Teen a giant plus for Opals

Teen a giant plus for Opals

WHEN new Australian women's basketball head coach Carrie Graf said she was looking for players of unique quality for the current Opals tour, which started yesterday, she had teenager Lizzie Cambage very much in mind, writes Mike Hurst in The Daily Telegraph.

"We've never had a player of her size on the Opals, not a player who had the muscle to match such height, and she's very athletic," Graf said before leading the Opals to China for three games and on to Europe.

Cambage, 17, who stands a mighty 203cm (6ft 8in) and 110kg, is making her Opals debut.

"I just want to show the girls and Graffie exactly what I can do, show them I'm not in the team just because I'm tall," Cambage said yesterday.

The AIS rookie player, whose mother is Australian and father Nigerian, says she mostly plays in the centres but can play outside.

"I can shoot a three," she said.

Graf said the squad was an "emerging talent crew" with a few Olympians thrown in.

"Cambage, Elyse Penaluna, Abbie Bishop and Marianna Tolo are our Baby Bigs - they're the future in the (low) post," she said.

"On this tour I'm looking to see who's got something unique about them that might help us win the (2012 London Olympic) gold medal.

"You can't do great things in the game without great players. You need specialists."

With Sydney University Flames coach Karen Dalton and fellow former Olympic team stalwart Michele Timms as her assistants, Graf will lead her Opals against China on May 15, 17 and 19, before heading to Europe with new assistant coaches in Cheryl Chambers and Peter Buckle.

The Opals prepare to take flight at Sydney International Airport