Via San Francisco Chronicle
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. women’s basketball team continues its pre-Olympic tour with a three-city exhibition series that wraps up Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Americans will face France on Wednesday at the University of Delaware, play Canada on Friday in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and host Australia on Sunday in New York before heading to the Rio Olympics.
“We really want to win the next three games, but at the same time, we need to find out before we get on that plane to go to Rio, what we have,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “What can we count on? What’s going to be our strength?
“What are the things that we’re going to build on that are going to sustain us down there? And that’s what these next three games are going to be all about.”
The Americans will play France in the home state of Olympic rookie Elena Delle Donne.
“I’m excited for a chance to play in front of the home crowd,” said Delle Donne, who had 11 points in the 88-84 victory over the select team in Los Angeles on Monday night.
France was the silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics and Australia has medaled at every Olympics since 1996 — the year that the U.S. won the first of its five straight gold medals.
“This is a good chance for us to see where we are before the Olympics,” Australia guard Penny Taylor said. “It will give the younger players a chance to face the U.S. for the first time before Olympic competition.”
While most of the other teams in the Olympics have been together for months, the U.S. has had just two days of practice. After a sluggish start against the select team, the Olympic squad built a 12-point lead.
The select group kept it close, giving the national team all it could handle.
“We are focused on the whole process, the whole journey, and this was just the first game,” said guard Sue Bird, who is aiming for a fourth gold medal at the Olympics. “We’ve only had a couple practices together, so it was really good to be challenged in that way by the select team. It really showed what we’re going to need to work on and the level that we have to play at moving forward.”
The U.S. will play its first game at the Olympics on Aug. 7 against Senegal. Other teams in the Americans group are Canada, China, Serbia and Spain.
The Americans will be trying to win a sixth consecutive gold medal, the most by any women’s team sport. They’ve won 41 straight Olympic contests dating back to the bronze medal game in 1992.