USA Basketball Women’s National Team Set To Travel To Russia For First Test

-- 13 Players Named To USA Team For Ekaterinburg International Invitational --

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 5, 2009) -- After training for six days in Washington, D.C., 2009-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team members and Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) will lead a USA squad in Russia in the four-team 2009 Ekaterinburg International Invitational. Also selected to play in the Oct. 9-11 tournament were USA National Team hopefuls Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), a 2004 Olympic gold medalist; Tina Charles (University of Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.); Shameka Christon (New York Liberty); Candice Dupree (Chicago Sky); Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics); Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun); Crystal Langhorne (Washington Mystics); Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream); Renee Montgomery (Minnesota Lynx); and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx).

“We found out a lot about ourselves in the last six days,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “Some of these guys who are here didn’t know me, I didn’t know them. Now I’m anxious, and I know these guys are anxious, to go and see if what we know transfers over to games. I know we know how to practice and I know we know how to do drills. Now we’re going to find out if we can take that, transfer it over to game situations and see if I can identify those players who know how to win.”

In addition to the Russian professional team UMMC Ekaterinburg, also competing in the tournament will be Euroleague professional teams MKB Euroleasing Sopron from Hungary and USK Praha from the Czech Republic. The U.S. opens the round-robin tournament against USK Praha on Oct. 9, followed by Euroleasing Sopron on Oct. 10 and caps the tournament against host and 2009 EuoLeague third place finisher UMMC Ekaterinburg on Oct. 11.

The Sept. 30 – Oct. 5 training camp in Washington was the first step in the USA’s preparations for the 2010 FIBA World Championship. In addition to the upcoming tournament in Ekaterinburg, the U.S. squad will train next spring (dates and site TBD) prior to gathering in September for the final training camp before the 2010 Worlds tip off on Sept. 23 in the Czech Republic. The 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal game is scheduled to be played on Oct. 3, with the winner earning a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.

USA National Team members Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) are currently competing in the WNBA Finals; while Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs) are injured and unable to compete.

Auriemma is being assisted through the 2010 FIBA World Championship by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno and Minnesota Lynx head coach Jennifer Gillom.

As was the case over the last quadrennium, the USA team will be fluid and athletes will be added progressively to the 2009-12 USA National Team. It is expected that the official 12-member 2010 USA World Championship and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams, should the USA qualify for the Olympics, will be comprised of players from the 2009-12 USA National Team.

In the past dozen years, the highly successful USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, has posted a 63-1 slate in major international competitions, winning four consecutive Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), two FIBA World Championship golds (1998, 2002), one FIBA World Championship bronze medal (2006) and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal (2007).

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (Sept. 23-Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic); if necessary the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games (July 26-Aug. 12 in London, England), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.

The U.S. will first look to capture the title at the 16th FIBA World Championship, with an automatic berth to the 2012 Olympic Games being awarded to the gold medalist. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in ‘10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee is comprised of WNBA representatives Reneé Brown, Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations; Dan Hughes, head coach and General Manager of the San Antonio Silver Stars; and Chief Operating Officer/General Manager of the Indiana Fever Kelly Krauskopf; athlete representative and five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards; and USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan.