Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Five must-watch players in women's basketball at the Olympic Games

#Bird #Nurse #Ezi
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The women's competition at the Tokyo Olympics features a host of WNBA and EuroLeague talent.

Team USA is out to win their seventh consecutive gold medal, but there's plenty of other countries looking to take their national teams to the top.

MORE: Five men's players to watch at the Tokyo Olympics

Ahead of the opening day of competition, here's five players that are must-watch in Tokyo.

Kia Nurse, Canada

Nurse, a dynamic point guard is one of three WNBA players on the squad for Canada, alongside Natalie Achonwa and Bridget Carleton.

The 25-year-old former WNBA All-Star has been a mainstay of Canada basketball in recent years, competing at the Rio 2016 Games, where Canada finished seventh and looks to take the program to new heights in Tokyo as one of the leaders of the team.

"I would hope that I'm a much different player than I was in Rio," Nurse said.

"A more confident player...I'll use my experience as much as possible to help the young players."

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, USA

It was impossible to pick one over the other, so let's roll with both.

Two USA basketball legends and Future Hall of Famers will suit up in Tokyo for their fifth Olympic Games, just the seventh and eighth athletes ever to appear at five Olympic basketball competitions.

After picking up their first gold medals in Athens, the duo who played alongside head coach Dawn Staley in 2004, will become the first basketball players of any gender to win five Olympic gold medals is they are successful in Tokyo, whcih will be Team USA's seventh in a row and and ninth overall.

Taurasi, who has struggled with a hip injury, forcing her to miss the last three games of the WNBA seasion prior to the Olympic break sas well as all three of USA's wam-up games

"I'm getting a little better every day," Taurasi said per ESPN. "I've touched the court for the last few days, so that's definitely a good sign. When you haven't played for a while, there's a little bit of a protocol to get back on the court. I'm checking all the boxes and hopefully, I'll be ready for the first game against Nigeria."

Taurasi has led the USA in scoring in the two previous Olympic - Rio 2016 (15.6 PPG) and London 2012 (12.4).

Meanwhile, Bird, she will have the added honour of being the flag bearer for the USA Olympic team and will lead the country out at the opening ceremony.

The two WNBA legends are on the cusp of history in Tokyo, making for must-see TV.

PREVIEW: Examining each roster ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games

Ezi Magbegor, Australia

The Opals suffered a huge blow on the eve of the Olympic Games with star Liz Cambage withdrawing from the squad last week.

Missing their most dominant post player and scoring option, the Opals will will take on a different look in Tokyo, with 21-year-old Seattle Storm player Ezi Magbegor to take on a larger role after impressing in their exhibition win over Team USA in Las Vegas last week, scoring 17 points in the 70-67 victory.

"She's a big piece of what we are doing and obviously without Liz there it allows us to be a little bit faster and a bit more dynamic," Opals head coach Sandy Brondello said.

After a run of three straight silver medals in the early 2000s and a bronze in London (2012), the Opals suffered a shock loss to Serbia in the quarter-finals finishing fifth in Rio. Taking an experienced team to Tokyo, Opals legend Lauren Jackson is confident this team has what tit takes to bring home the gold.

"I guess losing someone like Liz is obviously a massive blow to the team," Jackson said on SEN Radio.

"But they're playing a different style of basketball without her, they're playing a real run and gun style of basketball.

"They're playing super aggressive defence and being able to get up and really push teams, which is a bit harder to do with a big post inside.

"It's going to be really exciting to watch them, I think they're going to do really well."

Alba Torrens, Spain

Spain are mong the favourites in Tokyo, speaheded by six-time EuroLeague champion Alba Torrens.

The 31-year-old powered he country into its first ever final in Rio 2016, averaging 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists through eight games, helping them win their first-ever Olympic medal (silver).

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