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Opals twelve for Beijing test selected

Basketball Australia
Monday April 7, 2008

Following last week’s five day training camp and two international ‘friendlies’ against the New Zealand Tall Ferns at the AIS in Canberra, Basketball Australia has named twelve athletes to contend the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament in China.

The Opals will depart Australia on Thursday next week, with the six-nation tournament running from April 19-26. The United States, Cuba, Korea, New Zealand and China are the other competing nations.

Five World Champion Opals have been named in the team (Tully Bevilaqua, Hollie Grima, Emily McInerny, Erin Phillips and Emma Randall) while stars Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Kristi Harrower along with three other World Champion Opals will remain in Europe under contract.

The team is bolstered by Olympians Suzy Batkovic (Athens 2004), Michelle Brogan (Sydney 2000; Athens 2004), Natalie Porter (Athens 2004), and Alicia Poto (Athens 2004).

Nineteen year old Canberra Capital Abby Bishop, who represented Australia at the under-19, under-21 and senior levels in 2007, is the youngest member of the team.

Basketball Australia and Opals head coach Jan Stirling opted to select the strongest team available, with the blooding of new caps kept to a minimum.

“Certainly, we’re going to be challenged over at that test event,” Stirling said.

“It needs to be understood, we’ve got to get a group that can be competitive in that environment, because we are playing the United States, we are playing Cuba, we are playing China at full strength, so we certainly need to make sure that we equip ourselves well.

“At the end of the day we are gearing up for an Olympic campaign.”

While not named in the Opals team for this test event, seven athletes that were part of the Opals’ training camp last week (Jessica Foley, Cayla Francis, Kathleen Macleod, Jenna O’Hea, Samantha Richards, Marianna Tolo, Carly Wilson) have not been ruled out of contention for selection to Beijing.

The Australian Opals team:
(Name, Position, Current club)

Suzy Batkovic - Centre - (Ekaterinburg, Russia)
Tully Bevilaqua - Guard - (Canberra Capitals)
Abby Bishop - Forward - (Canberra Capitals)
Michelle Brogan - Forward - (Dandenong Rangers)
Renae Camino - Guard - (Adelaide Lightning)
Rohanee Cox - Forward - (Townsville Fire)
Hollie Grima - Forward/Centre - (Italmoka Pozzuoli, Italy)
Emily McInerny - Forward - Dandenong Rangers
Erin Phillips - Guard - (Adelaide Lightning)
Natalie Porter - Forward - (Sydney Uni Flames)
Alicia Poto - Guard - (Sydney Uni Flames)
Emma Randall - Centre - (Bulleen Melbourne Boomers)

Staff:
Head Coach: Jan Stirling
Assistant Coaches: Gary Fox and Peter Lonergan

Schedule for ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ Tournament - Beijing, China
(all times local)

April 19:
14:30 hours: New Zealand vs Cuba
16:45 hours: USA vs Australia
20:00 hours: China vs Korea

April 20:
14:30 hours: Cuba vs USA
16:45 hours: Korea vs New Zealand
20:00 hours: Australia vs China

April 21:
14:30 hours: USA vs Korea
16:45 hours: Australia vs Cuba
20:00 hours: China vs New Zealand

April 22: Rest Day

April 23:
16:45 hours: Korea vs Australia
20:00 hours: Cuba vs China
22:15 hours: New Zealand vs USA

April 24:
16:45 hours: Korea vs Cuba
20:00 hours: China vs USA
22:15 hours: Australia vs New Zealand

April 25: Rest Day

April 26:
13:00 hours: Game for the 5th-6th place
15:15 hours: Game for the 3rd-4th place
17:30 hours: Draw for the Olympic Basketball Tournaments
20:00 hours: Game for the 1st-2nd place
22:00 hours: Medal Ceremony

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