Challenge ahead for Opals duo after WNBA title glory

Challenge ahead for Opals duo after WNBA title glory

Jayco Australian Opals stars Erin Phillips and Penny Taylor are riding high are guiding the Phoenix Mercury to the WNBA Championship, but the time to celebrate will be short-lived as the duo prepare to fly to Paris this week.

It was the hard-fought 87-82 win over the Chicago Sky in Saturday’s WNBA Finals Game 3 that completed the sweep and ensured a third title for the franchise and anPhillipsTaylor2IG historic moment for the Jayco Opals pair and their Head Coach.

One of the all-time greats of the Jayco Opals program, Sandy Brondello created her own unique piece of sporting history, becoming the first Australian to coach a WNBA Championship – ensuring the legacy of the 2014 title will be laced with Aussie tales of achievement.

For Phillips, the title is her second in the past three seasons after firing the Indiana Fever to the 2012 WNBA Championship.

This is a fantastic way to top off a fantastic year – it’s just been an unbelievable ride and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it,” Phillips told Mercury TV.

To be playing with some of the legends of the game, it’s a privilege to be here. The season has gone so fast – you blink and here we are in the Finals and the result is a testament to the coaching staff, players and the organisation.

After claiming the title in Chicago, the Mercury were quickly on the plane back to Phoenix to celebrate the achievement with their home fans.

This was the third time in the past seven years that Taylor has celebrated a WNBA title at the Mercury, with the ability to share it with her fellow Jayco Opals making the honour even more special.

Taylor was particularly forthcoming in her praise for Coach Brondello – a mentor throughout her 16-year professional career.

She really took me under her wing,” Taylor said Mechelle Voepol of ESPN.

I found it really difficult at first, just being at that level with grown women. She really helped me and encouraged me, and was just a friendly face and good sounding board who gave great advice.

I just can't say how proud I am of Sandy -- what she's done as a coach in this league. It's a testament to her understanding of the game, how well she deals with players.

Now the focus turns to Turkey for the Jayco Opals duo with the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women tipping off in less than a fortnight’s time.

First stop is Paris, France for the Jayco Opals three-game tournament, tipping off in the early hours of Saturday morning against the USA.

The Jayco Opals open their 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Istanbul against Cuba on Saturday night 27 September at 9:15pm AEST.

Based in the Istanbul, the Jayco Opals will also face Korea and Belarus in their Group C fixtures leading into the knockout rounds and eventually the tournament final in the earlyPhillipsBrondelloTaylorIG hours of Monday 6 October.

CLICK HERE to see the full schedule for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Fans won’t miss a minute of the action from Turkey with all Jayco Australian Opals games to be broadcast LIVE and in full on ABC2 as part of their extensive 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women coverage.

The 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women will be held in Turkey from 28 September to 6 October.

Jayco Australian Opals Team – 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women

Rebecca Allen – Melbourne Boomers
Natalie Burton – Melbourne Boomers
Elizabeth Cambage – Dandenong Rangers
Cayla Francis – Townsville Fire
Laura Hodges – Adelaide Lightning
Rachel Jarry – Melbourne Boomers
Tessa Lavey – Bendigo Spirit
Leilani Mitchell – Sydney Uni Flames
Erin Phillips – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Belinda Snell – Bendigo Spirit
Penny Taylor – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
Marianna Tolo – Bourges (France)

Coaching Staff

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

Jayco Australian Opals pre-FIBA World Championship for Women 

Paris Tournament

Jayco Australian Opals v USA
Saturday 20 September @ Stade Pierre De Coubertin, Paris 2:00am (All times AEST)

Jayco Australian Opals v France
Sunday 21 September @ Stade Pierre De Coubertin, Paris 2:30am

Jayco Australian Opals v China
Sunday 21 September @ Stade Pierre De Coubertin, Paris 10:30pm

Jayco Australian Opals FIBA World Championship for Women – Group Stage Fixture

Jayco Australian Opals v Cuba
Saturday 27 September @ City Arena, Istanbul 9:15pm (All times AEST)
TV: LIVE on ABC2 Nationally

Jayco Australian Opals v Korea
Sunday 28 September @ City Arena, Istanbul 9:15pm
TV: LIVE on ABC2 Nationally

Jayco Australian Opals v Belarus
Tuesday 30 September @ City Arena, Istanbul 11:30pm
TV: LIVE on ABC2 Nationally

For all the latest on the Jayco Opals ahead of their journey to Turkey be sure to visit the BA website at www.basketball.net.au.