WNBA stars headline Opals Olympic squad announcement

The Australian Opals squad for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics were annoucned on Monday afternoon, with WNBA stars like Liz Cambage, Bec Allen, Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea headlining a talented roster list of 19 players.

The Opals, currently ranked number 2 in the world by FIBA, will have big expectations placed on their shoulders after a quarter-final exit in Rio saw an incredible run of five-straight Olympic medals come to an end.

"We are excited to have secured our spot for Tokyo and look forward to working hard over the next five months to ensure we are ready to play our best basketball,” says Opals head coach Sandy Brondello, who will be coaching her first Olympics after attending four as a player. “With that in mind, we are thrilled to name our Olympic squad, which we believe to be very strong with great versatility, depth and size. The first step of our preparation will begin next month with a camp on the Gold Coast. The coaches and I are anticipating some tough decisions in naming the final team.”

Included in the roster are five current WNBA players: Allen, Cambage, Leilani Mitchell, Alanna Smith and Sami Whitcomb. Allen, who has now played five seasons in the WNBA, had a massive season in 2019 with the New York Liberty, having a career high 28-point game, and averaging 42.6% from beyond the perimeter. Also having a big year is Cambage, who was named to the All-WNBA Second Team for 2019 and has ranked in 10th in the WNBA in scoring, seventh in rebounding, 11th in field goal percentage, and sixth in blocked shots.

15 WNBL players will feature on the squad, including Deakin Melbourne Boomers player Ezi Magbegor who was just awarded the WNBL Betty Watson Australian Youth Player of the Year. Other big names from the WNBL include the likes of, Jenna O’Hea and Katie-Rae Ebzery who were named in the WNBL All Star First-Team, as well as Cayla George, Rebecca Cole, Stephanie Talbot and Alice Kunek who were named in the All Star Second-Team.

“It reflects the diligent work, commitment and support that their WNBL clubs provide them as they aspire to earn the right to wear green & gold.”

The Opals will participate in their first camp of 2020 at the Gold Coast from 29th March – 5th April, and the final 12 selections will go on to compete in Tokyo, with the final team to be announced in late June.

2020 Australian Opals Olympic roster

NAMECURRENT TEAMRebecca AllenArka Gdynia Poland / New York LibertySara BlicavsJayco Southside FlyersElizabeth CambageShanxi Xing Rui Flame/ Las Vegas AcesRebecca ColeJayco Southside FlyersKatie-Rae EbzeryPerth LynxDarcee GarbinJCU Townsville FireCayla GeorgeDeakin Melbourne BoomersKelsey GriffinUniversity of Canberra CapitalsTessa LaveyBendigo SpiritTess MadgenJCU Townsville FireEzi MagbegorDeakin Melbourne BoomersLeilani MitchellJayco Southside FlyersLauren NicholsonAdelaide LightningJenna O'HeaJayco Southside FlyersNicole SeekampAdelaide LightningAlanna SmithIncheon Shinhan Bank S-Birds/ Phoenix MercuryStephanie TalbotAdelaide Lightning/Minnesota LynxMarianna ToloUniversity of Canberra CapitalsSami WhitcombBLMA France / Seattle Storm