Team USA defeated Team China 83-61 on Saturday to capture its fourth straight FIBA Women’s World Cup Gold Medal, and extend the dynasty’s 16-year-long World Cup winning streak to 30 games. This championship marks the 11th time the USA has won Gold at the World Cup, and the United States’ eighth consecutive victory over China in World Cup play.
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve is now 10-0 as Head Coach of USA Basketball and has captured her first official Gold Medal leading the stars and stripes.
“What I wanted to do was make sure this journey was fun. Because I think there’s sometimes when you have pressure to win, or the perceived pressure, it takes the enjoyment out of it. I wanted to make sure that we enjoyed this journey,” Reeve said postgame. “I thought this group was a great group and I know I enjoyed the hell out of it. I hope they did, too.”
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say this group had some fun down in Sydney over the last 10 days.
With the win, USA Basketball has qualified for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, where Reeve will again lead the team. Despite how dominant the USA women were, Reeve — of course — is still focused on taking her team to new heights.
“I just know that we have places we can go for improvement, and we’re going to work hard for that,” Reeve said, while acknowledging that it’s too early to know who might contend with the USA in 2024.
What isn’t too early to say, however, is that (US)A’ja Wilson will be leading the United States into that competition as the best player on the planet. Despite arriving in Sydney late on the heels of winning her first WNBA Championship with the Las Vegas Aces, Wilson was as unstoppable as ever, averaging 17.2 points and 7.5 rebounds across her six World Cup games and won TISSOT Tournament MVP.
So, of course, she had to show off her trophy.
It’s difficult to find a more likable superstar in any sport than Wilson. Always smiling, always laughing, cracking jokes, and just so happens to be the best player in the women’s game, too.
Wilson’s exceptional play was a key driver for a United States team that overcame early resistance in games to win all eight games by at least 14 points.
The United States averaged 98.8 points per game, while allowing just 58.0 per contest, good for an average winning margin of 40.8 throughout the World Cup.
A four-time WNBA Champion as a Head Coach, Reeve is no stranger to winning, either, giving her an instant credibility with an incredibly talented team that believed in what she wanted to implement on the floor.
Reeve’s system — which focuses on playing through versatile bigs at the elbows and utilizing the athleticism of the team’s guards at all three levels — proved to be a perfect fit for athletic front-court players in Wilson and USA Captain Breanna Stewart, who figures to be the Lynx’s No. 1 target in free agency this winter.
Even before becoming Head Coach of USA Basketball, Reeve served as a longtime assistant and has coached Stewart several times in international competition. Lynx fans can only hope that the connection those two share — plus Stewart’s relationship with her former UCONN teammate, Lynx All-Star forward Napheesa Collier — will be enough to successfully convince the four-time All-Star to leave Seattle for Minnesota in January.
Until then, Lynx fans will anxiously await how Reeve and Co. will retool around Collier a Minnesota team that will be without the now-retired, Hall-of-Famer-to-be Sylvia Fowles.