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WNBA champion Whitcomb looking to complete unexpected circle with the Opals
TENERIFE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - When Sami Whitcomb entered the WNBA Finals, she had no clue that she was about to be parachuted into the Opals' camp for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018.
The Seattle Storm were heading towards clinching the coveted silverware when Australia's playmaker Leilani Mitchell went down with an injury. And, Whitcomb was quick to answer the call that subsequently came.
Before a ball had even been bounced in anger in the Canary Islands, the Opals' play-caller Sandy Brondello had raised a broad smile at the way the player had integrated herself into the set-up with the minimum of fuss.
WNBA Champions and an Opals call-up?!?! I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. How lucky am I?!!? pic.twitter.com/yjhXy69mxd— Sami Whitcomb (@SamBam32) September 13, 2018
Meanwhile for Whitcomb herself, the welcome she was given inside the Australia locker room appears to be a major her quick-fire start and seamless integration.
"It's been great, they've been amazing in incorporating me and making me feel as if I've been here the whole time," said the guard. "I've really loved the experience."
Now just two wins away from collecting a medal in Tenerife after her team's complete and utter destruction of China in the Quarter-Finals, Whitcomb is loving the way her new team are playing in the competition.
"I think we executed defensively really well against China," the 30-year-old offered. "We came out with a lot of energy. It started defensively for us and we moved the ball really well offensively. Liz (Cambage) was great inside and Bec (Allen) was hitting lots of shots outside, so we had a lot of things going well for us early. Everyone came in and contributed straight away. That's what we're capable of when we move the ball like that.
"Obviously it (challenging for a podium finish) was our goal coming in, it's where we saw ourselves. So, it's great to execute and get there.
"Now we've obviously got one more big game to get us into Sunday's Final. It will be competitive for sure."
Host nation Spain are standing in her way of a reunion with fellow WNBA champions and Storm colleagues, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd - in what would be a dream Final. This scenario would complete a wholly unexpected circle.
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"Obviously you watch how every team is going," Whitcomb explained. "I haven't watched them necessarily more than the others as typically you expect USA to get through as well. We'll think about that more when we get there and obviously if we do, we'll be ready for USA as well if that's who we face."
For Australia to reach the Final, they will be relying on more stellar work from the unstoppable Liz Cambage. The center is a big favorite to take MVP - not least, in the fan vote.
"The China game was another great example of Liz doing her damage early, but we were able to give her a bit of rest," reflected Whitcomb. "It was really everybody else contributing and I thought that allowed us to get momentum and get that lead. I think that's great for us to build on moving forward.
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"We're always looking for her early just because she attracts so much attention. Then if it doesn't create for her, it's creating for somebody else. So it's pretty easy to play through her, as she's a great passer and makes great reads. So we're always starting there and then it just sort of builds.
"She's obviously effective. In one game (against Turkey in the last Group Phase game) she was 11 for 11 in the first half so you obviously keep feeding her. If it's a case that they are doubling or she is just finding people that are hot, as was the case with Bec Allen and Stef Talbot against China.
"She does a great job of finding those people for us. We're just making reads each game, playing basketball, seeing what the defense gives us and we have really talented players that can make those reads.
"I think it can be a different style when she's off the court. We might be able to run a little bit more and maybe there's a few more shots that we're getting from the outside," concluded Whitcomb.