Power Rankings: FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, Volume 4
SYDNEY (Australia) - The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 has finally arrived and that means it's time to update what is the fourth and penultimate volume of the Power Rankings.
This update takes into account the rosters, preparation games, the third edition of the rankings and the draw for the first phase - including the 'Group of Death.'
#12 Mali (-)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 37th
If you're Mali you are still torturing yourself you're in Group B and not Group A right now! At least there is no expectation or pressure on their shoulders, meaning they can go out play with total freedom in this sense. Yes, Sika Kone is a class act and it is good to have such a baller with massive potential, but she can't do it all herself so this will be about a true team effort if they want to be competitive.
The aspiring Maimouna Haidara is one of our Young Guns to watch in the tournament
To play that rugged and physical defense needed to knock their opponents off strife, it needs to be done in unison, not by one or two leading players. Meanwhile offensively, Mali needs to make some shots - even if it is some streaky scoring in patches, since they have relied almost exclusively on inside scores in recent tournaments. Look out for the experienced Touty Gandega and rising star Mainouma Haidara.
#11 Korea (-2)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 13th
Korea is going to have to somehow figure out a way to cope with a lack of height, defensive presence and an offensive focal point without the towering presence of their phenomenal leader Ji Su Park. Unavailable due to a medical condition, she leaves an unfillable void in every facet of the game at both ends of the court. At least Korea played without her recently at the FIBA Women’s AsiaCup 2021 – although fourth place at the Continental level probably won’t fill them with confidence now they're on the global stage.
Jihyun Park was a teenager when she debuted four years ago but will need to play a much bigger role this time around
To stand any chance, they must make some noise from downtown in this tournament and defensively, be aggressive with opponents looking to exploit their undersized lineup. They also need to somehow figure out a way of picking up all the rebounds that Park would normally snap up - almost always double-digits. Korea needs Jihyun Park, Danbi Kim, Leeseul Kang and Hyejin Park to play in top gear.
#10 Puerto Rico +1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 17th
Probably relieved that nearest challengers Korea will be without the inspirational JiSu Park, it's advantage Puerto Rico perhaps now. That battle will be key and it maybe gives them an edge as they head into Group A, also boosted by the naturalized Myra Hollingshed who gives them some extra strength, scoring and rebounding.
Arella Guirantes excelled at the Qualifying Tournament
The backcourt looks well stocked with the experience of Pamela Rosado, Jennifer O'Neill and also Arella Guirantes who caught fire at the Qualifying Tournament back in February.. Overall, Puerto Rico will at the very least be looking to make history with a first ever win in the competition and will no doubt be targeting Korea for that.
#9 Serbia (-2)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 10th
Serbia has a mountain to climb on paper. Marina Maljkovic has climbed many before at the helm of her country. However, even for a miracle worker like her, perhaps this could be when Serbia falls short of the Quarter-Finals. It hangs in the balance and that first game with Canada looks so crunch. It was always going to be tough without the retired Sonja Vasic and Jelena Brooks, but to lose Aleksandra Crvendakic and Ana Dabovic on top, they have lost four of their starting five from their biggest moments in these past years. That’s a big hole to fill. Although don't be surprised if Maljkovic and her players do it and make this ranking look ridiculous...
Tina Krajisnik gives Serbia a big anchor in the paint at both ends of the floor
Yvonne Anderson in the backcourt and Tina Krajisnik under the bucket gives them two major reasons to still be hopeful, along with some established and experienced players like Nevena Jovanovic and Sasa Cado, but they could have really done with being in Group A for this competition and avoiding the ‘Group of Death’.
#8 France +1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 6th
France could be anything. Predictable under former head coach Valerie Garnier, perhaps some people now crave consistency which saw multiple FIBA Women’s EuroBasket title games and a 2021 Olympic bronze medal. It’s been nothing but headaches, bad luck and inconsistent displays for new playcaller Jean-Aime Toupane. Losses to Ukraine, China and Nigeria in less than a year and now he will be without legendary center Sandrine Gruda, plus the likes of Olivia Epoupa, Endy Miyem and Valeriane Vukosavljevic.
Young Marine Fauthoux may have to step up as a leading playmaker in this competition
Thankfully the new generation might be able to save the day, with Iliana Rupert, Marine Fauthoux and Kendra Chery needing to accelerate their evolution with the national team. Meanwhile Marine Johannes can do Marine Johannes things and she will be the ‘X-Factor’ * with forward Alexia Chartereau needing to come alive again. Plus, Gabby Williams will surely be the difference-maker though this time around. And we hear you - we know you might be scratching your heads at moving them up after they lost the Test Games.This could be a roller-coaster for sure but we will give the young guns and some relatively new faces the benefit of the doubt.
*After the Power Rankings were published, Marine Johannes withdrew from the tournament because of an injury
#7 Bosnia and Herzegovina +1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 26th
Cut and paste. We all know the drill by now. Jonquel Jones steps onto the floor and produces eye-popping numbers for her adopted country. Then, everyone else around her produces supporting cameos which means that debutantes Bosnia and Herzegovina will prove very tricky opponents. They have two wins against Belgium in the last 12 months and so can beat some of the leading teams on their day. But it has to be a massive team effort and not just left to JJ to shine.
Will Bosnia and Herzegovina be celebrating a slice of history?
