October 3, 2022
FIBA Hall of Fame adds Leslie, Auriemma and seven others
Senegal's Mbengue becomes first African woman elected
Lisa Leslie and Geno Auriemma are already icons in the Naismith Hall of Fame. On Friday, FIBA announced that they would be enshrined in another hall. Leslie and Auriemma headline the nine-person Class of 2022 in the FIBA International Basketball Hall of Fame.
Joining the Americans will be players Robyn Maher, Catarina Pollini, Jurgita Streimikyte-Virbickiene and Mame Maty Mbengue as well as coaches Antonia Barbosa, Milan “Ciga” Vasojevic and Maria Planas. The induction ceremony will be on Nov. 30 at the Patrick Baumann House of Basketball in Mies, Switzerland. The announcement came in coordination with the conclusion of the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney, Australia.
Leslie led the U.S. in scoring during its runs to gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics. She scored in double figures en route to a fourth gold medal in Beijing in 2008. The 6’5 center also won two gold medals at the World Cup in 1998 and 2002. The 1991 World University Games and 1994 Goodwill Games gold medals are also on the USC grad’s resume.
Leslie was a three-time WNBA MVP with the Los Angeles Sparks, and she was inducted into both the Naismith Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015 and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2019. She joins Ann Meyers Drysdale, Cheryl Miller, Teresa Edwards and Anne Donovan as U.S. women in the International Basketball Hall of Fame.
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Auriemma was the head coach of the U.S. team from 2010 to 2016, winning gold medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics. He also won the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. Auriemma was an assistant to Nell Fortner on the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as well. Best known for leading the University of Connecticut to 11 NCAA championships, he entered both the Naismith and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fames in 2006. Fellow college coaches Pat Summitt, Kay Yow and Tara VanDerveer are also FIBA Hall of Fame members.
Maher captained 174 games for Australia during her playing career from 1978 to 1999. She played in three Olympics, winning bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She also won a bronze at the 1998 World Cup.
Pollini was a two-time Olympic center for Italy in the 1990s and played for the 1997 WNBA champion Houston Comets. Streimikyte-Virbickiene led Lithuania to the gold medal at the 1997 EuroBasket and played for the Indiana Fever in the early 2000s.
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Mbengue, of Senegal, becomes the first African woman to enter the FIBA Hall of Fame. The post player was a four-time AfroBasket MVP in the 1990s and played at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Vasojevic is a Serbian who is being inducted posthumously. He coached the Yugoslavia women’s national team in the 1980s, winning silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and bronze in Moscow in 1980. Barbosa coached the Brazilian women’s national team, and Planas was a seven-time EuroLeague champion in Spain.
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.