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A’ja Wilson caps landmark year with FIBA World Cup gold

A'Ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum of the United States celebrates victory with team mates during the 2022 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Final match between USA and China at Sydney Superdome, on October 01, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (May Bailey/Getty Images)

A’ja Wilson is on a tear, helping Team USA to its fourth consecutive World Cup gold less than two weeks after winning the WNBA championship with the Las Vegas Aces.

The United States downed China 83-61 in the tournament final Friday, logging the largest margin of victory in a World Cup title match.

Wilson was her dominant self, notching 19 points, five rebounds and two steals to help clinch the World Cup trophy. The Aces star averaged 17.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocks through the competition, earning her World Cup MVP honors.

“This is why you sacrifice,” Wilson told reporters after the win. “My teammates hold me accountable. They put me in the best situation so I didn’t really feel tired. This is what we live for. This is honestly my job and I love my job. I love what I do and now I can go to sleep. I’m so excited. My bed is literally calling my name.”

Wilson’s FIBA gold and MVP nod join her WNBA MVP award, first defensive player of the year honor and WNBA title, capping off an extraordinary season.

“I’ve been here before, I’ve had players where A’ja is, where you win a WNBA championship, you come over and you win gold,” Team USA head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It’s really, really special. And they make it look easy. It’s not. They’re tremendously talented. A’ja Wilson is tremendously talented.”

Wilson’s Aces teammates, 2022 WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and 2022 WNBA All-Star MVP Kelsey Plum, also put on a show in Australia, with the Las Vegas trio combining for 46 points in Friday’s final.

“It just feels complete. On my list of things that I wanted to accomplish this year, this was like the final check, and so I’m just really proud,” Plum said. “Proud of this team, proud of the way that we finished. It’s really hard to do what we did in terms of coming together late, not practicing, everyone’s beat up physically, mentally. Come over here… people are just dogs and I’m really proud to play next to people like that.”

Plum expanded on her sentiments in a Twitter post, sharing a photo of her goals list ahead of the 2022 WNBA season. All-Star, All WNBA, WNBA Champion and World Champion made up the lofty list, with Plum checking off each of her goals.

Team USA’s victory officially qualifies the United States for the 2024 Paris Olympics.