Y’all know I wasn’t going to let the FIBA Americas Women’s Championship tournament getting started in Neiva, Colombia today and running through October 1 get cranked up without showing them the same love I did in commenting on the ‘menz’ one earlier.
This is not only a qualifier for the London Games, it is also the first time a FIBA Americas women’s tournament has been conducted with ten teams and it’s about time they did so.
One of those ten teams will not be the FIBA world number one ranked USA since our women handled their Olympic basketball business by winning the FIBA Women’s World Championship in the Czech Republic last summer. Coach Auriemma now has time to decide who be on the USA Olympic women’s squad that will attempt to claim a fifth consecutive gold medal in 2012.
However, there is a difference from the just concluded men’s tournament in that only the FIBA Americas champion winner will automatically qualify for London. The next three teams will head to next summer’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women that will be conducted June 25-July 1 at a to be determined site.to determine the last five slots in the Women’s Olympic basketball tournament.
The FIBA Africa Women’s Championship started yesterday in Mali and will run until October 2 to determine the FIBA Africa representative in the London Olympics and fill the two spots in the Olympic Qualifying tournament alloted to the FIBA African representatives.
The Olympic basketball tournament picture on the women’s side looks like this. The USA has already qualified along with host Great Britain, Russia, China and Australia. The teams that are in next summer’s FIBA Women’s Qualifying Tournament are Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Turkey, Japan, Korea and New Zealand..
So the stakes are high as always for this tournament. The draw for the 2011 FIBA America’s Women’s Championship was held May 5 with Group A being comprised of Chile, FIBA world number 10 ranked Cuba, Argentina, Puerto Rico and host Colombia.
Group B looks a little nastier. It will consist of FIBA world number 6 ranked Brazil, FIBA world number 12 ranked Canada, Jamaica, Mexico and Paraguay
After playing games within their groups from today through September 28, top two teams in Groups A and B will move on the knockout round semifinals on September 30 with the Group A winner taking on the Group B runner up and the Group B winner taking on the runner up team from Group A.
Winners go on to the FIBA Americas women’s title game October 1 and battle it out for the lone Olympic ticket to London. The championship game runner up, third and fourth place teams will be the FIBA Americas reps at the Olympic Qualifying tournament.
So let the games begin and may the best team win. As to who I’m rooting for? I get to relax and enjoy it.