The Australian Opals will head to New York later this month to play valuable practice matches against Canada as part of their preparations for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney this September.
Following an intense training camp in Canberra last week, the squad will reunite with Opals Head Coach Sandy Brondello who is currently coaching New York Liberty in the WNBA.
Tess Madgen who was named in the Opals Leadership Group is looking forward to playing more international games.
“The games against Japan highlighted the areas we need to improve on, and we made some really great progress in these areas at last week’s camp. Canada, like Japan are in our pool for the World Cup so any chance to play them is invaluable, it will give us an opportunity to adjust to different styles of play and see where our strengths and weaknesses lie. It will be great to connect with our sisters currently playing in the WNBA.” Madgen said.
Included in the squad will be four-time Olympian and four-time World Championship player Lauren Jackson AO OLY who impressed at the training camp in Canberra. Brondello praised the work Lauren has put in and looks forward to the valuable role she will play in New York.
“Lauren has medalled at every Olympics and three of her World Cup appearances, she knows how to win. Her experience is unprecedented, she has the same hunger for success and will bring an edge to our squad.” Brondello said.
The youngest member of the squad Jade Melbourne who impressed at the Opals matches against Japan has earned her spot in New York and she couldn’t be happier.
Melbourne said “I’m just really excited to be selected for this camp. I love being on court with the girls and learning about the culture and being part of the Opals legacy, I honestly can’t wait for another opportunity to do that.”
The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup countdown is on with less than 80 days until the tip-off, so Brondello is looking forward to having the squad together playing international matches.
“The games against Japan in Sydney in May were invaluable for us to test ourselves against a world class team, having more practice matches will help us to sharpen our preparation against quality opposition. Nothing compares to playing international games so heading overseas is imperative for us to prepare for Sydney. We will play matches against Canada who are currently ranked 4th in the world so we expect some tough competition.” Brondello said.
Joining the squad from their respective WNBA teams will be Ezi Magbegor (Seattle Storm), Sami Whitcomb (NY Liberty), Bec Allen (NY Liberty) and Steph Talbot (Seattle Storm). *Kristy Wallace (Atlanta Dream) is unavailable to play the practice matches.
Head Coach Sandy Brondello
Assistant Coach Cheryl Chambers
Assistant Coach Olaf Lange
Assistant Coach Paul Gorris