The absolute number 1 in the world: that is Team USA. The American women are head and shoulders above the FIBA ranking and have also been unapproachable on the big appointments for a while.
In total, the US has 10 world titles with the women. The country has won 8 of the last 11 World Cups, only the Soviet Union (1979), Brazil (1994) and Australia (2006) were able to put their foot in between.
Compared to the team that won gold at the Olympics last summer, some veterans Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi – two of the biggest names in women’s basketball – no longer at this World Cup.
Also center player Brittney Griner is not in the selection for known reasons: she has been locked up in a Russian cell for several months for alleged drug smuggling.
Has the US lost experience then? Doubtless. Is there enough talent left to make another shot at gold? Absolute!
Of Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson there are still 4 players who were also on the parquet 4 years ago when the US took its 10th world title. Stewart was also there in 2014 and this tournament is chasing her 3rd World Cup gold.
The selection consists of players who are all working in the WNBA. Julie Allemand and Emma Meesseman come with forward Kahleah Copper also a teammate from Chicago against.
The wealth of American women is so great that the team unbeatable on paper seems. But Belgium will immediately meet Team USA in its 1st game and who knows, there may be opportunities there for the Belgian Cats.
The Americans traditionally start a bit stiffer and the machine usually only gets up to speed as the tournament progresses.
In addition, 5 of the 12 players were still working in the until the beginning of this week WNBA Final. Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray and MVP A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas trotted on Tuesday in the champions parade of the Aces and will miss the match against Belgium anyway.
Also Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones, 2 players of losing WNBA finalist Connecticut, only arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning and it is questionable to what extent they will be ready to play after a tiring trip.
There is therefore a real chance that the Americans will win against Belgium only 7 players will have. Moreover, it remains to be seen how quickly the US will get the right cohesion after a relatively short training camp.
These are all small factors that may offer opportunities for the Belgian Cats, but the 7 players who are ready are also all great and a Belgian victory would still a stunt to be.
In any case, Belgium can play without pressure, in the knowledge that it is against this star team nothing to lose has. Winning would be nice, but what follows after the USA is much more important for the Cats.