WNBA Tips Off 16th Season with 14 Preseason Games in 12 Cities, Including Games Against National Teams From China and Japan

NEW YORK, March 26, 2012 � The WNBA will tip-off the 2012 campaign with 14 preseason games in 12 cities, including three games featuring WNBA teams competing against the Chinese National Women's Basketball Team and Japanese Women's National Basketball Team. This marks the third straight preseason in which WNBA teams have faced international competition.

The Los Angeles Sparks, who have the first overall selection in the 2012 WNBA Draft, will play host to both the Chinese National Women's Basketball Team (May 5 at Pasadena College) and Japanese Women's National Basketball Team (May 10 at Los Angeles� Southwest College). The Japanese National Team will tip off its slate of games in the United States on May 8, when it visits the Phoenix Mercury at US Airways Center.

Top WNBA draft picks and veterans debuting with their new teams also are among the highlights of the preseason action. The 2010 WNBA champion Seattle Storm, which, in addition to owning the No. 2 selection in the upcoming draft, bolstered its roster this winter by adding former all-stars Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters as free agents, visit the Tulsa Shock (May 11 at the BOK Center) and hosts long-time Western Conference rival Los Angeles (May 13 at KeyArena). The Chicago Sky, whose talented but young squad fell short of the playoffs in 2011, will take to the court three times this preseason. The Sky, with a roster that includes four new veterans, all of whom own WNBA championship rings (Swin Cash, Ticha Penicheiro, Ruth Riley, and Le�Coe Willingham), opens its preseason schedule by hosting the Washington Mystics (May 10 at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill.).

WNBA teams will play an additional four games in non-WNBA arenas, highlighted by the Chicago Sky squaring off against the New York Liberty at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. on May 27 and by the Phoenix Mercury game against the Los Angeles Sparks at �The Pit� on the campus of the University of New Mexico on May 28. In other games in non-WNBA markets, the Sparks will host the Seattle Storm at the Torodome at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif. on May 25, and the Connecticut Sun will host the San Antonio Silver Stars at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Penn. on May 27.

With the No. 3 and No. 12 selections in the first round of the upcoming draft in hand, the defending champion Minnesota Lynx will visit the Connecticut Sun (May 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena) and then close out the league�s preseason by hosting Chicago (May 15 at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion).

The 2012 games against the Chinese National Team mark the latest cooperation between the NBA and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), which have a long history of working together to grow the game of basketball in China. In 1985, the NBA first hosted the Chinese National Men�s Basketball Team with exhibition games in the U.S. The NBA and CBA have worked together to stage five sets of NBA China Games and are currently in the third year of a joint coaching program that has trained more than 200 coaches. In addition, the CBA Dongguan Basketball School -- an NBA Training Center launched in September and is training elite players in China ages 12-17.

Last spring the Atlanta Dream participated in the first WNBA game played in Europe, when it visited the Great Britain National Team at Manchester Evening News Arena and posted an 82-51 victory on May 29; Phoenix hosted the JX Sunflowers, defending champions of the Women's Japan Basketball League and notched a 96-52 victory on May 24. Additionally four WNBA teams hosted games or scrimmages against the Chinese National Team during the preseason. In 2010, the Sparks, Mercury, and San Antonio Silver Stars hosted the Chinese National Team, and the Connecticut Sun welcomed the Poland Women�s National Basketball Team.

The WNBA will open its 16th regular season as part of WNBA Tip Off 2012 Presented by Boost Mobile on Friday, May 18, when two of the league's top stars square off as Candace Parker and the Sparks visit Sue Bird and the Storm. Minnesota, led by 2011 Rookie of the Year Maya Moore and WNBA Finals MVP Seimone Augustus, begins its title defense by hosting Phoenix and Diana Taurasi, the league�s scoring leader the last four seasons, on Sunday, May 20, in a nationally televised game on ABC.

The full preseason schedule is as follows:

Day Date Visiting Team Home Team Local Time Venue City
Sat.May 5 Tulsa Atlanta2:00 p.m.Philips ArenaAtlanta, Ga.
Sat.May 5IndianaSan Antonio7:00 p.m.Trinity UniversitySan Antonio, Tex.
Sat.May 5China National TeamLos Angeles4:00 p.m.Pasadena CollegePasadena, Calif.
Mon.May 7New YorkConnecticut7:00 p.m.Mohegan Sun ArenaUncasville, Conn.
Tues.May 8Japan National TeamPhoenix7:00 p.m.US Airways CenterPhoenix, Ariz.
Wed.May 9San AntonioIndiana12:00 p.m.Bankers Life FieldhouseIndianapolis, Ind.
Thurs.May 10MinnesotaConnecticut7:00 p.m.Mohegan Sun ArenaUncasville, Conn.
Thurs.May 10WashingtonChicago7:00 p.m.New Trier High SchoolWinnetka, Ill.
Thurs.May 10Japan National TeamLos Angeles7:30 p.m.Southwest College Los Angeles, Calif.
Fri.May 11SeattleTulsa11:30 a.m.BOK CenterTulsa, Okla.
Sun.May 13Los AngelesSeattle2:00 p.m.KeyArenaSeattle, Wash.
Mon.May 14ChicagoNew York10:30a.m.Prudential CenterNewark, N.J.
Mon.May 14ConnecticutWashington7:00 p.m.Verizon CenterWashington, D.C.
Tues.May 15ChicagoMinnesota12:00 p.m.U. of Minn. Sports PavilionMinneapolis, Minn.