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Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu join Team USA for FIBA Qualifying Tournament

Team USA is looking to win their eighth straight gold medal this summer in the Olympics. Two New York Liberty stars look to help the USA stay on top of the basketball world.

2024 USAB Women’s Practice Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

The chance to represent your country is one you never take for granted. Donning your country’s colors and putting on a show for a global audience is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you remember forever. Very few people get that opportunity, and when you get it, you have to make the most of it. For two New York Liberty stars, they’ll get a chance to don the colors of the red, white, and blue one more time.

In 2022, Sabrina Ionescu made her Team USA debut at the FIBA World Cup in Australia. She didn’t play much as she was one of the youngest players on the squad and sat behind her more experienced teammates. Since then, she’s continued to get better and is solidly one of the best basketball players in the WNBA. Ionescu has continued to get better and is someone that we will see more on the global stage going forward.

While the Brooklyn Nets were away, Team USA held mini-camp at the Barclays Center for the National Team. There we got to watch a star-studded United States roster practice, build chemistry, and start their preparations for the Olympics in Paris. On a team with the talent that the United States has, it can be tough to adapt and take on a new role when you’re surrounded by so many do-everything players. At practice on February 5, we asked Ionescu about how she can amplify her skills and build on them within the Team USA context:

“Just continuing to find ways to be effective. You know, obviously I can shoot and score the ball. But I think one of my greatest gifts is being able to pass and facilitate. That’s something that I always take going into this type of training camp [which] is knowing who’s around me, what their strengths are and finding ways that I can continue to to to help them get the ball. continue to help manipulating the pick and roll and figuring out ways to help the team win, no matter how big or small that role is.”

Someone who’s noticed Ionescu’s improvement is Minnesota Lynx and Team USA Head Coach Cheryl Reeve. At media availability on Sunday, Reeve discussed Sab’s improvements over time:

“I think there’s been growth. Sabrina being on the World Cup team, that was her first experience with the National Team. seeing her subsequently with the college tour, here this week and likely when we go over to Belgium, [and] continuing to grow, and growing in her confidence about what she can do.”

Being willing to accept any ole and sacrifice for the greater good is the sign of a great leader and even better teammate. Liberty fans have seen Ionescu’s rise from number one pick to All WNBA star. She still has room to get even better, and being on Team USA will help her game immensely going forward. And she’ll get to do it along side one of her teammates.

Do everything

2024 USAB Women’s Practice Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

Breanna Stewart is one of the most decorated basketball players in American history. She’s won at the amateur, professional, and international ranks while playing like a legend in each stop. Stewart has been a part of the USA Basketball ecosystem since she was 14 years old and has helped the US Women’s Team be the most successful institution in American sports. She’s back with the team and is looking to have another excellent international showing.

During practice on Friday, we saw Stewart playing a good amount of center in lineups and displaying the versatility that’s helped her be an MVP player. At a Zoom presser, Stewart discussed the importance of being a versatile player:

“One of the things that Cheryl said at the beginning of the practice was if you have the ability to play multiple positions, then I need you to be comfortable in multiple positions because you never know what we’re going to need or when your time is going to be called. So, it it’s it’s a useful thing to have...”

Liberty fans have seen Stewart do everything imaginable on the court, and Stewie’s ability to take on different roles allows for her teams to experiment and try out all kinds of lineups. It makes for less complicated roster building as her teammates are playing with someone who can solve all kinds of problems. Ste

The road to Paris

2024 USAB Women’s Practice Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

On February 8, Team USA will head to Belgium for a qualifying tournament. It won’t have any bearing on their eligibility for Paris as they clinched that when they beat China for the World Cup in 2022, but it’ll still be a great opportunity for the team to get some reps and live game experience with each other. Nothing beats in game repetitions, and Team USA will take on Belgium, Nigeria, and Senegal over the course of four days.

The Belgium matchup will be incredibly intriguing as Team USA will be facing a hostile, sold out 14,000 person crowd against the home team Belgium and former WNBA Finals MVP, Emma Meesseman.

Here’s the full roster joining Ionescu and Stewart in Antwerp:

One player that stands out among the 12 selected is Aliyah Boston. Boston took the W by storm as a rookie in 2023 and helped turn around a moribund Indiana Fever team. At 22 years old, Boston is the youngest player on the Team USA roster and someone that will be in the program for a long time.

As Diana Taurasi told the assembled media on Friday:

“Aliyah is the future of the WNBA.”

Her head coach at the University of South Carolina, Dawn Staley, spoke about Boston’s selection

Experiences like these go a long way in helping young players grow. Going up against the best of the best and learning from them only makes you better and teaches you what you need to do to get better. Young players like Boston, Rhyne Howard, and Ionescu getting this opportunity now helps ensure the next generation of United States basketball can carry the torch from the players before them.

The national committee still has plenty of work to do before we get to Paris this August. Chelsea Gray hasn’t been cleared for five on five activity as of yet as she continues to recover from the foot injury she suffered during the Finals. There’s a possibility University of Iowa icon and likely number one pick in the Draft, Caitlin Clark, will be joining the team as well. And the reigning Finals MVP A’ja Wilson is currently promoting her new book! We know for sure that the M’VP will suit back up for the USA when the Olympics begin. The next and final Team USA mini camp will be in late April following the completion of the women’s NCAA Tournament. By that point, we’ll know who the committee will select for the Games in Paris. In the meantime, the United States will look to show the world once again that the road to gold goes through the red, white, and blue.