MANSFIELD TO REALISE LIFELONG DREAM AT FIBA WOMEN'S ASIA CUP

MANSFIELD TO REALISE LIFELONG DREAM AT FIBA WOMEN'S ASIA CUP

Rising through the ranks of Australian basketball, Lauren Mansfield will realise a life-long dream when she pulls on the Opals jersey at the FIBA Asia Cup this weekend.

Plying her trade for five seasons in the SEABL, four in the WNBL and four in USA colleges Midland and Iowa State University, Mansfield came on to the national radar when she was named in the Olympic squad last year.

Injuries kept her from being in true selection for the Rio team but after leading SEABL for assists per game in 2017, Mansfield now gets an opportunity to show what she can do on the international stage.

“It’s been my dream since I was a young girl to be an Opal,” Mansfield said.

“Being named hasn’t quite sunk in but I’m honoured and am really excited for the future ahead with the Opals.”

The point guard has previously represented Australia twice at the World University Games, helping them to bronze medals in 2011 and 2013 when she played alongside Tessa Lavey, Sara Blicavs, Steph Blicavs, Katie Ebzery, Alice Kunek and Marianna Tolo who are all her national team mates for the FIBA Asia Cup.

As one of the debutantes in the Opals side, Mansfield took the Phoenix camp as an opportunity to continue to learn from her peers.

“You always want to learn from the veterans,” she said.

“It was awesome to train with someone like Snelly who I remember watching at the Olympics. I have a lot of respect for Katie too, she plays the point so she is someone I can learn from as well.”

Stepping up into a national role was a learning curve for the 27-year old but the nature of new coach Sandy Brondello made the transition an easy one.

“Sandy was amazing, you can tell she knows her stuff.

“I definitely learned a lot at camp, a whole new system with different defences and a bunch of new plays.

“But Sandy was very approachable. I felt comfortable being able to ask questions and she’s a good communicator.

“At camp, you could tell all the coaching staff worked well off each other and they are experts in what they do.”

Through her time in SEABL with the Launceston Tornadoes, Mansfield has developed into their main play-maker and has been captain of the team since 2013, averaging a career-high 6.1 assists per game this season to go with 17.1 points.

Her most significant improvement has come on the glass though as she regularly defies her 170cm frame to crash the boards, recording 8.3 rebounds per contest this year as well.

That tenacity translated well to the WNBL where she represented the Adelaide Lightning for two years before her breakout season in 2015/16 as a member of the SEQ Stars.

A late injury to two-time Olympian Erin Phillips thrust Mansfield into a starting role but she took the added pressure in her stride, averaging 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists to lead them to the playoffs in their inaugural season.

In 2016/17 under Paul Goriss at the University of Canberra Capitals, Mansfield continued to develop and finished third in the league for assists with over five per contest.

“The WNBL and SEABL have been vital in my development,” Mansfield said.

“They have helped me work on my game and are definitely the stepping stones to where I wanted to be.”

Heading into the FIBA Asia Cup, Mansfield is unsure of how much court time she will see but knows she has to be ready at all times.

“I want to just go out there and play my game.

“I want to be confident, be a play-maker, be creative and show what I can do.

“I know I need to be ready for any opportunity that comes my way.”

The Opals have arrived in India before their first game of the FIBA Asia Cup on July 23.

Foxtel will be broadcasting Australia's games live, ad-free and exclusive on Fox Sports.

In addition, FIBA will provide full coverage of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup via livebasketball.tv with a monthly subscription of $10 USD enabling you to watch every game from the entire tournament.

Follow all the action from the FIBA Women's Asia Cup here.

The Australian Opals FIBA Women's Asia Cup Schedule (all times AEST):

July 23: Australia vs. Korea at 3.30pm
July 24: Australia vs. Philippines at 5.45pm
July 25: Australia vs. Japan at 5.45pm
July 27: Quarter-Finals
July 28: Semi-Finals
July 29: Bronze and Gold medal games