Big names return for Opals against Japan

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Elizabeth Cambage is set make her return to the Jayco Australian Opals with the team to play a three-game series against Japan next week.

The series will provide a crucial lead-in to the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships where the Opals will play New Zealand for automatic qualification to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The Jayco Australian Opals will play Japan at Dandenong on July 27, in Frankston on the 29th and finally Ballarat on the 31st. Japan was the No.1 Asian seed going into the last world championships.

Cambage has been sidelined since the eve of the 2014 FIBA World Championships when she ruptured her achilles tendon. The 23-year-old will join the 16-strong squad with selections for the Oceanias on the line.

“It’s fantastic to have Liz back,” said Jayco Opals coach, Brendan Joyce. “We’ll ease her into it. It’s a bonus to have her available for the series against Japan, but the focus is to have her on court against New Zealand.”

Also making their Opals’ return will be Tess Madgen, who is back in Australia following a debut stint in the WNBA with Phoenix Mercury, and Rachel Jarry who was forced to withdraw from this WNBA season with the Minnesota Lynx with a knee injury.

The 16-woman squad also brings together a core group from the Opals’ tour of Europe in June with Suzy Batkovic, Sara Blicavs, Natalie Burton, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Madeleine Garrick, Laura Hodges, Alice Kunek, Tessa Lavey, Elyse Penaluna, Belinda Snell, Stephanie Talbot and Kelly Wilson all backing up.

Meantime, Aimie Clydesdale comes into squad following her recent experience with the Emerging Opals at the World University Games.

“We toured Japan before the World Championships back in June last year. Their explosiveness is going to test us defensively,” admitted Joyce.

“It’s going to be tremendous preparation for the Oceania Championships. Japan may not be the biggest team in the world, but they’re certainly quick.

“To have these internationals played in our country and getting out to regional centres, which are key in our development pathways, is a great plus. It’s a great promotion for our game and we’re looking forward to playing to some packed stadiums,” said Joyce.

The Jayco Australian Opals’ squad: Suzy Batkovic, Sara Blicavs, Natalie Burton, Elizabeth Cambage, Aimie Clydesdale, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Madeleine Garrick, Laura Hodges, Rachel Jarry, Alice Kunek, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Elyse Penaluna, Belinda Snell, Stephanie Talbot, and Kelly Wilson.

Game details:

July 27 –
Dandenong Stadium
Tip-off: 1900
Tickets available online.
July 29 –
Frankston Stadium
Tip-off: 1900
Tickets available via Frankston Basketball Association
July 31 –
Ballarat Minerdome
Tip-off: 1900
Tickets available online.