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Preview: Team USA continues FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup group stage against China

Back-to-backs are a fact of life in the World Cup’s group stage.

Diana Taurasi and Team USA play China on Sunday in each team’s second Group D game of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images

The United States women’s national team continues Group D play against China on Sunday. Here’s what to look for:

Game info

When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Tenerife, Spain (Quico Cabrera Arena)

How to watch: ESPN+ (national streaming with fee), LiveBasketball.TV (worldwide streaming with fee)

Injuries: Brittney Griner (ankle) did not play Saturday against Senegal and is listed as day-to-day.

Rankings: The USA is ranked first in the world. China is ranked 10th in the world and made the World Cup by placing fourth in the 2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.

Results from Day 1: The USA beat Senegal, 87-67 while China beat Latvia, 64-61.

Storylines to follow

Like Saturday’s match against Senegal, the United States will be in “feel out your opponent” mode as they play against China, who has no active WNBA players on its roster. So the Americans may be a bit tentative at first, but don’t be too alarmed if the Chinese are neck and neck with Team USA after the first ten minutes.

The Americans should take more advantage of their reserve unit of players like A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Morgan Tuck to give veterans like Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Elena Delle Donne more time to rest. Taurasi may be in excellent shape, but she is still in her late 30s. Bird is even older and Delle Donne is quite injury-prone, so they shouldn’t have to be playing more than absolutely necessary at this stage.

The game may be close early on, but Team USA should win this one easily once the bench units start playing more freely.

The USA will be playing a back-to-back and could be tired since their first two games are just 24 hours apart. But consider the USA lucky compared to Belgium and Japan. The Belgians played their first game yesterday at 3:30 p.m. ET against Puerto Rico and had to play again this morning at 8:30 a.m. ET against Japan, who played their first game at 3 p.m. ET yesterday against Spain.

These back-to-backs are a pain for everyone, but at least no one has to travel long distances. Still, this game could be a bit sloppy for both the Americans and the Chinese.