Reigning world and Olympic women's basketball champions Team USA showed no sign of slowing down in the 2022 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, having no problem in making the group stage. The winner of the World Cup will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. In the group stages, with six teams per group, a win would yield two points with a loss leading to one; the top four teams would qualify for the quarterfinals.
In Group A, the US were joined by Belgium, China, South Korea, Puerto Rico, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first match took place between the Bosnians and Puerto Rico at the State Sports Centre, with Arella Guirantes impressing with twenty-six points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Puerto Ricans never let go of an early lead to win 82-58. The Americans would open against Belgium and while the Cats held their own, the world champions never looked like losing as Breanna Stewart and Alyssa Thomas starred in an 87-72 victory at the Sydney SuperDome, the first of a double-header before South Korea faced China. The Chinese were out to put out a statement and did so with a 107-44 victory, with Han Xu earning plaudits for her fifteen rebounds and thirteen points. On Day 2, another double header took place, this time at the State Sports Centre, leading with a clash between Puerto Rico and the United States. Shakira Austin hit double figures in both points and rebounds as the Americans won 106-42. Meanwhile, Belgium bounced back with an 84-61 win over South Korea, before attention moved to the SuperDome where China faced Bosnia and Herzegovina, and put out another big performance winning 98-51, Han once again showing great form. But the Chinese would be brought back to earth on day three in the first game of a triple header at the SuperDome, as they lost 77-63 to the US despite an impressive third quarter showing in which they cut the American lead by ten. The introduction of A'ja Wilson proved effective as the Las Vegas Aces power forward netted twenty points. South Korea got their first win of the tournament as they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 99-66, with Kang Lee-seul netting a huge thirty-seven points. Finally, a back-and-forth game between Puerto Rico and Belgium was edged 68-65 to the Belgians, as an inspired Kyara Linskens performance took them over the line despite more magic from Guirantes.
After a rest day, again all three matches on day four were hosted at the SuperDome, with Belgium starting things off with a professional 85-55 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in a game that they controlled throughout the match. The United States set a new record for points scored as they smashed South Korea 145-69, with Wilson and Brionna Jones both being particularly impressive. China got back on track with a 95-60 win over Puerto Rico. This meant that with one day to go, the US, China, and Belgium were through, with a crunch match between Puerto Rico and South Korea ahead of the eliminated Bosnia and Herzegovina. This match would take place at the SuperDome, and Puerto Rico were inspired to a 92-73 victory by Mya Hollingshed's twenty-nine points. At the State Sports Centre, China made light work of Belgium with an 81-55 win; China have been a real handful the whole tournament. Back at the SuperDome, and in the final game of the group the US beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59 in a dead rubber. This meant that the US topped the group with ten points, ahead of China (nine), Belgium (eight), and Puerto Rico (seven), while South Korea (six) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (five) missed out on qualification.
In Group B, hosts Australia were joined by Canada, France, Japan, Serbia, and Mali. The opening game was held at the State Sports Centre as Canada ground out a tough win over Serbia 67-60, with a late fightback from the Serbs not enough. At the SuperDome, Japan made light work of Mali with an 89-56 win, before Gabby Williams netted twenty-three points in France's impressive 70-57 win over Australia. On the second day, with all matches at the SuperDome, Japan couldn't recover from a fifteen-point deficit in the first quarter as they lost 69-64 to Serbia, while Canada seemed to find their rhythm in a 59-45 victory over France. Australia were back on track with an 118-58 win over Mali.
After a rest day, action returned with all matches on day three at the SuperDome. Mali restored some pride but ultimately fell 74-59 to France despite Sika Koné netting eighteen points. Australia's resurgence continued with a 69-54 victory over Serbia, before Bridget Carleton inspired Canada to a 70-56 win over Japan with nineteen points. On the fourth day, the first two games were at the Sports Centre; Saša Čađo netted twenty points to take Serbia over the line against Mali, 81-68, in a match that was overshadowed when, during Čađo's interview, Mali players were seen fighting amongst themselves just a few metres away. Williams was on song again when France beat Japan 67-53 in a big win for qualification in the later match at the Sports Centre, while in the game of the tournament so far Australia squeaked past Canada 75-72 at the SuperDome. Canada lead through the first quarter 23-14, before Australia reversed them to lead 36-33 at the midway point. But the Canadians were 57-46 ahead at the third quarter and looked to be heading to victory, until the Opals came out all guns blazing in the fourth quarter and while Canada tried for one last fightback, it was too little, too late. On the final day, the final match at the Sports Centre would take place as Canada responded with an 88-65 win over Mali, with Carleton netting twenty-seven points. Serbia's strong start took them over the line, 68-62 at the same venue against France, while Australia continued the momentum with a 71-54 win over Japan at the SuperDome. This means that Australia won the group with nine points, ahead of Canada on head-to-head, while Serbia were third on eight points, also ahead of France on head-to-head. Japan (six points) and Mali (five points) were eliminated.
A draw was held for the quarter finals, with first and second in each group guaranteed to play third and fourth from the other. On the top half of the draw, Belgium face Australia while China take on France, while on the bottom side, Puerto Rico face Canada and the United States take on Serbia. This is a fascinating draw for many reasons: Belgium are highly rated but have not shown their best form while Australia seem to be hitting their side, China seem a very dangerous team and have avoided the US until the final and a potential semifinal against Australia appears mouthwatering, but France cannot be counted out. On the other side, Canada vs the US is a big favourite for the semifinal, and that is a clash that has an edge to it in any sport, and could we see a China-US rematch in the final? Time will tell, with the quarterfinals on 29 September, the semifinals on 30 September, and the final and third place match on 1 October, all games are at the Sydney SuperDome.
Writer, Totallympics News