The United States Women’s team will be without legendary head coach Geno Auriemma in their quest to her 3rd straight world title and 10th overall in Spain.
Auriemma who took charge as Head Coach in 2010 though worked in the US Women Basketball programme since 2000, led his team to consecutive world titles the 2010 and 2014 and triumphs in the Olympics before leaving the huddle for former Assistant and University of South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley in 2018.
Staley has her work cut out to stirring the high pedigree US team, who have won six of the last 8 the FIBA world titles and 9 in total ( Most by any team) to yet another podium finish with a lot fresh faces on the team.
Head coach: From bagging a 3 Olympic Gold medals as a player in 1996, 2000, 2004 to carrying the American flag at the Athens 2004 Olympic games ceremony. Coach Dawn Staley’s rise to the helm of coaching affairs at USA Basketball has been more like that of an home coming queen, cemented after leading her young University of South Carolina team to their 1st ever NCAA D1 title in April 2018.
Despite being a rookie head coach at the World Cup, Staley clearly is no stranger to international Basketball having served as assistant coach in the US triumphant Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 Olympic sojourn. Her first task will be guiding USA to her first World Cup 3peat; 3rd straight title, only former Soviet Union have won a triple, in fact won 5 consecutive titles from 1959-75.
Greatest achievements: USA is the most successful team in Women Basketball history. They’ve cleaned out 9 of the 16 editions of the FIBA world tournament, managing 13 semi finals appearances, which includes one final loss (1983) and two Bronze medal wins (1994, 2006).
How they qualified: Team US qualified automatically for the World Cup as champions of the Olympics Basketball event in Rio, 2016.
Star players: With regular names like 2014 FIBA World Championship MVP, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Angel McCoutry, Sylvia Fowles, Lindsay Whelan who retired to take the coaching role at University of Minnesota full time and veteran Candace Parker turning down the invite to the party in Tenerife.
It’s looking more like 2016 WNBA Finals MVP Nneka Ogwumike and defensive stalwart Tina Charles will be the stars to watch on coach Staley’s Dream Team. Should legendary Diana Taurasi club mate Brittany Grinner and the likes of Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Elena Della donne currently battling in the 2018 WNBA Finals choose to rest their bodies instead.
Ogwumike painfully missed the Rio 2016 Olympics squad but will have the playbook of the 2014 World Championship victory in Turkey to look up in Spain. While Tina Charles will remain bankable for consistently being a part of every US squad since her debut at the world championships in Czech Republic 2010.
Nothing short of going straight to the big dance and coming out tops in the contest in Tenerife.
USA and China will go out of Group D ahead of Latvia and Senegal.
Written by Femi Adefeso. Twitter: @IncredibleFEMI