Sandy Brondello named Opals head coach

Basketball Australia today has announced Sandy Brondello will coach the Opals in their four-year cycle towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

An agreement has been reached between Basketball Australia and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury that will see Brondello fulfill her current role as Mercury coach, while taking up the Opals job.

“We are enormously grateful for the support of the Mercury organisation in Sandy’s appointment,” Basketball Australia CEO, Anthony Moore, said in a statement.

“This is a fantastic acquisition for the Opals with Sandy owning an intimate knowledge of both the Opals and the international game. We are confident this will ensure we remain as one of the top basketball countries in the world.”

Brondello becomes the 11th coach in Opals history, after an 18-year playing career with Australia’s national women’s team.

"I am very honoured to be selected for the role of Opals head coach,” Brondello said.

“I am beyond excited about the opportunity and I look forward to being back with the Opals team and building towards success in Tokyo.”

After a disappointing campaign at the 2016 Rio Olympics, which saw Serbia eliminate the Opals in the quarterfinals, Brondello will be tasked with getting the squad back on track.

That process will begin at a camp in Phoenix on May 3-11, as the team begins preparations for the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup in July. However, Brondello will not be able to lead the Opals at that event, with Basketball Australia set to announce an alternative-coaching framework in the coming weeks.

A Basketball Australia representative confirmed to The Pick and Roll that Brondello’s absence is due to commitments with the Mercury.

If the Opals finish in the top four at the Asia Women’s Cup, they’ll advance to the 2018 FIBA World Championships.

Brondello will officially begin her head coaching stint with the Opals from May 1.

“Sandy’s success in Phoenix speaks for itself and we have always considered her one of the top coaches in our game,” Mercury General Manager, Jim Pitman, said.

“Her unparalleled preparation, high-level basketball IQ, and her ability to build relationships with players make her the perfect choice to lead Australia’s program. We are thrilled our head coach is now recognised as one of the best coaches in the world and we wish her the best of luck.”

The 2014 WNBA Coach of the Year, Brondello brings a wealth of experience and success to the Australian women’s basketball program.

A member of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, Brondello has three Olympic medals, two World Championship medals and her 302 games played with the Opals is third on the all-time list.

Additionally, the 48-year-old was named the 1995 WNBL MVP, had an impressive run in Europe and owns the second-best regular-season win-loss ratio in the WNBA since her Phoenix appointment.