By Jessica Robinson
We caught up with Australian Opal, Anneli Maley to talk all things FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and making her international competition debut.
BA: It’s great to see you Anneli, tell us about the crazy few months you’ve had!
AM: It’s been a bit of a whirlwind actually, I feel very blessed that I’ve gotten the opportunity to have gone to a few camps, and now I feel more a part of the family and a part of the group. Our leadership has done a really good job of making it feel like a Sisterhood.
BA: Congratulations on your first World Cup selection, what were you doing when you got the call?
AM: When I got told, I was painting my house, I wasn’t expecting the phone call so I didn’t know who was calling, I had two paint brushes in my hand, so when Sandy told me I had made the team, I dropped paint all over the floor, I dropped my phone in the paint and was just freaking out.
I was not expecting the World Cup selection, it was a pleasant surprise for me. I’m really excited, it’s surreal.
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BA: What’s it been like playing alongside Lauren Jackson?
AM: Oh my god, it’s unreal, it will never not be unreal for me. Just having her as a teammate is super cool, she’s such a cool human. Everyone sees her as a huge star and the GOAT which she is, but she’s also this down-to-earth chick, giggly, cracks a few jokes here and there, she’s just a good human. She brings all this knowledge from the game but also brings another level to our culture, she brings tenacity, the no quit attitude, off court she helps everyone stick together, she’s one of the sisters.
BA: Being around LJ and Sandy Brondello, do you feel like you’ve been taken back to the late nineties/early 2000s Opals?
AM: I’ve always admired players like LJ, Timmsy (Michelle Timms), Trish (Fallon), Robyn Maher and Rachel Sporn to name a few, the way that they played, so tenaciously. We have conversations with those players but being on the court with LJ and Sandy at the same time, it’s a different level of communication.
BA: How do you feel about being a part of a new wave of Opals?
AM: I never think about it as a new wave because the way the Australian basketball system works, there are so many talented athletes in a pool and it’s such an honour to be selected for the Opals. I feel like this wave is more like a tsunami, there are so many talented players who can step in to fill any of these spots. A lot of us have played with current and past Opals at any point of time, there’s so much overlap between current and players coming through that that strong thread of culture is passed down to every level.
BA: Take us inside the four walls of the Opals, the Sisterhood feels so strong.
AM: Stepping into this group, I’ve felt welcomed and a part of a family straight away. At no point have I felt like an outsider, I’ve felt important and valued. You see us putting the work in on the court as a team, but the off-court stuff is 80% of it. So much of your performance is the way you gel and trust each other as a team, I think working on that trust and comradery off the court is going to make us perform better.
BA: How do you feel hearing that the Anneli Maley Australian Opals jersey is among the top-selling jersey in the lead-up to the FIBA Women’s World Cup?
AM: That’s the craziest thing ever! That’s insane. When it got announced that I made the team, I had an overwhelmingly positive amount of support, and I had a moment and reflected on all of that. Little me sitting watching the Opals play at the Olympics and telling myself I would be there one day, and then experiencing this now, I had a cry and I smiled for like a week.
The 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup tips off in Sydney this Thursday.
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