Basketball Australia has announced a 20-player squad ahead of February’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament where the Seven Consulting Opals will look to punch their ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
A 12-player team will be picked from the extended quad for the Group A tournament in Belem, Brazil where Australia will play the host nation, Germany and Serbia from February 8 to 11.
The Opals must finish top three in their group to qualify for next year’s Olympics.
The squad features all 12 players from the 2022 bronze-medal winning World Cup team including 2023 WNBA champion Cayla George.
Young gun Jade Melbourne, fresh from her rookie WNBA campaign, has been included as well as 19-year-old rising star Isobel Borlase who has earned selection in her first senior national squad.
Opals Head Coach Sandy Brondello said the squad featured plenty of international experience as well as Australia’s stars of the future.
“The qualifiers in Brazil are definitely a challenge, the standard of women’s basketball globally has lifted considerably since the last Olympics as the game continues to gain momentum,” she said.
“Our squad is a great mix of experience and exciting emerging talent, so we approach the qualifiers with confidence but great respect for our opposition. We will have limited preparation for these qualifiers, but we know with the Opals, we lift for the big occasion and with an Olympics spot on the line we can expect each player to bring it.”
Borlase, who co-captained the Gems at this year’s FIBA Under-19 World Cup, expressed her excited of making her first Opals squad.
“To be recognised amongst all these phenomenal players is pretty special and I’m going to do everything I can to try and put my best foot forward.”
Marianna Tolo, one of six squad members playing in Europe this season, says the Opals are up for the challenge.
“Olympic Qualifying Tournaments are always nerve wracking because of what’s on the line. It helps that we have a lot of players who have been together before and then there’s a sprinkling of new faces, we’ve got a good squad which I think is ready for the challenge.
“We’re in a really tough group. Brazil as the home team have a huge advantage. Serbia have always been good and we’ve lost some big games against them, their team is probably not as strong as it has been but they’re always really smart. Germany are an upcomer with a new coach and the Sabally sisters (Satou and Nyara) always bring x-factor.”
|Seven Consulting Opals Squad
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