Four Australian Jayco Opals head for WNBA

Four Australian Jayco Opals head for WNBA

Australian Jayco Opals foursome Jenna O’Hea, Liz Cambage, Belinda Snell and Erin Phillips are all packing their bags as they prepare to depart for the US this week, where they will take up with their respective WNBA sides with the season set to tip-off in under a month.

Jenna O’Hea heads off Wednesday, May 11 for Los Angeles where the Sparks eagerly await her arrival.

The 187cm guard/forward should fit right into the program, as the coaching staff look for her to be an instant contributor, an expectation she has earned thanks to fine performances these past few years both on the WNBL hardwood as well as internationally.

“I have lot of mixed emotions at the moment – I’m obviously really excited to go, but I’m also nervous as well, having never been over there. It’s going to be a big challenge for me,” O’Hea said.

“I’ve been training really hard – two sessions a day are coming my way soon so I’ve been trying to get ready for that.”

O’Hea’s Bulleen Boomers teammate Liz Cambage also flies out this week, where she will make her long-awaited debut for the Tulsa Shock, after being picked second overall in the 2011 WNBA Draft. Cambage’s profile has rocketed since the occasion, as the young star looks to make an immediate impact on the League.

Fresh off her Euroleague title in April, Jayco Opals sharpshooter Belinda Snell is readying herself for a big WNBA season, where she hopes to suit up alongside Lauren Jackson at the Seattle Storm, who are defending their 2010 WNBA Championship.

“It was a successful season in Europe and a very enjoyable one, but not a lot of time to enjoy it and celebrate because it’s straight over to Seattle,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to getting over for training camp and taking it from there,” said Snell.

Snell needs to impress selectors in the next few weeks if she is to find herself in the team as they embark upon their title defense in 2011.

“They’re the defending champions; obviously they’re the strong team so I’ve got to get over there and work hard in training camp and work hard for that spot. I’m just going to get over there and give it my best and see how I go.”  

Originally set to play alongside Jackson as well as Erin Phillips, who was picked up by the Storm around the same time as Snell, it’s down to two Aussies in the Storm outfit this year with Phillips recently being traded to Indiana.

“It’s disappointing,” said Snell. “She’s going to be in Indiana so I’m only going to get to see her a couple of times throughout the year instead of all season. But it’s exciting and I wish her all the best,” she said.

Although she would’ve loved to play alongside her Jayco Opals teammates, Phillips can’t wait to get over to Indiana, extremely excited about the possibility of taking to the floor with one of the best teams in the WNBA, the Indiana Fever. But like Snell, she knows she has to work hard to earn a role in the team.

“Everywhere you’ve got to earn opportunities and prove yourself. I think there’s possibly more of an opportunity for me to work my way into some good court time at the Fever, but I just want to play whatever role I’m needed in and do as best as I can for the team,” said Phillips.

“They finished pretty high in the previous season so I know they’re always hunting for a championship, so I‘d love to go over and do everything possible to win a championship with them.”  

With these four players bringing the Aussie brand of hoops over to The States, it’s a great sign for the women’s side of the sport back here at home, something that Phillips believes is a sign of the future for the Jayco Opals.

“It’s kind of an assault on the WNBA at the moment – an Aussie assault,” she laughed. “It’s a good result for the girls and it paves the way for players of the future.”