Catchings, Achonwa Headed to Rio

Fever Film Room: Olympic Preview

It’s the last go-round for Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings with Team USA. Just one of three players to compete in her fourth consecutive Olympics, Catchings will join Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird as captains when the squad heads to Brazil for the start of Olympic action this weekend.

“I think this one, knowing that it’s my last one and kind of the grand finale, I definitely want to go out with a bang,” Catchings said. “I feel like the team will be ready. We’ll definitely be prepared and I’m just excited.”

Catchings is one of only eight players to earn an Olympic gold medal, a world championship gold medal, an NCAA title and a WNBA championship. The others include Taurasi, Bird, Swin Cash, Cynthia Cooper, Maya Moore, Sheryl Swoopes and Kara Wolters. Four of the eight are on this year’s team.

With three gold medals in three Olympics, the trio of captains have high hopes for their fourth and final appearance. Catchings hopes to make it a memorable trip predicated on more than just a gold medal finish in her last time around.

“The biggest thing for me is just to continue to lead,” Catchings said. “Continue to play defense and do all of the little things that I do, and continue to be a team player.”

As the clear-cut favorites for gold in 2016, Catchings is conscious of a previous letdown in Brazil in 2006 when Team USA settled for bronze.

“We have to take it one game at a time,” Catchings said. “We know we’re the favorites, but everybody is training right now to try and beat us. We know what happens if we don’t show up to play.”

Among the early match-ups for Team USA is a rematch with Team Canada and Catchings’ Fever teammate Natalie Achonwa.

“Typically, you like to have Tamika Catchings on your team,” Achonwa said. “It’s been years that we’ve put in to build the Team Canada program to where it is now, and now we’re excited to compete against the best in the world.“

Achonwa heads to Brazil for her second Olympics after competing in London in 2012. She notched seven points and three rebounds in the USA-Canada exhibition last Friday in which the USA won, 83-43. Catchings scored just two points, but grabbed three boards, three steals and two assists in limited minutes as Team USA gave time to all 12 players.

Canada will get another crack at Team USA in Group B on Aug. 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“That’s what makes the Olympics exciting,” Catchings added. “Canada is in our pool. We know we’re going to face them. You always want to wish everybody the best, but when we get on the court, we’re enemies.”

Catchings, joking about her inside trash talk with Achonwa, mentioned another Indiana connection at this year’s Olympics; Pacers’ star Paul George.

“My advice for him was to just have fun,” Catchings said. “This is his first time. It’s my last time. I’m excited for him. A lot of the guys are first timers with the Olympic team, but just have fun. Just looking at him, you can tell he’s ready and focused.”

The women’s Team USA squad will begin group play at 11 a.m. ET against Senegal.