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Despite Glow of WNBA, USA Tries on ABL for Size

Women's basketball: Rival leagues dominate list of 21 hopefuls for 1998 World Championships.

September 06, 1997|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Teams from the rival leagues in women's pro basketball, the ABL and the WNBA, don't play one another, but when players gathered for recent tryouts for the USA team in the 1998 World Championships in Germany, it wasn't close.

The ABL won, by a landslide.

USA Basketball announced a 21-player pool for the 1998 USA team and 15 of the 21 were ABL players. Four were from the WNBA and two were college players.

USA Basketball named six players outright to its team, among them Tina Thompson, the former USC player who recently helped lead the Houston Comets to the WNBA championship. Ruthie Bolton-Holifield of the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs also made the team.

ABL players named included Kara Wolters of the New England Blizzard, Teresa Edwards of the Atlanta Glory and Katie Smith of the Columbus Quest. Chamique Holdsclaw of Tennessee is the only collegian named to the team.

Lisa Leslie of the Sparks is the only WNBA player on a list of 15 players under consideration for the remaining six roster positions. Connecticut's Nykesha Sales is the lone collegian on that list, the 13 others being ABL players.

Venus Lacy, a 1996 Olympian who plays for the ABL's Long Beach StingRays, was included on the list of 15 and also was named to a USA team that will compete in a five-day international tournament beginning next Friday at Colorado Springs, Colo.

Her Long Beach teammate, No. 1 ABL draft pick Yolanda Griffith, also made the list of 15 but withdrew, saying she already had missed her daughter's first day of school in Long Beach. She joined the StingRays at practice Friday night at Long Beach State.

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