The United States entered the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) Women’s World Cup as the two-time defending champions eager to earn their third consecutive title — something the U.S. has never before accomplished in this tournament. During the competition, which was held in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain from Sept. 22 to 30, Team USA beat Australia in the championship game, increasing their total to 10 World Cup titles and three titles in a row.
Team USA dominated in every phase of the game throughout the tournament and beat Australia 73-56 to win the World Cup Championship on Sunday, Sept. 29 with the help of strong performances by athletes Brittney Griner, who scored 15 points and was awarded Player of the Game honors, Diana Taurasi, who scored 13 points and Breanna Stewart, who scored 10 points and was awarded MVP of the tournament on top of her previous Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) MVP award this past season. The U.S. didn’t trail at all in the game for the first time in the entire tournament, and Australia could only get within three points of Team USA throughout the match. Not only was the U.S. dominant on offense, their defense was able to hold Australia to 27 fewer points than their previous points per game average of 83.0 points. Head Coach Dawn Staley was extremely pleased with their performance, and in an interview with a FIBA reporter, she said that in “this particular game I though we gave our best defensive effort.” Their defensive game plan to target Australia’s Liz Cambage also paid off immensely and they held Cambage to only seven points; she entered the game averaging 27.2 points per game and was instrumental in Australia’s 67-60 win over Spain in the semifinals.
United States’s championship win over Australia completed a six-game win streak though the tournament for Team USA and a consistently strong performance throughout the tournament. In the preliminary round, the U.S. won all three games by an average of almost 20 points, beat Nigeria in the quarterfinals 71-40 and bested Belgium in the semifinals 93-77.
This year’s roster was stacked with talented players, many of whom had previously played in both the Olympics and the World Cup. With this win, American Sue Bird, won her fourth World Cup gold medal and fifth medal overall, which both are the most titles for any player, male or female. She also broke the U.S. record for most assists at the World Cup with 107 assists, breaking Dawn Staley’s previous record of 103. Head Coach Dawn Staley also became the first person ever to win a World Cup title as a player, assistant and head coach. When discussing the difficulty of this tournament in particular, she said that “the World Cup is always the hardest one to win. It’s a grind, it’s physically tough and mentally tough. When you talk about playing three games in three nights, you just don’t do that anymore as a pro. This is the only tournament that challenges you in that way.”
Following their dominant performance at the World Cup, recognized by Diana Taurasi as “the most competitive World Cup we’ve ever played in,” the players will return to their WNBA careers as they prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — an opportunity they earned with this World Cup title.