FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Recap: Group Phase

Well known for the team’s diverse array of international talent, the New York Liberty are the most represented WNBA team in this year’s FIBA World Cup with a total of seven players from the organization competing for five different countries in Sydney, Australia.

Additionally, the team’s coaching staff is well represented by head coach Sandy Brondello and assistant coach Olaf Lange, who led Team Australia to a First Place finish in Group B.

Each of the 12 qualified countries competed in five games across two separate pools (Group A and Group B). Six of New York’s seven players advanced to the Quarterfinal Round which begins tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN+ between USA and Serbia.

Through the first three games of group action, Bec Allen led Australia with a team-high 13.3 points per game while shooting 46.7% (14-30) from the field, 40.0% (4-10) from three, and securing four rebounds per game.

The longest-tenured member of the Liberty totaled two 16-point performances on September 22 and 25. Allen suffered a rib injury in the fourth quarter of the Australia’s 69-54 win over Serbia which caused her to miss the final two games. However, the Opals are hopeful for her return ahead of their upcoming playoff slate.

Highlights: Full Highlights / 5-Point Opening Run

Sami Whitcomb guided the Opals to four consecutive wins to close out pool play, securing the No. 1 seed in Group B. Whitcomb averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists, 2.6 boards and 1.6 steals per game while knocking down 37.1% (13-35) of her attempts from distance.

The host country’s combo guard finished with two 15-point outings, highlighted by her Game Five performance against Japan where she converted on four-of-seven (57.1%) from three and elicited an amazing reaction from Liberty and Opals head coach, Sandy Brondello.

Highlights: Three-Pointer (1)  / Three-Pointer (2)  / Three-Pointer (3) / Three-Pointer (4)

Han Xu and the Chinese Women’s National Team navigated Group A play in near-perfect fashion, finishing with a 4-1 record and a second-best +157-point differential. The 22-year-old center averaged 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game on an efficient 45.5% (25-55) from the field across the five games.

Han finished the Group Phase ranked second among centers in blocks (7), fourth in rebounding (41), fifth in points (59), and seventh in field goal percentage, including a double-double of 13 points and 15 boards in a 107-44 victory against Korea.

Highlights: Full Highlights / “Yao Move” / Block

France faced adversity before the tournament was tipped, entering the World Cup without French star Marine Johannès after she suffered a thigh contusion in exhibition play.

However, Marine Fauthoux, the Liberty’s No. 29 overall selection in the 2021 WNBA Draft, stepped up in her backcourt mate’s absence and led France to a 3-2 finish and Quarterfinal berth.

Fauthoux, 21 years-old, further solidified herself as one of the top rising international guards after averaging 9.2 points and four assists per game, including three games of double figure scoring. Marine also tallied a French record of eight assists in the team’s 67-53 win versus Japan.

Full Highlights

Sika Koné, the Liberty’s No. 29 overall draft pick in 2022, burst onto the world stage and proved why she was one of the most revered prospects, collegiate or international, in this past year’s WNBA draft. Despite a winless tournament, Koné was a bright spot for Mali and the Liberty alike after finishing as one of two players in the World Cup to average a double-double. Sika recorded 12 points and a tournament-best 11.8 rebounds per game, alongside an equally impressive 4.6 offensive rebounds per game.

In one of the most dominant individual performances thus far in Sydney, Sika amassed an 18-point and 18-rebound double-double against France while shooting 50.0% (5-10) from the field and 66.7% (2-3) from beyond the arc. The 20-year-old’s 18-board outing marked a new Malian record.

Highlights: Full Highlights / And-One Driving Layup

After returning from injury at the end of the Liberty’s 2022 season, Betnijah Laney parlayed the momentum she built throughout August into a coveted spot on Team USA’s World Cup roster.

Earning 17.8 minutes per game in a highly competitive rotation, Laney has shown efficient production through the first five games with averages of seven points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest while shooting an excellent 44.4% (12-27) from the field and 42.9% (3-7) from distance.

Betnijah contributed 13 points, her highest-scoring effort of the Group Phase, in the United States’ record shattering 145-69 win over Korea.

Highlights: Step Back And-One / Three-Pointer / Assist

Fresh off her All-WNBA Second Team honor, Sabrina Ionescu was selected to Team USA and became the second-youngest player to make the final roster at 24 years-old.

Ionescu averaged 16.1 minutes across four matchups, and despite coming off the bench, still managed to showcase several well-balanced offensive performances. Sabrina recorded five points and four rebounds against Puerto Rico, three points and four assists against Korea, as well as three points, five rebounds and five assists against Bosnia & Herzegovina; all which resulted in convincing victories for the United States.

Highlights: Three-Pointer / Transition Layup / Assist

Please see the upcoming FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Playoff schedule below:

Wednesday, September 28 (Quarterfinals)
USA vs. Serbia – 10:00 pm ET – ESPNU / ESPN+

Thursday, September 29 (Quarterfinals)
Puerto Rico vs. Canada – 12:30 am ET – ESPN+
China vs. France – 4:00 am ET – ESPN+
Australia vs. Belgium – 6:30 am ET – ESPN+

Friday, September 30 (Semifinals)
TBD – 3:00 am ET – ESPN2 / ESPN+
TBD – 5:30 am ET – ESPNU / ESPN+
TBD – Third Place Game – 10:50 pm ET – ESPN+

Saturday, October 1 (Finals)
TBD – 2:00 am ET – ESPN2 / ESPN+