Seattle Storm and Perth Lynx star Sami Whitcomb has been added to the Opals team for the 2018 FIBA World Cup for women that tips off in Tenerife, Spain on 22 September to replace the injured Leilani Mitchell.
Whitcomb, whose Storm are just 1 win away from capturing the 2018 WNBA Championship, will join the team following the conclusion of her WNBA commitments.
“I am honoured and humbled for this opportunity to represent the Opals,” said Whitcomb in the official release.
“Australia is my home and to now be a part of this amazing Opals team is beyond a dream. You work your whole life for these opportunities, so Sandy’s call was pretty emotional for me.
“The first thing I did was call my wife who was sleeping in Australia and share the news with her. Then it felt real. I can’t wait to put on that singlet and compete for Australia.”
Having originally been overlooked in favour of Mitchell, takes over the mantle as the team's only allowed naturalised player after become eligible earlier in the year. she comes into the side to replace Mitchell, who sustained a lower limb injury late in the WNBA season that has continued to restrict her ability and therefore contribution to the team. she has therefore decided to focus on her rehabilitation to be fit in time for th commencement of the 2018/19 WNBL season with the University of Canberra Capitals.
“I am very excited to be adding Sami to the Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals team for the World Cup,” said head coach Sandy Brondello.
“Sami is a dynamic scorer and will add another dimension to our team with her shooting ability and will to win. Her experience playing in the WNBA finals will also be a valuable asset during the World Cup.”
Whitcomb averaged 2.9 points in 10.5 minutes per game during the 2018 WNBA season for the Storm and is playing an important role for the Storm in the quest for the 2018 WNBA Championship.
The 29-year-old joined the Perth Lynx in 2015/16 and helped guide them to their first Grand Final appearance in 17 years. She elevated her game to new levels in 2016/17 where she set the all-time WNBL scoring record, tallying 652 points in 27 games and knocking down a league record 105 three-pointers on her way to being named the runner-up WNBL Most Valuable Player. Whitcomb then became a three-time All WNBL All-Star Five recipient in 2017/18, averaging 17.2 points per game.
The Opals are currently preparing for their World Cup campaign based in Paris, France, and going down to their hosts in their first game on tour, before bouncing back to defeat Latvia in their second outing. Dallas Wings star Liz Cambage has yet to suit up for the Opals in their campaign. They open their World Cup campaign against Nigeria on 22 September before tackling Argentina and Turkey in the group stage, with every game broadcast live on Fox Sports Australia.
Australian Opals for 2018 FIBA World Cup
Rebecca ALLEN / New York Liberty Alexandra BUNTON / Sydney Uni Flames Elizabeth CAMBAGE / Dallas Wings Katie-Rae EBZERY / Perth Lynx Cayla GEORGE / Dallas Wings Tess MADGEN / Townsville Fire Ezi MAGBEGOR / Melbourne Boomers Lauren MANSFIELD / Perth Lynx Jenna O’HEA / Melbourne Boomers Alanna SMITH / Stanford University Stephanie TALBOT / Phoenix Mercury Sami WHITCOMB | Seattle Storm
Opals World Cup Schedule (all times AEST)
22-Sep: vs Nigeria @ 10:30pm 23-Sep: vs Argentina @ 8:00pm 25-Sep: vs Turkey @ 10:30pm 26-Sep: Quarter-Final Qualifications 28-Sep: Quarter-Finals 29-Sep: Semi-Finals 30-Sep: Finals