After winning gold in 2007 and bronze in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2013, the women’s team will be hoping for continued success while the men will be looking to back up their silver medal from 2013.
Five players named in the women’s team recently toured Europe as part of the Jayco Australian Opals with coach Brendan Joyce. Sara Blicavs (Dandenong Rangers), Madeleine Garrick, Alice Kunek (Melbourne Boomers), Tessa Lavey (Bendigo Spirit) and Stephanie Talbot (Canberra Capitals) will all have benefited from that experience. Joyce believes that this quintet will especially prosper from the added game time.
Five more players in Alex Bunton, Aimie Clydesdale, Lauren Scherf (Dandenong Rangers), Carley Mijovic (Adelaide Lightning), Olivia Thompson (Melbourne Boomers) boast WNBL credentials.
Rounding out the list, Stephanie Collins (Southern Methodist University) and Vanessa Panousis (Virginia Tech) have both completed college basketball seasons in the USA.
“It’s a young team”, said Joyce. “But many of the players have the potential to become Opals. They are going to get a lot out of this international experience.”
The men’s team consists of four NBL players with Shaun Bruce and from Cairns, Mitch Creek from Adelaide and Mirko Djeric from Townsville. Corey Maynard
Nicholas Duncan, Hugh Greenwood, Peter Hooley, Mitch McCarron, Keanu Pinder and Daniel Trist have all been developing their games in the US college system, as have 200cm forwards Deng Deng and Mangok Mathiang who are proud representatives of the diversity within the talented playing group.
Men’s coach Andrej Lemanis is excited about the range of talent his team possesses.
“It’s a sign of the future of Australian basketball that we have a mix of talent from different backgrounds,” he said.
“We have two Sudanese players and some whose fathers previously came over as American imports which has given us the ability to play a style of basketball that we have not been able to explore before.”
Lemanis will prepare for the tournament by taking his team on a tour of China which will no doubt provide vital in the men’s team’s preparation for the World University Games.
“When you have a group that is this new, the most important thing is to take care of our business, get everybody on the same page and understand who we are. We can worry about the other teams once we get that under control.”
Joyce has similar standards for his group.
“We’re aiming to be competitive and also provide a development opportunity for the players which will assist them in becoming Opals of the future. [But] our goal is to also win a medal,” he said.
The first game for the women will be on July 5 against Uganda before they play Brazil the following night and Chinese Taipei on July 7. The men will clash with Chinese Taipei on opening night, France the following night and then have a day off before games against Japan, Finland and Lithuania.
Many of the selected athletes at these World University Games are likely to be in contention to represent Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. “The Australian Commonwealth Games Association has played a vital role in our preparation,” said Basketball Australia CEO, Anthony Moore.
“Basketball Australia is grateful for the support of the ACGA Gold Coast Gold program. I look forward to continued progression of our athletes as they represent Australia on the world stage. The opportunity to represent your nation at a home Commonwealth Games is a great occasion to work towards.”
The 2015 World University Games will begin on July 3 and run until July 14, information about the event can be found here: http://www.gwangju2015.com/
Women: Sara Blicavs (APM College), Alex Bunton (Canberra Institute of Technology), Stephanie Collins (Southern Methodist University), Aimie Clydesdale (Monash University), Madeleine Garrick (Deakin University), Alice Kunek (Deakin University), Tessa Lavey (Swinburne University), Carley Mijovic (Australian College of Natural Therapies), Vanessa Panousis (Virginia Tech), Lauren Scherf (Victoria University), Stephanie Talbot (University of Canberra), Olivia Thompson (University of South Australia).
Men: Shaun Bruce (Central Queensland University), Mitchell Creek (University of South Australia), Deng Deng (Baylor University), Mirko Djeric (Australasian College of Natural Therapies), Nicholas Duncan (Boise State University), Hugh Greenwood (University of New Mexico), Peter Hooley (University of Albany), Mangok Mathiang (University of Louisville), Corey Maynard (Australasian College of Natural Therapies), Mitchell McCarron (Metropolitan State University of Denver), Keanu Pinder (Hutchinson Community College), Daniel Trist (Lafayettte College).