Following last week's five day training camp and two international 'friendlies' against the New Zealand Tall Ferns at the AIS in Canberra, Basketball Australia has named twelve athletes to contend the 'Good Luck Beijing 2008' tournament in China.
The Australian Defence Force Opals will depart Australia on Thursday next week, with the six-nation tournament running from April 19-26. The United States, Cuba, Korea, New Zealand and China are the other competing nations.
Five World Champion ADF Opals have been named in the team (Tully Bevilaqua, Hollie Grima, Emily McInerny, Erin Phillips and Emma Randall) while stars Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Kristi Harrower along with three other World Champion ADF Opals will remain in Europe under contract.
The team is bolstered by Olympians Suzy Batkovic (Athens 2004), Michelle Brogan (Sydney 2000; Athens 2004), Natalie Porter (Athens 2004), and Alicia Poto (Athens 2004).
Nineteen year old Canberra Capital Abby Bishop, who represented Australia at the under-19, under-21 and senior levels in 2007, is the youngest member of the team.
Basketball Australia and ADF Opals head coach Jan Stirling opted to select the strongest team available, with the blooding of new caps kept to a minimum.
"Certainly, we're going to be challenged over at that test event," Stirling said.
"It needs to be understood, we've got to get a group that can be competitive in that environment, because we are playing the United States, we are playing Cuba, we are playing China at full strength, so we certainly need to make sure that we equip ourselves well.
"At the end of the day we are gearing up for an Olympic campaign."
While not named in the ADF Opals team for this test event, seven athletes that were part of the ADF Opals' training camp last week (Jessica Foley, Cayla Francis, Kathleen Macleod, Jenna O'Hea, Samantha Richards, Marianna Tolo, Carly Wilson) have not been ruled out of contention for selection to Beijing.
Please find listed here the Australian Defence Force Opals team and staff for the 'Good Luck Beijing 2008' tournament as well as the tournament schedule.
The Australian Defence Force Opals team for 'Good Luck Beijing 2008' Tournament:
(Name, position, current club)
Suzy BATKOVIC C Ekaterinburg (Russia)
Tully BEVILAQUA G Canberra Capitals
Abby BISHOP F Canberra Capitals
Michelle BROGAN F Dandenong Rangers
Renae CAMINO G Adelaide Lightning
Rohanee COX F Townsville Fire
Hollie GRIMA F/C Italmoka Pozzuoli (Italy)
Emily McINERNY F Dandenong Rangers
Erin PHILLIPS G Adelaide Lightning
Natalie PORTER F Sydney Uni Flames
Alicia POTO G Sydney Uni Flames
Emma RANDALL C Bulleen Melbourne Boomers
Head Coach: Jan Stirling
Assistant Coaches: Gary Fox and Peter Lonergan
Manager: Marian Stewart
Physiotherapist: Amanda Berntsen
Doctor: Dr. Scott Burne
Performance Manager: Dr. Donna O'Connor
Schedule for 'Good Luck Beijing 2008' Tournament - Beijing, China
(all times local)
17 April: Australian Defence Force Opals depart Australia
19 April 2008:
14:30 hours: New Zealand vs. Cuba
16:45 hours: USA vs. Australia
20:00 hours: China vs. Korea
20 April 2008:
14:30 hours: Cuba vs. USA
16:45 hours: Korea vs. New Zealand
20:00 hours: Australia vs. China
21 April 2008:
14:30 hours: USA vs. Korea
16:45 hours: Australia vs. Cuba
20:00 hours: China vs. New Zealand
22 April 2008: Rest Day
23 April 2008:
16:45 hours: Korea vs. Australia
20:00 hours: Cuba vs. China
22:15 hours: New Zealand vs. USA
24 April 2008:
16:45 hours: Korea vs. Cuba
20:00 hours: China vs. USA
22:15 hours: Australia vs. New Zealand
25 April 2008: Rest Day
26 April 2008:
13:00 hours: Game for the 5th-6th place
15:15 hours: Game for the 3rd-4th place
17:30 hours: Draw for the Olympic Basketball Tournaments
20:00 hours: Game for the 1st-2nd place
22:00 hours: Medal Ceremony
27 April: Australian Defence Force Opals arrive in Australia
Opals hold off NZ for second win (+audio and images)
6 April 2008
The Australian Defence Force Opals made it two wins from two games against New Zealand at the AIS Training Hall this weekend, downing their trans-Tasman rivals by twenty points, 80-60.
