13 - 19
June 2016
Top 10 reasons to follow the Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament
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10 reasons to follow the 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament

NANTES (2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - The last chance for some of the best players in women's basketball to reach the Rio Olympics is set to tip off in Nantes, France.

From 13-19 June, the 12-team 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) will see household names battling it out for the remaining fives places for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

FIBA.com brings you 10 reasons to follow the tournament.

1 - France enter the competition with a sense of unfinished business  

Les Bleues are led by four London Olympians - Celine Dumerc, Isabelle Yacoubou, Endy Miyem and Sandrine Gruda - who were part of the team that stunned the world by reaching the Final in 2012 by going undefeated in seven games before falling to the USA.

Fresh off a EuroCup Women title with Tango Bourges, Dumerc told FIBA.com that the hosts are focused on booking a place in Rio in just three games after failing to qualify directly when losing to Serbia in the Final of EuroBasket Women 2015.

If they can win at least one game in Group A - which includes Cuba and New Zealand - and succeed in the Quarter-Finals, Valerie Garnier's team will be on its way to the Olympics for a second consecutive showing.

2 - Leuchanka is looking at the WOQT as a chance to move on from last summer's disappointment

Belarus were close to reaching the EuroBasket Women 2015 Final but a 74-72 loss to Serbia in the Semi-Finals derailed their Rio Olympics aspirations.

Yelena Leuchanka and Anastasiya Verameyenka, who can both dominate inside, along with New York Liberty playmaker Lindsey Harding and sharpshooter Katsiaryna Snytsina give Belarus reasons to remain confident.

Leuchanka told FIBA.com: "Right now, the only team I am focused on is Nigeria, and after that, we'll talk about Korea. They say Nigeria has some current and former college players. We need to be prepared, all 12 teams are here for a reason."

3 - Turkey are determined to succeed on the big stage

With the likes of London 2012 trio Isil Alben, Nevriye Yilmaz and Birsel Vardarli Demirmen, as well as the addition of Lara Sanders, the Turks combine experience, talent and are competing in Nantes with the goal of returning to the Olympics for the second time in a row.

Turkey will take on Argentina and Cameroon in Group B and they shouldn't have trouble making it to the Quarter-Finals undefeated, where they could potentially go up against New Zealand or Cuba.

4. Lyttle, Xargay, and Torrens represent Spain's hopes of reaching Rio 

Replete with the talent of Marta Xargay and Sancho LyttleSpain have moved on from a disappointing third-place finish at last summer's EuroBasket Women, and Alba Torrens enters the competition after winning two major trophies this season - the EuroLeague Women and the Russian championship.

Drawn in Group D, Spain will square off against China and Venezuela.

5 - Former China great Nan Chen is back to fight for fourth Olympic appearance 

China's Nan Chen is chasing her fourth straight Olympics appearance.

By returning to international basketball for the first time since the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, the 33-year-old represents a morale-booster for China, who chase their fourth straight Olympics appearance.

6 - Check out Harlem Globetrotter Ekworomadu playing for Nigeria

One of the key pieces of Nigeria, Joyce Ekworomadu and Adaora Elonu were key at last summer's AfroBasket Women. Former WNBA player Ekworomadu is bringing some of her ball handling and shooting to Nantes.

7 - Is Jisu Park one of the best 17-year-olds in the women's basketball?

Jisu Park of Korea is only 17 years of age but her vast margin for progress and talent raise eyebrows. With so many international tournaments under her belt, the 1.95m center is a player to watch out for in Nantes.

8 - Roselis and Perez are key reasons for Venezuela's growth

Roselis Silva is a name to keep in mind after energising Venezuela to second place at last month's FIBA South American Women's Championship. Silva and rising star Waleska Perez make a dynamic duo to watch out for. 

9 - Rio is the place to be in August. Who doesn't want to face the reigning champions?

The top five teams in Nantes will round out the 12-team Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament in Rio, which already includes the USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, Senegal, Brazil, and Serbia.

10 - Turkey, France, Belarus and Spain  are the teams to beat 

Can a non-European team prevent France, Belarus, Spain and Turkey from assuring Europe remain the dominant force in the WOQT? That’s the question to be answered in the next seven days.

For some of those players, this WOQT is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach the Olympics.