Diggins-Smith and Ogunbowale to Participate in USA Basketball Training Ahead of FIBA AmeriCup
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Members of the 2019-20 USA Basketball Women's National Team, as well as USA National Team hopefuls, will take part in a training camp at the University of Miami Sept. 17-19 ahead of the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, which will be held Sept. 22-29 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The 12-member USA AmeriCup Team, which will be selected from the group of training camp participants, is expected to be announced prior to the team's departure on Sept. 19.
Included on the list of athletes expected to participate or attend once they have concluded their WNBA season are seven of the eight athletes who committed to the 2019-20 USA National Team's expanded training program, including Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and A'ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).
In addition to those seven, athletes who have confirmed their participation in the USA training camp, provided they've concluded their WNBA season are: Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky), Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky), Brittney Sykes (Atlanta Dream), Sydney Wiese (Los Angele Sparks) and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
Additionally, the following players also will be taking part in the training camp: Kaila Charles (Maryland), Mykea Gray (Miami), Ruthy Hebard (Oregon), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Connecticut), Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA), Khadijah Sessions (Kouvot, Finland) Christyn Williams (Connecticut).
"I'm super excited," said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. "It seems like we haven't played in a long time. I'm just happy that we'll get some players who have some experience and we'll also get some players who haven't had a whole lot of USA Basketball experience at the national team level. So, meshing that spectrum of players is going to be the key to our success at the AmeriCup.
"I want us to get better defensively and have the mindset of wanting to excel in that area. Obviously we may not have all the players we had in the World Cup but we'll have some of them so we can continue to build on being dynamic on the defensive side of the basketball, and gain more continuity offensively and some flow with what we're trying to do."
The U.S. will practice for approximately two hours a day, starting at 10 a.m. (all times EDT) at Miami's Watsco Center practice gym before traveling to Puerto Rico for the AmeriCup, which was previously known as the FIBA Americas Championship.
Bird, who had knee surgery in May, and Diggins-Smith, who gave birth to her first child in April, are not cleared to play. However, they will participate in meetings and some on-court preparations.
The eighth member of the expanded training core group is Elena Delle Donne, who is unavailable after helping the Washington Mystics secure the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs, which advanced the Mystics to the semifinals.
Ten nations will take part in the AmeriCup, with the top eight finishing teams advancing to a Nov. 10-18 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The field has been drawn into two pools of five teams each. Group A features Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The USA will compete in Group B against Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay.
Following preliminary play, teams will be seeded and the top two teams from each group advance to the Sept. 28 semifinals. The gold and bronze medal games will be held Sept. 29. All the USA games will be shown live on ESPN+.
The USA opens AmeriCup competition Sept. 22 against Paraguay, then will play Colombia on Sept. 24, Argentina Sept. 25 and closes preliminary play against Brazil on Sept. 26.
The USA National Team, which already has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will take advantage of and participate in FIBA's new Olympic qualification process, that provides nations with two windows of competition, Nov. 10-18, 2019, and Feb. 2-10, 2020.
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2019-20 USA National Team roster, which currently lists 34 athletes, will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Team will be comprised of players from the 2019-20 USA National Team.
Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, are serving as the 2019-20 USA National Team assistant coaches and will assist Staley in Miami and at the AmeriCup. Hughes will join the team upon the conclusion of his WNBA season.
Chaired by USA Women's National Team director Carol Callan, USA National Team athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee, which currently includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.
Olympic Games Women's Basketball Competition
Winners of the past six Olympic gold medals, the USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, while compiling an all-time 66-3 record in Olympic play since women's basketball was first introduced to the Olympic program in 1976.
In 2016, the most recent Olympic Games, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Serbia won bronze.
The USA, by virtue of winning the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, and host Japan already have secured berths into the 2020 tournament. The remaining 10 teams will qualify through the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
The 2020 Olympic competition will see a different tournament format launched in 2020. The 12 teams will be split into three groups of four teams apiece for preliminary play, held July 27-Aug. 3.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded, and the top two teams from each group and the two best third place teams, according to FIBA's placement rules, will qualify for the medal round. In the medal round, teams will compete in a knockout bracket, with winners advancing from the Aug. 5 quarterfinals to the Aug. 7 semifinals. The gold medal game will be played on Aug. 9, on the morning of the 2020 closing ceremony.
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