Three U.S. Olympic Women’s Preliminary Round Opponents, Schedule Unveiled
FIBA (International Basketball Federation) conducted the 2016 Olympic Games women’s basketball draw today in Mies, Switzerland, determining three of the USA’s five opponents for the Aug. 6-14 preliminary round. The 2016 Olympic Games women’s basketball competition will feature national teams from 12 countries competing Aug. 6-20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The United States (2014 FIBA World Championship gold medalist) was placed in Group B along with Canada (2015 FIBA Americas gold medalist), Senegal (2015 FIBA Africa gold medalist), Serbia (2015 EuroBasket gold medalist) and two teams that will earn their berths at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, June 13-19, in Nantes, France. The top five finishing teams from the Olympic qualifier will earn a berth to Rio, with the second and fourth best teams included in Group B.
The U.S. will open play against against Senegal on either Aug. 6 or Aug. 7 (all game times to be announced by FIBA at a later date), followed by the No. 4 team from the Olympic qualifier on Aug. 8, Serbia on Aug. 10, Canada Aug. 12, and the USA concludes preliminary round play on Aug. 14 against the No. 2 team from the Olympic qualifier.
“You know, I don’t think you can say that one group is stronger than the other,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “I think we’ll have five very good opponents once we know who the last two teams are. But just looking at the three we know today, we’re going to have some tough competition right off the bat. Serbia shocked a lot of people last summer by winning the European championship and Canada’s team has been getting better and better. It doesn’t really matter who we have to play, however, because if you want to win the gold medal you have to go through all of the best teams to earn that top spot.”
Drawn into Group A were Australia (2015 FIBA Oceania gold medalist), host Brazil, Japan (2015 FIBA Asia gold medalist) and the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 finishers from the Olympic qualifier.
Nations competing for one of the five remaining Olympic women’s basketball tournament slots include: Cameroon and Nigeria from FIBA Africa; Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela from FIBA Americas; China and South Korea from FIBA Asia; Belarus, France, Spain and Turkey from FIBA Europe; and New Zealand from FIBA Oceania.
The preliminary round will feature round-robin play between the group’s six teams. The top four teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the Aug. 16 quarterfinals, with the winners playing in the semifinals on Aug. 18 and the medal games on Aug. 20.
All preliminary games will be played at the Youth Arena in Deodoro and the medal round games will be contested at the Carioca Arena 1 in Barra.
U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, and are 58-3 all-time in Olympic competition. The 2016 U.S. team will enter Rio riding a 41-game Olympic winning streak that dates back to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal game.
Since the 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, the USA National Team, in addition to its record five-straight Olympic gold medals, has captured four FIBA World Championship gold medals, one FIBA World Championship bronze medal and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal, while compiling a remarkable 86-1 record for a .989 winning percentage in those events. Further, USA National Teams in exhibition contests since 1995 boast of a 186-15 record (.925 winning percentage).
Auriemma, who has directed the USA National Team to an overall 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships, will be assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
The 25 finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team include: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Dallas Wings), Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), Odyssey Sims (Dallas Wings), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
The final, 12-player 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team will be selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. Chaired by Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director, the committee includes: WNBA appointees Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations; Dan Hughes, head coach and general manager of the San Antonio Stars; and Chris Sienko, vice president and general manager of the Connecticut Sun; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in 197 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008 and serves as the athlete representative.