NEWARK, DE.- Unity. Spirit. Aggression. The United States Women's National Team held nothing back and proved they are Rio ready in Wednesday's game against France at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware.
The arena was jam-packed with spectators of all ages and radiating American (and Delaware) pride. The anticipation to see these women represent this country could be felt to the core.
"This was by far the most emotional game I've ever played at the Bob," said University of Delaware alumni and Wilmington Delaware native, Elena Delle Donne. "This was a dream come true for me. Not to represent myself or the team, to represent everyone."
Playing at Delaware was even more special for Delle Donne, as this is her first year as being a part of the National team and how exciting is it to play in from of her former fans from college.
Women from all over the country, from New York to Seattle came together to put on one fierce red uniform with "USA" across their chests. One of these women being Syosset, NY native and wearing #6 is guard Sue Bird.
35-year-old Sue Bird proved she was born for this sport. With three world titles, nine WNBA all-star teams, and three Olympic gold medals, she is more than prepared for medal number four.
Now she stepped onto the hardwood with fellow Connecticut alumni Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles for the USA Basketball Showcase.
Starting the first quarter, Bird instantly demanded the ball in order to create multiple opportunities for Team USA. With three assists and five points, she was a fiery presence on the court, and that's not just because of her red uniform.
Her agility and quality ball control proved too much for the French defense. Often during the WNBA season, she slices up defensives with her sharp passes.
Throughout the second quarter, Bird's endurance didn't falter, and her ball control was still sound. Her aggressive nature with passing helped her assist in opportunities for other players like, Charles and Moore, to rack up points on the board. And the score was 32-31 with the USA clenching to a one-point lead while heading to the locker room.
Once the second half started, though, Team USA looked completely different.
"We came out more aggressive. We had a lot of great energy from the bench in the second than we did in the first half," said Coach Geno Auriemma.
Team USA started to fine tune their play in the second half. And while they failed to capitalize on some opportunities, Bird and Taurasi made sure they could create multiple opportunities for Moore and Charles to secure points. The two veteran points are known for taking over a game whether it is themselves or like all point guards do, setting up their teammates.
Bird's ability to cut past defenders and find quick passing lanes lit a new fire under the United States. France tried desperately to keep the score as close as possible through the first three-quarters, but unfortunately, with Team USA in sync, there was no stopping the rally.
Charles' ability to hit 15-foot shots time after time, allowed Team USA to completely pull away.
Playing 29 minutes, Bird ended the game with eight assists, five points and a focus on Rio.
"These aren't games to just break a sweat and build some points. We don't want to be going to Rio coasting on false confidence."
The final score ended with Team USA winning, 84 to 62.
But the Olympic team still has a lot to work on according to Coach Auriemma, however, they are looking forward to the opportunity at hand.
"We've only had four days with each other. We still have a lot to work on, and to grow. This is going to be an incredible journey with these ladies," said Bird.
Team USA matches up against Canada on Friday, July 29th at 7 in Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport Connecticut.