Connect with us


Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones named to Team USA for World Cup tournament

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas will be playing in the U.S. World Cup team .

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones were named to the American team that will compete in the Women’s World Cup basketball tournament beginning Thursday in Sydney, Australia or Wednesday night in the United States.

It will be just a few days off for Thomas and Jones, who were on the court Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena when the Las Vegas Aces held off the Connecticut Sun, 78-71, to clinch their first WNBA championship.

Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson, Chelsey Gray and Kelsey Plum are also a part of the 12-person U.S. team that will be looking for their fourth straight world championship. The tournament was known as the world championship tournament through 2010. It has been known as the World Cup since 2014 and it held every four years.

The roster was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Committee. Jennifer Rizzotti, president of the Connecticut Sun, is the chair of the committee. Curt Miller, head coach and general manager of the Sun, is an assistant coach with Team USA, which is led by Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve.

Action begins Wednesday night for the Americans when they take on Belgium in Group A play at 9:30 p.m., EST or 11:30 a.m. on Thursday in Australia.

Thomas returned to the Sun this season after missing all but six games of the 2021 WNBA campaign recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. She started in all 36 of the Sun’s games this regular season, leading her team in assists (6.1), steals (1.7) and minutes played (32.1) per game.

Thomas finished the regular season second in the league in steals, fifth in rebounding (8.2) and fourth in points in the paint (9.6) per game. She was named a 2022 WNBA All-Star, the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice (5/23, 7/25), the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month twice (May, July), and a member of the All-WNBA Second Team this season.

The eight-year veteran capped off her 2022 season, tallying the first and second WNBA Finals triple-doubles in league history in consecutive games, making her the only player to have achieved triple doubles in back-to-back games and to have amassed four in a single season.

She was so tough and focused in the WNBA finals as the Sun tried to win their first league championship. And she plays that way every day, Miller said.

“She doesn’t know how else to play,” he said. “And that’s what’s different. She’s probably the toughest player I’ve ever coached, but she’s the most consistent player in terms of effort that I’ve ever been around. I know what I’m going to get every single day if that’s how she plays and that’s what makes her special. She doesn’t know how to play other than that way.”

Brionna Jones drives to the basket in the WNBA finals past Las Vegas’ Kiah Stokes.

Jones, the 2022 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year, played all 36 games for Connecticut in the regular season, averaging 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 25.1 minutes per game. She ranked 20th in the WNBA in scoring, fourth in field goal percentage (56.9) and second in offensive rebounds (2.6 per game).

The 6-3 forward from Havre de Grace, MD was also named a WNBA All-Star for her second consecutive season.

Former Sun coach Mike Thibault, currently the head coach in Washington, is an assistant coach on the staff. Former UConn star Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm is part of the 12-person Team USA squad.

The first two American games against Belgium and Puerto Rico will be available on ESPN’s streaming platform (ESPN+). The three remaining first round games will be on various ESPN cable networks.

Team USA’s five opening round opponents include Belgium (Wednesday 9:20 p.m., ESPN+), Puerto Rico (Thursday, 8:20 p.m., ESPN+), China (Sat. Sept. 24, 12:30 a.m., ESPN2), Korea (Monday, Sept. 26: midnight, ESPN2), and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Tuesday, Sept. 27, midnight, ESPNU).

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

More in WNBA