For the first time since 2010, the WNBA all-stars competed against the USA national team. But this time, Team WNBA had the daunting task of playing the USA Olympic national team. The last time this specific format of WNBA vs Olympians happened was in 2004 where Team USA defeated the WNBA all-stars 74-58.
Las Vegas is host to the game for the second year in a row, not including the 2020 bubble season. When they hosted in 2019, it was a hit. Erica Wheeler, who went undrafted in 2013, won the all-star game MVP, the first time an undrafted player to do so.
Both Team USA and Team WNBA would both be short of two very crucial players.
During Team USA media availability yesterday, Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi announced that she will not be participating in the game, citing, "At this point in my career, being ready for Tokyo is what's best for our team and me. I'm taking it day by day, I'm getting ready and I'll be fine once the real games start." Team USA may be short one player, but don't let that damper what will still be an entertaining game.
Liz Cambage suffered an injury during practice with the Australian Opals and announced she wouldn't be participating in the all-star game.
Candace Parker, Sky at Mystics, Washington, D.C. (Saturday, May, 15 2021). Photo courtesy of Chicago Sky.
When you have the best national team in the country battling the best women's basketball players in the world, you already know that this matchup will not be taken lightly by any side. That was proven throughout the whole entire game.
Intense defense was played and full effort was showcased from both teams. Some people would be shocked to look at the quarter scoring splits and see that an all-star game was taken as serious as it was.
Team WNBA was ready to showcase their talent and had something to prove. Some people automatically thought that Team USA would win because it's an Olympic national team. What people don't realize is Team WNBA are full of players who are on other national teams, no matter if their squad made it to the Olympics.
Most notably for Team WNBA, paint beast Jonquel Jones, who represents Bosnia and Herzegovina, completely dominated throughout the entire game. She played like the MVP candidate that she is a top contender for.
Jones staffed the stat sheet, recording 18 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots. She was joined by Arike Ogunbowale who exploded for 26 points on 55% shooting from the field. That was enough for Ogunbowale to earn the all-star game MVP.
Team USA struggled a ton throughout the game, despite being able to keep the game tight.
They had 15 turnovers as a team compared to Team WNBA's seven.
Despite having a ton of sharpshooters on the roster, they struggled from beyond-the-arc, only hitting 7 of their 20 attempts, 35%.
Although the team struggled, Breanna Stewart, Brittany Griner and Sylvia Fowles dominated in their own individual ways.
Stewart recorded 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a block shot. Griner recorded 17 points. Lastly, Fowles recorded 12 points, 7 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocked shots.
Although Team USA put up their best effort, it wasn't enough as Team WNBA defeated Team USA for the first time 93-85.
Stay tuned for when I recap the two Team USA exhibitions before I gear up to cover Team USA's venture for their 5th straight gold medal from the comfort of my couch.
DeWanna Bonner, (Connecticut Sun)
Liz Cambage, (Las Vegas Aces)
Kahleah Copper, (Chicago Sky)
Dearica Hamby, (Las Vegas Aces)
Brionna Jones, (Connecticut Sun)
Jonquel Jones, ( Connecticut Sun)
Betnijah Laney, (Liberty)
Arike Ogunbowale, (Dallas Wings)
Candace Parker, (Chicago Sky)
Satou Sabally, (Dallas Wings)
Courtney Vandersloot, (Chicago Sky)
Courtney Williams, (Atlanta Dream)
Ariel Atkins, (Washington Mystics)
Sue Bird, (Seattle Storm)
Tina Charles, (Washington Mystics)
Napheesa Collier, (Minnesota Lynx)
Skylar Diggins-Smith, (Phoenix Mercury)
Sylvia Fowles, (Minnesota Lynx)
Chelsea Gray, (Las Vegas Aces)
Brittney Griner, (Phoenix Mercury)
Jewell Loyd, (Seattle Storm)
Breanna Stewart, (Seattle Storm)
Diana Taurasi, (Phoenix Mercury)
A’ja Wilson, (Las Vegas Aces)