Four women's basketball players stand next to the World Cup trophy, with Bondi Beach behind them

The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup tips off in Sydney tomorrow: Here’s what you need to know

The showpiece tournament for women’s basketball is back in Australia for the first time since 1994, with the 12 best teams in the world ready to fight it out in Sydney over 10 days.

So where exactly is it being played, who are the teams to watch, and will the Opals complete the ultimate fairytale on home soil?

We’ve got you covered.

When is it on?

The tournament tips off tomorrow, Thursday September 22, with Bosnia and Herzegovina facing Puerto Rico at 10:30am AEST.

That’ll be the first of six matches to kick start the event, headlined by Australia taking on France at 8:30pm AEST.

The tournament will finish with the medal matches on Saturday October 1.

Ezi Magbegor is expected to make a big impact for Australia throughout the World Cup.(Getty Images: Mark Evans)

Where is it being played?

The entire tournament will be played at Sydney Olympic Park, with the 21-thousand capacity Sydney SuperDome hosting the big-ticket items, including all Opals games, and the quarter finals, semis, and medal matches.

The smaller 4,500 seat Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre will also host several matches.

How can I watch?

ESPN has the TV rights in Australia, with no access on free to air TV, although you can stream it for free via Kayo.

There are also still tickets available if you’re in Sydney.

And we’ll have extensive coverage across all ABC News platforms to keep you in the loop.

Who’s playing?

12 countries have qualified for the tournament, including Australia as the host nation.

The teams are split into two groups of six, they’ll each play five games in that phase, before the top four nations in each group progress to the quarter-finals.

A French female basketballer tries to get around her Japanese opponent.
France and Japan are expected to be amongst the medal contenders.(Getty Images: Matt King)

Group A

  • Belgium
  • China
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Puerto Rico
  • Korea
  • USA

Group B

  • Australia
  • Serbia
  • France
  • Japan
  • Mali
  • Canada
The USA women's basketball team stands behind a sign that says 'champions', they're cheering and one player raises the trophy.
The USA are the reigning champions, after beating Australia in the gold medal match at Spain 2018. (NBAE/Getty Images: Catherine Steenkeste)

The USA as always are the favourites – the Americans are the world number one, and the three-time defending champions, with superstar Breanna Stewart at the helm, as well as newly crowned WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson.

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But they’re missing a host of big names that helped them to gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, including Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and Brittney Griner who remains imprisoned in Russia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina boasts one of the best players in the world, last season’s WNBA MVP, Bahamian-born Jonquel Jones

China’s Yueru Li has had an impressive rise over the past year and could make all the difference for her side. 

Canada, Belgium, France, China, Japan, and Serbia are all ranked in the world’s top 10, so expect plenty of close matches.

Can the Opals win it?

The Australians are the world number three, and have good pedigree in the tournament.

They’ve won it once – in 2006, and claimed silver four years ago.

The Opals consistently perform on the world stage, with last year’s Tokyo Olympics quarter-final exit a notable exception.

But they’ve heralded their unity and “sisterhood” heading into Sydney.

Opals captain Tess Madgen is mid-air with a look of exertion shooting the ball.
The Opals have won both of their test event matches in the lead up to the tournament. (Getty Images: Matt King)

The biggest storyline for the Opals is the return of Lauren Jackson – one of the greats of the game, making it to her fifth World Cup, after a six-year retirement.

While this will certainly be Jackson’s final World Cup, it’s the first for Ezi Magbegor who’s starting to make a name for herself in the global game, and this tournament could be the launch pad for big things.

The World Cup winner also gets a nice bonus prize – automatic qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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