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USA Faces Japan in Exhibition in D.C.

  • Author:
    Frank Bonner II, Sports Capital Journalism Program, IUPUI
  • Date:
    Sep 10, 2018

After a come-from-behind victory over Canada on Sept. 8 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team is ready for its next competition.

The USA will take on Japan at 7 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10 at the Charles E. Smith Center on the campus of George Washington University. Tickets are still available priced starting at $10 (plus applicable fees), and can be purchased at the Smith Center box office, through GetGWTix.com or by calling 202-99-GWTIX (4-9849).  For those not in the area, the game will be televised on NBA TV, and live stats will be available online.

Here is what you need to know before the game tips:

The USA Basketball Women’s National team is 12 days away from the start of the FIBA World Cup and getting closer to finalizing its 12-player roster.

Before it’s finalized, however, the USA will play an exhibition game against Japan tonight in Washington, D.C. The game represents the last opportunity for some of the players to compete for a roster spot. The USA National Team Player Selection Committee is expected to inform players of its roster decisions on Wednesday before the team heads to Antibes, France, to continue its preparations.

The pool of candidates includes four players participating in the WNBA Finals: Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics). Two others, Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) were recently eliminated from the playoffs and will be added to the roster for the games in France. Delle Donne suffered a bone bruise in her left knee. Bird has worn a mask after suffering a broken nose.

Japan, the opponent in the exhibition game Monday night, is ranked No. 13 in the world and No. 3 in Asia. In its most recent major international competition, Japan finished eighth in the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.

Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon) left the team after the exhibition victory over Canada on Saturday night at Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Napheesa Collier (Connecticut) played the entire fourth quarter of the come-from-behind victory, and remained with the team for the game against Japan on Monday night.

Bird, Taurasi, Griner and Stewart would bring a load of previous World Cup experience to the group. Three players who have participated in the camp, Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks) and Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles Sparks) have all represented the USA at the senior level of international competition.

The gold medal-winning 2014 team included eight players with previous World Cup experience.

USA and University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley emphasized the importance of experience after the victory over Canada.

“Our camp wouldn’t be as productive without Tina and Nneka,” Staley said. “Obviously, they’ve been around the block. They’ve been WNBA MVPs, they are someone that we’ll lean on with or without who are playing in the WNBA Finals because they are respected players. They are players who have played at the top and they are two of our country’s best players and we need to follow their lead.”

The 12 players that make up this year’s final roster will be aiming for a spot in USA Basketball history if they manage to earn a third consecutive World Cup gold medal. Following the game against Japan, the USA will play three exhibition games in France.

“I think a lot of people are really open to guidance, especially with the new faces,” Ogwumike said. “So we’re doing our best to communicate to everyone, but also make sure that we make each other better.”

 

 

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