United States loom as favourites as finals kick off

THE FINAL stages of the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup have arrived, with the quarter finals set to begin on Thursday.

Just eight teams remain in the hunt for the tournament’s ultimate prize, with six days of action in the bank. The group phase delivered some excellent matches, with a few clear favourites bursting ahead with some dominant performances.

With three stages of finals (quarter, semi, grand) over the course of the weekend, the title is anyone’s to claim. Will it be one of the powerhouse sides or is an upset on the cards?

The favourites

It seems quite obvious at this stage, but it is the United States’ title to lose coming into the finals. With a plethora of options on the scoring end, and a rock-solid defensive mindset, there are not many flaws in this dominant team, and they should be all set to take on any side they are matched up against. They have scored over 120 points in their final two games, which is far better than any of their peers. If they produce more performances of that calibre, it could be an easy run to the title.

At the top of the other group are the host side in the Australian Opals, who have had a strong finish to the group stage of the tournament. The Opals were stunned by a near-flawless performance from France on opening night, and could not afford to deliver any more performances of that level. Since then, the Aussies have not lost a game, with their relentless harassment on the defensive end proving to be a match-winning formula. Eziyoda Magbegor has found some terrific form on the big stage and is one to watch over the course of the finals.

The third big contender for the title entering the finals are China, who has had quite the campaign themselves. Always among the top sides in female basketball competitions, China has only sustained one loss in the tournament to date, and appear to have found a winning formula. Consistently scoring 75+ points, the Chinese side have been able to defeat any side they face bar the United States. Meng Li has been able to produce some consistent offence, and will play a key role for her side in the home stretch.

The hopefuls

France was able to take down the Opals in the opening night of matches, and showcased a level of form that could nearly take down anyone. It is just a matter of performing at such a high level across three games against the best of the best.

Canada has also performed admirably and could surprise everyone with a strong close to the tournament. They pushed the Opals to a thriller in the game of the tournament so far, but given how strong the United States are looking, they will need to be even better.

Puerto Rico is fresh off a nice win to close out the tournament, and showcased an ability to post a winning score with 92 points against Korea. They might be able to pull off another impressive result in the quarter finals in their matchup against Canada.

Belgium has a tough matchup in their first final, scheduled to take on the Opals in the quarters. They were taught a lesson by China in the final match of the group stage, and will need to lift on both ends.

Speaking of tough matchups, Serbia are scheduled to take on the U.S. in the opening final. The Serbians took down France in a belter of a match on the final day of group games, but will need to deliver their best performance of the tournament if they wish to produce an all-time upset.

Quarter Finals

United States vs. Serbia
Puerto Rico vs. Canada
China vs. France
Belgium vs. Australia

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