Certainly Bosnia and Herzegovina blow hot and cold at times, but surely at the very least, they will make history with a first ever win and have a good shot at making the Quarter-Finals with games against Korea and Puerto Rico. Plus, the support for the ‘Dragon Ladies’ will be incredible as always online and back home.
#6 Canada (-)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 4th
Canada is in danger of finishing out of the Quarter-Finals. Let's just make that absolutely clear. You could change their place with France and Serbia for sure and there would be a justification for it. There is a worry that they are under cooked preparation game wise, plus the returning Kia Nurse has not really played any elite level basketball since her long injury.
Will Kia Nurse be able to contribute like previous tournaments on her return from injury?
However, the flip side is that under Coach Victor Lapena, the added freedom makes them more unpredictable, more able to express themselves and as a result - more dangerous to deal with. Through the spine of the team they have talent and obviously a top leader in Natalie Achonwa in the paint. If Nurse is healthy and can contribute then things will look much more rosy, since without her doing so there will be a heavy scoring burden on Bridget Carleton. It's time for the bench to shine too in this tournament - something that has not always happened previously but it needs to.
#5 Belgium (-)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 5th
Belgium look solid enough and capable of matching their World Ranking, which suggests they might just miss out on the Semi-Finals, although they are capable of making the last four - just like they did on their debut back in 2018 in Tenerife. The ingredients are relatively similar with Julie Allemand pulling the strings, Emma Meesseman destroying everyone in the paint and a number of players such as Julie Vanloo, Antonia Delaere and Kyara Linskens regularly stepping up in any given game.
Hind Ben Abdelkader can shift up through the offensive gears
Their ability to get within touching distance of the podium could be measured by how well some of the rising stars like Billie Massey and Maxuella Lisowa-Mbaka perform, as well as the big 'X-factor' that is Hind Ben Abdelkader. The guard can turn the offensive tap on and the Cats will need it without the now retired Kim Mestdagh. It will be interesting how Belgium performs in the Group Phase against Bosnia and Herzegovina, plus China as they will be underdogs against USA and expected to beat Puerto Rico and Korea.
#4 Japan (-)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 8th
What a deeply fascinating Japan roster this is. For the first time in memory you could make a justifiable case that their frontcourt rotation is stronger and deeper than their backcourt rotation. That would have seemed unthinkable not so long ago. The lack of Saki Hayashi and Rui Machida has weakened their guard options, but they have never been so well stacked under the hoop. It’s a tough concept to get your head around. Can they still play fast or will their style change slightly?
Young baller Aika Hirashita has caused a positive stir for Japan after her callup
It’s a good job their ‘bigs’ can mostly shoot well from long-range. Ramu Tokashiki is back from her serious injury after missing Tokyo, Stephanie Mawuli looks ready to breakout and Aika Hirashita is a young gun showing her potential so there is a lot to love and they will be out for a medal.
#3 China (-1)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 7th
China has got it all to get that long overdue medal. But then we said that at the Tokyo Olympics last year and they fell short. Everyone then said it was their time to win a first FIBA Women’s AsiaCup title since way, way back in 2010 and they fell short. Is it a mental issue now or just a case of their younger players not previously having had the experience? There are no excuses now.
Li Meng continues to be a leader for China, even if some of her teammates have taken the headlines in recent times
They have some amazing players such as Xu Han, Yueru Li, Sijing Huang and Li Meng. They have the inside-outside game to cause anybody problems. But have they got the composure under pressure and backcourt clutch players to get onto that podium? Also it's a slight move downwards because their prep results have not been overwhelming impressive - even if they were missing Han and Li.
#2 Australia +1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 3rd
The Opals are not only capable of making it out of the ‘Group of Death’, but could a combination of home support, depth and riding the wave of feelgood wave of Lauren Jackson’s return propel them to consecutive title games? It looks like a realistic prospect as the curtain prepares to be raised. The form of Ezi Magbegor is great, Sami Whitcomb is always playing her best ball in gold and green, Bec Allen is quality, Marianna Tolo and Cayla George have so much experience.
The experience of the likes of Cayla George will be important for Australia as they meet the pressure of hosts chasing a medal
The concerns are probably whether a lack of an elite level pure point guard is going to be an issue and also as host nation, sometimes that massive pressure can prove a burden. But they should enter this competition on home soil with so much excitement and after all, history is on their side. No other nation except USA has as many wins, so it’s time to extend that proud FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup legacy.
#1 USA (-)
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 1st
There's no knocking USA off top spot - that would be ludicrous. Wouldn't it? Yes, they have less experience than at previous tournaments without Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, so might be slightly more vulnerable to an upset, but in reality they still look like they have too much talent and depth. Gunning for an 11th title and the four-peat, they are the team to beat.
Will Jewell Loyd be the one to sparkle in the USA backcourt?
Breanna Stewart and A’Ja Wilson will lead them to glory surely, although it is going to be both fascinating and fun to see how that backcourt operates and if the likes of Jewell Loyd and Sabrina Ionescu are at the centre of things.
*The power rankings are entirely subjective and are in no way a true, accurate ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author.
The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Power Rankings are put together by our EXPERT PANEL, led by FIBA's women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen. He eats, sleeps and breathes female hoops and is incredibly passionate about the promotion of the women's game at all levels. Paul uses an extensive network of players, coaches, clubs and Federations to shape his work and opinions.