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USA Basketball women’s national team to play in Belgium for 2024 Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Will Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin be part of this tournament, even if the USA already qualified?

USA v Belgium - FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup
Ariel Atkins could get another nod to play for Team USA next year.
Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

On Thursday, FIBA announced the sites and teams that would host the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in women’s basketball. The USA Basketball women’s national team will participate and play in Antwerp, Belgium where they will play against the hosts, Nigeria and Senegal.

The players Team USA sends may not be their “A” squad, however. This is because the Americans won the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup gold medal and qualified that way. However, FIBA rules require that the champions participate anyway.

Here is the schedule for the Americans:

  • at Belgium on Feb. 8
  • vs. Nigeria on Feb. 9
  • Vs. Senegal on Feb. 11

This pool is stacked with world powers. Team USA is the top country of course, but two other teams are defending continental champions. Nigeria won the gold medal Women’s AfroBasket this past summer while Belgium won the gold medal in Women’s EuroBasket.

The match that Belgians want to see will be the USA game on Feb. 8. While this game is effectively a friendly because the Americans have already qualified, it is the home team’s fans who will finally get a chance to see their best players go against the best of the best. About two years ago, I had a chance to see just how rowdy those Belgian fans could be.

From here, I’m wondering which Mystics players suit up for Team USA. Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin were on the World Cup team, so they should have a quicker path to making this team. And finally, General Manager Mike Thibault should be an assistant coach for Team USA, given that he has been in that role since 2022.