The 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup ended last week. Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on it, here are some winners and losers from the event.
- Team USA: The Americans won their fourth consecutive World Cup which was expected. They were never seriously challenged throughout despite losing several veterans like the backcourt of Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi and post Tina Charles.
- Shakira Austin: Austin had three games in double figures for Team USA in the group stage. After this tournament, I’m hopeful that she will have an All-Star season, perhaps as soon as 2023!
- FIBA Asia: The Asian teams, most notably Japan, had a strong showing in last year’s Olympics with the Japanese winning the silver medal. In this year’s World Cup, China and Australia won the silver and bronze medals, respectively. If Rui Machida played for Japan in the World Cup, perhaps the Japanese would have had a stronger showing.
- China: The Chinese have not medaled since 1994 when they won second place. With several players including WNBA talents like Han Xu and Li Yueru, they should be one of the teams to see as we head toward the Olympics in 2024.
- Washington Mystics: Team USA’s biggest stars aren’t on the Mystics. But I was happy to see both Austin and Ariel Atkins play on the team. Furthermore, Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault was an assistant on the team too.
- Lauren Jackson: The Hall of Famer returned to play for the Australian Opals at the young age of 41. She is not as good as her Seattle Storm days, but finished her World Cup with the bronze and a 35 point performance against Canada!
- FIBA Europe: Europe has the best teams from top to bottom, and that doesn’t change after the World Cup. But it was a shock that no European team made it to the semifinals, the first time it has ever happened in FIBA history.
- Emma Meesseman: We already know what she provided for the Mystics for many years and know that the Belgian Cats are the team she REAAAAALLLY steps up her game for. However, she suffered a calf injury during group play and was never a scoring factor in any game. At first, I felt schadenfreude because she “betrayed” the Mystics. But after her injury was known, I felt bad.
- Belgium: Meesseman will be 33 in the next World Cup. While the Cats have several good younger players, like Julie Allemand, Kyara Linskens, Maxuella Lisowa Mbaka and Billey Massey, watching their last two games was quite poor, even considering Meesseman’s absences in the last two games. And I’ll say it: while the loss to Japan in the 2020 Olympic quarterfinals was bad, I don’t think it warranted the firing of then-head coach Philip Mestdagh. Maybe it’s time for the Belgian federation to say ... “Welkom terug/Content de te revoir Phil” after this tournament?
- Marine Johannes: As France’s top star, she had a thigh injury while playing for the New York Liberty and couldn’t even play for Les Bleues and missed this tournament completely. With her, I think France would have made the semifinals.
- Chicago Sky: Copper was hurt for Team USA. And the Belgian duo of Meesseman and Allemand were sent home in the quarterfinals. Also, Meesseman is a free agent and EuroBasket is next year. Mystics fans dealt with that a lot in the last several years, and now ... it’s Sky fans’ turn to sweat like we did not too long ago. And I didn’t get to assistant coach Ann Wauters yet!
- The WNBA: Meesseman and Johannes weren’t the only WNBA players who got injured. Atkins, Betnijah Laney and Kahleah Copper all suffered injuries in Team USA’s win over Serbia in the quarterfinals. Copper suffered the most serious injury of the three where a hib injury kept her out for the rest of the tournament. But I also believe the WNBA must be called out for its scheduling. The Finals ended less than a week before the World Cup and several players missed several games. This piece by Chris Cwik of Yahoo! Sports below does a good job detailing WNBA players’ complaints about the lack of coordination between the FIBA and the WNBA on this.
- FIBA: For whatever reason, FIBA thought it was a good day for teams to play five games in six days for group play, and then three more games in four days for the teams that make the semifinals. The Olympics last year had 12 teams and games were spread out over two weeks. Even Women’s EuroBasket in 2021 had more off days.