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Basketball Australia today announced the 2022 Opals leadership group as the Australian-based squad members gathered at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra as part of preparations for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney this September.

Experienced trio Stephanie Talbot (Adelaide Lightning/Seattle Storm), Sami Whitcomb (Perth Lynx/New York Liberty) and Tess Madgen (Melbourne Boomers) were chosen by their peers and staff to lead the new look squad in the lead-up to the World Cup and have experience together from the 2018 World Cup in Spain.

Madgen, a Tokyo Olympian, spoke on behalf of the leadership group in Canberra today with dual-Olympian, Talbot, and Asia Cup Captain, Whitcomb on duties with their respective WNBA Teams in the USA.

“It’s a huge honour for Steph, Sami and I to be held in such high esteem by our peers for our leadership abilities within the group,” said Madgen. “To be voted in by your peers is really special, we don’t take this for granted and are really excited to take on this role.

“We certainly want to lead by example, and we feel responsible for the growth and development of the culture that we are building with this new squad.

“We want to empower everyone in the squad to be themselves and also play a role in helping us build and shape this squad as we work hard towards improving as individuals and as a team, ahead of the World Cup this September”.

Fifteen of the 20 members of the Opals 2022 squad, including the recently named returning Opal, Lauren Jackson, gathered at the AIS on Monday for a four-day camp.

Opals Assistant Coach Cheryl Chamber, who is in-charge for this camp with Head Coach Sandy Brondello on duty with the New York Liberty in the WNBA, said this camp was necessary to continue the momentum into the FIBA World Cup off the back of a three game Series against Japan in Sydney last month.

“It is great that we have another opportunity to bring the bulk of the squad together to continue our development,” said Chambers. “With players and staff across the country and world, it is difficult to bring everyone together often, so when we have the chance, we really look to make the most of it and we have a great few days planned here in Canberra both on and off the court as we continue to work on our skills and culture in the lead-up to the World Cup in Sydney.

“We have 15 players here and we bring in the five who are based in the USA where appropriate for meetings to keep the group connected as much as possible and they are all really focused and committed to the Opals and on improving as individuals, for the benefit of the team overall.

The camp will run until Thursday at the AIS.