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.

United States (Group B, Defending World Champion)
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.

Best Finish: Gold Medal: 1984, 1988, 1996, 2000
Key Players: Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Dawn Staley

Australia (Group A, Oceania Zone #1)
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.

Best Finish: Silver Medal: 2000
Key Players: Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor, Kristi Harrower, Trish Fallon

Brazil (Group A, Americas Zone #1)
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.

Best Finish: Silver Medal: 1996
Key Players: Janeth Arcain, Alessandra Santos de Oliveira, Iziane Castro Marques, Helen Luz

Russia (Group A, European Zone #1)
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 a focal point for the Russian attack.

Best Finish: Gold Medal: 1976, 1980, 1992
Key Players: Elena Baranova, Maria Stepanova

Czech Republic (Group B, European Zone #2)
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. In 2001, the Czechs won the gold medal at the FIBA Junior World Championships and won the silver at the 2003 FIBA European qualifiers

Best Finish: Fourth: 1976
Key Players: Zuzi Klimesova, Eva Viteckova, Romana Hamzova

China (Group B, Asia Zone #1)
China earned its fifth Olympic berth after capturing the 2004 Asia Championship gold medal. In its first appearance in 1984, China captured the bronze medal. In 1992, they earned the silver medal. Most recently, China hosted the 2002 World Championships and finished in sixth place.

Best Finish: Silver medal: 1992
Key Players: Nan Chen, Li Ye, Lijie Miao

South Korea (Group B, Asia Zone #3)
The Koreans lost a thrilling double-overtime semifinal game to Japan in the 2004 Asian Championships, finishing with a 5-1 record, the bronze medal and an Olympic berth. Having participated in four of the past five Games, South Korea is no stranger to Olympic competition. They earned their only medal, a silver, in 1984. After disappointing showings at recent Games, the Koreans bounced back to finish fourth at the 2002 World Championships and should return their top three scorers from the 2002 event.

Best Finish: Silver Medal: 1984
Key Players: Yeong-Ok Kim, Jung Sun-Min, J. Lee

Spain (Group B, European Zone #3)
Spain will be participating in their second Olympic Games after competing as the host nation in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and finishing in fifth place. They also finished an impressive fifth at the 1998 and 2002 World Championships. In 1992, the United States defeated Spain by 55 points, but in the finals of a tournament prior to the 2004 games in Salamanca, Spain...

Best Finish: Fifth Place: 1992
Key Players: Nuria Martinez, Elisa Aguilar, Marina Ferragut

Japan (Group A, Asia Zone #2)
Japan will be competing in their third Olympiad after finishing fifth in the inaugural 1976 Games and seventh in 1996. The U.S. and Japan have met two times before in the Olympics, with each nation winning once. Japan finished with the silver medal in the 2004 Asia championship and 13th overall in the 2002 FIBA World Championships. The U.S. bested Japan in three straight exhibition games earlier this year.

Best Finish: Fifth Place: 1976
Key Players: Ryoko Yano, Matsuko Nagata, Taeko Oyama

New Zealand (Group B, Oceania Zone #2)
The Kiwis are looking to improve on their disappointing 2000 Olympics, where they finished 1-5 overall, good enough for 11th out of the 12 places. New Zealand finished as the second ranked country from FIBA Oceania, falling to Australia twice in the best of three series. However, they hired former Australia national team coach and Washingtron Mystics coach Tom Maher to steer the way. Maher previously led Australia to the 2000 Olympic silver medal and the 1996 Olympic bronze medal in Atlanta.

Best Finish: Eleventh Place: 2000
Key Players: Leanne Walker, Gina Farmer, Angela Marino

Nigerian (Group A, Africa Zone #1)
The 2004 Games will mark Nigeria's first time competing in at the Olympics, but won the 2003 African championship.

Best Finish: N/A
Key Players: Mfon Udoka, Mactabene Amachree

Greece (Group A, Host)
As the host nation, Greece earned an automatic bid to compete in the 2004 Games. It will be the first Olympics for the Greek women. Greece finished in ninth place at the 2003 FIBA Europe Olympic Qualifier with a 3-4 record.

Best Finish: N/A
Key Players: Anastasia Kostaki, Evanthia Maltsi