Cheryl Ford, Candace Parker, Michelle Snow Complete 2006 USA Basketball Womens World Championship Team
The 2006 USA Womens World Championship Team was finalized with the addition of three-time WNBA All-Star Cheryl Ford (Detroit Shock), 2006 Southeastern Conference Rookie of the Year Candace Parker (Tennessee / Naperville, Ill.) and two-time WNBA All-Star Michelle Snow (Houston Comets), USA Basketball announced today. It was also officially announced that three-time Olympic and two-time World Championship gold medalist Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), the 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP, had withdrawn from the team due to personal reasons.
Player selections were made by the USA Basketball Womens Senior National Team Committee, chaired by WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Reneé Brown.
Obviously its a big disappointment that Lisa wont be with us, said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "Our hearts go out to Lisa and her family and we hope that her uncle recovers fully and that Lisa, emotionally, gets better and stronger everyday. She will definitely be missed on this World Championship Team.
Michelle Snow and Candace Parker have both done a great job for us here in camp and both trained with us in the spring. Theyve been working hard to fill the void that we have in the post and both will be good additions to this team in our quest to win another gold medal. Cheryl Ford has proved all season long what a great player she is. It is unfortunate that we were unable to have her in our spring training period, but we feel real confident that shell be able to help us when we get to Sao Paulo.
"I really wish I could be there to help my teammates win gold at the World Championship," said Leslie. "I've been playing for USA Basketball since 1989 and I will really miss it this year. However, with everything going on right now with two close members of my family, I have to put my family first. I wish my teammates the best of luck in Brazil. I'll be rooting them on from here."
In addition to Ford, Parker and Snow, previously named to the 2006 USA World Championship Team were Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Alana Beard (Washington Mystics), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics), Katie Smith (Detroit Shock), Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets), Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury).
Donovan will be assisted along the USA sidelines by Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.).
Ford and Smith, who will play Game 4 of the WNBA Finals tonight in Sacramento, will join the squad upon conclusion of the Finals.
Training since Aug. 29 in the Raleigh-Durham (N.C.) area, the U.S. squad will cap its domestic preparations with an exhibition contest on Sept. 7 against Australia, which won the silver medal at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. In addition to the 10 members of the U.S. squad currently in North Carolina, Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury), who has competed nearly every summer for USA Basketball since 2000 and joined in on the camp as an alternate, will remain in Durham and compete in the USAs exhibition game against Australia.
Tickets for the Sept. 7 USA-Australia exhibition game are still available, prices range from $7-$27 and group sales are also available. Fans may purchase tickets by logging onto goduke.com, calling 877-375-Duke or stopping by the Duke Athletic Ticket Office from 8:30-4:30 p.m. (all times local EDT).
The United States is looking at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, hosted by Brazil Sept. 12-23, to continue building upon the success its experienced over the last decade in the international arena. Since the 1996 Olympic Games the USA Basketball Womens Senior National Team has posted five consecutive gold medals at the Olympics and FIBA World Championships. Not only have the American women finished on the top of the podium, they have posted an unblemished 42-0 record, an unparalleled streak over the past decade among U.S. womens traditional team sports. Additionally, the United States is No. 1 in the world in every age group after also claiming gold at the 2005 FIBA U19 World Championship and 2003 FIBA U21 World Championship.
All of the USAs World Championship games will be televised live on NBA TV, with FSN (Fox Sports Network) re-airing the games each night at midnight (EDT). The USA tips-off preliminary round play against China on Sept. 12 at 6:45 p.m. (all times EDT), followed by the USA versus Nigeria contest on Sept. 13 at 6:45 p.m. The USA concludes preliminary round action against Russia on Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m.
The top three finishing teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the second round, where the top three teams in Group C, the USAs preliminary pool, will compete Sept. 16-18 against the top three teams in Group D (times TBD). The advancing teams from Group A and Group B will play against each other in the second round.
Quarterfinals are scheduled for Sept. 20, with the semifinals played Sept. 21. On Sept. 22, the bronze medal will be contested at 10:00 a.m., with the gold medal game following at 1:00 p.m.
The Donovan-led U.S. squad will seek to defend its World Championship title at the 15th FIBA World Championship. Behind the play of 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP Leslie, as well as Bird, Catchings, Milton-Jones, Smith and Swoopes, the United States captured the 02 gold medal, successfully defending its 1998 World Championship crown.
The U.S. owns a record seven gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the World Championship, while compiling an 80-20 (.800 winning percentage) record, including a 19-0 winning streak that dates back to the 1994 bronze medal game.
FIBA World Championship
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. 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 teams results against advancing teams 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 to the medal round quarterfinals. The gold and bronze medal games will be played Sept. 23.
2006 will mark Brazils fourth time hosting the FIBA World Championship: 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.