|Ogwumike sisters ready to battle as Sparks face Sun|
Chiney Ogwumike has a simple desire when she goes against her sister in Thursday night's WNBA game between the Los Angeles Sparks and Connecticut Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
"We have to beat her -- that's going to change Thursday, OK? I'm just kidding," Ogwumike, speaking on a league conference call for the sisters Wednesday, said of her latest head-to-head battle against sister Nneka. "It's been a long time since we played each other so I'm just going to have fun with it."
They didn't meet last season as Connecticut forward Chiney missed the entire year with a ruptured Achilles tendon -- picking up a career in broadcasting during her rehab. The Sun won the only meeting last year, 68-65.
"Last time Nneka completely forgot who I was -- she went into game mode, so now I'm just going to keep talking in her ear so she remembers who I am, so hopefully that'll work," Chiney said.
"Chiney (underestimates) herself," Nneka said. "Having her back on the Connecticut roster is not only a big deal for opponents but also a big deal for her team. Long story short, she's definitely on the scouting report."
Chiney was in Boston on Wednesday night for some ESPN work and joked that she planned to bring her sister Krispy Kreme donuts to "fatten her up" for the game.
Both sisters said some of the "story" of them playing against each other has worn off since their first meeting in 2014. But they are both post players so important to their teams, so you know it's competitive.
Ogwumike played 17:22 in her team's opening 101-65 rout of the Las Vegas Aces, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds as she rejoins a team that overachieved without her last year. The Sun, currently on a three-game season-opening homestand, started last season 1-5 but then came on and grabbed a playoff seed.
The short-handed Sparks, picked as the favorite to win the title by the league's general managers, are 2-0 on a three-game trip, pulling out a 77-76 victory over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx before winning at Indianapolis.
Los Angeles has been without the injured Candace Parker (back, considered day to day) while top pick Maria Vadeeva won't have a visa until after June 1 and Jantel Lavender is involved in the playoffs in Turkey.
But after Chelsea Gray scored on a driving layup at the buzzer -- after the Sparks (the 2016 champions) watched the Lynx raise their title banner -- to win the rematch of last year's finals, coach Brian Agler said, "One thing I've tried to instill in this team is to never make excuses. They all take pride in that now. We just go play."
Nneka Ogwumike, given more of the inside workload because of the absences, has averaged 22 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the first two games. Odyssey Sims is averaging 19 points and Gray has clicked for 15 points, 8.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds in the first two.
The Sun placed four players in double figures in their opening win.