2004 Olympic Women's Basketball Primer

Competing Teams

Oceania champion
Asia champion
Americas champion
Czech Republic
European runner-up
Host country
New Zealand
Oceania runner-up
Asia runner-up
South Korea
Asia third-place
Africa champion
European third-place
European champion
United States
World champion

How the Competition Works

Beginning Aug. 14, each team in a group will play every team in their group once before the Olympic quarterfinals begin on Aug. 25. The fifth and sixth place finishers in each group will play for ninth through 12th place on Aug. 24. The top four finishing teams from each preliminary-round group advance to the medal-round quarterfinals. The semifinals will be held on Aug 27, and the finals -- including the gold-medal game -- will be held on Aug. 28.
Complete women's basketball tournament schedule

Five Contenders

United States: The two-time defending Olympic gold medalists and world champions will be the team to beat once again when things tip off in Athens. Featuring a healthy mix of experienced veterans, including Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Katie Smith and Dawn Staley, as well as a crop of budding international superstars, the U.S. team can dominate teams in the paint and shoot the lights out from outside.
Australia: Since 1984, Australia has improved in each Olympic appearance, finishing fifth in 1984, fourth in 1988, taking the bronze in 1996 and silver in 2000. They will don the one-piece spandex unis again in Athens, but will draw more attention for their play than for their appearance. With Lauren Jackson, arguably the best player in the world, the Opals may be the only team that can compete with the Americans on the inside. The Aussies, who also went 5-0 in pool play in 2000, will also feature a team of current and former WNBA stars in Athens including Mercury forward Penny Taylor.
Brazil: The 2000 Olympic bronze and 1996 silver medalists have continued to dedicate themselves to improving on the international stage. At 35, former Comets star Janeth Arcain is one of the best players in the world and even took a year off from WNBA competition to stay at home and train with her national team. Helen Luz, Iziane Castro Marques and Adriana Pinto are among the several former WNBA players to round a deep and talented roster.
Russia: Along with the United States, Russia (and the former Soviet Union) has one of the richest histories in women's basketball. A unified Russian team was the last non-American team to win Olympic gold (in 1992) and also took top honors in 1976 and 1980. However, the Russians finished a disapointing fifth and sixth respectively in 1996 and 2000. Liberty center Elena Baranova will once again be focal points for the Russian attack.
Czech Republic: One of the more unheralded countries that is more than capable of surprising some teams and even winning medal is the Czech Republic. The Czechs got a much needed confidence boost after beating Australia (playing without Jackson or Taylor) on Aug. 2 in its last game before heading to Greece. However, they must overcome the loss of European Championships' MVP Lucie Blahuskova behind them, who will not play in Athens due to a knee injury

Notable International WNBA Players: Past and Present
--Teams have not finalized their rosters

Player Country Last Year Last Team
Lauren Jackson Australia Current Seattle
Penny Taylor Australia Current Phoenix
Elena Baranova Russia Current New York
Janeth Arcain* Brazil 2003 Houston
Elisa Aguilar
Spain 2002 Utah
Begona Garcia Spain 2002 Detroit
Amaya Valdemoro Spain 2000 Houston
Elisabeth Cebrain Spain 1998 New York
Marina Ferragut Spain 2000 New York
Alessandra Santos de Oliveira
Brazil 2001 Seattle
Erica de Souza Brazil 2002 Los Angeles
Iziane Castro Marques Brazil 2003 Phoenix
Leila Sobral Brazil 1998 Washington
Kelly Santos Brazil 2002 Detroit
Helen Luz
Brazil 2003 Washington
Adriana Moises Pinto Brazil 2002 Phoenix
Cintia dos Santos Brazil 2002 Orlando
Annie Burgess
Australia 2003 Washington
Kristi Harrower Australia 2003 Minnesota
Sandy Brondello Australia 2003 Seattle
Tully Bevilaqua Australia 2003 Seattle
Trisha Fallon Australia 2001 Phoenix
Kristen Veal Australia 2002 Phoenix
Rachael Sporn Australia 2001 Detroit
Suzy Batkovic Australia Drafted Seattle
Jung Sun-Min S. Korea 2003 Seattle
Mfon Udoka Nigeria 2003 Houston
Ugo Oha Nigeria Drafted Connecticut
*Arcain has committed to returning to the Comets after the Olympic break