ANKARA/ISTANBUL (FIBA World Championship for Women) - The race to claim spots for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey has ended with all 16 tickets for the event distributed.
Defending champions and Olympic gold medal winners USA will inevitably take centre stage, boasting a roster that is guaranteed to be packed with some of the biggest names in the women's game.
Fans can look forward to the possibility of seeing established stars such as Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker, while new potential candidates such as the exciting Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner are also likely to be in the running.
Also qualifying from the Americas are surprise 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women winners Cuba, who will be looking to spring another upset. Tournament MVP Yamara Amargo was hugely impressive in Xalapa, Mexico and she will be a leader again with Clenia Noblet, Marlen Cepeda and the veteran duo of Oyanaisy Gelis and Leidys Oquendo.
Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis led her team to silver in her first major tournament as head coach and she has a nice mix of youth and experience. Kim Gaucher made the All-Tournament Team and teenage playmaker Kia Nurse never looked out of place.
Brazil breathed a huge sigh of relief as they snapped up the last spot on offer to continue their rich tradition of being a long-standing power-house at FIBA World Championship for Women tournaments.
Australia are another former champion and they eased through with a comfortable victory against New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championship for Women as the legendary Lauren Jackson returned to action after a long lay-off.
No fewer than six teams from Europe will be on parade, including the hosts. Turkey will have high expectations both on and off the court, with Birsel Vardarli and Nevriye Yilmaz tasked with leading the charge towards home glory on their debut in the competition.
Lucas Mondelo led Spain to a glorious EuroBasket Women 2013 gold medal at his first tournament in the hot-seat and they could prove to be one of the main challengers, having taken bronze three years ago in Czech Republic.
Much will depend on the fitness and availability of EuroBasket Women MVP Sancho Lyttle and the dazzling talent of Alba Torrens. The event should be special for the pair, who are team-mates with Turkish giants Galatasaray odeabank.
France have a new coach in Valerie Garnier, but their overriding defensive ethos is unlikely to be diluted. Les Bleus will be a tough nut to crack with Celine Dumerc and Sandrine Gruda likely to provide the main thrust as they try to put their agonising 70-69 defeat to Spain behind them.
Serbia will take a historic step at their first global tournament at the senior level. Play-caller Marina Maljkovic will be looking for sisters Ana and Milica Dabovic to fire her team into contention, along with forward Jelena Milovanovic who all excelled in taking them to the last four in France.
The last two spots from Europe were taken by Belarus and Czech Republic, with both teams reaching the Semi-Finals of the FIBA World Championship for Women in 2010. Head coach Lubor Blazek led the Czech side into the Final and claimed a fantastic silver for the host nation in front of their jubilant fans.
AfroBasket Women 2013 champions Angola and runners-up Mozambique, will both step out for the first time at the FIBA World Championship for Women. The former played at the London Olympics last year but couldn't muster a victory, while the latter played in Ankara at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women and will relish their return to Turkey.
Nadir Manuel had 21 points for Angola in the exciting 64-61 Final win over the hosts in Maputo and Nacissela Mauricio took the MVP accolade. Mozambique's duo of Deolinda Ngulela and Leia Dongue both made the All-Tournament Team for the home side.
The last three spots were booked by traditional Asian performers Japan, Korea and China. Concluding a fascinating and roller-coaster FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Bangkok, a triumphant Japan took their first title in 43 years as MVP Ramu Tokashiki put the finishing touches on a dominant display with 20 points and 18 rebounds in the Final against Korea.
Japan will also have the top scorer from 2010 in Czech Republic in the shape of Yuko Oga, while a relieved China clinched the very last berth, with head coach Tom Maher reiterating the transitional phase his team are now in.
The FIBA World Championship for Women will run from 27 September until 5 October 2014.