Opals squad announced for European tour

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A strong 12-woman squad has been selected for the Jayco Australian Opals upcoming European Tour following a tough training camp last week in Terrigal, New South Wales.

Departing later this month, the Jayco Australian Opals will face full-strength teams from Serbia, Italy and World Championship silver medallists Spain, as well as a visiting squad from Venezuela.

Head Coach Brendan Joyce said that it was a “pretty balanced” outfit which had earned selection for the tour which will provide a great base for the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships in August.

“The girls that came into camp displayed a tremendous work ethic and performed really well which always makes it really challenging to select a team to go away,” he said.

“What we’re trying to do is to build on our style of play which was successful at the World Championships; to build on the Opals’ culture that we’ve established in the last two years and continue to improve not only as a team but also each individual so that we can challenge for a gold medal at the Olympic Games.”

The Jayco Australian Opals will be boosted by the return of Laura Hodges, who is fresh from victory in the Ligue Féminine in France with Bourges Basket and so was not present in Terrigal.

“There’s not only Laura’s playing ability but as Vice-Captain of our World Championship team, she provides great leadership,” said Joyce. “She’ll be able to transfer great knowledge and experience to quite a few of the younger players on the European Tour.”

Madeleine Garrick impressed at the training camp in Terrigal and is now set to make her Jayco Australian Opals debut in Europe. The 23-year-old is currently playing with Frankston in the SEABL and has signed on with the Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL for the next two seasons.

The Jayco Opals squad for 2015 European Tour: Suzy Batkovic, Sara Blicavs, Natalie Burton, Katie Rae Ebzery, Madeleine Garrick, Laura Hodges, Alice Kunek, Tessa Lavey, Elyse Penaluna, Belinda Snell, Stephanie Talbot, Kelly Wilson.