Bulleen’s Emma Randall paced the Aussies with 17 points and collected an equal game high 8 rebounds while New Zealand captain Aneka Kerr led all scorers with 19 points.
With the ADF Opals’ five-day training camp now concluded, a team of twelve athletes will be announced on Tuesday next week to represent Australia at the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament in China.
Perth’s Carly Wilson scored the opening seven points for Australia and when tenacious point guard Tully Bevilaqua went to the bench after 4 minutes and 50 seconds the Opals led 11-4.
When Erin Phillips found Rohanee Cox for an open 3-pointer with two minutes remaining in the first the Aussies led 22-7 before New Zealand matched Australia’s defensive intensity for the remainder of the half.
The Kiwis showed they have the ability to achieve some upset victories in China later this month and then at the big dance in August, winning the second quarter 19-17 to trail by twelve at the main break, 42-30.
New Zealand continued to push the ball up the court after the break while their never-say-die defence continued to restrict Australia’s offence and with one quarter to play the Kiwis had reduced the margin by one, 60-49.
Bevilaqua terrorized the Kiwis in the back court to begin the final stanza and when Emma Randall scored in close the Opals had extended the lead to twenty points with 4 minutes and 33 second remaining, a margin Australia held until the final buzzer.
“It wasn’t a great game for us,” Australian Defence Force head coach Jan Stirling said.
“The girls are exceptionally tired and they ran out of legs but they tried hard and we still achieved something.
“We didn’t finish off as well as we would have liked, but that’s okay. We executed better offensively but we didn’t nail our shots and that can happen at the end of a camp.
“Full credit to New Zealand, they were feisty, but we were definitely a little bit below par today.”
Tall Ferns head coach Mike McHugh was left ruing a missed opportunity to claim New Zealand’s first win over Australia at the senior women’s level.
“At three quarter time it was a ten point game and they’re winnable games,” he said.
“We played with purpose and we played with enthusiasm and energy and that always stands you in good stead so I was pretty happy with our game today.”
“This has been excellent for us.”
Australia controlled the boards and won the rebound count 49-39, with twenty-two offensive rebounds to the ADF Opals a significant dent in New Zealand’s defensive effort.
Suzy Batkovic (ankle) and Alicia Poto (abductor) were late withdrawals from Australia’s roster due to injury but are still expected to be named in the ADF Opals team for the upcoming ‘Good Luck Beijing’ tournament in China.
Cayla Francis got her second cap as a result while World Champion point guard Erin Phillips stepped in for Poto. Francis registered six rebounds while Phillips shot 3-6 from the field to finish with 11 points.
Quarter by quarter:
1. AUS 25 NZ 11
2. AUS 42 (17) NZ 30 (19)
3. AUS 60 (18) NZ 49 (19)
F: AUS 80 (20) NZ 60 (11)
AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE OPALS 80 – E Randall 17, C Wilson 12, A Bishop 12 def
NEW ZEALAND TALL FERNS 60 – A Kerr 19, T Edmondson 8, A Marino 7, C Bodensteiner 7
at AIS Training Hall, ACT
Opals too good for New Zealand - Game 1
5 April 2008
The Australian Defence Force Opals continued three decades of dominance over their trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand this afternoon, taking victory in the first of two international friendlies this weekend, 84-39.
Fifteen unanswered second quarter points set up the ADF Opals victory, with New Zealand unable to overcome Australia’s relentless defence to mount a significant challenge after that.
