How to watch WNBA stars in Tokyo Olympics — from USA to Nigeria to Serbia

·8-min read

The WNBA features talent from all over the world as international competition begins to catch up to the U.S. While fans stateside are obviously rooting for Team USA, almost all of the 12 women's basketball teams in Tokyo have WNBA talent on their rosters. 

Here's who to keep an eye out for, how the format works this year and when to tune in for games. 

Olympic basketball format

There will be three groups of four teams in the new Olympic format, a move away from the two groups of six used in the past. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals. They're joined by the two best third-place teams. 

Pool A: Canada, Serbia, South Korea, Spain 

Pool B: France, Japan, Nigeria, USA 

Pool C: Australia, Belgium, China, Puerto Rico

[How to watch Tokyo Opening Ceremony in prime time]

Olympic basketball schedule

The tournament begins on July 25 with the group games. The quarterfinals will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 9 p.m. ET and on Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 12:40 a.m., 4:20 a.m. and 8 a.m. ET. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 6 at 12:40 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET. The bronze medal game is set for Aug. 7 at 3 a.m. ET and the gold medal game for 10:30 p.m. ET. The full schedule can be found here with the already set preliminary games found below. 

Preliminary Round:

(All times ET.)

Sunday, July 25

Korea vs. Spain (Group A), 9 p.m. 

Monday, July 26

Serbia vs. Canada (A), 4:20 a.m.

Japan vs. France (B), 9 p.m. 

Tuesday, July 27

Nigeria vs. USA (B), 12:40 a.m. (USA Network)

Australia vs. Belgium (C), 4:20 a.m. 

Puerto Rico vs China (C), 8 a.m. 

Wednesday, July 28

Canada vs. Korea, 9 p.m. 

Thursday, July 29

Spain vs. Serbia (A), 4:20 a.m. 

Belgium vs. Puerto Rico (C), 9 p.m. 

Friday, July 30

USA vs. Japan (B), 12:40 a.m. (USA Network)

France vs. Nigeria (B), 4:20 a.m. 

China vs. Australia (C), 8 a.m. 

Saturday, July 31

Canada vs. Spain (A), 9 p.m. 

Monday, Aug. 2

France vs. USA (B), 12:40 a.m. (USA Network)

China vs. Belgium (C), 4:20 a.m. 

Australia vs. Puerto Rico (C), 8 a.m. 

Click image to see slideshow
Click image to see slideshow

Who are the WNBA players competing in the Olympics?

Team USA 

The roster is headlined by none other than five-time Olympians Sue Bird, the WNBA's all-time assists leader, and Diana Taurasi, the league's all-time scorer. The USA is the overwhelming favorite to win the gold medal for a seventh consecutive tournament. That mark would set a record, and give Bird and Taurasi a record five gold medals in basketball. BetMGM lists the team at -1000 to win it all.

  • Sue Bird (Storm/UConn)

  • Diana Taurasi (Mercury/UConn)

  • Tina Charles (Mystics/UConn)

  • Breanna Stewart (Storm/UConn)

  • Napheesa Collier (Lynx/UConn)

  • Ariel Atkins (Mystics/Texas)

  • Skylar Diggins-Smith (Mercury/Notre Dame)

  • Sylvia Fowles (Lynx/Louisiana State)

  • Chelsea Gray (Aces/Duke)

  • Brittney Griner (Mercury/Baylor)

  • Jewell Loyd (Storm/Notre Dame)

  • A’ja Wilson (Aces/South Carolina)

Coaches: Dawn Staley (South Carolina), Dan Hughes (Storm, retired this season), Cheryl Reeve (Lynx), Jennifer Rizzotti (Sun president)

Team USA 3x3 squad

The popular 3x3 competition is making its Olympic debut 

  • Kelsey Plum (Aces/Washington)

  • Allisha Gray (Wings/South Carolina) 

  • Stefanie Dolson (Sky/UConn) 

  • Jackie Young (Aces/Notre Dame) 

Coach: Kara Lawson (Duke), who is also working with the Sky's Candace Parker as an analyst for NBC Sports while in Tokyo. 

Outlook: Katie Lou Samuelson was set to play, but fell ill with COVID-19 and was ruled out four days before the first day of competition. Young took her place. The U.S. is the +100 favorite at BetMGM to win gold, followed by France at +300. 

Team Australia 

Leilani Mitchell
Leilani Mitchell of the Washington Mystics plays for the Australian national team. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Australia will be in Tokyo without Las Vegas Aces' center Liz Cambage, who withdrew from the team following reports of an altercation in a closed-door scrimmage. She cited her mental health and said the decision had "had been coming.

The Opals are still the favorite underdog at +1600 for gold. They missed the medal stand in 2016 with a semifinal upset, but won bronze in 2008 and three consecutive silvers in the Olympics before that. 

