With several Opals currently competing in the WNBA, this tournament will provide members of the squad a chance to compete against international competition and impress the coaching staff before the World Cup team is selected in late August.
Australia (ranked fourth in the world) will take on Serbia (ranked eighth) in a re-match of the Rio Olympics Quarter-Final which saw the Opals eliminated from competition as well as China (ranked tenth) and Argentina (15th) in a six-game series.
“These games provide us with the opportunity to play three different styles which will be invaluable for our preparation,” said Opals head coach Sandy Brondello.
“Every game we have from now until the World Cup is extremely important as it allows us to continue to work on our chemistry, style of play and culture.
“While our WNBA players will be absent, it is a chance for other players in our squad to show their potential and push for selection for the World Cup team.”
Eight members of the Opals side that won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games will return to compete in the four-nation tournament in China.
They include Rio Olympians Katie-Rae Ebzery and Tessa Lavey as well as debutantes from that tournament Nicole Seekamp and Ezi Magbegor.
Lauren Mansfield also returns from a season in Europe after she won the silver medal at the FIBA Asia Cup last year while Tess Madgen has made her way back into the Opals team after recovering from an ACL injury.
In addition, Darcee Garbin (two-time WNBL Champion and 2017 World University Games gold medalist) and Tahlia Tupaea (2017 WNBL Champion and two-time FIBA Under-19 World Cup bronze medalist) will make their Opals debuts at this tournament which will be led by coaches Cheryl Chambers and Paul Goriss.
“For Darcee and Tahlia, this is what you dream of- to play for the Opals, so I know they are both very excited,” said Chambers.
“There are a couple of players that we haven’t been able to get a good look at, some through injury like Tahlia and Tess Madgen, but a couple of others that didn’t make the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games team so it will be good to see where they are at.”
The Opals will take on China, Serbia and Argentina in three games over three days before a rest day separates three re-matches over the last three days of the tournament.
“Along with getting a good look at different personnel for the Opals, we will be able to play against different styles, especially in Argentina and China who play very differently to Australia,” said Chambers.
Following this tournament, the Opals will return to Australia where a camp will be held at the Centre of Excellence in August before a team is selected to compete in the FIBA Women’s World Cup to be held in Tenerife, Spain from September 22-30.
The Opals will be aiming to repeat their gold-medal winning performance from 2006 while they also claimed the bronze medal in 1998, 2002 and at the most recent World Cup in 2014.
The Australian Opals Team for the Four-Nation Tournament in China:
|Stephanie Blicavs||MAC Adelaide Lightning (WNBL) / Kilsyth Cobras (SEABL)|
|Katie-Rae Ebzery||Free Agent|
|Darcee Garbin||JCU Townsville Fire (WNBL) / Townsville Flames (QBL)|
|Kelsey Griffin||University of Canberra Capitals (WNBL)|
|Alice Kunek||Eltham Wildcats (Big V)|
|Tessa Lavey||Jayco Dandenong Rangers (WNBL) / Dandenong Rangers (SEABL)|
|Tess Madgen||JCU Townsville Fire (WNBL) / Dandenong Rangers (SEABL)|
|Ezi Magbegor||Deakin Melbourne Boomers (WNBL) / Diamond Valley Eagles (SEABL)|
|Lauren Mansfield||Perth Lynx (WNBL) / Launceston Tornadoes (SEABL)|
|Jenna O’Hea||Deakin Melbourne Boomers (WNBL)|
|Nicole Seekamp||MAC Adelaide Lightning (WNBL) / South West Metro Pirates (QBL)|
|Tahlia Tupaea||Brydens Sydney Uni Flames (WNBL) / Sydney Uni Sparks (SEABL)|
|Wade Hobbs||Performance Analyst|
|Trish Fallon||Team Leader|
Image Courtesy of FIBA