Sue Bird to play in a national record fifth FIBA World Cup. The USA Basketball Women's National team also includes Storm stars Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd and former UW Husky standout Kelsey Plum.
Sue Bird headlines the 12 players picked to play for the USA Basketball Women’s National team that’s seeking its third consecutive FIBA World Cup championship.
Bird, the first five-time USA World Cup team member, is joined by Storm teammates Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd.
Stewart helped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, while Loyd is making her first appearance with the USA national team in an international competition.
Former Washington Huskies standout Kelsey Plum, a second-year guard with the Las Vegas Aces, is also making her debut at the FIBA World Cup with Team USA.
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Bird and Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, both four-time Olympic gold medalists, are the most decorated members of the USA World Cup Team that goes for its first three-peat.
Team USA also includes: Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun), Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).
Held every four years, the FIBA World Cup is the world’s largest women’s basketball international competition. The 16-team tournament begins Saturday in Tenerife, Spain. The quarterfinals are Sept, 28; the semifinals Sept. 29 and the finals Sept. 30.
Team USA opens play in preliminary round Group D against Senegal at 10 a.m. PT Saturday, followed by China at 10 a.m. Sunday and Latvia at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Here’s a look at the group pairings.
Bird, Stewart and Loyd, who led the Storm to a WNBA title last week, joined the USA National team in time for a scrimmage on Wednesday against Australia.
“It always feels good to finally get out there,” Bird said after the 70-60 USA victory. “We had a good practice yesterday, where the four of us that just joined the team got to learn the plays and kind of get a feel for what we are doing. So, it was actually really nice to have a scrimmage right away where you got to implement those things and see how it felt. It was definitely a starting point, I think for all of us, myself included.”
Australia appears to be USA’s biggest challenger for a third consecutive FIBA World Cup gold medal. Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage, who led the WNBA in scoring with 23.0 points per game in 2018, leads an Aussie’s team that includes Storm guard Sami Whitcomb, Rebecca Allen (New York Liberty), Cayla George (Dallas Wings), Stephanie Talbott (Phoenix Mercury) and is coached by Phoenix’s Sandy Brondello.
“With Liz Cambage at the forefront of basketball in Australia, it’s such an interesting time,” Lauren Jackson, the former Storm star who led Australia to its only FIBA World Cup gold in 2006, said in a recent interview. “There is no player on the planet that is as dominant as she is at this moment.
“I feel I am her No. 1 fan from the sense that I know what she is truly capable of doing. Having her in the middle is something that nobody else in the world has. The next step for her is to lead her team to a championship win.”
The winner of the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup earns an automatic bid to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.