The 12-strong Australian Opals team for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup has been named.
Bec Allen, Marianna Tolo and Cayla George will return for their third World Cup appearance, Steph Talbot, Sami Whitcomb, Tess Madgen and Ezi Magbegor will return for their second appearance and Sara Blicavs, Darcee Garbin, Anneli Maley and Kristy Wallace will make their debut. Lauren Jackson will make her fifth World Cup appearance after last playing in 2010.
The squad is filled with international experience, with Allen (New York Liberty), Magbegor (Seattle Storm), Whitcomb (New York Liberty), Wallace (Atlanta Dream) and Talbot (Seattle Storm) all currently playing in the WNBA.
The Opals are aiming to add to their rich World Cup legacy, having won silver in 2018, bronze in 2014 and gold in 2006.
Ranked #3 in the world, the Opals have drawn Group C, with pool matches against France, Serbia, Japan, Mali and Canada tipping off on 22 September in Sydney.
Sandy Brondello, herself a four-time World Cup athlete will take the reins for the second time as head coach in Sydney following her silver finish in 2018. She was faced with a tough selection decision.
“Making the final cut to twelve is always difficult with so many great athletes pushing for selection” Brondello said.
“The training camp in New York demonstrated how much each of these athletes wanted to compete on home soil, the competition for a spot on the team was fierce.”
“Of course, the inclusion of Lauren is the talking point but from my perspective, she has put in the work and deserves to be here, she will add another dimension to our team dynamic.”
41-year-old Lauren Jackson AO OLY will return to the court nine years after retiring from international basketball and she is eyeing off the podium.
“There were a lot of emotions when Sandy rang me, I had a bit of a cry to be honest” Jackson said. “I have been working my body hard, and I didn’t honestly know if it was going to hold up to my intense training regime, but it has and I’m feeling good.”
“The whole team have been so welcoming and made me feel at home, the age difference disappears as soon as I step onto the court. I believe in this team and what we can achieve, if I can play a part if getting us onto the podium then the hard work is all worthwhile.”
Tess Madgen who is part of the Opals Leadership Group with Steph Talbot and Sami Whitcomb could not be prouder of the team that will head to Sydney.
“This team has such a tight bond; we are a true sisterhood, and we continue to honour the legacy of the Opals who have played before us. To play in Sydney is a dream come true and I know the whole team is looking forward to being there in front of our family, friends and fans. There are only 42 days to go until tip-off so the excitement is really building now.”
The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup will be played in Sydney from Thursday 22 September- Saturday 1 October.
Australian Opals 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup Team