Tenerife, Spain : The USA were crowned world champions for a third time in a row – and 10th all time – after beating Australia in the Final of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 on Sunday.
Under the watchful eye of FIBA President Horacio Muratore and with Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain in attendance, the USA beat the Opals 73-56 in the title game and in the process sealed their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
USA, world champions in 2010 and 2014, started out hot by scoring the game’s first 10 points and had no cause to look over their shoulders as they eased to a comfortable victory over Australia, the 2006 world champions who were playing in their first Final since that triumph 12 years ago. Breanna Stewart was a leading light for the USA with 10 points and a team-high 8 rebounds, while Brittney Griner also used her muscle inside to nullify the dangerous Liz Cambage and chipped in with 15 points.
Earlier, tournament hosts Spain sealed third place and the last podium step with a 67-60 win against Belgium. The game was finely balanced throughout with just two points separating the teams with two minutes to play when Spanish forward Laura Nicholls hit two baskets in quick succession. It gave the hosts the daylight needed to sneak the victory and Marta Xargay delivered a dagger with 38 seconds left to make sure. With the win they sealed their second Women’s World Cup podium in a row, having finished second in Istanbul in 2014.
Stewart was rewarded for her exceptional play in the tournament by being named TISSOT MVP and headlining the All-Star Five, where she was joined by USA teammate Diana Taurasi, Emma Meesseman of Belgium, Cambage of Australia and Spain’s Astou Ndour.
Breanna Stewart was named the TISSOT MVP of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 in recognition of driving USA to being crowned world champions for the third time in a row.
The USA forward was the centerpiece of the All-Star Five at the tournament, adding to her recent WNBA MVP and WNBA Finals MVP accolades with the Seattle Storm. Stewart was a constant factor for the Americans throughout the competition and played far more minutes than any of her team-mates, which told the story.
Stewart edged Liz Cambage who had been the most imposing figure for Australia, averaging a tournament-high 23.8 points per game and posting some jaw-dropping displays. However, she had an off-day in the title game as the Opals had to settle for second.
There was cause for double celebration for Diana Taurasi as she added another individual accolade to her never ending list of honors. That came on top of the winners’ medal she collected with USA.
Belgium won the hearts of basketball fans around the globe for their exploits as they made a historic run to the Semi-Finals on their debut. The hugely popular Emma Meesseman was rewarded for leading the newcomers after posting 18.5 points per game and a competition best 10.7 rebounds per game.
Finally, Astou Ndour ended her participation on a high. Having fouled out early in the Semi-Final loss to Australia, the frontcourt ace picked up a third place finish with Spain and also rounded out the All-Star line-up – receiving a huge cheer from the Tenerife locals.
Also on hand to watch the culmination of the 18th Women’s World Cup were: FIBA Vice-President Hamane Niang; FIBA Executive Director Americas Carlos Alves; FIBA Executive Committee member Lena Wallen-Kantzy; FIBA Central Board members Jean-Pierre Siutat and Jim Tooley.
Final standings of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018
16. Puerto Rico