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Dominant center Cambage headlines Australia team for Women's World Cup
MELBOURNE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - Giant center Liz Cambage is among the marquee players named in Australia's team for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup to be staged in Tenerife, Spain, next month.
The 2.03m (6ft 8in) Cambage, left out of the side that had a strong World Cup campaign four years ago in Turkey, finishing third, returned for the Rio de Janeiro Games and was the tournament's leading scorer at 23.5 points per game. The Opals, however, were a disappointing fifth after falling 73-71 to Serbia in the Quarter-Finals.
Cambage, 27, has underlined her status as one of the most dominant players in the WNBA this season with the Dallas Wings, averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks per game. She poured in a career-high 53 points in a 104-87 win over the New York Liberty on July 17.
|Australia 12-player roster for FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018|
|Rebecca Allen||Alex Bunton||Liz Cambage||Katie-Rae Ebzery|
|Cayla George||Tess Madgen||Ezi Magbegor||Lauren Mansfield|
|Leilani Mitchell||Jenna O'Hea||Alanna Smith||Stephanie Talbot|
In addition to Cambage are Rio Olympians Cayla George, Leilani Mitchell, Steph Talbot and Katie-Rae Ebzery. George is a Wings teammate of Cambage.
Jenna O'Hea, whose last big tournament with Australia was the London 2012 Olympics, is in the World Cup 12 as is 19-year-old center Ezi Magbegor, who represented the country at last year's FIBA Women's U19 Basketball World Cup in Italy. Magbegor was the MVP of the FIBA Women's U17 Basketball World Cup 2016 after leading Australia to the title.
Alex Bunton, who plays for the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames, has capped her comeback from several knee injuries by making the team.
"OUR BIGGEST STRENGTHS WILL BE OUR DEPTH, TEAMWORK, VERSATILITY AND DEFENSE. WE WILL HAVE LINE-UPS THAT CAN SCORE IN MULTIPLE WAYS AS WELL AS BE VERY STRONG DEFENSIVELY."
Australia coach Sandy Brondello said of Bunton: "She is another big body who will give us an inside presence on offense as well as provide us with another physical post player and strong rebounder at the defensive end.
"Alex has always had a lot of potential and now with a healthy body, I am looking forward to watching her development at the FIBA World Cup and beyond."
Ezi Magbegor, a star with Australia's youth sides, has been named in the Opals' World Cup team
Rebecca Allen, a member of the World Cup squad four years ago, and Tess Madgen, who last represented the Opals at the FIBA Oceania Championship in 2015, are in the team.
"Bec is a scorer but her length can create issues on defence as well," said Brondello. "Tess is a tough competitor who has worked hard to get back to full health. Her gritty play, tough defense and do-whatever-is-needed-for-the-team' attitude will be a great asset to us."
Kelsey Griffin, the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2017 MVP after Australia's second-place finish at the tournament in India, was in the expanded 20-player squad but has not been named in the team for Tenerife.
Brondello is confident Australia will have a very good team competing in FIBA's women's flagship competition.
"Our biggest strengths will be our depth, teamwork, versatility and defense," she said. "We will have line-ups that can score in multiple ways as well as be very strong defensively."
Australia are in Group B with Nigeria, Argentina and Turkey.
They open their tournament with a game against Nigeria on September 22.
"Our focus will be making sure we are ready to play at our best each and every game," said Brondello, who will be the head coach of Australia in a big tournament for the first time in her illustrious career.
As a player, Brondello was among the country's greatest, competing at four World Cups and three Olympics.
"If we can focus on the process, the result of winning a medal, which is what we expect of ourselves, will happen," she said.