Friday, September 08, 2006

US Women Ballers International Streak Over

If the US mens basketball team fails to win gold, the pattern lately has been for the US womens team to uphold national basketball pride and win whatever international tounament the men failed at.

Since 1996 the US women have been ruthlessly consistent. In addition to the Olympic gold medals they won in 1996, 2000 and 2004, they've added a pair of FIBA women's championships in 1998 and 2002.

When Team USA fell short in Japan in their efforts to bring the FIBA World Championship trophy back to the USA, US basketball pride once again fell upon the shoulders of the US women.

The mens ballers did give it their best shot. Team USA's winning streak came to a screeching halt in the semis against Greece. The loss sent the US men to the bronze medal game versus Argentina and Manu Ginobili. Team USA won 96-81 thanks to 32 points from Dwyane Wade and 22 from LeBron James. They will have to wait until 2010 for the next shot at the FIBA trophy in Turkey. They will have a shot at redemption before then at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The US women traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil heavily favored to take the championship back home to the USA. Unfortunately Lisa Leslie had to withdraw due to a family emergency and the team struggled with their shooting.

Team USA won their first seven tournament games before the shooting woes caught up with them against the Russians. They upset Team USA 75-68 and ended a pair of winning streaks for the US women. Since 1994 they'd won 26 straight games in FIBA competition and a combined 50 games in Olympic and FIBA Worlds competition.

That loss sent them to the bronze medal game against Janeth Arcain and the homestanding Brazilians while the Russians moved on to the championship game against Lauren Jackson and the Australians. Team USA took out their frustrations on their Brazilian hosts by spanking them 99-59. The Aussies beat down the Russians 91-74 to claim their first ever FIBA world championship and the berth in the 2008 Beijing Games.

The USA women will now have to win the FIBA Americas Tournament in Chile next summer in order to qualify for Beijing.

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