Townsville Fire forward Rohanee Cox top scored for Australia with 15 points and received good support from Adelaide guard Erin Phillips who finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds in a game where every Australian scored.
Two-time Olympian Suzy Batkovic shot 3-10 from the field to finish with 11 points but sat out the fourth quarter to receive treatment on her troublemsome ankle.
“It was pleasing,” Opals head coach Jan Stirling said.
“Our defence was terrific, especially from half way through the second quarter.
“Offensively we’re still a bit out of sync but that’s to be expected. This group hasn’t played together before.”
New Zealand head coach Mike McHugh was philosophical about the result.
“I’m disappointed with the margin but not disappointed with our first half and the way we played,” he said.
“We battled pretty hard and we ran some good offence and we got the ball where we wanted to but we lost our way a bit before half time and in the third quarter we turned the ball over way too much.”
Quarter by quarter:
1. AUS 18 NZ 13
2. AUS 41 (23) NZ 24 (9)
3. AUS 71 (30) NZ 33 (9)
F: AUS 84 (13) NZ 39 (6)
AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE OPALS 84 – R Cox 15, E Phillips 13, S Batkovic 11 def
NEW ZEALAND TALL FERNS 39 – A Kerr 11, K Kingi 8, N Purcell 6
at AIS Training Hall, ACT
Point guard spot heating up + game rosters
5 April 2008
The playing rosters for this weekend's international 'friendlies' between the Australian Defence Force Opals and the New Zealand Tall Ferns have been released.
While all athletes are striving to claim a spot on head coach Jan Stirling's ADF Opals team, it seems the point guard position may be the most hotly contested this weekend.
Stirling is adamant that the Opals' starting point guard at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, Bendigo's Kristi Harrower, is still the best at her position in the world, but with three point guards expected for Beijing, two spots remain.
Harrower is currently under contract in Russia while her World Champion team mates Tully Bevilaqua and Erin Phillips will take the court on Saturday afternoon against New Zealand.
Bendigo's ADF WNBL All-Star Kathleen Macleod, an Australian junior rep player, is the dark horse in the mix.
Stirling will field a different look for Sunday morning's game, with Perth's Samantha Richards and Sydney's Alicia Poto replacing Phillips and Macleod to work alongside Bevilaqua.
The Tall Ferns have never defeated Australia at the senior women's level, but with nearly all the Kiwi squad having experienced Australia's domestic ADF WNBL season with the Christchurch Sirens, their squad is stronger than it has possibly ever been.
Saturday's match between Australia and New Zealand tips off at the AIS Training Hall at 5:30pm (local). Sunday's match will be played at 11:15am (local).
A team of twelve athletes will be selected at the conclusion of the camp to attend the 'Good Luck Beijing 2008' test event in China from April 19-26, where Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Cuba, Korea and China will compete.
Australian Defence Force Opals roster for Sat 5 April 2008:
4. Kathleen MACLEOD
5. Tully BEVILAQUA
6. Erin PHILLIPS
7. Samantha RICHARDS
8. Suzy BATKOVIC
9. Emily McINERNY
10. Jessica FOLEY
11. Cayla FRANCIS
12. Rohanee COX
13. Emma RANDALL
14. Abby BISHOP
15. Michelle BROGAN
Australian Defence Force Opals roster for Sun 6 April 2008:
4. Samantha RICHARDS
5. Tully BEVILAQUA
6. Erin PHILLIPS
7. Carly WILSON
8. Cayla FRANCIS
9. Emily McINERNY
10. Marianna TOLO
11. Abby BISHOP
12. Rohanee COX
13. Emma RANDALL
14. Natalie PORTER
15. Michelle BROGAN
The New Zealand Tall Ferns roster for Sat 5 April and Sun 6 April 2008:
4. Charmian PURCELL
5. Lisa PARDON
6. Angela MARINO
7. Micaela COCKS
8. Clare BODENSTEINER
9. Suzie BATES
10. Jody CAMERON
11. Natalie PURCELL
12. Toni EDMONDSON
13. Karlene KINGI
14. Noni WHAREMATE
15. Aneka KERR
Batkovic key to Opals perfection
3 April 2008
Australian Defence Force Opals head coach Jan Stirling is confident her squad can continue Australia's perfect record against New Zealand when the two teams face off at the AIS Training Hall in Canberra tomorrow.
