Guerreiro tabbed for World University Games

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The Federação Académica do Desporto Universitário (FADU), Portugal’s federation governing university-level sports, has named Cleveland State rising senior guard Sara Guerreiro to its preliminary roster for the 2023 World University Games.

The awkwardly-named event – the result of a COVID postponement – will take place between July 27th and August 8th (of 2023, to be perfectly clear) in Chengdu, China’s fourth-most populous city and the capital of the province of Sichuan.

Though the full schedule and format details won’t be released until July 20th, the basic framework is already in place. Portugal will compete in Pool D of the 14-team tournament alongside Poland, Mexico, and the host country, with the first day on the basketball competition scheduled for July 28th. In the previous World University Games, hosted by Naples, Italy in 2019, the three pool games took place on consecutive days. The top two teams in each grouping at the end of that frenzy then advanced to the quarterfinals, with a conventional bracket structure following from there. Nine total days are budgeted for this year’s event, culminating with the medal games on August 5th.

Pool A includes Japan, Argentina and Hungary, with Pool B featuring Slovakia, Chinese Taipei, Brazil and Czechia, while Finland, Romania and the United States make up Pool C.

Portugal’s 16-player preliminary list will eventually be pared down to a competition-ready 12 before the opening ceremony, but Guerreiro should be a favorite for the final roster. After two seasons and two trips to the NCAA Tournament at South Florida, she transferred to CSU for the 2022-23 season and kept her flawless March Madness attendance record intact by helping the Vikings to the Horizon League tournament championship. Though a wrist injury excluded Guerreiro from postseason action, she proved a stellar defensive player before then, as she ranked fifth in the conference (and at the edge of the top 50 nationally) in both defensive rating and defensive win shares per 40 minutes. The native of Seixal, Portugal also popped in 4.9 points per game while shooting 46.3 percent from two-point range.

It’s not entirely relevant to the present state of things given that the last World University Games took place four years (an entire traditional college career) ago, but Portugal will attempt to return to the podium this summer following a bronze medal effort last time around, the nation’s first-ever top-three finish at WUG. Though Australia won the last two tournaments, they won’t be around to defend their title, and the United States has dominated the competition for most of its 62-year history, winning 10 of the 26 gold medals. Team USA is typically represented by a single NCAA Division I team, exempt from foreign trip limitations – the American women’s team this year has yet to be announced, though Tulane will stand in as Team USA on the men’s side and Mississippi State took home the women’s silver medals in 2019.  

The Portuguese hopes in eight weeks will rest partly on a few names that are also familiar to college basketball enthusiasts in the United States. In addition to Guerreiro, Ana Faustino (Western Kentucky), Carolina Bernardeco (Old Dominion/Queens), Joana Alves (Seattle), Luana Serranho (Campbell), and Marta Vargas (Rhode Island) also currently play or recently played in the NCAA among those on the preliminary roster. The remaining ten players stayed home for college while typically suiting up for a domestic club team as well, including two of the three returners from the 2019 tournament, Susana Carvalheira and Maianca Umabano. Alves, who averaged 13 points per game at Seattle over her final two seasons, is also a bronze medalist from Naples.

Guerreiro, meanwhile, is returning to the Portugal national program for the first time in two years after climbing the federation ladder with the U16, U18 and U20 squads. Most recently, at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Challengers in 2021, she logged 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game over five contests.

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