US favorite to win World Cup Championship
The Manila Times
SYDNEY: The US women’s basketball roster has undergone major changes since the Americans won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year with Sue Bird retired and Brittney Griner in a Russian jail. Even without Bird and Griner — and no Diana Taurasi — the US is the favorite to win a fourth consecutive FIBA World Cup championship that begins on Thursday. The Americans last lost a major international game in the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship, falling to Russia. The US hasn’t lost an Olympic game or World Cup contest since. The Americans have won 10 of the 19 World Cups but will definitely miss Griner, who was arrested, then wrongfully detained and later convicted of drug possession charges amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Griner was sentenced last month to nine years in prison. She averaged 16.5 points a game in Tokyo, tying her with A’ja Wilson for the team-high. “It will look different without the dominant force of Brittney,” US coach Cheryl Reeve said of the American’s style of play. “We want to put it inside as that’s the strength of USA Basketball. We will continue to have the ball inside.” The Americans still 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 should also make her presence felt, giving the US a 1-2 punch in the forward position that no country can match.