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7 Tess Madgen (AUS), 4 Jenna O'hea (AUS), 8 Liz Cambage (AUS)
10/01/2019
Asia
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Liz Cambage, Alanna Smith headline Opals pool for FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2019

CANBERRA (FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2019) - Liz Cambage and Alanna Smith have been called up to headline Australia's pool for the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2019 in September.

"With so much at stake, every camp and the games we have together will be crucial to continue our development and chemistry as a team so that we are performing at our best when it matters." - Sandy Brondello

 
This after the Opals' successful campaign at the FIBA Basketball Women's World Cup 2018 in Tenerife, Spain, where they finished second place overall.

A quick glance at this recently announced pool reveals that it boasts of Australia's brightest women's hoops stars, not least of which is the 6ft 8in (203m) Cambage, who averaged close to 24 points and 11 rebounds at the Women's World Cup. Alongside her will be Stanford's Alanna Smith and a couple of other star performers in Tenerife: Bec Allen and Ezi Magbegor.

 

 Australia 27-woman pool for the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2019   
 Bec Allen  Abby Bishop  Sara Blicavs  Stephanie Blicavs
 Alexandra Bunton  Liz Cambage  Rebecca Cole  Katie Ebzery
 Darcee Garbin  Cayla George  Kelsey Griffin  Tessa Lavey
 Tess Madgen  Ezi Madbegor  Lauren Mansfield  Leilani Mitchell
 Lauren Nicholson  Jenna O'Hea  Lauren Scherf  Nicole Seekamp
 Alanna Smith  Stephanie Talbot  Marianna Tolo  Tahlia Tupaea
 Kristy Wallace Sami Whitcomb  Alex Wilson   


22 of the 27 women in the pool are currently competing in the 2018-2019 WNBL like Leilani Mitchell, Marianna Tolo and Sara Blicavs. Bec Allen, who plies her trade in Europe, is also joined by other Europe-based talents like Sami Whitcomb and Abby Bishop.

Head coach Sandy Brondello certainly has a lot of talent and size with which to work for the Women's Asia Cup, but she is also looking at improving the Opals' play at the point guard spot, which is why veterans like Mitchell and Wallace have been called up despite still being injured.

Training camp for the Opals begins on 12 April at the Gold Coast, where they will stay for about a week before flying to Phoenix, Arizona, for the last leg of the camp. Coach Brondello is expected to release the final roster by early August.

 
"These camps will be a great opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate a larger group of players and target the ones who we believe will have the best chance of making the tournaments later in the year," Brondello said.

She is excited to get a chance to win the Women's Asia Cup 2019, and she is also happy that some players who missed the Women's World Cup last year have been given another chance to crack the national team.

"I am most happy to see the injured players like Tolo, Mitchell and Sara Blicavs return to the squad," she said. "We faced a lot of adversity in 2018 with all of the injuries we encountered, and even though we had a great experience at the World Cup, having these players back will only make us a better team moving forward."

 
Coach Brondello knows the significance of this year's Women's Asia Cup, especially in the context of their greater objective, which is to qualify to the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Doing well at the Women's Asia Cup will augur well for Australia's chances to carry over that momentum to the Olympic Qualifiers.

While 2018 was a big year for the Opals, 2019 is the first step towards qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, tipping off with the FIBA Asia Cup.

"Following the Asia Cup in September, we have the very important qualifiers for our region in November," explained Brondello. "A top-four finish during that qualifier will see us advance to the Pre-Olympic tournament in February where we will play against the qualifiers from the rest of the world to determine the final 12 spots for Tokyo."

"With so much at stake," she added. "Every camp and the games we have together will be crucial to continue our development and chemistry as a team so that we are performing at our best when it matters."

FIBA