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Originally published April 12, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Page modified April 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM

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Seattle will host USA Basketball training camp, exhibition game vs. China Women's National Team

The USA and China women's basketball national teams will train in Seattle from May 11-13, playing an exhibition game at KeyArena on May 12. National teams from Japan and Canada, still hoping to qualify for the Olympics, and the WNBA's Atlanta Dream will also participate in a closed, three-day training camp.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Seattle will be a pre-Olympics hub for women's hoops.

USA Basketball and the Storm announced Thursday they will host a training camp and exhibition games in May.

Force 10 Hoops, which owns the Storm, began its sports marketing branch in December, landing deals to host the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament through 2015 and now USA Basketball. The national team, featuring Storm point guard Sue Bird, will host an exhibition game against China on May 12 at KeyArena and will participate in a closed training camp at Seattle Pacific University May 11-13.

"The fans will get a big kick out of seeing the best players in the world play together," USA national team coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement. Auriemma is coach of the Connecticut women's team. "It's an exciting time. Then you add two other national teams, Japan and China. I think it's going to be a great weekend of basketball."

The USA vs. China game is 7:30 p.m. May 12. Tickets will go on sale Tuesday at www.StormBasketball.com or ticketmaster.com, any Ticketmaster outlet, or by calling 206-217-9622 or 877-962-2849.

Force 10 Hoops pitched to land the bid, believing its four-year success in building the Storm brand and fan base could help attract more support and exposure for USA Basketball. The complete 11-member national team is expected to participate.

There's still one spot to be filled, many expecting it to go to college phenom Brittney Griner, who swept player of the year honors after leading Baylor to the NCAA championship.

"Our crowds are the best in the WNBA. We feel like we have the best organization in the WNBA and we know that this will be well-attended," said Storm coach Brian Agler, who is in Seattle to prepare for the WNBA draft Monday. "We're looking forward to hosting several national teams throughout training camp."

The WNBA's Atlanta Dream and the Canadian and Japanese national teams will also participate. Japan is traveling the country to play other WNBA teams in exhibition matchups. The Japanese team will play USA Basketball in closed exhibitions at SPU, site of the Storm's training facility.

The only event expected to be open to the public is the USA vs. China game.

China (FIBA Asia) is one of seven countries, including the USA and Great Britain, already qualified for the London Olympics this summer. Angola (FIBA Africa), Australia (FIBA Oceania), Brazil (FIBA Americas) and Russia (FIBA Europe) are the others.

Japan and Canada are eyeing the five final slots that will be awarded at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament June 25-July 1 in Turkey.

While USA Basketball visits Seattle for the first time since 1995, the Storm will be busy preparing for the WNBA season. Seattle sans Bird travels to Tulsa for an exhibition game May 11 and hosts Los Angeles in another exhibition May 13.

The WNBA regular-season opener is between the Storm and Sparks on May 18 at KeyArena. The Storm's training camp opens April 29.

For USA Basketball, the minicamp is the first time before the Olympics it will have its entire roster available to train.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com

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