WNBA superstars Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor headline Opals squad for FIBA World Championships

WNBA superstars Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor headline Opals squad for FIBA World Championships

After a grueling five-day training camp in Melbourne, the Jayco Australian Opals coaching staff has selected a 13-player list who will be considered for the final squad of 12 stars that will defend the Opals 2006 World Championship gold medal in the Czech Republic in September.

Headlining the group are WNBA stars Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm) and Penny Taylor (Phoenix Mercury), who are both preparing for play-off campaigns in their respective WNBA Teams.

Also named in the final 13 are Tully Bevilaqua, herself a WNBA star for the Indiana Fever and rookie Abby Bishop who plays alongside Jackson at the Seattle Storm.

Coach Carrie Graf was pleased with the Melbourne camp and is excited about the Opals’ prospects heading into the tournament.

“We want to do the Opals proud,” said coach Graf. “We’re about maintaining our ranking in the top three and we’re always going into Championships trying to win medals. Obviously the medal you want to win is the big one and we’ve got to overcome a lot of great opponents to do that,” she said.

Along with the WNBA stars, there are plenty of talented Aussies plying their trade in Europe that have made the squad. They include Belinda Snell, Hollie Grima, Samantha Richards, Alicia Poto and Erin Phillips.

Rising Stars and WNBL players Liz Cambage (Bulleen Boomers) and Jenna O’Hea (Bulleen Boomers) have also been named, along with Canberra Capitals hero Marianna Tolo and veteran playmaker Kristi Harrower (Bendigo Spirit).

“In this particular group there are players who were previously emerging talent who are now legitimate talent, so I think the people that are in the mix are exciting prospects not only for now but for the future of women’s basketball,” concluded Graf. 

The Jayco Australian Opals depart for the USA on 7 September, where they will play games against powerhouse nations USA and Spain. They then head to Spain to continue their preparations before heading to the Czech Republic for the 2010 Women’s World Championships, commencing 23 September.

The final team of 12 will be announced during this final preparation period.

Click here for the current Opals squad