BANGKOK (FIBA Asia Championship for Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - The last three places on offer for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey are about about to be snapped up.
Teams have converged on Bangkok, Thailand, for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship for Women, a competition that gets underway on Sunday (27 October-3 November).
The event is comprised of Level I and Level II.
The squads in Level I, those that are chasing World Championship places, are China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, India and Kazakhstan.
FIBA Asia Championship hosts Thailand are in the Level II part of the tournament along with Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Uzbekistan.
Each Level II side is aiming for a top-two finish, which would then allow them to compete in a play-off game against either the team that finishes fifth or sixth in the Level I competition.
The winners of those play-off games, to be held on 2 November, will claim places in in Level I for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship for Women.
When it comes to qualifying for the World Championship, no one will be surprised if Korea claim one of the three places.
The Koreans have had a top-three finish at every FIBA Asia Championship for Women, dating back to the inaugural event in 1965 when they hosted the tournament and won it.
In 12 of the 24 FIBA Asia Championships for Women that have been staged, the Koreans have captured the title.
In nine others, they have finished runners-up.
China have been dominant, although not since the very beginning.
The Chinese didn't have a team in the first five editions of the tournament, but had a rousing debut in 1976 when they captured the gold medal.
At the next four FIBA Asia Championships for Women, China finished runners-up to Korea, while their first sustained stretch of title success lasted from 1986 to 1995 when they finished top of the podium in five of the six editions.
China have captured five of the last six titles and nine of the past 12.
Some key players of past tournaments will be absent for the Chinese, but the team still has the potent center Chen Nan.
A three-time Olympian who averaged 15.7 points and 6.7 rebounds at the London Games, the 30-year-old Chen made her senior team bow at the 2002 FIBA World Championship for Women.
The squad will not have the experience of veterans Miao Lijie, Lan Bian and Ma Zangyu.
However, Tom Maher, who is in his second stint as the national team coach of China, will have rising star Zhao Shuang.
Korea could pose the biggest threat to China's supremacy, although much depends on the play of the veterans.
One of them, Lee Mi Sun, played on the Korean side that reached the Semi-Finals of the 2000 Olympics.
She has been called back into the squad after the team's disappointing show at last year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQTW) in Turkey.
"At one point in time I was one of the youngest in the team," she said to FIBA Asia.
"Now it's the other way around.
"Seems to me that things have come a full circle."
Another veteran in the Korea side, Beon Yeonha, missed the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship but played in the OQTW.
The 33-year-old has a point to prove after a dismal one-of-14 shooting display in last year's pivotal game against Japan, a clash Korea lost 79-51 to crash out of contention for a spot in London Olympics.
As for Japan, Yuko Oga is the player that grabs many of the headlines.
One of her team-mates, 1.70m point guard Asami Yoshida, is going to be crucial for the team to have success.
The 26-year-old averaged 31.8 minutes per game at last year's OQTW and had 13 assists in the final against Canada, a game the Japanese had needed to win to reach the Olympics.
They ended up losing, 71-63, to miss out on London and Canada advanced instead.
Yoshida says the team is striving to reach the top of the podium in Bangkok.
"The target is to win gold," Yoshida said.
"I know my responsibilities in the team, and I'm relishing the challenge."
Chinese Taipei have reached the podium at the FIBA Asia Championship for Women twice in the last two decades, coming in third in 1999 and 2005.
Kazakhstan were promoted to Level I following FIBA's suspension of the Lebanese Basketball Federation.
India are also looking to have a good tournament in Level I.
Their coach last year was Pete Gaudet, a former assistant to USA coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University.
Now, Spaniard Francisco Garcia is at the helm.
At the end of the Preliminary Round, the fifth-placed team in Level I will square off against the second-place team from Level II, and the sixth-place team from Level I will meet the first-place team from Level II.
The winners of those games will qualify for Level I of the 2015 FIBA ASIA Women Championship, along with the top four sides from this year's tournament.
The losers of those two games will compete in Level II in 2015.
The sides that win the Level I Semi-Finals will qualify for the FIBA World Championship for Women, along with the team that prevails in the Third-Place game.
For full and in-depth coverage of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship for Women, go to the official http://bangkok2013.fibaasia.net.