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Stewart and Ionescu going to Paris

Liberty stars selected to represent Team USA at Olympics

June 12, 2024 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player Breanna Stewart and All-Star teammate Sabrina Ionescu are the last two winners of the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week award.

Now, Brooklyn’s dynamic duo will represent Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics, as announced Monday by the 2024 USA Basketball Women’s National Team.

Stewart helped the Liberty (11-2) to a perfect run through their Commissioner’s Cup slate this past week, spearheading them to the final four wins of their 5-0 burst through the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Not only did the two-time MVP lift New York back into the in-season tournament’s title game, which it won last year in Las Vegas, but she also drove the Liberty to a plus-78 point differential, guaranteeing the championship would be at Downtown’s Barclays Center on June 25.

Ionescu picked up Player of the Week honors after kick-starting New York’s season-high seven-game winning streak with a pair of virtuoso performances against Phoenix and Washington, respectively, to close out May,

Stewart and Ionescu found out Monday that they would be the only Liberty players wearing the red, white and blue next month.

Stewart, already the owner of gold medals for her efforts in Rio in 2016 and Tokyo four years ago, leads New York in scoring and rebounding this year.

She was particularly productive during the Liberty’s run through the Cup schedule, amassing 21.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals in four games last week.

Stewart struggled a bit Sunday when the Liberty capped their grueling five games in eight days run with a 93-88 victory over then-winless Washington on Sunday at Barclays.

Coach Sandy Brondello did point out, however, that Stewart’s eight points in the third quarter helped spark New York to a fourth-quarter run that put it ahead to stay.

Coach Sandy Brondello will take a break from her duties with the Liberty to lead Team Australia into the Summer Olympics in Paris next month. AP Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast

Stewart drained two free throws to open the final stanza as well.

“She understands the moment,” Brondello said of the two-time WNBA Finals MVP. “We’re a good fourth-quarter team. We’re good in the crunch. We’ve got good clutch minutes.”

Seeking her third gold medal in Paris, Stewart ranks third all-time in field goal percentage for Team USA in international play at 73%.

Ionescu will make her first foray into the Olympics, but is a sure thing for her second straight All-Star appearance later this summer.

The first overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft is averaging 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists this year as New York continues to enjoy a well-deserved break before it visits Sin City on Saturday afternoon to battle the struggling Aces (5-5).

The two-time defending WNBA champions edged New York in four tough games in last year’s Finals, but did lose the Commissioner’s Cup championship game to the Liberty on their home floor last summer.

Stewart and Ionescu will see a familiar face on the opposing bench when they face Australia at the Summer Games.

Brondello, a three-time Olympic medalist, will be coaching her native country’s team in Paris.

The Liberty trio still have plenty of work to do in Brooklyn and around the WNBA before Team USA opens training camp next month.

The national team will get to warm up in Phoenix on July 20 by taking on Team WNBA at the league’s All-Star Game.

Jonquel Jones and the Liberty will be shooting for their eighth straight win when they meet Las Vegas Saturday in a rematch of last year’s WNBA Finals. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

GIVE ME LIBERTY: Jonquel Jones, the 2023 Commissioner’s Cup MVP and 2021 league MVP, will be coming off her first back-to-back 20-plus point performances as a member of the Liberty when New York visits Las Vegas Saturday. That contest will be aired nationally on ABC and is scheduled to tip-off at 3 p.m. … After visiting the Aces this weekend, the Liberty will head to Phoenix Tuesday before hosting a two-game set against the Los Angeles Sparks at Barclays from June 20-22.

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