15. Lauren  JACKSON (Australia)
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Lauren Jackson: ''Great opportunity for Australia to claim that title as the world's best''

GOLD COAST (Australia) - The WNBL will usher its 41st season, the longest elite women's sporting competition in Australia in November 2020.

Lauren Jackson, Basketball Australia's Head of Women in Basketball stated that the WNBL plays a crucial role in the development of Women's Basketball in Australia and the future of the Opals that will compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney.

"We are entering an extremely exciting period for Australian women's basketball, with the delayed Tokyo Olympics in July 2021 and Sydney set to host the 2022 Women's Basketball World Cup. With the Opals currently ranked number two in the world and the Gems finishing with the silver medal at last year's FIBA 19s World Cup, never has there been a greater opportunity for Australia to claim that title as the world's best women's basketball nation," Jackson stated.

"Australia is the envy of the basketball world for the quality of talent we produce both on and off the court. With an eye on the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Women's Basketball World Cup in Sydney, having a strong domestic league while providing opportunities for our current and emerging talent is our priority," she added.

The WNBL will tip-off on November 20-22 and will conclude their season on March  31, 2021. Jackson proudly praised the continued development of Women's Basketball in Australia and believed the WNBL plays a huge part in their growth and stressed the importance of pushing the momentum forward.

"Women's professional sport in Australia has taken giant leaps forward over recent years and it’s extremely important to Basketball Australia that the WNBL doesn’t regress during these times of global adversity we want the opposite to occur," explained Jackson.

The league opened its free agency period on June 4 and is expecting an influx of talent from their overseas stars including WNBA players.

"In addition to the sensational Australian talent who have either re-signed or on the Free Agency List for next season, the WNBL could welcome back some of our homegrown superstars including the likes of Liz Cambage and Alanna Smith, which would be phenomenal for the WNBL," Jackson shared.

Jackson mentioned that Basketball Australia is working hand in hand with the WNBL Commission to ensure the financial sustainability of the league during the COVID-19 crisis and expected to play games without fans in the first few months.

"To enable the league and clubs to operate their businesses accordingly and to give fans and broadcasters clarity over the new season, we are prepared to start the 2020-21 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season without fans should current COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings remain in place," she explained.

"Basketball Australia and the WNBL Commission are considering other initiatives to further support the league and teams during these unprecedented times while ensuring the integrity of Australia’s longest-running elite women’s sporting competition is not compromised," she ended.