Team USA are world champions yet again. With an 83-61 victory over China in Sydney, Australia on Saturday, the Americans completed a perfect tournament and captured a fourth consecutive FIBA Women's World Cup gold medal. This was the 11th title overall for Team USA, who have not lost at the event since the 2006 semifinals.
A'ja Wilson, who in recent months has won WNBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and led the Las Vegas Aces to their first ever title, was named Women's World Cup MVP. She averaged 17.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals during the event. Breanna Stewart, who finished runner-up in the WNBA MVP voting, was also named to the all-tournament team. Alyssa Thomas, who finished runner-up for WNBA DPOY, was crowned Best Defensive Player at the event.
"Maybe around the world, they kind of looked at it and said, 'Hey, now's the time to get the USA,'" head coach Cheryl Reeve said. "And I think what we showed is that our league, the WNBA and professional basketball players in the United States, are really, really good. And the depth of talent that we have was on display."
The championship game was competitive early on, as was to be expected. China is one of the few teams that have the size to match up with the Americans in the paint and was the only side to give Team USA a test in the preliminary stage. Late in the second quarter, it was still just a five-point game.
Shortly before the break, though, the Americans were able to push their advantage out to double digits and never looked back. They held China scoreless for nearly four minutes to start the third quarter and eventually cruised to a 22-point win. Once again defense was a defining factor for the Americans, who forced 19 turnovers and held the Chinese to 42.9 percent shooting.
Wilson led all scorers with 19 points, while her Aces teammates Kelsey Plum (17 points) and Chelsea Gray (10 points, four rebounds, eight assists and three steals) also played well. Stewart had a poor shooting game but had an impact in all areas with nine points, six rebounds and six assists.
"I don't look at it as a burden. I think it's just a stepping stone," Wilson said. "We plant seeds for the next generation."
"It's crazy because Stewie and I were taking a selfie, we were like, 'it's so many more to come.' I remember playing U16 with Stewie and winning a gold medal there and now we're winning medals at this level. So it's been incredible, just the journey, to continue to lay that foundation down. So many of the greats that have been in front of us laid it down, and now it's our turn to step up and be in that situation."