22 September, 2022
01 October
9 Meng Li (CHN)
to read

Eight things we've learned so far in Sydney

SYDNEY (Australia) - With three gamedays in the books at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney it's an ideal moment to take a time out and see what we've learned so far.

1-Sika Kone might just be the best African player for real

After impressing at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament back in February when she made the All-Star Five, Sika Kone has proven she is the real deal in Sydney. Her epic double-double of 18 points and 18 rebounds against France has got everyone asking if she is now the best female player in Africa? She could well be and the brilliantly scary fact is that she is only 20-years-old.

2-Guirantes and Puerto Rico has got some serious game

Hit the rewind button just four years ago to when Puerto Rico made their FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup debut in Tenerife and you will see that they lost to Belgium by 50 points. Here in Sydney, they could and maybe should have beaten the Cats, going down 68-65 in a one-shot game. That is incredible progress alongside making history with their first ever win after they took Bosnia and Herzegovina on opening day. While a big team effort, the addition of Arella Guirantes has been a game-changer in every way. She has been exceptional with some mind-blowing numbers and stellar performances. An absolute baller!

3-Meesseman hands out dimes like candy - clip it up!

Hands up if you thought frontcourt star Emma Meesseman would be leading the tournament in dimes after the first 3 game days? In truth, did anyone even think she would be leading her own team, let alone the whole competition. We knew that she had such a great passing game, but she has been showing just how great with 7.5 assists per outing. Oh, and by the way, she is also now the best... shot-blocker in the competition with 2.0 per game. Such an unusual combinaison of stats for such an unique player!

4-A fairytale can quickly turn into a nightmare

Perhaps you can file Bosnia and Herzegovina as the biggest disappointment by far. What was a fairytale first-ever appearance at the event was supposed to be followed by at least two wins - against Puerto Rico and then Korea. But that fairytale morphed into a disappointment with two losses to their group rivals. What we learned is that you can have one of the female games best ballers in your team like Jonquel Jones does not garantee anything against such strong competition.

5-Meng Li is back at her best for China

In the past few years all headline relating to China have been dominated by young guns and twin towers Xu Han and Yueru Li. Even forward Sijing Huang took the limelight at the Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade when she was MVP. What has probably not been noticed is that all that time, Meng Li was still there and contributing. It's almost as if since setting foot in Sydney she has turned up the noise even more to show she is still a leader like before. Aggressive, able to contribute in so many different areas, she will be a driving force for China if they do get that medal they crave, while she remains a big fan favorite amongst the amazing China supporters.

6-Gabby Williams is the new leader - how far can she takes France?

Missing some key and leading players, France needed a new leader to step up to the plate and it happened on opening night against hosts Australia when Gabby Williams showed on the court that she could be that baller. France have tricky waters to navigate but not just here in Sydney, but also in the medium term, Williams looks like her new role has been cemented.

7-'Vanilla' Canada found some added spice with Coach Lapena


Canada have that reputation for always making major tournaments, always doing a decent job and competing. But they always played with that 'Vanilla Flavour', lacking that extra edge or spice to really push hard at events and consistently beat the big teams. We will see what happens in the Quarter-Finals as that is the time to judge head coach Victor Lapena, but after three wins against quality opposition in Serbia, France and Japan, it looks like he' s brought an edge. The defensive side has also been outstanding. Shout out to Nirra Fields and Shay Colley too, who've given a thumbs up for all 'non flashy' strong, functional and effective playmakers everywhere!

8-Japan has a new identity and its not working so far

The Japan that fans everywhere fell in love with seems to be no more. The transition, ball movement and relentless defense that defined their run to the Final of the Tokyo Olympics has been largely absent so far. The mitigation is that they are without two leading guards in Rui Machida and Saki Hayashi, but there is no doubt that the style has changed since the departure of former coach Tom Hovasse last year. Teams are finding it easier to slow them down and the big guns are not firing.