Brazil-bound Opals announce Olympic Qualifiers squad

WITH the 2024 Paris Olympics getting closer by the day, the Australian Opals have announced their squad for the Qualifying tournament in Brazil next month.

The Opals will face off against the host nation, Serbia, and Germany from February 7-11 in a bid to book a spot at the world’s premier sporting event later this year.

On Thursday, Basketball Australia announced the 12-player squad that will be heading over to South America for the tournament, with plenty of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) talent present.

Eight players that won bronze with the team in 2022 during the FIBA World Cup will suit up again to represent Australia, with the Opals now bringing some winning experience to the table.

The likes of Cayla George and Tess Madgen are among the WNBL stars that will be taking their talents to the international level once again.

Remarkably, Lauren Jackson – who is considered Australia’s greatest ever basketball player – will be donning the green and gold once more, despite coming into the tournament at 42 years of age in an incredible showing of longevity.

If the Opals achieve their goal at the tournament, it will mark Jackson’s fifth appearance at the Olympics, and her first appearance there since the London games in 2012.

The list also includes some exciting young talent, including Jade Melbourne – who will be returning to international action for the first time since 2021 – and Isobel Borlase. The Adelaide Lightning young gun has stormed onto the scene and is one of the nation’s brightest prospects, and will be making her international debut in a highly anticipated inclusion for the team.

Melbourne expressed her excitement around partnering up with another exciting talent.

“Playing for the Opals is the pinnacle for me,” she said. “I can’t wait to get on the plane, get to Brazil and do whatever I can to help the team qualify for Paris.

“I’m super excited to embark on this journey with Izzy Borlase, we were room mates at the Under 19 World Cup and are so happy for each other.”

Opals head coach Sandy Brondello said despite some unavailabilities, she is happy with the team selected.

“I’m really happy to finally announce the team, we have been hit with some injuries for sure but that’s the nature of what we do so we prepare for that,” Brondello said.

“Brazil is first up and with the home crowd they will be tough, Germany is a team on the rise and we have a really competitive history against Serbia, so there are no easy games.

“We have limited preparation time for this window but we will take that as a motivator, this is where our experienced players will really make a difference. We are completely locked in now on the three games and securing our Olympic spot.”

Opals Squad

Bec Allen
Sara Blicavs
Isabel Borlase
Cayla George
Lauren Jackson
Tess Madgen
Eziyoda Magbegor
Jade Melbourne
Steph Reid
Alanna Smith
Marianna Tolo
Sami Whitcomb

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