SYDNEY (Australia) – The sense of responsibility is sizeable for USA playmaker Sabrina Ionescu as she gets ready to make her FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup debut in Sydney.
The highly-rated guard is one of the options that the reigning champions will call upon as they start a brand new chapter without their legendary backcourt duo of Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.
The pair won four and three titles respectively in the competition and now USA must turn the page, with Ionescu and her teammates Jewell Loyd and Kelsey Plum in the running to pick up the baton.
“They definitely shaped what USA basketball stands for,” said Ionescu.
“We will be doing anything we can to continue extending that legacy – even if there are some new faces and we are now a younger group than before.
“They both left USA and the sport itself in better hands than when they started and the way they made such a mark on at this level shows how important they have been for basketball,” she added.
When Ionescu takes to the court for the first time in the competition, she will also join a special but ever growing club. The 24-year-old will become the latest athlete to have played in FIBA World Cups at both youth and senior level.
Ionescu was part of the USA team that lifted silverware at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2014 in Czech Republic and will not finally get to make the transition to the main tournament.
“It’s amazing just being able to grow up through the process of playing with FIBA and playing against all these players; then years later being able to see the same players you played against now making their national teams,” explained Ionescu.
“It’s testament to all the hard work. It’s not easy and it’s nice to be surrounded by a lot of players who have done that and are now here competing at the highest level.
“I am just excited to be here. Having been injured, it meant I wasn’t able to have been in the mix, so it’s great to be feeling healthy now. I’m be ready to represent USA to the best of my ability and any opportunity to play for USA I don’t take for granted,” she concluded.
Ionescu will help the USA chase an 11th title and go four in a row. They play in Group A against Belgium, Puerto Rico, China, Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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