USA Women To Face China, Nigeria, Russia In 2006 FIBA World Championship Opening Round
FIBA conducted the official draw to determine the four preliminary round groupings for the 2006 FIBA World Championship Tuesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 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.
The draw for the 2006 FIBA World Championship, which will be held Sept. 12-23 in Sao Paulo, divided the 16 qualified teams into four groups of four teams each. 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 Taiwan.
"As usual, we're put into a very competitive pool and we'll have our challenges," said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "But it's exciting to finally be able to think about who we're going to play, to know right now who our first three competitors are and to be able to start planning for China, Russia and Nigeria.
"We've played Russia in the early rounds of the last two World Championships
and saw them again in the gold medal game. Obviously you want to win every
game, but to be able to get an up-close look at our top competitors right
away is a good thing. I think it will help in our preparation for the
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. The top three placed teams from Group A and Group B combine to form Group E, and the top three ranked teams from Group C and Group D form Group F. 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 Sept. 20 medal round quarterfinals, the semifinals will be played Sept. 22, and the gold medal game will be played Sept. 23.
The United States will open play on Sept. 12 against China, which finished sixth at the China-hosted 2002 Worlds, and ninth at the 2004 Olympics. The USA has faced China three times in World Championship play (1998, 1996, 1993) and owns a perfect 3-0 record against the Chinese.
The USA's second opponent, Nigeria on Sept. 13, has never competed at the World Championship and finished in 11th place at the 2004 Olympic Games.
Closing out preliminary round play on Sept. 14, the U.S. will go against Russia, one of its top international foes. In recent history the nations have finished one-two in the last two World Championships, with the United States earning gold over Russia in 1998 (71-65) and 2002 (79-74), more recently, the U.S. downed Russia in the semifinals at the 2004 Olympics (66-62). The U.S., which owns a 4-0 record over Russia in World Championship play, 6-4 if the USA-Soviet Union games are included, has not only faced the Russians in the last two gold medal games at the Worlds, but the Americans opened with a dominating 89-55 victory over Russia in 2002 and capped preliminary second round play in 98 with a 96-60 rout.
Prior to the draw each nation was seeded by FIBA as a No. 1 through No. 4 pick and each of the preliminary round pools feature one team from each seed in order to maintain balanced preliminary round groups. Listed as No. 1 seeds were Australia (FIBA Oceania champion), Brazil (host and FIBA Americas silver medalist), Czech Republic (FIBA Europe champion) and the United States (Olympic champion); No. 2 seeds included France (FIBA Europe fifth place), Lithuania (FIBA Europe fourth place), Russia (FIBA Europe silver medalist) and Spain (FIBA Europe bronze medalist); No. 3 seeded nations were Canada (FIBA Americas bronze medalist), China (FIBA Asia gold medalist), Cuba (FIBA Americas gold medalist) and South Korea (FIBA Asia silver medalist); while No. 4 seeds included Argentina (FIBA Americas fourth place), Nigeria (FIBA Africa gold medalist), Senegal (FIBA Africa silver medalist) and Taiwan (FIBA Asia bronze medalist).
The U.S. and Donovan will look to defend its World Championship title at the 15th FIBA World Championship, which also rewards a 2008 Olympic qualifying berth to the gold medalist. Behind the play of 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP Lisa Leslie, the United States captured the 02 gold medal, successfully defending it's 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-game winning streak that dates back to the 1994 bronze medal game. Additionally, the U.S. owns a combined 43-game winning streak in Olympic and World Championship competition that dates to the 1994 World Championship bronze medal game and includes three Olympic and two World Championship gold medals.
FIBA World Championship
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.