Australia’s basketballers are primed to shoot for the stars with four teams selected for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The squad of 16 will represent Australia in the inaugural Basketball 3×3 format across both Para and able-bodied men’s and women’s competitions.
The four teams carry the talent to be highly competitive and harbour genuine gold-medal aspirations. Selectors have opted for a mixture of players from the elite domestic basketball competitions, mindful of the skills required for the fast and furious new 3×3 format for the Games.
Speed, skill and strength, along with exceptional shooting ability, are prized talents in Basketball 3×3 – attributes the Australians have in droves.
Jesse Wagstaff, 36, a six-time NBL champion who played with the Perth Wildcats, brings seniority to the team. He was a member of the Australian Boomers who won the gold medal in the conventional 5×5 format at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Wagstaff’s international experience will be invaluable in Birmingham, as evidenced by his captaincy of our national team at a 3×3 warm-up event in Singapore on the weekend.
“To be selected for the Australian Commonwealth Games team and represent my country once again is a dream come true,” he said.
“I love Basketball 3×3’s physicality, speed and intensity. Once we get on the court it’s all systems go, which makes it a fantastic spectator sport.”
Wagstaff will team up with Thomas Wright, Daniel Johnson and Greg Hire for the first 3×3 tournament to be held at the Commonwealth Games.
Wright, 33, from Melbourne, is considered the most successful and experienced Australian player in the 3×3 format. He was part of the team that won back-to-back gold medals at the Asia Cup in 2018 and 2019 and has played in more than 32 3×3 tournaments to date. He currently plays the traditional 5×5 format with the Sandringham Sabres in the NBL1, while has experience with both the Sydney Kings and teams in the South East Australia Basketball League (SEABL).
West Australians Johnson, who was born in Carnarvon and grew up in Perth, and Hire are both aged 34 and have sound experience in the slimmed-down format.
Hire has adapted effortlessly to the nuances of 3×3 since retiring from the Perth Wildcats a couple of seasons ago.
“I found 3×3 the perfect combination for me. I could still play and wanted to explore something new, so it was the natural next step in my career,” he said.
“Representing your country on the world stage is something every child dreams about. I hope I can inspire others to pursue those dreams – be it on or off the court.”
In the women’s 3×3 team, dual WNBL championship winner Alex Wilson, 28, an Adelaide-based point guard, will play alongside her teammate Marena Whittle, 28. They will combine with Victorians Lauren Mansfield, 32, and Lauren Scherf, 26.
Wilson said her selection for the Commonwealth Games squad has made all the tough training sessions worth it.
“Representing your country is the highest of highs for me – there is nothing better than that,” she said.
“To be in the green and gold, with Australia emblazoned across your chest and your name on your back, is incredible. I cannot wait to play with my teammates and soak up the Commonwealth Games atmosphere.”
The entire squad is delighted that the able-bodied and Para-basketball teams will be competing together for the first time at international level.
Amber Merritt, 29, has been a member of the Australian Gliders since 2009, winning a silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympics. The Perth basketballer was also a member of the team which finished ninth at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and she has high hopes of success in England.
Her teammate Georgia Inglis, 28, hails from a very talented sporting family. Her sister Maddison, a tennis player, is performing well on the WTA Tour and qualified for Wimbledon this year, making it a big northern summer for the Perth family.
Hannah Dodd, 30, who suffers from sacral agenesis with upper limb dystopia, says it is not uncommon for her to get dislocations while competing. Now living on the Sunshine Coast, she represented Australia in equestrian at the London 2012 Olympics before switching sports.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of history as the first wheelchair 3×3 athletes to compete at a Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“It’s always an honour and privilege to put on the green and gold and I love every second of it. It never stops feeling special.”
Elle Sabljack, 30, is the fourth member of the Australian Gliders team. A qualified primary school teacher, she also has Australian representative duties on her resume and is thrilled to be heading to Birmingham.
The men’s 3×3 Para team rounds out Australia’s impressive basketball contingent for the Commonwealth Games.
Luke Pople, 31, from Dapto in NSW, who was born with spina bifida, was a member of the Australian Rollers gold medal-winning team at the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014. He will combine with Lachlin Dalton, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition which means that his bones can break easily.
Dalton’s fellow Queenslander Kurt Thomson, 40, brings great experience to this team, while the other men’s Para selection, Jake Kavanagh, is one of five West Australians going to Birmingham.
Commonwealth Games Australia Team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas OAM welcomes the final Team Members who are bound for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games later this month.
“I’m thrilled for these 16 Team Members, 15 of them are first-time Commonwealth Games Team Members joined by Jesse Wagstaff who won gold in 5×5 basketball on the Gold Coast!” Thomas said.
“3×3 Basketball and 3×3 Wheelchair Basketball continue to be two of the fastest-growing sports across the Commonwealth and the world, and it is wonderful to have the sport debuting at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
“I am excited for these Aussie Team Members to have the opportunity to showcase the rapid and energetic version of basketball to international audiences… I know I can’t wait to see it live and be cheering on the green and gold from the stands.”
“Today’s selections to the Australian Team bring our total team size to 435, our largest Team for an overseas Commonwealth Games, I know they’re all going to be bold in gold in Birmingham.”
Basketball Australia CEO Matt Scriven said this new format will be a hit with spectators around the world.
“We are excited that Basketball 3×3 will make its debut at the Commonwealth Games. The 3×3 format continues to grow with more competitions and athletes playing than ever before,” he said.
“We think the fans are really going to embrace this fast-paced format and enjoy watching our able-bodied and wheelchair teams go for gold.”
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August. 3×3 Basketball events take place from Friday 29 July to Tuesday 2 August at Smithfield in the heart of Birmingham’s city centre.
Australian 3×3 Basketball & 3×3 Wheelchair Basketball Team Members – Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games:
|Lauren Mansfield||Women’s 3×3 Basketball||32||Debut||SA|
|Lauren Scherf||Women’s 3×3 Basketball||26||Debut||QLD|
|Marena Whittle||Women’s 3×3 Basketball||28||Debut||VIC|
|Alex Wilson||Women’s 3×3 Basketball||28||Debut||SA|
|Hannah Dodd||Women’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||30||Debut||QLD|
|Georgia Inglis||Women’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||28||Debut||WA|
|Amber Merritt||Women’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||29||Debut||WA|
|Ella Sabljak||Women’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||30||Debut||QLD|
|Greg Hire||Men’s 3×3 Basketball||34||Debut||WA|
|Daniel Johnson||Men’s 3×3 Basketball||34||Debut||SA|
|Jesse Wagstaff||Men’s 3×3 Basketball||36||2nd Games (2018 –
Gold: Men’s Basketball)
|Thomas Wright||Men’s 3×3 Basketball||33||Debut||VIC|
|Lachlin Dalton||Men’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||21||Debut||QLD|
|Jake Kavanagh||Men’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||27||Debut||WA|
|Luke Pople||Men’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||31||Debut||NSW|
|Kurt Thomson||Men’s Wheelchair 3×3 Basketball||40||Debut||QLD|
Commonwealth Games basketball (all formats) medals summary by nation: