With 12 teams instead of 16 in previous editions but almost as many matches, the women’s world basketball championships which open this Thursday in Sydney promise to be dense, with a sacred program of five games in six days in hens.
This is all the more true for the French women as they have been placed in Pool B, known as “of death”, since it also includes Japan, silver medalist in Tokyo, Canada still consistent at the highest level, Serbia, reigning European champion, Australia, at home, and Mali. The French women’s team faces Australia this Thursday at 12:30 p.m. A quick overview of the three things to have in mind before the start of the competition.
Les Bleues as an outsider
To believe that the basketball players are even less varnished than their counterparts who have just played in the men’s Euro. With the injury of Marine Johannès on Monday, one of its main offensive assets, the France team arrives in the southern land amputated from half of the bronze medalists at the Tokyo 2021 Games. Before Johannès, coach Jean-Aimé Toupane and his staff had already broken their heads to concoct an armada worthy of the name, after the packages of Sandrine Gruda, best scorer in the history of Les Bleues, Endy Miyem, not recovered from an ankle injury, leader Alix Duchet for the same reasons and winger Valériane Vukosavljevic, for personal reasons.
Enough to give these Bleues with renewed strength and style an outsider status rather than a favorite. The competition will be the first real international meeting for coach Jean-Aimé Toupane, a year after his appointment as head of the team. He advocates a more athletic and aggressive basketball, with an always moving ball and a less stopped game. He can count on the young guard led by the interior Iliana Rupert, 21, crowned WNBA champion with the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday, Marine Fauthoux and Alexia Chartereau. Despite the chaotic preparation, the common project “advance, dit Toupane, the girls are starting to understand things, we are starting to find the binder”. How about a good surprise?
The United States without Griner, with the title?
22. The number of straight wins compiled by the United States in the competition, current series. To find traces of the last loss of the Americans at the Worlds, we must go back to the semi-final of the 2006 edition against Russia, whose selection was excluded this year following the invasion of Ukraine. Even deprived of their totems Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, now retired, the United States, three-time defending champions, advance in Sydney as the big favorites, carried by winger A’ja Wilson, MVP of the last season of WNBA, and power forward Breanna Stewart.
An unknown: the impact of the absence of Brittney Griner, sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia after being arrested in February in possession of a cannabis-based vaporizer. The double Olympic gold medalist, one of the best players in the world, will inevitably miss on the floor. The uncertainty surrounding her fate is also weighing on the morale of her teammates, coach Cheryl Reeve admitted on Wednesday. “It’s in their heads every day. It’s heavy. It’s really, really heavy.” said the coach, who however specified that the players of the team had been able to communicate with Griner by e-mail and send him “messages of love, support and encouragement” for the one who will be “concern number 1”, even during the tournament.
Lauren Jackson’s incredible comeback
The 2006 edition left on the way by “Team USA” was won by Australia. Thanks to her superstar at the time: Lauren Jackson, a 1.96m slender player, elected three times best WNBA player, with an almost infinite palette under the circle, coupled with a demonic three-point address. From 2013, a nasty series of hamstring, knee and tendon injuries and then again to the knee kept her away from the courts for almost three years, before the doctors convinced her in 2016 to end her career. at 35 years old.
At the start of the year, Australia’s basketball shuddered: after nine years of absence in selection, at 41, “LJ” aims to put on the jersey of the “Opals” again, by participating in his fifth World Cup. The triple Olympic vice-champion will have a job to compensate for the non-selection in the interior sector of the other star of the selection, Liz Cambage, dismissed for disciplinary reasons.