The senior women's team from New Zealand, the Tall Ferns, has never defeated Australia in over three decades of international competition.
Athens Olympian Suzy Batkovic, who returned to the ADF Opals after many years playing basketball in Europe, has been tagged by Stirling as key figure in Australia's game plan.
"To have Suzy Batkovic back in town is fantastic," Stirling said.
"Clearly Suzy can add value to an Olympic team, if she is good enough to be selected.
"Obviously being an Olympian she is half way through the door but she's been out of our system for four years so it's a great opportunit y for the girls to gel with Suzy and for Suzy to gel with the team."
While nothing less than a solid victory on Saturday afternoon will please Stirling, she is well aware that New Zealand could break their drought this weekend.
"The reality is, the more times you play a country the more likelihood there is of them beating you but hopefully it's not while we're here.
"We expect to win."
The match between Australia and New Zealand tips off at the AIS Training Hall at 5:30pm (local). A second match will be played at 11:15am (local) on Sunday morning.
Stirling challenged by Opals juggling act
3 April 2008
Australian Defence Force Opals head coach Jan Stirling will carefully manage the physical condition of her squad over the coming days in order to avoid a shock defeat to New Zealand on Saturday.
Seven of the 18 athletes attending the ADF Opals’ camp at the AIS in Canberra are unable to train at full strength and may not be ready to play in either of two international ‘friendlies’ scheduled for the weekend.
Adelaide’s Erin Phillips (knee) and Renae Camino (ankle), Sydney’s Natalie Porter (ankle), Canberra’s Abby Bishop (foot), Bendigo’s Jenna O’Hea (foot), Perth’s Carly Wilson (hamstring) and Russia-based star Suzy Batkovic (ankle) are the athletes in question.
Stars Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and five other World Champion Opals have remained in Europe under contractual obligations.
“Obviously our medical team are juggling a few athletes,” head coach Jan Stirling said.
“We haven’t had Natalie Porter or Renae Camino on court at all while Jenna O’Hea and Carly Wilson are doing one session a day for about an hour.
“Abby Bishop will sit out a session and we need to get Erin Phillips and Suzy Batkovic off court as well.
“It’s pretty challenging at the moment.”
O’Hea, an Australian junior representative and Bendigo Spirit forward, had metal plugs removed from her foot three weeks ago and has been ruled out.
“For sure, Jenna O’Hea will be one athlete that won’t play on Saturday,” Stirling said.
“The others, we just don’t know. We’re monitoring them on a day-to-day basis."
Despite the injury concerns, Stirling said the vibe in camp was positive.
“It’s terrific actually. The sessions have been very physical but we’re three months out from an Olympics, so that’s the way we want it.”
The Australian Defence Force Opals’ games against New Zealand at the AIS Training Hall are scheduled for Saturday at 5:30pm (local) and Sunday at 11:15am (local). The games will be open to the media and public, for whom entry is free.
A team of twelve athletes will be selected at the conclusion of the camp to attend the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ test event in China from April 19-26, where Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Cuba, Korea and China will compete.
Don't forget your warm up jogs!
Opals appear in Canberra beside Tall Ferns
1 April 2008
The Australian Defence Force Opals and the New Zealand Tall Ferns will begin a five day joint training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra on Wednesday.
Eighteen of the 25 athletes named in the 2008 Australian Defence Force Opals squad will be in attendance while stars Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and five other World Champion Opals will remain in Europe under contractual obligations.
