Most 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s First Round Opponents Determined
Colorado Springs, Colo. • April 30, 2012
FIBA (International Basketball Federation) conducted the 2012 Olympic Games women’s basketball draw on Monday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, determining most of the USA’s opponents for the July 28-Aug. 5 preliminary round. The XXIX Olympic Games women’s basketball competition will feature national teams from 12 countries competing July 28-Aug. 11 in London.
The United States (FIBA World Championship gold medalist) was placed in Group A, along with Angola (FIBA Africa gold medalist), China (FIBA Asia gold medalist) and three teams that will earn their Olympic berths at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, June 25-July 1 in Ankara, Turkey. The top five finishing teams from the Olympic qualifier will earn a berth to London, with the first, second and fourth best teams included in Group A.
"It's interesting," said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. "People might say we've got an easier draw than teams in the other bracket, but you have to remember that China is the Asian champion. They have been climbing back up the world ranks and finished in the top four in Beijing, and Angola will be excited about playing in their first Olympics. Don't forget, we could end up with a very tough pool once the Olympic Qualifying Tournament plays out. There are a lot of very competitive teams still trying to play their way into the Olympics, like the Czech Republic. They finished second at the Worlds two years ago; they have a very disciplined and well-coached team. Regardless of who we have in our opening pool, we're still going to have to get through a lot of very good teams if we want to win gold."
Group B includes Australia (FIBA Oceania gold medalist), Brazil (FIBA Americas gold medalist), host Great Britain, Russia (FIBA Europe gold medalist) and the No. 3 and No. 5 teams from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Teams that have earned a spot for the last-ditch Olympic qualifier include: Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Mali, Mozambique, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Korea and Turkey.
The top four teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the Aug. 7 quarterfinals, with the winners playing in the semifinals on Aug. 9 and the medal games on Aug. 11.
Auriemma will lead the U.S. in its quest for a fifth-straight Olympic gold medal and he will be assisted by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.
The U.S. women’s team was finalized on April 23 and includes: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Swin Cash(Chicago Sky), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
The U.S. will look to capture its fifth straight and seventh overall gold medal and extend its 33-game Olympic winning streak at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. The United States, which earned the silver medal at the inaugural Olympic women’s basketball tournament in 1976, earned its first gold at the ’84 Games in Los Angeles and captured its most recent gold with an unblemished 8-0 record in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The complete schedule, including pairings and game times will be announced by FIBA at a later date.