USA Passes Final Pre-World Cup Test in Scrimmage Victory Over Australia
Taking the court for the first time since the arrival yesterday of WNBA champions Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart from the Seattle Storm and runner-up Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics – albeit just in a scrimmage – the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team earned a hard-fought, unofficial 70-60 win over Australia on Wednesday afternoon in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
“It was great for us to get out here, basically with the team that we are going to have for the FIBA World Cup,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina). “To get everybody under one roof to play against one of the best teams in the world and to come out on top, I thought it was a good showing for us. But, we still have a lot of work cut out for us. As we get closer and closer to the World Cup and get a couple more practices under our belts, we can clean up some of those things. We have some people playing a little bit out of position, so our versatility will be better as time goes on. For the first showing, I thought it was great.”
And while the scrimmage had no bearing on any future standing or event, it was an important chance for the USA to begin to develop its chemistry and continue to improve on its execution.
“It always feels good to finally get out there,” Bird said. “We had a good practice yesterday, where the four of us that just joined the team got to learn the plays and kind of get a feel for what we are doing. So, it was actually really nice to have a scrimmage right away where you got to implement those things and see how it felt. It was definitely a starting point, I think for all of us, myself included.”
Tina Charles (New York Liberty) scored 15 points, and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) dished out four assists. Charles and Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces) each grabbed six rebounds.
The USA trailed 18-16 after the first quarter, but outscored Australia 24-10 in the second to lead 40-28 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Australia cut into the USA lead and trailed by just six points, 49-43, heading into the fourth period. The USA finished the scrimmage by outscoring Australia 21-17 for the 70-60 win.
“I feel like at first, we kind of were feeling each other out,” said Delle Donne. “But as the game went on, we got into a good pace a great flow and everybody looked really good.”
At the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which begins on Sept. 22, the USA will be in the hunt for a third-straight FIBA World Cup gold – a feat it has never before accomplished.
The USA opens against Senegal at 1 p.m. EDT on Sept. 22, followed by China at 1 p.m. EDT on Sept. 23 and Latvia at 1 p.m. on Sept. 25. All three of the USA’s preliminary games will be televised on ESPN+.
The USA roster currently lists 13 athletes, and the official, 12-member roster will be announced prior to Sept. 22.
The USA assistant coaches are Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx, Jennifer Rizzotti of George Washington University and Dan Hughes, who also joined the team on Sept. 18 after leading Bird, Loyd, Stewart and the Seattle Storm to a WNBA title.