NEW YORK (AP) – Diana Taurasi wants to make the most of her final go-round with USA Basketball.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist is back for one more run at a world championship and potentially the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if she can stay healthy.
“It’s made me more driven than ever to be healthy for it. I want to end it the right way,” Taurasi said in a phone interview Saturday. “It’s something that I take very seriously. I want to be at the highest level to play for our country.”
Taurasi had to leave her Russian team in December because of a back issue. She’s been rehabbing and was able to participate in the USA training camp that took place in South Carolina this weekend. Taurasi spent most of her time on the bike and cheered on her teammates. She also walked through a few drills and of course talked a little trash.
“I’m as healthy as a 35-year-old can get,” Taurasi said. “I’ll take these three months to rehab and be ready for the whole gauntlet of the WNBA and world championship.”
USA coach Dawn Staley has been thrilled that Taurasi and Sue Bird decided to keep playing for the U.S.
“They bring so much every time they step on the court and off it as well,” Staley said.
Taurasi is the WNBA’s career scoring and 3-point leader. She has played 13 seasons with the Mercury and won titles in 2007, 2009 and 2014. She’s been with the USA Basketball national team since the 2004 Olympics.
The U.S. is in a pool with China, Senegal and Latvia at the FIBA world cup that will take place in Spain from Sept. 22-Sept. 30 after the WNBA season ends.
Besides rehabbing, Taurasi also has a baby on the way with her spouse Penny Taylor. The pair got married last May. The baby is due in the next few months.
“It will definitely be a change of pace,” Taurasi said. “It’s exciting for us. We’re really looking forward. We’ve done the baby manual, the baby books and all the advice. From what I’ve heard it’s a trial by fire-type situation. You take all the advice and information and try to be the best parents you can be.”
Taurasi said she and Taylor know the gender of the child, but want it to be a surprise to the rest of the world.
“You know I’m sure we’ll get a lot of sleep when the baby is born,” Taurasi deadpanned.
Taurasi is taking on a mentoring role during the camp this weekend.
“It’s been great to bounce ideas and get advice from her,” Skylar Diggins-Smith said. “She’s always got these little gems that always put everything in perspective.”
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