Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird will try to become the first players to win five Olympic gold medals in basketball and when the United States women’s team starts playing at the Tokyo Games
“As far as being nominated for the fifth Olympics, especially with Sue, you know, it’s just a great honor. It makes you really appreciate all the people who have helped you, Taurasi said. “You all know, USA Basketball, that, you know, after almost 20 years, you know, it’s like one big family.”
Taurasi and Bird both played on the 2004 Olympic team with Don Staley. Staley helped start this phenomenal run with the 1996 team and is now the women’s national team’s first black head coach after assisted for the last two Olympics.
“Whenever you represent USA Basketball, you’ve got the biggest goal on your back, on your chest,” Staley said. “And everyone plays their best basketball.”
It’s been 25 years since the Americans dominated the Olympics. He has won 49 consecutive matches on the biggest international stage. No team has come within single digits of the Americas since their loss to Russia in the semi-finals of the 2004 Athens Games – the first Olympics that Torassi and Byrd played – 66–62.
The Americans have not missed an Olympic event since 1992 when they were defeated in the semi-finals by a unified team. Only host Japan has defeated the US in an Olympics, topping the Americans in 1976, in the inaugural women’s basketball.
If the women can win another gold medal in Tokyo, they will take on the US men’s team that won seven consecutive golds from 1936–68.
While there are no guarantees, the team will take a big blow for not coming home with the gold.
The competition for the other two medals is open with Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, Serbia and Spain all having a shot at reaching the podium. Serbia defeated France to win the EuroBasket Championship.
The Olympics changed to three pools of four teams for the Tokyo Games. South Korea, Serbia, Canada and Spain are in Group A. Group B consists of the US, France, Nigeria and Japan. Australia, Puerto Rico, China and Belgium are in Group C.
The Games will begin on 7 August with the bronze medal game on 26 July and the gold medal competition the next day to end the Olympics.
Some other things to look for at the Olympics in women’s basketball:
In addition to the US team, several other countries are led by WNBA stars. Half of the Australian roster are currently in the WNBA, led by Liz Cambage. Opel is led by Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. Some other WNBA players at the Olympics include Emma Messemann (Belgium), Kia Nars (Canada), Marine Johannes (France), Estau Nadour (Spain), WNBA will be on Olympic break from July 15-August. 1 1
Nigeria will attempt to end a winless drought for African teams at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games. The African nation went 1–5 that year and no team on that continent has won a game since. Expectations are likely to change: Nigeria goes 3-4 in the 2018 World Champions, falling to the US in the quarter-finals.
With the addition of 3×3 as a basketball discipline, teams are now playing a maximum of six games in a tournament instead of eight. The last time medalists played less than eight games was 1992. The 12 teams were placed in three pools instead of two. The quarter-finalists will be the top two teams in each pool and the other two will be based on the FIBA ranking system.
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