Opals name FIBA Asia Cup selection squad

Basketball Australia has named the Opals squad that will head to Phoenix, Arizona for a selection camp ahead of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.

Six members from the Rio Olympic team headline the 21-women squad. Tessa Lavey, Rachel Jarry, Laura Hodges, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Marianna Tolo and Erin Phillips, who recently resigned with the AFLW’s Adelaide Crows after she retired from the WNBA, have all been chosen.

Additionally, the WNBL is well represented, with the likes of new Melbourne Boomer Jenna O’Hea, Maddie Garrick, Sara and Steph Blicavs, Alice Kunek, Carley Mijovic, Kelsey Griffin, Abby Bishop and Louella Tomlinson all selected. Of the Olympic contingent, Lavey (Dandenong Rangers), Jarry (Canberra Capitals), Hodges (Adelaide Lightning) and Tolo (Canberra) all play in the WNBL.

A blend of youthful, but experienced, players round out the team. Natalie Hurst, Alex Bunton, Lauren Mansfield, Alanna Smith, Kristy Wallace and Belinda Snell have all represented Australia at different competitions in their career.

New Opals coach, Sandy Brondello, will be unavailable for the camp and Asia Cup due to WNBA commitments with the Phoenix Mercury. In her absence, assistants Paul Goriss (head coach of the Capitals) and Cheryl Chambers (head coach of the Sydney Uni Flames) will lead the camp.

“With the Olympic experience of players such as Snell, Phillips and Hodges alongside WNBA and European players in Jarry, O’Hea and Hurst, it will be a very tough and competitive camp,” Goriss said in a statement.

“The young brigade is also coming through in the form of Wallace and Smith who have both had outstanding years at USA colleges while the WNBL contingent have been recognised for their form and performances during last season.”

The camp, which begins on June 25 and ends July 3, is the first step towards the Asia Cup. While the schedule is yet to be finalised for the event, the Opals will fly to Bangalore, India, on July 17 for the tournament.

Australia will face Korea, Philippines and Japan in the pool stage.

The four teams that reach the Semi-Finals in the Asia Cup will earn qualification to the 2018 FIBA World Cup.

“The aim of the camp is to introduce the players to the concepts and game style that Sandy will install into the Opals program,” Goriss said.

“It also gives the coaching staff the opportunity to evaluate the players’ skill set that will help the team be successful in Bangalore.”

The 2017 Australian Opals Selection Camp Squad for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup: Surname First Name Bishop Abby Blicavs Sara Blicavs (nee Cumming) Stephanie Bunton Alex Ebzery Katie-Rae Garrick Maddie Griffin Kelsey Hodges Laura Hurst Natalie Jarry Rachel Kunek Alice Lavey Tessa Mansfield Lauren Mijovic Carley O’Hea Jenna Phillips Erin Smith Alanna Snell Belinda Tolo Marianna Tomlinson Louella Wallace Kristy