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Opals named for Rio: Taylor and Phillips return, Batkovic left out
The Australian Opals have announced their final side of 12 for the Rio Olympic Games following their fourth camp held on the Gold Coast.
In what is a very similar lineup to the 2014 World Championship team that brought home bronze, head coach Brendan Joyce has opted for a similar dynamic Opals side to feed off the strong chemistry built two years ago.
Veteran Opal superstar Suzy Batkovic was omitted from the final team, with Joyce selecting a versatile front court comprising of Liz Cambage, Cayla George, Laura Hodges, Marianna Tolo and Natalie Burton. Selecting the Opals front court was always going to be a tough assignment given just how many talented players Joyce had at his disposal.
Making her Olympic debut is WNBL veteran Katie-Rae Ebzery, who has proved time and again in the Australian league just how much she deserves an opportunity. Joining Ebzery as first-time Olympians are Burton, George, Tessa Lavey, Leilani Mitchell, Steph Talbot and Marianna Tolo.
Tolo has made an incredible recovery from an ACL injury to make the deadline to join the Olympic campaign. After her successful tournament at the 2014 World Championships where she stepped up to the plate in the absence of Cambage, Tolo has well and truly earned her position in this Opals side.
Rebecca Allen, Abby Bishop and Tess Madgen all made great cases to be selected, but were unfortunate to miss out on the opportunity. Their omission along with that of Batkovic, proves just how much talent and depth Australia has.
The Opals side features 3 members who competed at the London Olympics, being Cambage, Rachel Jarry and Hodges. Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips re-join the Opals for an Olympic campaign after both missing out on the London tournament.
Joyce has made it known he was after similar team chemistry in playing a fast-paced style of game, similar to the dynamic Opals who featured two years ago at the World Championships.
“The good thing is that I believe a large chunk of players have proven themselves at the world championships and a large chunk of those players will go to the Olympics because we need stability,” Joyce explained to FairFax Media earlier this year.
The Opals will head to USA at the end of July to face Canada, France and the USA in their final warm-up tour ahead of Rio.
2016 Rio Olympics Australian Opals