On Monday in Los Angeles, reigning Rookie of the Year Jewell Loyd will be in action against Storm teammates Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart as part of the USA Basketball Showcase presented by Verizon. Loyd and the U.S. Women’s Select Team take on the Olympic Team at 7 p.m. PT on NBA TV. Fans can also watch the live stream on USA Basketball’s Facebook page.
After training alongside Bird, Stewart and the rest of the Olympic Team for the past two days, Loyd’s squad will be the first of four exhibition opponents that the U.S. battles this week in preparation for next month’s Games in Brazil. The Select Team, consisting of 11 WNBA players, gives up-and-coming stars like Loyd a chance to display their skills in front of the USA Basketball coaches that could choose them for an Olympic Team one day.
Loyd was among the 25 finalists for this year’s Olympics. As head coach Geno Auriemma points out, her next goal with USA Basketball is to make the 2018 Women’s Basketball World Cup squad.
“These next two years, those players are going to have to step up, commit themselves and give the time and effort to put themselves in a position to be on the team,” Auriemma said. “These next couple years are going to be really important to these young players, and I hope they take advantage of it.
“We tried to keep [the Select Team] to the players that were under five years in the league, so we could identify who some of the best young players are. …It’s great for the league that there’s so many good young players that have been in the league for a short period of time.”
After the matchup with Loyd’s squad Monday night, the Olympic Team will face France on Wednesday, Canada on Friday and Australia on Sunday (all games broadcast on NBA TV, in addition to live stream on USA Basketball Facebook page). The U.S. is going for its sixth straight gold medal in women’s basketball, and it will begin the tournament on Aug. 7 against Senegal.
Bird, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, was named a captain alongside fellow WNBA veterans Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi. They are the only three players to be named to each of the past four Olympic Teams.
Stewart joins Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner as the U.S. players participating in their first Olympics this year. The 21-year-old forward is the youngest Olympic women’s basketball player representing the U.S. since 1988.
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Olympic Team: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx); Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever); Tina Charles (New York Liberty); Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky); Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury); Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream); Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
Select Team: Kelsey Bone (Phoenix Mercury); Kahleah Copper (Washington Mystics); Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics); Natasha Howard (Minnesota Lynx); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever); Aerial Powers (Dallas Wings); Sugar Rodgers (New York Liberty); Odyssey Sims (Dallas Wings); Kiah Stokes (New York Liberty); Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream)