2018 FIBA World Cup Group A Primer
The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup tips off on Sept. 22. Get to know a little bit about teams in Group A, featuring Canada, France, Greece and South Korea.
Ranked No. 5 in the world and No. 2 in the Americas, Canada has captured a pair of World Cup medals, both of which were bronze and achieved in 1979 and 1986. The USA owns an all-time record of six wins and one loss versus Canada in World Cup play, having lost to Canada74-68 in 1975 and the most recent victory was 86-46 in 2010.
In 2014, Canada finished with a 4-3 record and in fifth place. A team looking to break back onto the medal podium on the world stage, Canada claimed gold medals at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup, 2015 FIBA Americas Championship and 2015 Pan American Games.
At the 2017 AmeriCup, Canada was paced to its 6-0 mark and gold medal by 5-foot-8 guard Nirra Fields (14.5 ppg.) and 6-foot-0 guard Kia Nurse (10.5 ppg.).
Fields starred for UCLA and was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in 2016, but is currently a free agent. Fields helped Canada strike gold at the 2015 PAGs and 2017 FIBA AmeriCup, and was on Canada’s roster at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, where Canada finished in seventh place. In senior level FIBA competitions, Fields has averaged 9.2 ppg., 3.6 rpg. and 2.1 apg.
Nurse, a rookie this season for the New York Liberty, helped Connecticut capture the 2015 and 2016 NCAA titles and was the 2018 WBCA Defensive Player of the Year.
She has competed as a member of the Canada National Team since 2013, and has played for Canada at the 2013 (silver) and 2015 (gold) FIBA Americas Championships, 2014 World Cup (fifth place), 2015 Pan Am Games (gold), 2016 Olympics (seventh place) and 2017 AmeriCup (gold). Nurse averaged 10.8 ppg., 2.4 rpg. and 1.9 apg. combined in these events.
USA fans will get a glimpse of the Canada squad when the two teams clash in an exhibition contest at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The USA also will go up against Canada on Sept. 15 in an exhibition tournament in France.
Canada, which has not yet set its World Cup roster, has already begun training for the World Cup. A preliminary Canada squad recently completed a four-game Asia exhibition series against China and Japan in which it dropped all four contests, two against each nation.
Ranked No. 3 in the world and No. 2 in Europe, France has been steadily improving its national team program. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist, France advanced to the 2016 bronze medal game, but lost to Serbia, and has placed among the top half of finishers in the past four World Cups.
The USA and France have faced off eight times in World Cup play, with the USA earning a 7-1 slate and notching victories in each of the past four World Cups. The two nations met in the first World Cup in 1953, when France captured bronze, its only medal in the history of the event, and the USA’s lone loss to France in World Cup play was 68-51 in 1971. The squads will again face each other in a pre-World Cup exhibition tournament in France on Sept. 17.
France has captured the past three EuroBasket silver medals, including 2017 where the squad was led into the final by veterans, 5-foot-7 guard Celine Dumerc (8.0 ppg., 4.2 apg.) and 6-foot-2 forward Endene Miyem (11.8 ppg., 4.7 rpg.). Olivia Epoupa, a 5-foot-5 guard and one of France’s rising stars, was on the past two French EuroBasket teams after emerging onto the senior level in 2015 and averaged 4.5 ppg., 3.3 rpg. and 2.8 apg. at the 2017 EuroBasket.
Miyem has competed in the EuroLeague since 2007 and is a two-time Olympic and two-time World Cup participant.
Dumerc, the 2012 FIBA Europe Player of the Year, was captain of the French squad that captured silver in London, and has played for the French National Team since 2003.
Ranked No. 20 in the world and No. 9 in Europe, Greece has never medaled in FIBA competition and qualified for the 2018 World Cup by virtue of its fourth-place finish at the 2017 EuroBasket.
The USA and Greece have met just once in World Cup play, with the USA earning a 99-73 victory in 2010.
Led by captain and 5-foot-11 shooting guard Evanthia Maltsi (16.1 ppg., 6.6 rpg. and 4.1 apg.), a stalwart on Greece’s national team since 2001, the 2017 EuroBasket bronze medal match was the first time in history that Greece had played in a medal game at the event. Maltsi is a 2004 Olympian who saw her squad fall to the USA in the quarterfinals. She also was the third-leading scorer at the 2010 FIBA World Cup. The 2009 FIBA EuroBasket MVP played in 2007 for the WNBA Connecticut Sun.
Greece’s second-leading scorer in 2017 was 35-year-old Styliani Kaltsidou (13.7 ppg., 5.6 rpg.), a 6-foot-2 forward, followed by 25-year-old Artemis Spanou (10.0 ppg., 3.6 apg.), a 6-foot-1 power forward.
South Korea is ranked No. 16 in the world and No. 4 in the FIBA Asia zone.
The nation has medaled twice in World Cup play, earning silver medals in 1967 and 1979. Korea last won the Asia Championship in 2007; claimed the silver medal in 2009, 2011 and 2013; and bronze in 2015. The squad finished in fourth place in 2017 to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
After dropping its first two World Cup contests against South Korea, in 1971 and 1979, the USA has earned five-consecutive wins versus South Korea. The most recent meeting between the two countries was in 2010 when the USA earned a 106-44 lopsided victory.
South Korea was led in the 2017 Asia Championship by 38-year-old and 5-foot-10 guard Yung Hui Lim (11.3 ppg., 4.8 rpg.), and 19-year-old Ji Su Park (10.3 ppg., 8.2 rpg.), a 6-foot-5 forward who plays for the Las Vegas Aces.