Sue Bird won her fifth gold medal over the weekend in Tokyo when the U.S. Women’s National Team topped Japan 90-75 in the Olympic final.
On Thursday night, Bird and her Seattle Storm teammates aim to win the first WNBA Commissioner’s Cup when they meet the Connecticut Sun in Phoenix, the league’s first game after the Olympic break.
Seattle enters with the league’s best record at 16-5, including 8-2 in Cup games. The league designated 60 games as Cup games prior to the Olympics, and the teams with the top records in those contests from each conference earned the right to play in the final.
“There’s a lot of fanfare,” said Storm coach Noelle Quinn. “A lot of hype around that. For us, it’s a game. A game to be played, a game to be won. We want to go in feeling good, feeling prepared, feeling ready.”
A prize pool of $500,000 is on the line for Seattle and Connecticut. Each player from the winning team will pocket $30,000 and players from the losing team are guaranteed $10,000. The game’s MVP will earn an extra $5,000.
The Storm’s final game prior to the Olympics was an 82-75 decision July 11 over Phoenix in which they got 15 points off the bench from Epiphanny Prince, leading four players in double figures. They also held Brittney Griner to 16 points — more than four less than her average — on 8 of 18 shooting from the field.
Connecticut (14-6) posted the best record in Cup games with a 9-1 mark. The Sun sent three players to the All-Star Game that the league’s representatives won over the U.S. Olympic team on July 14.
Jonquel Jones has been the name of the game for Connecticut, scoring 21 points per game to rank second in the league and grabbing a league-high 11.1 rebounds per game. Jones is perhaps the favorite to win Most Valuable Player honors.
Jones looked forward to competing in the inaugural Cup final.
“I feel like it’s motivation for everybody,” Jones said. “All of us work hard. Everybody wants to kind of walk away with a championship and walk away with that extra amount of cash.”
–Field Level Media