The U.S. will host one of the four FIBA Women’s World Cup qualifying tournaments in February in Washington.
The Americans, who already have earned an automatic bid into next year’s tournament that will be held in Australia, will play against Belgium, Puerto Rico and Russia in the Feb. 10-13 qualifier.
The U.S. will open play against Puerto Rico on Feb. 10 and then play Belgium the next day. The Americans will close out the tournament against Russia on Feb. 13.
Belgrade, Serbia will host two of the other qualifying tournaments. Group A consists of Australia, Brazil, Serbia and South Korea; Group B has China, France, Mali and Nigeria. The final qualifier will be held in Osaka, Japan and will feature Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, and Japan.
Defending World Cup bronze medalist Spain finished seventh in the European qualifiers and didn’t advance to this round. It will miss the FIBA tournament for the first time since 1998. The Spaniards had medaled in the last three World Cup tournaments.
The top three finishing teams in each of the four qualifying tournaments will advance to the World Cup, which will be held from Sept. 22-Oct. 1 in Sydney. Should the U.S. or Australia, which earned an automatic qualifier by hosting, not finish in the top three teams in their pools, only the top two countries from those groups would advance.
The U.S., which has won gold at the last three World Cup tournaments, hasn’t announced its coaches yet. With Sue Bird retired from international basketball, the Americans will need to find their next point guard. She won four World Cup gold medals, plus a bronze in 2006.
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