WNBL star Gabe Richards earns Jayco Opals call-up

WNBL star Gabe Richards earns Jayco Opals call-up

Wattle Valley WNBL star Gabrielle Richards will fly to Europe today to join-up with the Jayco Australian Opals for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.

Richards received the call-up to the Jayco Opals team after an Achilles injury ruled out centre Liz Cambage for the tournament starting on Saturday 27 September.

Over the past two years Richards has emerged as one of the premier players in the WNBL, playing a leading role in the Bendigo Spirit’s back-to-back WNBL Championships.

In this time Richards has won two WNBL All-Star Five selections, becoming a regular member of the Jayco Opals squad and was named as a reserve for the World Championship team.

Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce said as one door closes, another opens, with Richards’ rise to prominence a story of persistence and hard work.

“We are all still feeling for Liz at the moment, but what this situation does create is an opportunity for someone to come into the team and you would be hard-pressed to find someone more deserving of the chance,” Joyce said.

“Gabe is a person of high character and has simply been one of the most dominant players in the WNBL over the past two seasons and a major reason behind the Bendigo Spirit’s success.

“At 29 Gabe may have thought her chances of representing her country at a World Championship were gone, but that’s one area we have really focused on with the program.

“We’ve recognised these mature-age players who we believe can contribute to the team and translate their form from the WNBL on to the world stage and Gabe is a glowing example.”

From Seymour in Central Victoria, Richards played college basketball in the USA before returning to the WNBL in 2007 as one of the inaugural Bendigo Spirit players.

The 188cm centre has become a cornerstone of the team, earning her first Jayco Opals call-up prior to last year’s FIBA Oceania Championships.

Throughout the preparation Richards has been a constant, touring the USA and Europe, catching the eye with 17 points and seven rounds against the 2013 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx back in May.

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 early 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 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

Jayco Australian Opals Team – 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women

Rebecca Allen – Melbourne Boomers
Natalie Burton – Melbourne Boomers
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)
Gabrielle Richards – Bendigo Spirit
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

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.