Five-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team this morning was announced in front of a nationally televised audience on NBC’s TODAY show during the United States Olympic Committee’s 100 Day Countdown celebration, and features nine returning Olympic gold medalists. Headlined by three-time gold medalists and tri-captains Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) andDiana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), the team was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee and is pending approval by the USOC.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen(Minnesota Lynx). Competing in their first Olympic Games are Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut).

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for the selection committee, but a very positive challenge given the talented athletes in our pool,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director and chair of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. “If you combine the returning 2012 Olympians with the 2014 world champions, you have 15 very qualified candidates. Add to that an emerging group of young athletes and the decision becomes that much harder to settle on a final 12-member roster. The good news is that we have developed a deep, talented pool of athletes at each position through our national team program.  We are grateful that the very best athletes in our country want to play and push each other to be better whenever our team gathers to train.

“This team has all of the areas necessary for success covered – talent and depth at each position, flexibility to play several positions, leadership on and off the court, international experience, demonstrated teamwork and a blend of veterans and youth. They understand their roles and the responsibility of representing the U.S. in Rio, and we look forward to watching their journey as they work toward a sixth-straight gold medal.”

“Obviously it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who has directed the USA National Team to an overall 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships. “The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it's the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team. But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders.

“There is also an influx of young players, which not only is going to be a great benefit to us this year, but I think it will set the stage going forward in two years for the (FIBA) World Championship and then in four years in Tokyo. They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women's National Team.”

FIBA on March 11, 2016, held the draw to determine the Aug. 6-10 preliminary round groups, and the United States (2014 FIBA World Championship gold medalist) was placed in Group B along with Canada (2015 FIBA Americas gold medalist), Senegal (2015 FIBA Africa gold medalist), Serbia (2015 EuroBasket gold medalist) and two teams that will earn their berths at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, June 13-19, in Nantes, France. The top five finishing teams from the Olympic qualifier will earn a berth to Rio, with the second and fourth best teams included in Group B.

The U.S. will open play against against Senegal on either Aug. 6 or Aug. 7 (all game times to be announced by FIBA at a later date), followed by the No. 4 team from the Olympic qualifier on Aug. 8, Serbia on Aug. 10, Canada Aug. 12, and the USA concludes preliminary round play on Aug. 14 against the No. 2 team from the Olympic qualifier.

All 12 of the U.S. players began competing for USA Basketball while still in high school or college, and in addition to their Olympic experience, Bird is a four-time USA World Championship Team member and three-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist; Catchings, Charles, McCoughtry, Moore, Taurasi and Whalen have captured two World Championship gold medals; Fowles earned gold at the 2010 Worlds; and Augustus, Griner and Stewart earned a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship. Additionally, Augustus, Bird, Catchings and Taurasi returned with a bronze medal from the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

Auriemma will be assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. Chaired by Callan, the committee includes: WNBA appointees Reneé Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations; Dan Hughes, head coach and general manager of the San Antonio Stars; and Chris Sienko, vice president and general manager of the Connecticut Sun; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in nearly 200 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008 and serves as the athlete representative.

2016 Olympic Games
The 2016 Olympic Games will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro. A total of 12 nations will compete in the Olympic women’s basketball competition. In addition to host Brazil and the USA, which earned its berth by virtue of winning gold at the 2014 FIBA World Championship, the gold-medal winning teams from each of FIBA’s five zones have qualified for Rio, including Australia (FIBA Oceania), Canada (FIBA Americas), Japan (FIBA Asia), Senegal (FIBA Africa) and Serbia (FIBA Europe).

The top-placing teams in each zone tournament -- not including the champions -- qualified for the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (June 13-19, 2016 @ Nantes, France), and those teams include: Cameroon and Nigeria from FIBA Africa; Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela from FIBA Americas; China and South Korea from FIBA Asia; Belarus, France, Spain and Turkey from FIBA Europe; and New Zealand from FIBA Oceania.

U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, and are 58-3 all-time in Olympic competition. The 2016 U.S. team will enter Rio riding a 41-game Olympic winning streak that dates back to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal game.

Since the inception of the 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, the USA National Team, in addition to its record five-straight Olympic gold medals, has captured four FIBA World Championship gold medals, one FIBA World Championship bronze medal and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal, while compiling a remarkable 86-1 record for a .989 winning percentage in those events. Further, USA National Teams in exhibition contests since 1995 boast of a 186-15 record (.925 winning percentage).