USA get off to perfect start

THE United States have got off to a booming start to the FIBA Women’s World Cup for 2022, claiming a 15-point win over Belgium to kick off their campaign in Sydney.

The US were the favourites coming into the tournament, given their dominance in the sport for an extended period of time. It would have taken quite the upset for Belgium to snatch an early upset, and while they were far from awful, their opponents were simply a class above.

The victors shot significantly better from the field, making 48 percent of their shots from two-point territory, nine percent higher than Belgium. In fact, Belgium’s biggest success came from its performance shooting the basketball from behind the arc, with three-point territory their most successful range.

The United States also won the rebounding battle (38-32) and forced Belgium into more turnovers with their relentless pressure (19-25). It was a clinical performance from the most recent Olympic Gold Medallists, who look primed to add another bit of silverware to their trophy case.

Despite missing some key figures from their successful Olympic campaign, the US still have a large number of weapons, as displayed on Thursday. Brianna Stewart led the way for the winners, delivering a terrific offensive performance and leading the match in the points column. She registered a game-high 22 points (8/18 FG) to go with four rebounds and three assists, and was quite a handful for the Belgium defence.

Also impressing for the United States were Jewell Lloyd (14 points, three rebounds), Alyssa Thomas (14 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) and Kahleah Cooper (11 points), all of whom played a crucial role in holding off a brave Belgium side.

Julie Vanloo fought valiantly in defeat, always looking to give her side a spark with a 13-point performance, while her namesake in Julie Allemand chimed in with 10 points of her own.

Across the courts, Puerto Rico emerged 24-point winners over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first match of the tournament, while Canada snuck past Serbia to claim a seven-point triumph later in the day.

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