2006 USA Women's Senior Team To Utilize Three Spring Training Sessions As Preparation For 2006 FIBA World Championship
February 23, 2006 Colorado Springs, Colorado
The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team will utilize a series of three spring training camps to help prepare for the 2006 FIBA World Championship and to evaluate an assortment of elite players who are candidates for the 12-member 2006 USA Women's World Championship Team. The Americans will play 11 games against top national and professional club teams from around the globe during its March and April training.
The first camp, to be held March 2-9, will include three games in Hungary and Poland; while the second training session will be held March 17-24 and will also feature a trio of games played in France and Hungary. In the USA's third and final training camp and competition prior to the start of the 2006 WNBA season, the U.S. will train in Boston during the NCAA Women's Final Four March 31-April 3 before competing in the Australian-hosted Opals World Challenge April 7-12 against national teams from Australia, China and Chinese Taipei.
"I am excited to get our training underway," said USA Women's Senior National Team Program head coach Anne Donovan of the Seattle Storm. "It will be great to have some solid competition as we evaluate players and lineups, and these three segments of training will get us off to a good start."
The players invited to participate by USA Basketball will be announced prior to each training camp. The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee, chaired by Reneé Brown, the WNBA's Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, will invite a select number of elite players to participate in the different camps of the 2006 spring training. The spring training will give the coaching staff and USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee a chance to evaluate a variety of candidates competing for the 12 roster positions on the 2006 USA World Championship Team. The Committee will also use a portion of the WNBA season to further evaluate players.
Following the 2006 WNBA season the USA will regroup in late August for a final training camp before defending its World Championship title at the 15th FIBA World Championship, scheduled to be played Sept. 12-23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Donovan will be assisted at the 2006 FIBA World Championship by WNBA Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault, and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.).
European Tour #1
The USA's final two games will be played in Gdynia, Poland, against Lotos Gdynia on March 8 and March 9. Advancing to the EuroLeague playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, Lotos' roster contains a pair of Yanks, 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year Temeka Johnson (Washington Mystics) and Chelsea Newton (Sacramento Monarchs) who as a rookie won the 2005 WNBA title as a member of the Monarchs.
The March games mark the second time the U.S. has faced Lotos. On March 21, 2004, the USA Senior National Team bested Lotos 86-64 behind 21 points from 2004 Olympic gold medalist Tina Thompson (Houston Comets), while Tangela Smith (Sacramento Monarchs) was the team's high rebounder (7) and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) led in assists (5).
European Tour #2
Next up on the schedule is a game against a Hungarian All-Star Team on March 22 in Gyor. Following another day of practice, the USA concludes its second European training session with a contest against MiZo-Pécs on March 24 in Pécs, Hungary. The MiZo-Pécs squad, which has advanced to the 2006 EuroLeague quarterfinals and is 1-0 to start the best of three series against Lietuvos Telekomas, should be a familiar opponent for the American team. Featuring WNBA players Vickie Johnson (New York Liberty) and Dalma Ivanyi (San Antonio Silver Stars), the United States has played Pécs four times since 1999.
In the first meeting, DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics) poured in 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field as the U.S. earned a 79-74 victory on Feb. 6, 1999, in Hungary. On Jan. 31, 2000, the U.S. bested Pécs 66-60 on its home court with the help of 14 points from Katie Smith (Detroit Shock). Later that year Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks) chalked up a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds as the USA downed Pécs 66-37 in Philadelphia during the NCAA Women's Final Four on March 30. Returning to Pécs on March 27, 2004, the United States again came out on top, 67-59, behind 27 points and 12 rebounds from Thompson.
Opals World Challenge
U.S. teams have competed in two prior Opals World Challenges. The historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women's National Team went 7-0 for the crown in 1996 and the 2002 USA World Championship Team took the title with a 4-0 record in 2002.
FIBA World Championship
The World Championship has been contested essentially every four years since 1953 and the United States captured the first two gold medals before the beginning of the Soviet domination of women's basketball was kicked-off at the 1959 World Championship. The former USSR put together a string of five straight golds (1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975), before the United States reclaimed gold in 1979. The Soviet Union in 1983 earned its final World Championship crown as the USA went on to capture four of the next five World Championships (1986, 1990, 1998, 2002). The only other nation to break into the gold medal column at this event is Brazil, which defeated the USA in the 1994 semifinals and went on to take the top spot that year.
FIBA conducted on Jan. 31 the official draw to determine the four preliminary round groupings for the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and the United States was placed in Group C along with China, Nigeria and Russia. Preliminary round games are scheduled for Sept. 12-14, and the top three teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will advance to the second round for the right to advance to the medal round quarterfinals. In addition to the teams in Group C, placed in Group A were Argentina, host Brazil, South Korea and Spain; Group B includes Australia, Canada, Lithuania and Senegal; while Group D consists of Cuba, Czech Republic, France and Chinese Taipei.
The 15th FIBA World Championship format will feature a round-robin competition in preliminary round play. The top three teams from each preliminary group advance to form two second round groups consisting of six teams each. Each team's results from its preliminary group carries over to the second round standings and each team will play the other three teams in the second round group whom they have not faced previously. The top four teams from those two groups will advance on to the medal round quarterfinals, the gold and bronze medal games will be played Sept. 23.
2006 will mark Brazil's fourth time hosting the FIBA World
Championship after Rio de Janeiro played host in 1957 and Sao Paulo was
the site for the 1971 and 1983 Worlds. In all, the United States had mixed
success when playing a World Championship in Brazil. The 1957 squad took
home the gold with an 8-1 slate, in 1971 the U.S. finished in eighth place
with a 6-2 record and in 1983 the USA squad again went 6-2, but returned
with the silver medal.