  • Stephanie Talbot (Storm/Australia)

  • Ezi Magbegor (Storm/Australia)

  • Rebecca Allen (Liberty/Australia)

  • Leilani Mitchell (Mystics/Utah)

  • Alanna Smith (Mercury/Stanford)

Coach: Sandy Brondello (Mercury)

Team France 

France won silver at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket competition last month, but it was the fifth consecutive loss in a EuroBasket final. Serbia won in a rematch of the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medal match. The French squad is listed at +2200 by BetMGM. None of its WNBA talent is currently playing in the league for 2021. 

  • Gabby Williams — Former UConn star traded by Sky to Sparks, suspended for season while with France

  • Iliana Rupert — 2021 No. 12 overall pick by Aces

  • Marine Johannes — free agent, played 2019 with Liberty

Team Canada 

Fans of college basketball will have eyes on Aaliyah Edwards, a rising sophomore at UConn whose success has sometimes been overlooked by casual fans celebrating Paige Bueckers. Former WNBA players Miranda Ayim (Tulsa Shock) and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (Liberty 2017,19) are also on the roster. 

  • Kia Nurse (Mercury/UConn)

  • Aaliyah Edwards (UConn rising sophomore)

  • Natalie Achonwa (Lynx/Notre Dame)

  • Bridget Carleton (Lynx/Iowa State)

  • Kayla Alexander (free agent, last played with Lynx in 2020)

Team Spain

Spain made its fourth Olympic appearance in 2016 and won silver, an upgrade over fifth-place finishes in 1992 and 1998 and a sixth-place showing in 2004. They medaled in the past three World Cups and nine of the last 11 EuroBasket competitions. Marta Xargay, who is also engaged to Breanna Stewart, retired from basketball weeks prior to the Olympics. Spain has +2500 odds at BetMGM.

  • Astou Ndour-Fall (Sky)

  • Maite Cazorla — played for Dream in 2019

  • Raquel Carrera — 2021 No. 15 overall pick by Atlanta Dream

Team Serbia

Serbia is coming off of a victory at the 2021 EuroBasket competition and has the sixth-best odds at gold (+3300). The nation won bronze at the 2016 Olympic games in their first-ever appearance.  

  • Angela Dugalić — Played 2020-21 freshman season with Oregon, transferred to UCLA

  • Sonja Vasić — 2009 WNBA draft pick played in 2012 (Sky), 2016 (Mercury)

  • Ana Dabović — 2016 WNBA champion with Los Angeles Sparks (also played '15)

Team Nigeria 

Erica Ogwumike
Erica Ogwumike, the youngest of four Ogwumike sisters born to Nigerian parents, will represent Nigeria at the Olympics. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Nigeria pushed for FIBA to allow the Los Angeles Sparks' Nneka Ogwumike and Atlanta Dream's Elizabeth Williams to play for them in the Olympics. Both are Nigerian American, but were denied the ability to switch to their parents' home country by FIBA. It was handed down on the basis of previous association with Team USA, but the FIBA charter states one of its missions is the "unifying of the community, along with the promotion and development of the sport."

Allowing Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP and current WNBA Players Association president, would have done that 10-fold. Her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, was cleared to play as a naturalized citizen. But only one naturalized citizen is allowed, so Nigeria petitioned for that to be changed since her parents were born in Nigeria. Their younger sister, Erica Ogwumike, committed to Nigeria last year. The international Court of Arbitration for Sport denied the appeal on Monday.

Nigeria is full of former NCAA talent, including former Duke player Oderah Chidom and Adaora Elonu, a national champion with Texas A&M in 2011. With a roster in flux, they are listed at +8000 odds

  • Chiney Ogwumike (Sparks/Stanford)

  • Erica Ogwumike (2020 No. 26 overall pick/Rice)

  • Elizabeth Balogun (Duke rising senior)

Team Belgium 

The largest WNBA name on the Belgian roster is Emma Meesseman, the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP. She hasn't been with the Washington Mystics yet this season while training with the Belgian team, and the Mystics hope she returns in the second half. Belgium is listed at +400 odds

  • Emma Meesseman (Mystics)

  • Julie Allemand (Fever)

Team China 

China is listed at +5000 odds to win gold. Han Xu has only played one season in the WNBA, opting out of 2020 and focusing on her national team commitments in 2021. She is the first Chinese woman to play in the WNBA over the past 22 years. 

  • Han Xu (Liberty)

Team South Korea

South Korea, which has the worst odds at +20000, also has only one WNBA star on its roster. Ji-Su Park opted out of the 2020 season and has been a solid defender off the bench for the Aces when Liz Cambage takes a seat. 

  • Ji-Su Park (Aces)

Rest of the field 

The national teams for Japan (+6600) and Puerto Rico (+15000) do not have any WNBA players on their rosters for the tournament. Ramu Tokashiki, who played a few seasons for the Storm, is injured and cannot compete for Japan. Arella Guirantes, the former Rutgers standout and 2021 Sparks draft pick, is part of the Puerto Rican national team pool but not on this roster.

More Olympics coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting