Connecticut Sun To Play For WNBA's New Midseason Championship
The Connecticut Sun will play for a midseason championship on Thursday, taking on the Seattle Storm in the WNBA's inaugural Commissioner's Cup in Phoenix.
The event was established as part of the league's focus on fan engagement. Each team plays 10 games as part of their regular season schedule that will count toward Cup standings. Connecticut went 9-1 in those contests.
Sun Head Coach Curt Miller said the team is excited to participate after a four-week break for the Summer Olympics.
"We cherish this opportunity," Miller said. "We're playing like it's a true championship. It's an honor and pleasure to be a part of it. We also know financially what it could mean to the players."
The Cup will have prize money of $500,000. Players on the winning team will earn $30,000 each, while players on the losing team will collect $10,000.
Led by All-Star Jonquel Jones, Connecticut has been one of the WNBA's top teams all season. Jones stepped away from the team for much of June to compete for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the FIBA European women's basketball championship.
She is one of the leading candidates for WNBA MVP and among the leaders in statistical categories such as points per game and rebounding.
The Seattle Storm are the defending WNBA champions, led by former UConn standout and five-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird. They currently own the league's best record at 16-5 while going 8-2 in Cup games to qualify for Thursday's championship.
Bird is joined by another former UConn star, Breanna Stewart. She leads the Storm in scoring with 20.6 points per game.
Sun power forward Brionna Jones said the team is ready for the huge challenge that awaits them.
"It's always a tough battle when we play Seattle," Brionna Jones said. "We're going to go right at them as they are with us."
WNBA league play resumes Aug. 15 following the Commissioner's Cup final.