Suzy Batkovic, a star in Europe that has returned to Australia to recover from an ankle injury, will be a welcome sight for head coach Jan Stirling, as will reigning ADF WNBL MVP Natalie Porter who represented the Opals at Athens in 2004.
After four days of training Australia will play two matches against New Zealand at the AIS Training Hall. Saturday’s game tips off at 5:30pm (local) while Sunday’s game is scheduled for 11:15am. The games will be open to the media and public and no entry fee is required.
This week’s camp kicks off a grueling campaign for the reigning World Champions on the road to Beijing.
A team of twelve athletes will be announced next Tuesday (April 8) to travel to Beijing for a six-team ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament, where games will be played at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium between Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Cuba, Korea and China.
The Australian Defence Force Opals will then undergo a domestic training camp from June 10-14 at a venue to be determined before embarking on a European tour from June 21 to July 3.
A final camp will be held in Australia in late July before the team departs for Haining, China to contest the 2008 FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament from August 2-5.
The opening day of competition for women’s basketball in Beijing is August 9.
Please find below the 2008 Australian Defence Force Opals squad and Tall Ferns squad, followed by a schedule for this week’s camp.
2008 Australian Defence Force Opals squad
Suzy Batkovic / UMCC Ekaterinburg / Russia
Tully Bevilaqua / Indiana Fever / USA
Abby Bishop / Canberra Capitals / Australia
Michelle Brogan / Dandenong Rangers / Australia
Renae Camino / Adelaide Lightning / Australia
Rohanee Cox / Townsville Fire / Australia
Jessica Foley / Adelaide Lightning / Australia
Cayla Francis / Adelaide Lightning / Australia
Kathleen Macleod / Bendigo Spirit / Australia
Emily McInerny / Dandenong Rangers / Australia
Jenna O’Hea / Bendigo Spirit / Australia
Erin Phillips / Adelaide Lightning / Australia
Natalie Porter / Sydney Uni Flames / Australia
Alicia Poto / Sydney Uni Flames / Australia
Emma Randall / Bulleen Melbourne Boomers / Australia
Samantha Richards / Perth Lynx / Australia
Marianna Tolo / AIS / Australia
Carly Wilson / Perth Lynx / Australia
Hollie Grima / Italmoka Pozzuoli / Italy
Kristi Harrower / UMCC Ekaterinburg / Russia
Lauren Jackson / Spartak Moscow / Russia
Belinda Snell / Bourges Basket / France
Laura Summerton / Taranto / Italy
Penny Taylor /UMCC Ekaterinburg / Russia
2008 New Zealand Tall Ferns squad
Suzie Bates (Christchurch Sirens), Clare Bodensteiner, Jody Cameron (Harbour Breeze), Micaela Cocks (University of Oregon), Toni Edmondson (Christchurch Sirens), Aneka Kerr (Christchurch Sirens), Karlene Kingi (Christchurch Sirens), Angela Marino (Adelaide Lightning), Jessica McCormack, Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe (Christchurch Sirens), Lisa Pardon (Bendigo Spirit), Charmian Purcell (Christchurch Sirens), Natalie Purcell (Christchurch Sirens), Lisa Wallbutton (Christchurch Sirens), Noni Wharemate (Christchurch Sirens).
Training schedule for camp April 2-6
(at AIS Training Hall)
Wed 2 April:
AUS 12:30pm – 3:00pm
NZ 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Thu 3 April:
AUS 9:00am – 11:30am; 4:00pm – 6:30pm
NZ 8:30am – 11:30am; 1:30pm – 4:00pm
Fri 4 April:
AUS 8:30am – 11:00am; 1:00pm – 3:30pm
NZ 8:00am – 11:00am; 1:00pm – 3:30pm
Sat 5 April:
AUS 8:30am – 11:00am
NZ 8:30am – 11:00am
Shootaround: AUS and NZ 4:30pm
Match: AUS v NZ at 5:30pm
Sun 6 April:
Shootaround: AUS and NZ 10:15am
Match: AUS v NZ at 11:15am