LAS VEGAS — Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale smiled broadly however did not take the bait. After she helped Crew WNBA beat Crew USA 93-85 Wednesday and win the league’s All-Star Sport MVP award, she did not say, “Yeah, possibly I ought to have been on the Olympic staff” when requested if that went by her thoughts.
“Y’all be wanting some drama,” Ogunbowale stated, laughing, in her postgame video name after scoring a game-high 26 factors. “Good luck to Crew USA. All these women are deserving so … you realize, hopefully they go win a gold medal.”
The 24-year-old former Notre Dame star is prone to be on the U.S. staff for the 2024 Olympics. However Wednesday, she and Crew WNBA did their finest to organize Crew USA for what the People will face within the upcoming Tokyo Video games as they search this system’s seventh consecutive gold medal.
In actual fact, there’s a lot expertise in the USA, the members of Crew WNBA — who have been voted right into a pool by followers, media and WNBA gamers, then chosen by the league’s coaches for this sport — would have an important likelihood at gold in the event that they have been going to Olympics as a substitute.
However the group that shall be making that journey, chosen by USA Basketball final month, checked out Wednesday’s contest as an opportunity to find extra about itself. Crew USA has two different alternatives to try this right here in Las Vegas: It faces Australia on Friday and Nigeria on Sunday in exhibitions at Michelob Extremely Enviornment at Mandalay Bay.
“This was, in some methods, one other apply for us,” stated Crew USA guard Sue Hen of Seattle, who shall be going to her fifth Olympics. “These are the moments whenever you discover out what that you must work on.
“For the coaches, they’ve to determine which group is most cohesive. This stuff all the time take an entire coaching camp, months or years. And we attempt to do it in a matter of days or even weeks. This was simply step one. We be taught from it and transfer on. I feel we discovered we’re not a staff but.”
As everybody predicted, this was not a typical All-Star Sport the place gamers do a good quantity of goofing round and protection is optionally available at finest. There was actual protection performed Wednesday, together with some late steals and fast-break factors that helped Crew WNBA maintain on to the victory.
Crew WNBA was coached by Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson, each former WNBA greats and Olympic teammates of Crew USA coach Daybreak Staley. Thompson at the moment is coach of Virginia’s ladies’s staff and Staley coaches at South Carolina. They’re all good buddies who gained Olympic gold collectively and are Naismith Corridor of Famers, and it was clear all of them took this sport severely, too.
“After we got here into apply, Tina and Lisa have been like, ‘What is the plan, what do you all need to do?'” stated Crew WNBA’s Jonquel Jones of Connecticut, who additionally might have been MVP with 18 factors, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and three steals. “Everyone stated, ‘We need to give them a superb sport, get them ready for [the] Olympics.’ But in addition, simply to compete and present that we’re on that degree as properly. I am proud that we have been ready to try this.”
Each groups had gamers sit out: Las Vegas heart Liz Cambage for Crew WNBA and Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi for Crew USA. Cambage has been coping with some Achilles tendon points and desires to be as wholesome as potential for the Olympics, the place she’ll play for Australia. Equally, Taurasi has had a hip harm and stated she needs to be prepared for Tokyo.
Wednesday’s sport proved extra gratifying for Cambage, being on the successful facet.
“I used to be blessed to nonetheless be on the bench at present, having fun with my popcorn and watching some nice basketball,” Cambage stated.
Taurasi, who like Hen shall be taking part in in her fifth Olympics, echoed her longtime U.S. teammate. The People’ Olympic opener is July 27 vs. Nigeria.
“On the finish of the day, we’re right here for an even bigger objective than to win an All-Star Sport,” Taurasii stated. “We’ll get higher as time goes.”
ESPN’s Kelly Cohen contributed to this report.