January 28, 2022 

Who will be joining USA Basketball for its pre-World Cup Qualifiers camp

'The philosophy is WNBA coaches are available in February, Reeve said, and I am thrilled because they are my counterparts'

New head coach Cheryl Reeve will have her first look at potential players for the World Cup this week when USA Basketball holds training camp in Washington D.C.

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The Feb. 5-7 camp is in preparation for the team’s World Cup qualifying games versus Belgium on Feb. 11 and Puerto Rico on Feb. 12, also taking place at Entertainment and Sports Arena, home of the Washington Mystics.

The U.S. already qualified for the World Cup after winning the Olympic gold medal, with Reeve serving as Dawn Staley’s assistant. But it is a golden chance to evaluate players in the transitional winter between the two events.

Tokyo Olympic gold medal-winning holdovers Ariel Atkins, Chelsea Gray and Jewell Loyd will be taking part in the camp and are expected to play in the tournament, as are 3X3 Olympic champions Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. In addition, WNBA stars Dearica Hamby, Natasha Howard, Brionna Jones, Kayla McBride, Angel McCoughtry, Kelsey Mitchell, and Alyssa Thomas will also be vying for roster positions through the training camp.

Elena Delle Donne, Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, and reigning World Cup MVP Breanna Stewart will participate in the training camp but will not play in the tournament. All have had some form of national team experience, except for Hamby, the former Wake Forest forward, who is making her debut.

Last week, Reeve, who coaches the Minnesota Lynx, added WNBA coaches Mike Thibault, James Wade, Vickie Johnson, and Curt Miller to her staff, so all should be familiar with the 17 athletes in the pool.

“The philosophy is WNBA coaches are available in February,” Reeve said, “and I am thrilled because they are my counterparts. Since Tokyo, we have had a search committee looking at what players will be available and who we are expecting to compete.”

According to FIBA, former WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman is expected to be in the Belgian lineup and Indiana Fever guard Julie Allemand. Belgium, which placed fourth at the 2018 World Cup, is currently ranked sixth in the world, while Puerto Rico is 18th.

“We have a lot of experience with Puerto Rico from the FIBA Americas Tournament,” Reeve added. “Belgium was a team that made some noise in the World Cup. They are well coached; in the Olympics, they ran into a hot Japan team, and they have some unfinished business.”

Belgium and Puerto Rico play each other on Feb. 10 in Washington. Once the games with the U.S. are concluded, Russia will play Belgium on Feb. 13 and Puerto Rico on Feb. 14, with those taking place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, due to issues with travel restrictions. This September, the top two between those three teams qualify for the World Cup in Sydney. In addition, there are three other such tournaments in mid-February, with 12 teams competing for nine spots.

Written by Scott Mammoser

Scott Mammoser started out covering the Niagara University women's basketball team in 2002. He went on to cover FIBA World Cups in Turkey and Spain, Under-19 World Cups in Thailand and Spain, the Asia Cup in China, as well as major international events for World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 80 countries.

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