The path to a seventh straight Olympic gold medal heads through Serbia
The United States will take on Nigeria, Mozambique and host Serbia in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, FIBA announced during Wednesday’s draw, with games taking place Feb. 6-9 in in Belgrade, Serbia.
Besides the United States — who have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning the 2018 FIBA World Cup — two of the three remaining teams in their group will advance to the Tokyo Games.
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AfroBasket Women champion Nigeria and Mozambique both advanced to the OQT out of the Africa Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament last month. Serbia, who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics, took third place at EuroBasket Women in June to make the OQT.
Team USA most recently went 3-0 at the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Argentina last month, defeating Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Before heading to Serbia, the team will visit UConn (Jan. 27) and Louisville (Feb. 2) in the winter leg of its college tour.
The other OQT teams will face off on the same dates in the following groups:
Bourges, France: France, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Australia
Fushan, China: Korea, China, Great Britain, Spain
Ostend, Belgium: Canada, Japan, Sweden, Belgium
Three teams from each group advance to the Olympic field. In Japan’s group — much like the United States’ group — that trio will include them no matter what, as Olympic hosts.
Team USA looks to welcome back Elena Delle Donne after she sat out the fall college tour games, as well as fellow core players Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Chelsea Gray, Nneka Ogwumike and A’ja Wilson.
Head coach Dawn Staley and assistant coach Jennifer Rizzotti will again miss most of this training period as they lead their college teams, leaving assistant coaches Cheryl Reeve and Dan Hughes in charge.
The women’s national team pool currently has 36 players, including most of the 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning team, setting up an ultra-competitive cut as Tokyo 2020 approaches.
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