Storm All-Star Sue Bird will lead Team USA against France for Olympic gold on Saturday. The Americans (7-0) are seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive title, Bird’s third. France (7-0) is making its first appearance in the gold-medal matchup and will win the country’s first-ever medal in women’s basketball regardless of the outcome.
“My sleeper team is France,” Bird said of the competitors prior to leaving Seattle to join her Olympic teammates. “I know a lot of players on the team, I’ve played against them. For the most part, they’re young, very good and talented. The thing about the Olympics is it’s one game. You just have to have one bad game. It’s not like a three or five-game series. It just takes one game, so you have to be ready.”
Bird scored an Olympic-high 13 points in a battle against Australia (5-2) on Thursday to help Team USA advance. It preserved a 40-game win streak dating back to the 1992 bronze finish in the Barcelona Olympic Games.
France has overcome overtimes, double-digit deficits and foul trouble to stay afloat in the tournament. Former Storm G Edwige Lawson-Wade scored 18 points with five assists to help Les Blues defeat Russia 81-64 to advance. But starting PG Celine Dumerc as been the star of the team, hitting 15 of 26 three-pointers in the tourney to average a team-high 15.1 points.
While young, the team does have some championship experience. C Isabelle Yacoubou teamed with Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson to win the prestigious EuroLeague title for Ros Casares in April. Bird’s team finished third in that competition.
But it’s a distant memory as the ultimate goal is Olympic gold.
The Storm will hold three parties around the city to view the game. And Bird’s Storm teammates will be scattered at each to watch with fans. The gold-medal matchup will be aired live at 1 p.m. (PST) on NBC .
Admission is free to the viewings. The locations are Sport Restaurant and Bar downtown, Rookies Bar & Grill in Columbia City and 520 Bar & Grill in old Bellevue.
Jackson and her Australian national team are vying for bronze live at 9 a.m. on MSNBC. It’s the first time since 2000 that the Opals haven’t been in the gold-medal game. An overtime loss to France in the preliminary round dropped the Opals to the American’s bracket in the knockout rounds.