06 - 20
August 2016
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Top 10 reasons to follow the Rio 2016 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament

RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) - Once every four years, the 12 best women's basketball national teams from around the world battle it out for the right to finish on the podium at the Olympic Games.

From 6-20 August, Rio de Janeiro will take centre stage and showcase the very best of what women's basketball has to offer.

Australia, Belarus, Brazil, France, Japan and Turkey will trade blows in Group A while Canada, China, Senegal, Serbia, Spain and the USA will fight off in Group B.

There are countless reasons to follow the Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament, and FIBA.com selected 10 as to why you should tune into the action in Rio.

1 - Talent aplenty

The Olympics is one of the biggest stages where stars prove their value. In Rio, the list of superstars is almost never-ending. Here are just 10 of the biggest players to follow: Maya Moore (USA), Liz Cambage (Australia), Kia Nurse (Canada), Marine Johannes (France), Shao Ting (China), Lindsey Harding (Belarus), Ramu Tokashiki (Japan), Alba Torrens (Spain), Lara Sanders (Turkey), Astou Traore (Senegal), and Sonja Petrovic (Serbia). 

2 - Can the USA win six in a row?

A dominant force in women's basketball, the USA arrive in Rio eyeing their sixth straight Olympic medal. No team has ever achieved this degree of success in the tournament's history. Over the course of the past two decades, the Americans have gone 40-0 and show no signs of slowing down. They last lost a game at the Olympics way back in 1992, when they finished third at the Barcelona Games. 

3 - Serbia

With Marina Maljkovic in charge, it's no accident that Serbia have qualified for Rio. Over the course of the past few years, they have been playing convincing and attractive basketball and so it came as no real surprise when they beat France 76-68 to win EuroBasket Women 2015. They were so good that Ana Dabovic and Sonja Petrovic - two of their key players - ended up joining two WNBA teams. 

4 - WNBA influence

With so many of their players heading to Rio, the WNBA had no alternative but to use a month-long break. While all 12 USA players come from WNBA franchises, 11 other players from as far as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Belarus, Japan, Spain, and Serbia also ply their trade in the WNBA. 

5 - Dunk contest

Four years ago, Cambage became the first female player to dunk at an Olympics. As Australia faced Russia in Group B on 3 August 2012 at the London Games, the 2.03m center received a pass from Kristi Harrower, drove down the lane and destroyed the Russian basket with a thunderous dunk, sending teammates and the crowd into a frenzy. USA center Brittney Grinner is in Rio and is likely to put on a show, the same way she has been doing lately in the WNBA.

6 - Is this Australia's turn?

While the USA enjoy an impressive five consecutive Olympic gold medals dating back to 1996, the  Australians have collected three silver and two bronze medals in the last two decades. As the number two team in the world, the Opals have emerged as the most likely team to challenge the Americans, but first, they will need to pass their Group A test. 

7 - Brazil’s elusive medal

Brazil's golden generation has long gone. Even though the Rio Olympics hosts last finished on the podium at the Sydney Games in 2000 - on the back of a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta - they remain upbeat that they can prove doubters wrong. 

8 - Women’s basketball go East

Although the two Asia representatives, China and Japan, are yet to become powerhouses on the world stage, it can't be denied that these two nations have made tremendous progress in the last two decades. Asia champions Japan will take to the court under the leadership of Ramu Tokashiki, looking to earn a first-ever Olympic medal, while the Chinese, who have proven to be a competitive team, will aim to replicate their silver medal run from 1992. 

9 - Who can challenge Australia and the USA? 

With so many Olympics titles under their belts, the USA are undoubtedly the team to beat in Rio. But, who can do that? At first glance, it seems unlikely, but as they say, basketball games are won on the hardwood. And Spain have emerged as a strong contender.

10 - Last chance to watch stars in action

The Rio Olympics will mark the end of an era for a number of players, some of whom have already announced their intention to retire from their national team after Rio. Those that have officially announced they are calling it a day in national team competitions include Australia's Penny Taylor, Brazil's Adriana Pinto - who is set to become a five-time Olympian - and Nevriye Yilmaz of Turkey.