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Seattle Storm legends Breanna Stewart, Lauren Jackson heap praise on Ezi Magbegor at FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022

Sporting News 9/28/2022 Jed Wells
© Provided by Sporting News

Throughout the WNBA season, they are teammates on one of the league's deadliest teams, key figures on a Seattle Storm squad that is an expected feature at the top of the table each year. 

But for the past week, Breanna Stewart and Ezi Magbegor have been pulling on jerseys of a different kind, as they represent their home nations of the USA and Australia, respectively, at the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. 

Predictably, Stewart has been one of the stars of the show so far. As arguably the best women’s player on earth, she has been dynamic throughout the Group Phase for the Americans. 

Magbegor has been a little less consistent, struggling early in the tournament for the Opals, but she bounced back in a big way in their win over Canada, with 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks as Australia claimed a gritty victory. 

Despite the fact that they are rivals for the week, Stewart is excited to see how far her Storm teammate can take Australia, and how she can continue to develop her game. 

“Ezi just scratching the surface of where she can be and the fact that she realises that and she embraces it and wants to continue to grow and learn and get better is what you need,” Stewart told The Sporting News. 

“For her to kind of have the opportunity to get better in the WNBA and then also get better with the national team, she's going to be one of the players that it's going to go around because she's gonna be around for a while.” 

MORE: USA break World Cup record with 145 point outing

After her breakout World Cup game against Canada, Opals teammate and former Seattle Storm MVP Lauren Jackson was gushing with praise for the 23-year-old, and how she was able to keep Australia in contention. 

“She's so athletically gifted, she's incredible, she just glides to the basket and for her to be strong with it and get the layups and do what she did inside the paint tonight, I think is going to be a real boost for her,” Jackson said. 

MORE: Magbegor stands tall as Australia edge Canada in World Cup thriller

The Seattle Storm contingent is strong at the World Cup, with Stewart and Magbegor also joined by Australian Stephanie Talbot, American Jewell Loyd and French player Gabby Williams. 

With so many teammates turned into rivals on the court, competitiveness is at an all-time high, and Stewart admits that the players are all keen to try and get one over each other. 

“[There was] a little bit of a pre-tournament trash talk,” Stewart said. 

“One of our other teammates is on the French national team [Gabby Williams], so just obviously, excited to be here, excited to be playing in Australia, but also knowing that we went from being teammates to competitors.” 

While the Opals and Team USA will not meet in the Group Phase, there is potential that they will be on a collision course come finals time, and while all eyes will be on the win, Stewart admitted that she is eager to share the court with the player whose jersey hangs in the rafters of her home stadium. 

“I think everyone is hoping that that will match up together USA versus Australia, but to be able to share the court with Lauren will be something that I'll definitely remember forever because she's one of the best to ever do it,” Stewart said

“Yes, she's been away from the game for a long time, but everybody can see that once she stepped back on that court, she didn't really miss a beat, that jump shot is the same.”

With Australia finishing top of their group, they will avoid Team USA until the gold medal game, but however the remainder of the World Cup shakes out, the Seattle Storm will be the major winners come next season. 

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