Opals stars converge on Canberra ahead of FIBA Oceania

Opals stars converge on Canberra ahead of FIBA Oceania

The Australian Jayco Opals will return to Canberra this week with a FIBA Oceania training squad headlined by no less than five 2012 London Olympians alongside a host of WNBL emerging stars.

International basketball superstar Lauren Jackson remains on track to make her long-awaited return to the court for the Opals, joined in the training squad by fellow 2012 Olympians Jenni Screen, Belinda Snell, Abby Bishop and Laura Hodges.

In the five members of last year’s bronze medal-winning Olympic team, Head Coach Brendan Joyce can call upon 13 Olympic appearances worth of experience as he prepares his team for the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships against New Zealand.

The Oceania region has only one qualification spot for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, meaning the Opals must win the series to book their ticket to Turkey.

Joyce said the squad would face five days of intensive training in their last camp ahead of the FIBA Oceania Championships, from which the team to take on the New Zealand Tall Ferns would be selected.

“This last camp is all about putting the final touches on our ability to execute at both ends of the game – both offensively and defensively,” Joyce said.

“We’ve got both the experience and the quality to rise to the challenge of the Tall Ferns, and now we need to work how we anticipate they’re going to play.

“Our team has spent a lot of time entrenching our trademarks and culture throughout our previous camps, and now it’s time to put those Opals’ values into action.

“In particular, the last camp we held in Ballarat was tough – both physically and mentally – and this camp next week will be too.

“But I know these athletes are 100% committed – they’ve shown me that they want to be coached, they’ve been extremely responsive to rigorous training, their effort levels during camp have been tremendous and we’ve been able to move forward in leaps and bounds. I can’t fault them.

“As long as we keep that momentum going and as long as we’re cohesive in our style of play, I have every confidence we’ll take it to New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championships.”

The stocks of WNBL Rookie of the Year Stephanie Talbot continue to rise, with the 19-year-old coming off an All-Star Five accolade as the Australian Gems claimed the bronze medal at the FIBA Under 19 Women’s World Championship in July.

The bronze medal-winning 2013 World University Games team has strong representation, with quintet Marianna Tolo, Alice Kunek, Tess Madgen, Tessa Lavey and Natalie Burton also named for this week’s camp.

The final Opals training camp ahead of the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships runs from 7-12 August at the Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence in Canberra.

The 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships will see the Jayco Australian Opals take on the New Zealand Tall Ferns, 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.

Jayco Australian Opals Training Camp – Canberra, August 2013
Name / Height / Position / DOB / Club

Abby Bishop / 189cm / Forward / 29 Nov 1988 / Free agent
Natalie Burton / 194cm / Centre / 23 Mar 1989 / West Coast Waves (WNBL)
Cayla Francis / 192cm / Centre / 1 May 1989 / Nantes (France)
Laura Hodges / 188cm / Forward / 13 December 1983 / Adelaide Lightning (WNBL)
Natalie Hurst / 163cm / Guard / 8 April 1983 / Canberra Capitals (WNBL)
Lauren Jackson / 195cm / Forward / Centre / 11 May 1981 / Free Agents
Alice Kunek / 187cm / Guard-Forward / 6 January 1991 / Dandenong Rangers (WNBL)
Tessa Lavey / 170cm / Guard / 29 Mar 1993 / Bendigo Spirit (WNBL)
Tess Madgen / 180cm / Guard / 12 August 1990 / Melbourne Boomers (WNBL)
Jennifer Screen / 180cm / Forward / 24 February 1983 / Adelaide Lightning (WNBL)
Belinda Snell / 180cm / Guard / 10 January 1981 / CCC Polkowice (Poland)
Stephanie Talbot / 186cm / Guard-Forward / 15 June 1994 / Adelaide Lightning (WNBL)
Marianna Tolo / 196cm / Forward-Centre / 2 July 1989 / Bourges Basket (France)
Kristen Veal / 176 cm / Guard / 24 July 1981 / Logan Thunder (WNBL)
Kelly Wilson / 170cm / Guard / 1 January 1985 / Bendigo Spirit (WNBL)
Hanna Zavecz / 183cm / Guard / Forward / 21 August 1985 / Logan Thunder (WNBL)

Head Coach: Brendan Joyce
Assistant Coaches: Damian Cotter, Lori Chizik
Technical Assistant Coach: Scott Butler