The US Olympic team and the WNBA All-Stars expect a competitive game in the league showcase on Wednesday.
Usually there isn’t much defense played in all-star games until the fourth quarter, but this one could be different with the Olympians having little time to prepare for the Tokyo Games.
“It’s not so much a All-Star game for us, but a pre-Olympics game,” said Breanna Stewart. “It’s going to be a lot more competitive because we’re actually going to play… before it gets a bit of a mess.”
The last seven WNBA All-Star games have been single-digit, including 2019 which was a three-point contest.
This is the first time since 2000 that the WNBA has hosted the All-Star Game during an Olympic year.
“It’s a great way for Team USA to prepare,” said five-time Olympian and 12-star Sue Bird. “A great way to prepare ourselves. great way to showcase top talent. The national team has 12 of the best players, as does the WNBA. Twenty-four of the best players are going there,… Overall we try to put on a good show.
Diana Taurasi, who will also be competing in her fifth Olympics, said she likely won’t play in the game as she is recovering from a hip pointer. She missed the last three Mercury games because of it.
“My goal is to be ready for the Olympics,” Taurasi said. “Preparation is the key. So at this point in my career, I think being ready for Tokyo is best for our team and me. So I take it day by day. I’m improving and everything will be fine once the real games start.
BY THE NUMBERS
There will be eight All-Stars for the first time in the game while Sue Bird will play in a WNBA 12th record. … The Las Vegas Aces have the most All-Star selections with four players (Liz Cambage, A’ja Wilson, Dearica Hamby and Chelsea Gray).
With so many WNBA teammates on different teams in Wednesday’s game, there was trade between them.
Dearica Hamby said she wanted to steal Chelsea Gray. Gray’s former teammate Candace Parker has said she wants the point guard back at the post.
The best chatter came between Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally and teammate Arike Ogunbowale, who asked if she was dunking on Brittney Griner in the game. Sabally replied “yes”. Griner laughed at it when she heard the comments later while speaking to the media. The 6-foot-8 Mercury star was reminded by teammate Skylar Diggins that she was there and did, having dunked in Dallas earlier this year.
Chicago Sky goaltender Allie Quigley will try for her third 3-point shootout title at halftime of Wednesday night’s All-Star game. She won the event in 2017 and 2018. Other field competitors: Jewell Loyd (Seattle), Sami Whitcomb (New York) and Jonquel Jones (Connecticut).
“This is the Allie Quigley Invitational,” Parker said with a laugh.
The event will feature five racks of balls with one spot worth two points for each stroke made. There is also a new gadget this year with two shots far behind the arc worth three points each if taken.
HONORING THE PAST:
The WNBA will honor the 1996 US Olympic team that kicked off the Americans’ six-consecutive gold medal streak. Lisa Leslie, who helped win the first four gold medals, co-coach the WNBA team with Tina Thompson. Dawn Staley, who was on the 1996 squad with Leslie, is the Olympic coach of the United States.