Cambage, Jarry Named in Jayco Opals Team for Tour of Europe
The Jayco Australian Opals set off for Europe on tonight in what shapes as a defining six-game tour for the final make-up of the team that will compete at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.
Coming off an unbeaten tour of Japan last month, the Jayco Opals have made just one change to the 12 – adding Bendigo Spirit star Gabrielle Richards.
Richards comes into the team following the announcement of Jayco Opals legend Jenni Screen’s retirement from international basketball after winning the 2006 FIBA World Championship and two Olympic medals in a glorious international career.
Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce said this is the time for players to state their case to be part of the team that will travel to Turkey in late September.
“We’ve had a detailed and thorough preparation to this point, starting all the way back in January, and this is the final opportunity for the players to showcase their talent and desire to be a part of the Jayco Opals team for Turkey,” Joyce said.
“We’ve got Lauren (Jackson) making strides in her rehabilitation, while Erin (Phillips) and Penny (Taylor) are starring in the WNBA, so this tour takes on added importance in shaping the final make-up of the team.”
After a nail-biting one-point win over Japan to open the tour, the Jayco Opals were dominant, highlighted by their disciplined performance on the defensive end.
Joyce said the application of the defensive rules of the team was the most pleasing aspect of the tour and expects to see that same attitude when the team play their first game against the Czech Republic on Saturday 16 August AEST.
“The defensive performances were the best I’ve seen in my time with the Jayco Opals and that was one of the most pleasing aspects of the tour,” Joyce said.
“We’ve still got around 10 games before we begin our World Championship campaign, so to be executing our defensive principals to that standard at this stage of the preparation is a glowing endorsement of the players’ application.”
The Melbourne Boomers are again the best represented of the WNBL clubs, with four stars led by 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Rachel Jarry, Rebecca Allen, Tess Madgen and Natalie Burton.
After averaging 20.3 points per game on the Japan tour, Liz Cambage will be again a focal point for the Jayco Opals along with free-scoring Belinda Snell (15.8 points per game) – who was a standout across the four games.
Fellow Bendigo Spirit star Tessa Lavey joins fellow guards Leilani Mitchell and Natalie Hurst in the team, along with three-time Olympian Laura Hodges and Marianna Tolo.
The Jayco Opals will be without WNBA-based duo Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips, while Lauren Jackson continues her rehabilitation from knee surgery.
Jayco Australian Opals Team – Tour of Europe
Rebecca Allen – Melbourne Boomers
Natalie Burton – Melbourne Boomers
Laura Hodges – Adelaide Lightning
Natalie Hurst – Canberra Capitals/Canik BLD (Turkey)
Tessa Lavey – Bendigo Spirit
Tess Madgen – Melbourne Boomers
Leilani Mitchell – Sydney Uni Flames
Gabrielle Richards – Bendigo Spirit
Belinda Snell – Bendigo Spirit
Marianna Tolo – Bourges (France)