5 Takeaways from the FIBA Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournaments
Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!
Haven’t subscribed to the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter yet?
After the World Cup Qualifying Tournaments held in Belgrade, Washington, and Osaka, we have our 12 team field for the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup: USA, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Japan, China, France, Korea, Serbia, Nigeria, Belgium, and Russia. The final tournament will be held in Australia and begin on September 22. Here are five takeaways from the qualifiers:
China must be reckoned with as a medal contender
China 103, France 70. Yes, both teams had already qualified, and the Olympic bronze medalists were without Sandrine Gruda, Endy Miyem, and Olivia Epoupa, but France’s other stars played a regular amount, with Gabby Williams notably playing 31 minutes for France. Across the three games, China shot an astounding 49% from the three-point line and 88% from the free-throw line as three players averaged at least 15 points per game: 6’7” center and former WNBA third-round pick Yueru Li, 6’3” combo forward Sijing Huang, and playmaking wing Meng Li. Huang also joined guards Siyu Wang and Yuan Li in averaging at least 6 assists per game although Yuan Li also missed the game against France. Between Yueru Li and Xu Han, China has excellent size on the interior, and they complement their centers with more than enough floor spacing and ball-handlers to keep the paint relatively open and the ball moving fluidly. It might not be a stretch to say that China matches up with the United States as well as any other team in the world, especially given how unlikely Liz Cambage’s return remains for Australia.
JiSu Park remains one of the premier rim protectors in the world
How many players can you name who have recorded a triple double with blocks in a 40-minute game? It has happened twice in the WNBA with the last one coming in 2004, and now JiSu Park has done it in a World Cup qualifying game. She did play 38 minutes as she tallied her 20 points and 13 rebounds and 11 blocks against Brazil, that just means that she got essentially zero rest, not exactly a surprise given how Korea’s team revolves around her at both ends. South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso notched an efficient double-double of her own, but former WNBA All-Star Erika De Souza was held to 5-16 shooting, and Brazil as a whole only shot 41.7% inside the arc. In the previous game, Serbia shot even worse, going 39.2% inside the arc and relying on their own sterling defensive effort to grind out a 3-point win. Park struggled offensively, shooting 37% from the field and committing 10 turnovers in two games before getting a well-deserved rest against Australia, she truly is a defensive superstar.
Yvonne Anderson is the star of Serbia’s current set-up
Let’s tally the number for Yvonne Anderson across three games in Belgrade. She played 101 minutes—next highest for Serbia was shooting wing Sasa Cado with 85. She tallied 13 assists—next highest for Serbia was power forward Maja Skoric with 9. She scored 68 points—next highest was center Tina Krajisnik with 32. She attempted 27 free throws—next highest was former Providence wing Jovana Nogic with 9. And in a tournament where Serbia won all three games by a grand total of 16 points, Serbia was a +27 in 101 minutes with Anderson on the floor and -11 in the 19 minutes she sat on the bench. Especially noteworthy were the 30 points that Anderson scored against Australia to secure qualification with a game in hand. While I have written previously about her as a potential WNBA rookie even though she will turn 32 in March, Serbia will want to make sure that everything is set with Anderson in their team long before the first tip-off in Australia on September 22.
Hind Ben Abdelkader gives Belgium a different element
During Belgium’s recent rise on the international scene, the team has won with exceptional ball and player movement surrounding Emma Meesseman’s unparalleled brilliance as an inside-out player with feathery shooting touch. Hind Ben Abdelkader, back with the team after a prolonged absence, gives the team a microwave scorer who can score a lot of points in very little time. She was not exceptionally efficient across the three games, but she did shoot 39% from three, and American viewers certainly saw her heat up in the second half against the United States. Even if the team will continue to have Julie Allemand set the pace and Meesseman will still control their overall destiny, it should be valuable for them to keep another trick up their sleeve.
Bosnia and Herzegovina could really use Marica Gajic
The pressure was off for Bosnia and Herzegovina playing in the Osaka tournament as Belarus’s withdrawal meant that the remaining three teams qualified for the World Cup. Regardless, they were blown out by Canada in a game where Jonquel Jones struggled and barely eked out a comeback victory against Japan despite Jones’s recording 36 points and 23 rebounds. Even considering Japan’s penchant for winning despite allowing opposing post players to put up big numbers, that is notable and concerning. While she was listed on the roster, power forward Marica Gajic missed both games. Gajic, who averaged a double-double at last summer’s Eurobasket before missing the team’s last two games, provides an additional interior presence and would have helped especially in the game against Canada where Bosnia and Herzegovina only notched 22 rebounds. While Nikolina Dzebo filled in ably in the starting power forward spot and Nikolina Babic had another great shooting performance, Gajic may be the last piece necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to make a big run in Australia.