Headlining the star-studded list are two of Australia’s most accomplished basketball exports, Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor, along with rising star Liz Cambage.
Head coach for the Jayco Opals Carrie Graf is excited to start working with the group as they look to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in London.
“To make an Opals squad is a terrific start to your international career, but making an Opals team in an Olympic year is no easy feat,” said Graf. “It’s a great team with great history,” she added.
“There’s 12 spots on that London Olympic team. The team that made the Worlds is not necessarily going to be the team that goes to the Olympics. People rise up and people drift off a little bit and we’re looking to put a team together to win a Gold Medal,” she said.
The Opals kick-start their preparations on 6 June, 2011 when the team will meet for their first camp, which will run over four days.
The squad then travels to China for the Four Nations Tournament between 17-24 June. Following that tournament, the girls will hold a five-day camp in China, which will also include another three-match series with the Chinese national team.
Another major international tournament on the Australian basketball calendar this year is the World University Games, also held in China between12-23 August, with many young Opals’ squad members taking to the floor for Australia.
“The World University Games is an important tournament for us. It’s an opportunity for a lot of the emerging Opals to show their wares in tournament play,” she said.
The 2011 Opals squad is made up of a strong mix of current local Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) players and Aussies plying their trade internationally.
Of the Australian players based overseas, Erin Phillips (Seattle Storm WNBA/Wisla Can Pac, Poland), Belinda Snell (Seattle Storm WNBA/Halcon Avenida, Salamanca-Spain), Jennifer Screen (Umana Reyer Venezia, Italy) and Hollie Grima (Aix-en-Provence, France) have all been named.
Also selected in the squad are WNBL rising stars Abby Bishop, Kath MacLeod and Tess Madgen, along with WNBL Championship-winning players Jenna O’Hea, Rachel Jarry and Elyse Penaluna from the Bulleen Boomers.
Canberra Capitals’ centre Suzy Batkovic is also named in the squad, along with WNBL teammates Marianna Tolo and Carly Wilson.
“The WNBL has been the breeding ground for our greatest Opals,” said Graf.
“It speaks volumes for the WNBL and that it continues to be a great League for the development of international basketballers. The WNBL has been around for over 25 years and all of our great Opals, going back even to the 80s, have all been a part of that League,” she said.
The FIBA Oceania Qualifier, which will see the Opals battle arch-rivals New Zealand in a three-game series between the 7-11 September, 2011 will result in the winning team advancing directly to the London Olympic Games tournament in 2012.
The location for the series is yet to be decided, with FIBA Oceania expected to make a decision in the next few days.
2011 Australian Jayco Opals Squad
Name / Club / DOB
Suzy Batkovic / Canberra Capitals / 17 December, 1980
Abby Bishop / Dandenong Rangers / 29 November, 1988
Elizabeth Cambage / Bulleen Boomers / 18 August, 1991
Stephanie Cumming / Dandenong Rangers / 26 July, 1990
Rachael Flanagan / Townsville Fire / 5 April, 1982
Hollie Grima / Aix-en-Provence, France / 16 December, 1983
Kristi Harrower / Bendigo Spirit / 4 March, 1975
Natalie Hurst / Aix-en-Provence, France / 8 April, 1983
Rachel Jarry / Bulleen Boomers / 6 December, 1991
Lauren Jackson / Seattle Storm/Canberra Capitals / 11 May, 1981
Tess Madgen / Bendigo Spirit / 12 August, 1990
Kathleen MacLeod / Dandenong Rangers / 23 October, 1986
Jenna O'Hea / Bulleen Boomers / 6 June, 1987
Elyse Penaluna / Bulleen Boomers / 23 April, 1988
Erin Phillips / Seattle Storm/ Wisla Can Pac, Poland / 19 May, 1985
Alicia Poto / Basket Lattes-Montpellier, France / 28 March, 1978
Samantha Richards / KSSSE AZS PWSZ Gorzow, Poland / 24 February, 1983
Jennifer Screen / Umana Reyer Venezia, Italy / 26 February, 1982
Belinda Snell / Seattle Storm / Halcon Avenida, Spain / 10 January, 1981
Laura Summerton / Bracco Geas Sesto San Giovanni, Italy / 13 December, 1983
Penny Taylor / Phoenix Mercury / 24 May, 1981
Marianna Tolo / Canberra Capitals / 2 July, 1989
Kristen Veal / Logan Thunder / 24 July, 1981
Carly Wilson / Canberra Capitals / 8 July, 1982
Hanna Zavecz / Bulleen Boomers / 21 August, 1985