Liz Cambage and Marianna Tolo have been named to a final team of 12 selected to represent Australia the FIBA Asia-Oceania Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from November 10 – 18.
The Opals side selected includes the addition of ‘twin-towers’ Cambage and Tolo, but also the fleet-footed Tess Lavey and experienced Tess Madgen to the team that earned bronze at the 2019 FIBA Asia Cup just two months ago. Of the 19-player squad selected earlier this month, Sara Blicavs, Lauren Nicholson, Abby Bishop and Nicole Seekamp are the unlucky four players who took to the floor in Bengaluru to make way for the inclusions.
“It is great to name Liz Cambage and Marianna Tolo back in the team,” explained Opals head coach Sandy Brondello in the official release. “They are both key players for us and it is important that we get them back integrated in the Opals system as much as we can as we move forward.
“Tess Madgen and Tessa Lavey played good roles for us at World Cup and get another opportunity with the team during this window.”
Australia claimed bronze at the FIBA Asia Cup after losses to China and then Japan, with all eight nations that competed in Bengaluru, India will take to the court again in November to finalise which four teams will advance to one of four global Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in February 2020.
Australia’s inability to contain the quicker guards of Japan and China was exposed at the recent Asia Cup, with Lavey and Madgen likely to provide some assistance. However the inclusion of additional size is also sure to help, with Cambage one of the most dominant players in the world.
2019 WNBA Most Improved Player Leilani Mitchell held her spot in the team as the only naturalised player allowed on the roster, with 2017 FIBA Asia Cup MVP Kelsey Griffin missing out, as did 2018 FIBA World Cup star Sami Whitcomb.
Australia is one of the eight Asia-Oceania region teams that will take to the court in November. They have been pooled with 2019 FIBA Asia Cup champions Japan who are also the Olympic Host nation, Chinese Taipei and India in Group B which will be played in Malaysia. New Zealand who are also taking part will host Group A which features Asia Cup silver medalists China, along with fourth placed Korea and the Philippines.
Only the top two teams from Group A and Group B in the Asia-Oceania pre-qualifying tournaments will progress to one of the four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in February.
The November pre-qualifying window commences immediately after the conclusion of round 5 of the WNBL season, with an allowance made in the scheduling to accommodate the event. Should the Opals qualify for one of the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, the February window commences immediately after the final round of the WNBL season, with the semi-final series to tip-off once completed.
Australian Opals Squad
Rebecca ALLEN | Arka Gdynia (Poland) / New York Liberty (WNBA)
Elizabeth CAMBAGE | Las Vegas Aces (WNBA)
Katie-Rae EBZERY | Perth Lynx
Darcee GARBIN | JCU Townsville Fire
Cayla GEORGE | Deakin University Melbourne Boomers
Tess LAVEY | Bendigo Spirit
Tess MADGEN | JCU Townsville Fire
Ezi MAGBEGOR | Deakin University Melbourne Boomers
Leilani MITCHELL | Southside Flyers
Jenna O’HEA | Southside Flyers
Steph TALBOT | Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) / Adelaide Lightning
Marianna TOLO | University of Canberra Capitals
14 November: Australia vs Chinese Taipei | 8:00pm AEST
16 November: Australia vs India | 8:00pm AEST
17 November: Australia vs Japan | 9:00pm AEST