Camp opens ahead of FIBA Oceania Championships

Camp opens ahead of FIBA Oceania Championships

The star-studded Jayco Australian Opals and Australian Boomers squads have arrived in Canberra as preparations for the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships get into full swing, with the training camp tipping off today.

A combined 13 players that represented Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games have been included, headlined by the returning Lauren Jackson, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Abby Bishop.

The six-day camp will be the perfect tune-up for the two teams before they head to Auckland and the North Shore Events Centre for the opening double-header of the series against the New Zealand Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns.

A stellar squad has been called into camp by Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce, with five members of the team that claimed bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games named, led by Jackson, Bishop, Adelaide Lightning pair Laura Hodges and Jenni Screen, and Belinda Snell.

Joyce has been working tirelessly with the Opals since taking the reins in May, uncovering some diamonds along the way.

Bendigo Spirit WNBL Championship-winner Kelly Wilson, Logan Thunder veteran guard Kristen Veal returning to the national team fold, emerging West Coast Waves centre Natalie Burton and star of the Australian Gems Under 19 World
Championships campaign Stephanie Talbot have all been included after impressing the new boss.

Three-time Olympian and Opals stalwart Laura Hodges said having the Opals, Boomers, Rollers men’s national wheelchair basketball team and the Spinners men’s Under 23 wheelchair basketball team in camp concurrently acts as a major motivation factor.

“It certainly motivates you when there are so many elite level athletes, especially basketballers, around you,” Hodges said.

“There a great connection between the teams when we come into camp, with everybody eager to see how each other are going.

“I think we’ve become a really good group as a whole and Basketball Australia job at helping us create that and getting us all here together.”

For the Boomers, the big names have returned eager to make a lasting impression on new Head Coach Andrej Lemanis. In addition to Mills and Ingles, San Antonio Spurs big man Aron Baynes and NBA hopeful Matthew Dellavedova among eight players from the London 2012 team.

The Emerging Boomers success at the World University Games has opened the door for Cameron Bairstow and Ryan Broekhoff to force their way into Lemanis’s calculations, while NBL frontcourt trio Luke Nevill, AJ Ogilvy and Anthony Petrie ensure a strong local contingent.

Lemanis will get a chance to test his troops prior to flying out to Auckland when US college powerhouse Butler University come to Canberra to take on the Boomers on Saturday.

Visiting our shores on a four-game tour of Australia, the Bulldogs have been one of the best performed programs in college basketball in recent years, reaching the NCAA Final Four in 2011 and 2012. The Butler team will feature former Australian Emus player Jackson Aldridge who is entering is junior year.

While the game will not be open to the general public, it will be attended by invited guests from the ACT Under 14, 16, 18 and 20 representative teams currently volunteering as part of the Opals and Boomers training camps and the FIBA Oceania Championships. The game will be open to media.

The 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships will see the Jayco Australian Opals and the Australian Boomers take on trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, with Game One on Wednesday 14 August in Auckland and Game Two on Sunday 18 August at the AIS Arena in Canberra.

Tickets are available through Ticketek at www.ticketek.com.au or call 132 849.

For all the latest from the Jayco Australian Opals and Australian Boomers in the lead-up to the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships visit the Basketball Australia website at www.basketball.net.au.