Sue Bird Named to Record Fifth USA Basketball World Cup Team, Diana Taurasi to Fourth
Comprised of a mix of returning veterans, with a combined 23 Olympic and World Cup gold medals and an overall 669-39 (.945) winning record in USA Basketball games played, the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Team was finalized ahead of the Sept. 22-30 FIBA World Cup in Tenerife, Spain.
With her selection to the 2018 U.S. squad, Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) became USA Basketball’s first five-time USA World Cup Team member, while this year marks a fourth World Cup for Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury).
The athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which is chaired by USA Women’s National Team director Carol Callan.
In addition to Bird and Taurasi, both of whom also are four-time Olympic gold medalists, the official 2018 USA World Cup Team features: Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun), Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun), and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).
At the 2018 FIBA World Cup, 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 play in preliminary round Group D 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+, while the quarterfinals and semifinals will be on one of the ESPN channels to be determined and the finals will be carried by ESPN.
“I feel real good about this team and what it can do to help us defend gold at the World Cup,” said Dawn Staley, USA and University of South Carolina head coach. “I feel that we got the best 12 to represent us, although it was extremely hard getting down to that number. But, that’s what it’s all about, having a great pool of players to get down to 12. We could have easily brought 15 players, but the roster has to be cut down to 12.”
Staley added, “We have great experience. We have some up-and-coming younger players who need to get experience playing at this level. So, we have a great mix of both, and we are looking forward to forging ahead, getting as much time together as possible before we start and as we continue throughout the tournament.”
Winners of back-to-back World Cup titles and four of the past five FIBA World Cups, the USA owns a record nine gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Cup play, and an all-time 103-21 record at the event. In 2014, the most recent World Cup, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Australia won bronze.
FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 consists of 16 teams divided into four preliminary round groups. In addition to Group D in which the USA, China, Latvia, and Senegal will compete; Group A includes Canada, France, Greece and South Korea; Group B is comprised of Argentina, Australia, Nigeria and Turkey; while Group C features Belgium, Japan, Puerto Rico and Spain.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded, and the top team from each group will earn an automatic berth to the quarterfinals, while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from each group will advance to the Sept. 26 quarterfinals play-in round. From there, winners will compete in the Sept. 28-30 medal round.
In all, the 12 members of the team have earned a combined 48 gold medals, two silver medals and three bronze medals in junior- and senior-level international competitions, including 3×3.
Ten of the past USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honors have been earned by five members of the 2018 USA World Cup Team, including head coach Staley, who garnered the award in 1994 and 2004. Taurasi (2006, 2010, 2012, 2016) is tied with five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards for the most, earning the honor four times in her illustrious career. Stewart also is a multiple award winner, earning USA Female Athlete of the Year in 2011 and 2013, while Charles (2009) and Wilson (2015) round out the list.
Olympic gold medalists include Bird (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), Charles (2012, 2016), Delle Donne (2016), Griner (2016), Stewart (2016) and Taurasi (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016).
World Cup gold has been won by Bird (2002, 2010, 2014), Charles (2010, 2014), Griner (2014), Ogwumike (2014), Stewart (2014) and Taurasi 2010, 2014). Bird and Taurasi also took home bronze from the 2006 World Cup.
After helping the Seattle Storm capture the 2018 WNBA title, Stewart becomes the 11th athlete in history to have earned Olympic and World Cup gold medals, a WNBA title and NCAA Championship. The first 10 members of that exclusive group include 2018 USA teammates Bird, Griner and Taurasi; as well as Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Asjha Jones, Maya Moore, Sheryl Swoopes, and Kara Wolters.