The best of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018: USA landmark, African history, Belgium entertains
SYDNEY (Australia) - Ahead of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Sydney we've been looking back at previous editions of the prestigious competition and it's time to make the short trip back to 2018.
There were so many different talking points from Tenerife. The USA retained their title with relative ease, the Opals made a stunning run to the title game behind some phenomenal performances from Liz Cambage, hosts Spain clinched bronze, debutantes Belgium dazzled fans with their exciting brand of basketball and for the first time in history, two African teams made it past the Group phase.
The best team: USA hit magic landmark of title number 10!
- USA were rampant, winning all six of their games and no opponent getting seriously close in any game. Their campaign was built on Stewart's excellent all-around game and with legendary duo Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird shining, it was not a surprise they coasted to success and a massive landmark. USA became the first team to make it to double-digits with a super 10th title, also booking their spot for Tokyo 2020 in the process.
- Stewart was crowned MVP, adding to her WNBA MVP and WNBA Finals MVP accolades that year with the Seattle Storm. Teammate Diana Taurasi joined her, with Liz Cambage and Emma Meesseman rewarded for their epic contributions with Australia and Belgium respectively. Astou Ndour took the last spot after impressing with Spain.
The best game: Senegal 70-69 Latvia
- This was a game that was entertaining, dramatic, historical and really made people tune in to what was possible for African basketball. Senegal picked up a tremendous and unexpected victory which was also notably against European opposition - something that added extra kudos for many observers. Mame Marie Sy-Diop got the winning bucket with just 12 seconds left.
The best game performance: Liz Cambage (Australia) v Spain
- This was a breathtaking display by the Opals' center and one of many in Tenerife. Cambage tortured the hosts and inflicted a 72-66 Semi-Finals heartache on Spain with a stellar 33 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The hidden star: Ezi Magbegor (Australia)
Magbegor has since evolved into a go-to baller for the Opals
- Having played with distinction at the FIBA U17 and FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cups in the previous years, including being named MVP of the former when taking Australia to a historic gold in Zaragoza in 2016, Magbegor was already on the radar.
- But it was still not 100 percent that she was on course to become a leader for the Opals. Something she has went on to do, having been their best player at Tokyo 2020. That was despite a modest showing in Tenerife, obviously due to her tender age and stiff competition ahead of her with the likes of the dominant Cambage.
History for Africa as Nigeria and Senegal come alive
- They both started with a loss, but it was not long before African duo Nigeria and Senegal made people sit up and take notice by getting the wins on the board that resulted in a major slice of history, with both making it out of the group phase. That was something that had never happened before for two African nations.
- Senegal famously took down Latvia, while Nigeria rode all the way to the Quarter-Finals, beating Turkey, Argentina and Greece in a row. They almost finished by beating Canada too, losing by only a point on the last day.
Belgium stuff the highlights reel
- New kids on the block Belgium caused a major stir at the event and a tsunami of positive reaction to their terrific and refreshing passing game. Their stylish approach might have seen them fall just short of the podium as they finished fourth in their first ever appearance, but the way they played was a 10 out of 10 for entertainment value and earned them an army of new fans. Their derby demolition of France was particularly memorable.
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