Six things we've loved or learned from the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022
SYDNEY (Australia) - It's been widely described as the best FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup ever, but what are the things we've both loved and learned the most from a hugely successful event in Sydney?
We've picked out three things you we just had to love and a another three things that we've learned.
LOVED: The Lauren Jackson fairytale
If there is anything from a player or story perspective that everyone will talk about for years and years to come, then it will be the fairytale comeback and career finish for Opals' legend Lauren Jackson. As if moving into the top three All-Time FIBA Women's Basketball Women scorers on opening night wasn't enough, or equalling the competition's All-Time appearance record on the final day. She goes and drops those 30 points in her last ever game in front of a huge and adoring home crowd to take a bronze medal.
Perhaps what we love most is that talking after the game, she mentioned how she couldn't wait to now get back to the main job of working with younger girls in basketball and inspiring the next generation. Few people thought this story was barely possible when it was first mentioned, but absolutely nobody could have honestly imagined this script - not even a Hollywood Movie Producer.
LEARNED: Fears over USA legends retiring was a false flag
Yes any hope for the rest of the world that the departure of legendary duo Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, plus a lot of other experienced players might slow USA down were extinguished in a big way. If anything, USA were even more energetic, hard-nosed and defensively brilliant as before.
And, the torch, baton or whatever you want to call it (maybe the legacy and tradition) is as safe as it ever could be with ballers like Breanna Stewart and A'Ja Wilson holding onto it. We knew they would still be the team to beat, but it felt like we learned at this tournament that rather than the bar being lowered, this group took things up a notch! And most ominously. Cheryl Reeve warned this team is only going to get better and they have a lot of fine tuning to do! Will anyone even get close in Paris in two years?
LOVED: History and records tumbling
What a brilliant tournament this was for numbers and followers of historical records - both those going way back in the archiveas Lauren Jackson became the third leading scorer of all-time, to the more recent ones such as Leeseul Kang of Korea breaking the game-high efficiency record. Even heading into the last two days of competition, it continued. USA recording a record victory in the Semi-Finals, then Xu Han of China equalling the All-Time game-high blocks record of China.
We finished off with LJ equalling the All-Time most appearances and in truth, it was hard to keep track with so many numbers being levelled or surpassed! So many talking points and none more so than the record number of people who attended the event of a stunning 145,519.
LEARNED - China is coming for USA in these next years
We just asked if anyone can get close to the USA and even Coach Reeve tipped her hat to the work China has done to take silver in Sydney. Considering they were without Meng Li, their most influential player and also that the bulk of their roster is still very inexperienced at the highest level, they were terrific. They played great basketball and with that amazing backing from the China fans, it was a potent mix.
The biggest learning of all was that they look like they are going to truly use this as a launch-pad to get better and if they manage it, then maybe USA will have a challenger and exciting new rivalry.
LOVED: The volunteers being the real MVP
There were so many things to love about the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup including the organization in general by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the stunning crowds, the games, the venues, the promotion and so on. But, the real MVP's were the volunteers who worked at the event and made it an absolute pleasure for everyone.
Welcoming, friendly and super helpful, also engaged with and in love with basketball, these guys epitomized why we can call it the greatest FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup ever and they should be so proud of their efforts and how they have represented the sport and their country!
LEARNED - We're ready for an expanded 16 teams in 2026!
Having dropped to 12 teams for this edition, we saw enough to suggest that a move back to 16 teams in 2026 is a smart one. Nations are improving and Puerto Rico underlined this. Having lost their first ever game just four years ago by 50 points, this time around they made the Quarter-Finals.
There were also plenty of nations not in attendance who had missed out, but would have enriched the competition - 2014 Finalists and 2018 bronze medalists Spain being prime examples. Yes, the dust hasn't even settled on Sydney but he countdown to 2026 has already started!