The Women's U.S. Olympic basketball team will open up its defense of the gold medal against Croatia this weekend at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The Americans are the top-ranked team in the world, and will be heavy favorites against a Croatian side with very limited Olympic experience. Team USA has beaten its opponents by 33.6 points on average over their last five matchups.
If you're looking for a close game here, you may be out of luck. Here is everything you need to know for Team USA's opening matchup with Croatia.
When: Saturday, July 28
Where: Olympic Park, London, England
Start Time: 11:45 a.m. ET
Watch: NBC, NBC Olympic Basketball Channel
Live Streaming: NBCOlympics.com
Players to Watch
The Women's U.S. Olympic basketball team is essentially a who's who of WNBA superstars. Three past league MVPs will even suit up for Team USA this summer. But the Americans aren't the only ones who boast standout stars. Let's take a look at the biggest stars to watch in Saturday's showdown.
Marija Vrsaljko, Croatia
The 22-year-old center will be a tough matchup for Team USA inside. Vrsaljko led the Croatian team in scoring during Olympic qualifying, averaging 14.7 points per game. Her 6'6" frame makes her extremely difficult to defend at the rim, and will be a challenge for Team USA on Saturday. Vrsaljko reeled in 5.3 rebounds per game during qualifying as well.
Maya Moore, USA
The former Women's Player of the Year in college basketball, Moore has averaged 10.8 points per game for Team USA in her last five appearances, all coming off the bench. In addition to being the Americans' second-leading scorer over the past few weeks, Moore is shooting 91.7 percent from the foul line, pulling in six rebounds per game and dishing just under three assists per contest.
Andja Jelavic, Croatia
At age 31, Andja Jelavic brings plenty of professional experience to the table for the Croatians. Jelavic will be the No. 1 floor general against Team USA—she led the team in assists during Olympic qualifying, posting six per game. Although not a prolific scorer, Jelavic is most deadly when she is getting her teammates involved. She will need to have a phenomenal game this weekend, however, if Croatia is to overcome a talented American squad.
Sylvia Fowles, USA
Just like Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles is averaging 10.8 points per game over Team USA's last five games. More impressively, though, Fowles is doing it in just 14.4 minutes per game, compared to Moore's 21.2 MPG. Fowles is shooting a ridiculous 72.4 percent from the field as well, and bringing in 5.2 rebounds per contest. There isn't a player in London more capable of producing so much in so little time than Fowles, that's for sure.
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