The broader picture: EuroBasket and the WNBA
As WNBA teams jockey for playoff position, it’s reasonable to ask how much of an impact EuroBasket will have on the final standings. However, WNBA coaches generally downplayed its impact, especially compared to the many injury-related absences around the league. Even Katie Smith, who had the most players in the tournament of any WNBA coach, said, “It’s just part of what [being in the WNBA] is. … it’s not something you worry about. You think about it … and then you deal with it.”
Where EuroBasket had a larger impact was on individual players, whether they represented their country of birth or a country they have adopted during their basketball careers. Bentley, an American with a Belarus passport, explained, “Being able to play for and compete to get to the Olympics, I mean, that’s an experience that not many people are able to do.” Turner, another American-born player, shared that she had learned the Hungarian national anthem, which contributed to her sense of national pride during the tournament. She explained what it means to her to wear the Hungarian jersey: “[Hungarian officials] trusted me with my talent, with my personality, to go out and put a jersey on for their country. … I’m representing their country [in] basketball, and it’s not a big sport over there. … so it meant a lot for me to go out and to be a part of a memory and a milestone for basketball for Hungary.”
*The EuroBasket leaderboards exclude players who appeared in fewer than four games.
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