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Ogumbowale scoops MVP award as All-Star team wins

Nigerian-American Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale scored a game-high 26 points as Team WNBA defeated the USA Basketball Women’s National Team in the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas this morning.

Ogunbowale, a first-time All-Star, was also named MVP.

The content was a little different from a conventional All-Star game in more ways than one, with both teams playing hard on both ends of the court for the entire game. All-Star games usually only get tense in the fourth quarter.

The WNBA team led 75-73 midway through the fourth quarter before Ogunbowale had a four-point play to extend the advantage to six. The Olympic squad closed within 83-78 before Ogunbowale, hit another three-pointer.

The Olympic team cut its deficit to 91-85 and had a chance to get closer, but Courtney Williams blocked A’ja Wilson’s shot with 1:15 left and they could get no closer.

The Olympic team is a heavy favourite to win a seventh straight gold medal at the Tokyo Games. No team they will face is likely to have nearly as much talent as the WNBA All-Star team they faced.

Brittney Griner scored 17 points and Breanna Stewart had 15 to lead the Olympic team, which had been 3-0 in previous games against WNBA select squads.

Both teams were missing a player. Diana Taurasi suffered a hip injury in practice a few weeks ago and missed the final three games before the Olympic break for the Mercury. She was warming up before the game, but didn’t play.

Liz Cambage also was in uniform but didn’t play. She is on Australia’s Olympic team and the Opals played Nigeria in an exhibition contest on Tuesday. They play the U.S. on Friday.

Meanwhile, Allie Quigley won the Three-Point shootout for a third time, beating six-foot-six Jonquel Jones in the final. Quigley hit nine of her final 10 shots, including all five from the wing on her “money ball” rack. Quigley also won the title in 2017 and 2018.

Sami Whitcomb and Jewell Loyd shot well, but couldn’t advance to the finals.

During the festivities, the WNBA honoured the 1996 US Olympic team that started off the run of six consecutive gold medals that the Americans have won. The current US Olympic team presented their predecessors with flowers, while the 1996 team gave personal notes of encouragement to the current squad.

In preparation for Tokyo, the US team has exhibition games later this week against Australia and Nigeria.

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