perceptive. … This is one of the first conversations we had. Not only through your playing, but we also need your voice.”

Some other things to look for in a tournament:

HOMETOWN HERO

Lauren Jackson is out of retirement to help Australia try to win their first gold medal since the 2006 tournament. The 41-year-old wasn’t the same who averaged 18.9 points during her WNBA career with Seattle, but the 6-foot-5 striker showed she has the ability to Compete with the best player in the world.

Jackson retired in 2016 after knee injuries derailed her career. She had hoped to compete in the Olympics that year, but an ACL injury ended that dream. I stopped playing in the WNBA in 2012, and came out as one of the best players in league history.

players to watch

Belgian star Emma Messmann averaged 26.8 points at the Tokyo Olympics and had a solid WNBA season with Chicago Sky last year. She hopes to return Belgium to the World Cup medal role for the second time in a row. The team lost to its guest Spain in the bronze medal match in 2016.

Jonkel Jones makes her debut with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 2021 WNBA MVP helped Connecticut State reach the WNBA Finals before they lost to Las Vegas.

swerve

Marines Johannes of France, who had a stellar season with the New York Liberty, will miss the World Cup with a thigh injury. The French team is already missing veteran veteran Sandrine Groda. France lost in the 2018 World Cup quarter-final against Belgium.

TIP-INS

Tokyo Olympic runner-up Japan has changed coaches with Tom Hovasi in charge of the men’s national team. His former assistant, Toru Onzuka, is in charge of the women’s programme. … Only four countries have won the gold medal in the World Cup: the United States, the Soviet Union (6 times), Brazil and Australia once.

Looking forward to winning

South Korea has now played 16 consecutive World Cups, tied with the United States for more than ever. But South Korea have not won a match since 2010, when they beat Japan by one point.

The South Koreans are 0-9 since that win and will miss WNBA player JiSu Park for the tournament. They are not the only ones looking to score at least one win in the tournament. Puerto Rico was winless in its three games in 2018, nor did it win any Olympic Games last year. Mali – a late substitute for Nigeria – play in their second World Cup Final, going 1-4 in 2010.

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