Big names return for Opals Canberra camp

Big names return for Opals Canberra camp

A star-studded Jayco Australian Opals squad descend on Canberra on Sunday, with several big names welcomed into camp for the first time in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

WNBA trio Penny Taylor, Erin Phillips and Liz Cambage headline the 25-player squad, joining a host of stars from the WNBL in the first camp since Sunday’s official draw.

The Jayco Opals found out who they will face in the preliminary games of the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey, with fixtures against South Korea, Cuba and Belarus.

Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce said it was an exciting time for the program to see some these stars coming into camp.

“To be able to bring the likes of Penny, Liz and Erin into the fold for this camp is a significant step forward in our preparations for the World Championships,” Joyce said.

“The commitment these players have to the program shows how much it means to them to be a part of this World Championship campaign.

“In Penny and Erin we have two players who have played at the highest level for a number of years, bringing experience, knowledge and leadership to the squad.

“This camp is a great opportunity for those players who weren’t able to attend January’s camp to get a clear understanding of the culture and expectations of the Jayco Opals program.”

The trio are among five Olympians in camp, joining Adelaide Lightning duo Jenni Screen (Jayco Opals co-captain) and Laura Hodges. All nine WNBL clubs will be represented at the camp, running from 23-28 March at the Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Canberra.

The camp will be boosted by the attendance of four-time Olympian and Jayco Opals co-captain Lauren Jackson as she continues her rehabilitation from recent Achilles and knee surgery.

Joining Jackson in the rehab group in Canberra will be 2012 London Olympian Rachel Jarry (knee) and two-time WNBL All-Star Five selection Gabrielle Richards (knee), with both spending time in camp next week.

After missing the January camp Logan Thunder duo Kristen Veal and Hanna Zavecz return to the fold, alongside and Adelaide Lightning star Jess Foley and Townsville Fire captain Rachael McCully.

Following the announcement of the Jayco Opals extended squad for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, two players have been added, with the Bendigo Spirit’s Sara Blicavs and Canberra Capitals centre Alex Bunton to join the camp.

They join the likes of fellow young stars Rebecca Allen, Tessa Lavey, Carley Mijovic and Stephanie Talbot heading to Canberra this week, with CoE youngster Stephanie Collins invited to be part of the training squad.

The additions come after Suzy Batkovic and Jenna O’Hea withdrew from consideration for the Jayco Opals 2014 FIBA World Championships for Women program.

Joyce said the camp in Canberra and April’s camp on the Gold Coast will lay the foundations for the campaign leading into late-September’s FIBA World Championship for Women.

“For the program to be given the best opportunity to success in Turkey, these two camps will be vital,” Joyce said.

“We are able to spend more time working with the players to define the culture and world-class standards of the program.

“Additionally, the two camps give the coaching staff a good number of on-court sessions to introduce the new players to our style of play and further fine tune the players who attended the January camp.”

Jayco Australian Opals March Training Camp Squad

Rebecca Allen - Melbourne Boomers

Sara Blicavs - Bendigo Spirit

Alex Bunton - Canberra Capitals

Natalie Burton - West Coast Waves

Elizabeth Cambage - Beijing Bulls (China)

Stephanie Collins - BA CoE

Stephanie Cumming - Townsville Fire

Katie-Rae Ebzery - Sydney Flames

Jessica Foley - Adelaide Lightning

Laura Hodges - Adelaide Lightning

Alice Kunek - Dandenong Rangers

Tessa Lavey - Bendigo Spirit

Tess Madgen - Melbourne Boomers

Rachael McCully - Townsville Fire

Carley Mijovi - Canberra Capitals

Leilani Mitchell - Dandenong Rangers

Mia Newley - Townsville Fire

Erin Phillips - Indiana Fever (WNBA)

Jennifer Screen - Adelaide Lightning

Stephanie Talbot - Adelaide Lightning

Penny Taylor - Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)

Kristen Veal - Logan Thunder

Kelly Wilson - Bendigo Spirit

Hanna Zavecz - Logan Thunder

Injured players attending

Lauren Jackson

Rachel Jarry

Gabrielle Richards