China an early opponent for U.S.
The U.S. women's Olympic basketball team will begin its quest for a fifth straight gold medal at the 2012 London Games against China, Angola and three other teams from the qualifying tournament.
Former Brazil players Hortencia and Paula, silver medalists at the Atlanta Games in 1996, participated in the women's draw, held Monday in Rio.
The American women's team was announced earlier this month at the NCAA Division I Final Four in Denver. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings will again play for Team USA, along with returning Olympians Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles.
The U.S. squad, coached by Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, includes six former UConn Huskies, including Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Asjha Jones. All six helped the U.S. qualify for the London Games by winning gold at the 2010 world championship.
Lindsay Whalen and Angel McCoughtry will be making their first Olympic appearances for Team USA.
Auriemma said that although the Americans' draw looks better now, it may not turn out that way.
"People might say we've got an easier draw than teams in the other bracket, but you have to remember that China is the Asian champion. They have been climbing back up the world ranks and finished in the top four in Beijing, and Angola will be excited about playing in their first Olympics," Auriemma said.
"Don't forget, we could end up with a very tough pool once the Olympic qualifying tournament plays out. There are a lot of very competitive teams still trying to play their way into the Olympics, like the Czech Republic. They finished second at the worlds two years ago; they have a very disciplined and well-coached team. Regardless of who we have in our opening pool, we're still going to have to get through a lot of very good teams if we want to win gold," he said.
The women's qualifying tournament will include Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Japan, South Korea, Mali, Mozambique, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and host Turkey.
The Olympic basketball tournaments will take place from July 28-Aug. 12.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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