The Australian Defence Force Opals touched down in Beijing late last night and will train lightly today before matching up against world number 1, the United States, on Saturday.
Cuba, Korea, New Zealand and China are the other nations contesting the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament, which is an official Olympic test event.
We caught up with the ADF Opals at Sydney airport prior to their departure and have included audio interviews, video interviews, photos, a good article by James Dampney of the Australian Associated Press and a complete ADF Opals Media Guide for your enjoyment here.
We will keep in touch with the ADF Opals for the duration of their tour, so keep visiting the Basketball Australia website. There is also an official website.
Opals get first taste of Olympic venue
By James Dampney for AAP
Australia's world champion women's basketball team have left for Beijing to get a first-hand look at the venue where they hope to win Olympic gold in four months time.
The Australian Defence Force Opals will contest a six-nation test event at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium, opening their campaign against arch-rivals the United States on Saturday in a tournament that is a crucial part of their Games preparations.
The team will be missing some of their European-based stars (Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor, Belinda Snell, Jenni Screen, Laura Summerton) but there are still five survivors from the 2006 world championship team (Tully Bevilaqua, Hollie Grima, Emily McInerny, Emma Randall and Erin Phillips).
Olympians Suzy Batkovic, Natalie Porter, Alicia Poto and Michelle Brogan are also in the squad.
"I'm really excited because I have no idea what it looks like," Batkovic said of the Olympic venue.
"It's going to be a good chance to see where the stadium is and how far the organisers have come along and just to get a feel for the court and the rings."
Australia will also play the host nation in the tournament, who are being coached by former Opals mentor Tom Maher, while Korea, Cuba and New Zealand round out the competition.
The teams will play off for medals next Saturday and coach Jan Stirling won't be making any excuses about the talent at her disposal.
"We've got a good group here and we've got to be competitive," she said.
"We don't have Lauren and we don't have Penny, but we still have a quality group of 12 athletes and they're all vying for an Olympic position.
"There's certainly an open-door policy on that Olympic selection."
The Opals have won medals at every Olympic Games and world championships since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when they claimed bronze.
While they've been in the top three ever since, it wasn't until the 2006 world titles in Brazil that they finally stood atop the podium, beating Russia in the gold medal game and leaving the US with bronze.
Stirling knows that, regardless of the players in her squad, the Opals are still expected to be highly competitive.
"We're the Opals so we have to perform well," she said.
"I'm sure people will be ringing the phone at Basketball Australia if we lose.
"Our focus is to play well and keep building on what we've built on from the worlds."
Opals squad: Suzy Batkovic, Tully Bevilaqua, Abby Bishop, Michelle Brogan, Renae Camino, Rohanee Cox, Hollie Grima, Emily McInerny, Erin Phillips, Natalie Porter, Alicia Poto, Emma Randall.