Defending champ Lynx are team to beat in ’18

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - PAGE 2 - By Doug Fein­berg Doug Fein­berg is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

The defending cham­pion Min­nesota Lynx be­gin the sea­son atop the pre­sea­son As­so­ci­ated Press WNBA poll.

The Lynx re­ceived nine first-place votes from the 14per­son na­tional me­dia panel Thurs­day, the eve of the open­ing of the 2018 sea­son. It’s the sec­ond time in the three sea­sons that the AP has been do­ing the poll that the Lynx were the pre­sea­son No. 1.

Lynx coach Ch­eryl Reeve thanked the me­dia for show­ing her team “that kind of re­spect.”

“We’re con­fi­dent that we have a strong group this year that will com­pete for an­other cham­pi­onship,” Reeve said. “At the same time, we know how

dif­fi­cult this league can be and we couldn’t be more ex­cited to start our historic 20th sea­son.”

Los Angeles was sec­ond, gar­ner­ing the other five first­place bal­lots. The Sparks and Lynx have faced off in the past two WNBA Fi­nals. The Sparks were three points be­hind the Lynx in the pre­sea­son poll; the two teams open against each other Sun­day in Minneapolis.

Min­nesota is led by Maya Moore, who was the panel’s pre­sea­son player of the year se­lec­tion for the sec­ond straight sea­son.

Moore high­lighted the AP pre­sea­son all-WNBA team. She was joined by reign­ing AP player of the year Sylvia Fowles of Chicago, Los Angeles’ Can­dace Parker, Dal­las’ Sky­lar Dig­gins, Phoenix’s Brit­tney Griner and Wash­ing­ton’s Elena Delle Donne.

A’ja Wil­son, who was the first pick in the WNBA draft last month, was se­lected as the pre­sea­son rookie of the year.

Briefly: The WNBA is team­ing up with sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions that sup­port women and girls. The league will do­nate $5 for each ticket pur­chased to se­lect games dur­ing the sea­son to one of six groups as part of the “Take a Seat, Take a Stand” campaign. All 12 teams will par­tic­i­pate, des­ig­nat­ing up to six games to the ini­tia­tive. The six or­ga­ni­za­tions are Bright Pink, GLSEN, It’s On Us, MEN­TOR, Planned Par­ent­hood and The United State of Women . ... The WNBA is ex­tend­ing its part­ner­ship with FanDuel for two more sea­sons. The league be­came the first women’s pro­fes­sional sports league to have a deal with one-day fan­tasy games last year and there were more than 2.2 mil­lion en­tries in WNBA contests.

Darron Cum­mings / As­so­ci­ated Press 2017

Maya Moore (left) helped the Min­nesota Lynx to the WNBA ti­tle in 2017, and is the pre­sea­son player of the year in 2018.

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