Men’s and women’s teams from Australia, Egypt, France, Japan, Poland and Portugal have arrived in Loano, Italy, for the 2017 International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (Inas) World Basketball Championships.
Australia have dominated the court in recent years and will stride out at the Palagarassini stadium as the women’s 3×3 champions.
Since winning gold at the 2015 Inas Global Games in Ecuador, they have remained on top of the world rankings.
Their second team also picked up bronze two years ago.
Senior players in Eliza Mills, Kim Perry, Molly Urguhart-Moran, Kaitlyn Papworth and Nicole Harris form the core of the Australian team.
The world leaders are fielding two teams who will play France in a round robin format.
It is hoped that the Championships will help to develop women’s basketball, as well as showcasing the excitement of the 3×3 game.
It will also be the first women’s 3×3 title awarded at a stand-alone World Championships.
In the men’s 5×5, France and Portugal will be looking to capitalise on the absence of 2015 champions Venezuela.
Portugal beat Australia for bronze two years ago, bouncing back slightly from the disappointment of losing the chance to defend their title from 2013.
France lost out to Venezuela by more than 20 points in the gold medal match.
The Egyptian men’s team will make their international debut at the championships.
Portugal’s coach Alcindo Quaresma believes they will face a stern test.
“As for our opponents, from what we have observed and the results show, France has been the team that in recent years has shown greater evolution,” he said.
“We do not know how the other teams will be, but we know from their past that Poland and Australia are always opponents to be taken into account.
"Japan are already known for their stance to fight to the end in any match and with any opponent, with all the determination and enthusiasm.
“The surprise for us, and total ignorance, is in relation to the team of Egypt, given that it is the first time we will meet."
The competition runs until November 25, when the medal matches will be played.
Inas represents more than 300,000 athletes with intellectual impairments around the world.