The 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup starts on Thursday, Sept. 22 and goes through Oct. 1 in Australia. The USA Basketball women’s national team is one of 12 teams looking to earn a berth in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France if they can win the event.
The WNBA Finals is also causing some complications.
Game 3 of the series between the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun is today at 4 p.m. ET. The Aces lead, 2-1 and would win the series if they win today. USA Basketball may not root for the Aces openly. But if they do, that would give the Americans an opportunity to pick up WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, superstar point guard Kelsey Plum and/or Chelsea Gray from the Aces, and/or do-it-all forward Alyssa Thomas or post Brionna Jones from the Sun. That’s FIVE ADDITIONAL PLAYERS THEY CAN PICK UP, assuming Team USA wanted some combination of them all along.
It could make things interesting for the Americans. Should they select anyone from the Aces and/or Sun? The current roster, even without Aces and Sun players, is more talented than any other country’s. Assuming they select NO ONE from the Sun and/or Aces, that could be good news for Washington Mystics center Shakira Austin. She is almost definitely not making this team over Wilson if the Finals were over already. If Austin were to make the national team, she would join Ariel Atkins, who is more likely to make the squad than not because of her Olympic team experience last year.
There’s also one team that would love nothing more than a Game 5 in the Finals: The Belgian women’s national team! The Cats have been able to practice at full strength since last week with Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman and guard Julie Allemand returning after their WNBA team was eliminated in the semifinals. If Wilson especially is selected AND there is a Game 5, which is on Tuesday, she simply won’t be able to make the first game against Belgium. And Meesseman would have the upper hand in any post matchup.
And yeah, I’ll say it: the Belgian Cats have a good shot to upset Team USA in group play.
I personally would love to see Austin make the team now so Team USA can have two Mystics. But I can see why USA Basketball would prefer Wilson instead. What would you like to see the Americans do in the World Cup? Let us know in the comments below!