Las Vegas Aces trio, Breanna Stewart headline USA Basketball's FIBA ​​World Cup roster

Las Vegas Aces trio, Breanna Stewart headline USA Basketball’s FIBA ​​World Cup roster

SYDNEY — 2022 WNBA champions A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces, plus 2020 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm, headline USA Basketball’s 12-person roster for the upcoming FIBA ​​World Cup, where the US is seeking to win its fourth consecutive World Cup crown.

Joining that group, which was announced Tuesday in Sydney, are the Washington Mystics’ Ariel Atkins and Storm’s Jewell Loyd — the only other Team USA members alongside Wilson, Gray and Stewart set to play in both the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup following significant turnover in the USA Basketball ranks.

Most notably, this will be the first major FIBA ​​tournament (ie either World Cup or Olympics) in over 20 years in which the US will be without Sue Bird or Diana Taurasi, the historic pair who helped the team win five of its seven consecutive Olympics golds while also combining for nine World Cup medals. Fellow program stalwarts such as Sylvia Fowles and Tina Charles have retired or moved on, and Brittney Griner is unavailable because of her detainment in Russia.

Plum, a 2020 Olympian with the 3×3 team, earned the nod for her second World Cup squad after making it in 2018. Stewart, the reigning World Cup MVP, will be playing in her third World Championship, while Wilson and Loyd are also alums of the tournament.

Newcomers to USAB for either of the two major international competitions include the New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, the Chicago Sky’s Kahleah Copper, the Mystics’ Shakira Austin and the Connecticut Sun’s Brionna Jones and Alyssa Thomas.

Austin, 22, is the youngest member of the team, and the only one to make it out of the three 2022 WNBA draftees and one collegiate player, Aliyah Boston, who were in training camp ahead of the World Cup.

“We have been eagerly anticipating the 2022 FIBA ​​World Cup and welcome the opportunities and challenges this competition presents as we face the world’s best teams,” 2021-24 national team head coach Cheryl Reeve said in a news release. “The US roster features some of our game’s brightest stars and I’m excited to lead this team with the goal of winning a fourth consecutive World Cup for the USA. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who was part of our highly competitive training camp and hope to work with many of them again in the future.”

The roster was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Committee, which is chaired by Connecticut Sun president Jen Rizzotti.

“I want to personally thank each of the athletes who have been part of this process, from those who started at the Las Vegas training camp more than two weeks ago to those boarding flights to Sydney following the WNBA Finals,” Rizzotti added. “The commitment these athletes show to their country is unparalleled and I look forward to watching them take the court in Sydney.”

Other athletes considered for spots on the team prior to the final round of cuts were Boston, who is from South Carolina and is the reigning national collegiate player of the year; the Phoenix Mercury’s Diamond DeShields; Liberty’s Stefanie Dolson; the Atlanta Dream’s Rhyne Howard; the Indiana Fever’s NaLyssa Smith; and the Aces’ Jackie Young.

The World Cup, in which the US will be one of 12 teams competing for gold, runs Sept. 22-Oct. 1 in Sydney. Team USA kicks off group stage play Wednesday at 9:30 pm ET versus Belgium. The game will be available through ESPN+.

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