Bird, Cash, Taurasi to lead U.S. at World title games

Updated: February 27, 2006, 8:05 PM ET
Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi headline the U.S. women's national team that will head to Europe this week for three games against top EuroLeague teams.

The former University of Connecticut teammates will be joined by fellow former Olympians Katie Smith and DeLisha Milton-Jones on the 13-player squad that will begin training and player evaluations for the team that will play in the World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from Sept. 12-23.

Smith, of the WNBA's Detroit Shock, is a two-time gold medalist at both the Olympics (2000, '04) and World Championships ('98, '02). Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics) was also on the team that won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Bird (Seattle Storm), Cash (Detroit) and Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) made their Olympic debuts at Athens in '04.

"I will rely heavily on Katie, Sue, DeLisha, Swin and Diana, all of whom already know the quality of competition that we will face in the World Championships," Storm and national team coach Anne Donovan said in a statement. "Their ability to guide and lead our roster will be instrumental in our training for gold."

The U.S. will play MKB Euroleasing Sopron, who have the Los Angeles Sparks' Nikki Teasley, in Sopron, Hungary, on March 6. The Americans then will head to Gdynia, Poland, to face ChelLotos Gdynia on March 8-9. Temeka Johnson (Washington) and Chelsea Newton (Chicago) play for ChelLotos Gdynia.

Rounding out the initial U.S. team will be: Alana Beard and Chasity Melvin of Washington; Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell of the Sacramento Monarchs; Kristen Mann and Nicole Ohlde of the Minnesota Lynx; Kara Braxton of the Houston Comets; and Becky Hammon of the New York Liberty.

The final 12-member World Championship team will be named later this summer.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press