Opals squad for FIBA Asia Cup announced

The Australian Opals wrapped up a week-long camp in Phoenix, and announced the final team and coaching staff for the FIBA Asia Cup, held in India from July 23-29.

Four members of the Rio Olympic campaign were named in the team: Katie Ebzery, Laura Hodges, Tessa Lavey and Marianna Tolo. Former Opals Belinda Snell and Abby Bishop also make their comeback into the national team.

Making their Opals debut will be naturalised Australian Kelsey Griffin, alongside point guard Lauren Mansfield and tall forward Alex Bunton.

Also in the team will be WNBL stalwarts Sara Blicavs, Stephanie Blicavs (nee Cumming) and Madeleine Garrick.

The camp, run by new Opals head coach Sandy Brondello was an opportunity for the team to gel together and integrate with the new coaches and support staff, as well as narrowing down the squad to a team of 12.

Alongside the announcement of the final team, Sandy Brondello revealed additions to the team’s coaching staff who will work alongside newly appointed Cheryl Chambers and Paul Goriss on the coaching panel. Former Opal and all-time-great, Penny Taylor will join the team’s coaching staff alongside Olaf Lange. Olaf has previously coached Logan in the WNBL and then made his way to prestigious roles in Europe.

“Penny and Olaf bring diverse knowledge, experience and teaching skills which the players can draw upon and the players have shown they are keen to learn from all of our coaching team. [Penny] has delivered an incredible legacy as a player, and now, having been working with me at the Mercury as an assistant, she has an intimate knowledge of my system that the players can tap into,” Brondello told Basketball Australia.

This will be the first time the Opals compete as part of the Asian Zone at the FIBA Asia Cup. A finish in the top four will guarantee the team a place at the 2018 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

The Opals will prepare to fly out to India on July 12 before their first game on July 23.

FIBA Asia Cup Australian Opals Team

Tessa LAVEY Alexandra BUNTON Lauren MANSFIELD Madeleine GARRICK Stephanie BLICAVS Kelsey GRIFFIN Katie EBZERY Laura HODGES Belinda SNELL Abby BISHOP Marianna TOLO Sara BLICAVS