The world champions have the firepower to topple the United States and a home series against the strong Brazilians at the end of the month will put the finishing touches on their Games preparations. Not since Sydney 2000 has Australia seen their women’s Olympic basketball team take the court at home.
“The coaches and I are really excited at the team we have put together for these Games,” head coach Jan Stirling said.
“The team is even better than the one we took to the World Championships and facing off against Brazil will give us the preparation we need.”
The team heading to Beijing has just two changes in the roster since the history-making World Championship win in 2006.
“Since winning gold in Sao Paulo, the athletes have been steadily improving and with the addition of Rohanee Cox we are going to be really strong,” Stirling said.
The team will consist of six Olympians in Lauren Jackson, Kristi Harrower, Penny Taylor, Belinda Snell, Suzy Batkovic and Laura Summerton as well as six debutants with gold on their minds.
“I’m incredibly excited to be going to Beijing,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter how many games you go to, the incredible feeling just gets stronger.”
Taylor, one of the most highly-regarded players in the world recently gave up a lucrative WNBA contract with the Phoenix Mercury in order to concentrate her efforts on the national team.
“I’m really proud of the team going over. It’s great to have the time to train together and we really do have strength in every position.”
With eight Olympic silver medals between them (Jackson and Harrower dual-Olympians), the team has no shortage of experience at the Games and first time Olympians such as Rohanee Cox will be leaning on this in Beijing.
“I’m ecstatic, absolutely over the moon,” Cox said. “To be playing with the likes of Lauren [Jackson], Penny [Taylor] and Kristi Harrower is such a great opportunity, a dream come true.”
“This is a once in a lifetime experience and I just want to go out there and be the best that I can be.”
With two silver medals behind the United States at the past two Olympic Games, the team is determined to show Australia they have what it takes to stand on top of the dais.
The women’s basketball section of the 2008 Australian Olympic team:
Suzy Batkovic / Centre / 194cm
Tully Bevilaqua / Guard / 164cm
Rohanee Cox / Forward / 182cm
Hollie Grima / Forward,Centre / 190cm
Kristi Harrower / Guard / 163cm
Lauren Jackson / Forward, Centre / 195cm
Erin Phillips / Guard / 173cm
Emma Randall / Forward,Centre / 188cm
Jenni Screen / Guard / 180cm
Belinda Snell / Guard / 180cm
Laura Summerton / Forward / 188cm
Penny Taylor / Guard / 185cm
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL OFFICIALS
Jan Stirling - Head Coach
Gary Fox - Assistant Coach
Peter Lonergan - Assistant Coach
Marian Stewart - Section Manager
Amanda Berntsen - Physiotherapist
Scott Burne - Doctor
Basketball Australia would like to congratulate all athletes selected.