The United States completed the preliminary round of the FIBA World Championships Tuesday in Istanbul, sending the Angolans back to Luanda, 119-44, with 18 points and 10 rebounds from Nneka Ogwumike.
“Our offensive chemistry went really well,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “Good ball movement, they communicate well with each other, respectable of one another’s capabilities, we don’t have anybody out there trying to prove that they’re better than everybody else.”
The Americans found no trouble in pouncing on a massive lead, 33-11, with Maya Moore already notching 10 in the books, but at the buzzer, Rosa Gala, Angola’s 5-foot-8, 19-year-old guard, hit a half court shot. That was the highlight of the tourney for the two-time defending African champions, appearing in its first FIBA World Championships.
“It was great to see the experience they have here,” Ogwumike said. “It’s still in the developmental stage, but being at the World Championships is a great accomplishment to have. Everyone’s really friendly, it’s a great atmosphere to support basketball players as a global culture.”
Coach Auriemma gave Breanna Stewart and Odyssey Sims their earliest appearances this competition in the early second quarter. Sims, whose 1,054 points at Baylor last season were the second-most all-time, scored nine while conducting the point longer than anyone else Tuesday.
“You never know when somebody has to step up, so to get them out there, some extra minutes is good,” said Brittney Griner, who played in college with Sims.
Every one for the U.S. had scored for some time, except Lindsay Whalen, until the former Gopher star’s jump shot in the late third quarter put her team up 83-30. Whalen led the Americans with six assists, while Moore (16), Griner (15), Seimone Augustus (15), and Angel McCoughtry (10) posted double figures for the U.S., with Ogwumike.
“It’s always important to play well as a team, whenever it’s their time, everyone expects them to play well,” Moore said of the players off the bench. “They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think they could. It’s good to get some game action under their belts.”
Nadir Manuel led Angola with 11 points and four rebounds.
The American women played the Angolans once before, in group play at the 2012 London Olympics, a 90-38 win. Of course, the Angolan men’s team is notorious for being the victims of a 116-48 throbbing to the Dream Team at Barcelona in 1992. McCoughtry’s three with four minutes to play increased the lead to 69, eclipsing that particular margin.
In the final game of Group B, in Ankara, France defeated Canada, 63-59, led with Sandrine Gruda’s 13 points. Tamara Tatham topped Canada with 11 points, and her team will play the Czech Republic Wednesday, while the French will meet Brazil for the right to face the Americans in the quarterfinals on Friday.