Basketball Australia has named the Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals for the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup with one player set to make their international debut and a couple of big names returning to the line-up.
Held in Tenerife, Spain from September 22-30, the Chemist Warehouse Opals welcome Alex Bunton, whose commitment and dedication to her rehabilitation following several knee injuries has been rewarded with her inclusion in the national team.
“Alex has worked very hard to get back to full fitness under the guidance of Jan Legg, Strength and Conditioning Coach,” said coach Sandy Brondello.
“She is another big body who will give us an inside presence on offence as well as provide us with another physical post player and strong rebounder at the defensive end.
“Alex has always had a lot of potential and now with a healthy body, I am looking forward to watching her development at the FIBA World Cup and beyond.”
Bunton will join Rebecca Allen, who competed at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and Tess Madgen who last represented the Opals at the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships.
“Bec is a scorer but her length can create issues on defence as well,” said Brondello.
“Tess is a tough competitor who has worked hard to get back to full health. Her gritty play, tough defence and ‘do-whatever-is-needed-for-the-team’ attitude will be a great asset to us.”
Five players from Australia’s Rio Olympic team return to the line-up including current WNBA team-mates at the Dallas Wings- Liz Cambage and Cayla George, fellow WNBA players Leilani Mitchell and Steph Talbot as well as Katie-Rae Ebzery.
Rounding out the team are 2017 FIBA Asia Cup silver medalists Lauren Mansfield and Alanna Smith alongside 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medalists Ezi Magbegor and Jenna O’Hea.
“Our biggest strengths will be our depth, teamwork, versatility and defence,” said Brondello.
“We will have line-ups that can score in multiple ways as well as be very strong defensively.”
The depth of the Chemist Warehouse WNBL is also exemplified with four players from the Deakin Melbourne Boomers, two from the Perth Lynx and one player each from the Championship-winning JCU Townsville, Brydens Sydney Uni Flames and University of Canberra Capitals in the team.
Placed into Group B, the Chemist Warehouse Opals (ranked fourth in the world) will take on Nigeria (ranked 34th), Argentina (ranked 15th) and Turkey (ranked 7th) in the pool stage.
If they finish on top of Group B, Australia will automatically advance to the Quarter-Finals but a second or third-placed finish will see them placed into a Quarter-Final qualification game while the team that finishes fourth in the group will be knocked out.
The Opals claimed FIBA World Cup bronze medals in 1998, 2002 and 2014 as well as a gold medal in 2006 and will be aiming to replicate that success this year.
“Our focus will be making sure we are ready to play at our best each and every game,” said Brondello.
“If we can focus on the process, the result of winning a medal, which is what we expect of ourselves, will happen.”
FOX SPORTS Australia announced a landmark broadcast deal last year that included exclusive rights to the FIBA Women’s World Cup which means every game of the Chemist Warehouse Opals tournament will be shown live. See the schedule below.
The Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals Schedule for the FIBA Women’s World Cup (all times AEST):
September 22: Australia vs. Nigeria at 8.30pm
September 23: Australia vs. Argentina at 8.00pm
September 25: Australia vs. Turkey at 8.30pm
September 26: Quarter-Final Qualifications
September 28: Quarter-Finals
September 29: Semi-Finals
September 30: Medal Games
The Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals Team for the FIBA Women’s World Cup:
|Rebecca Allen||New York Liberty (WNBA)|
|Alexandra Bunton||Brydens Sydney Uni Flames|
|Elizabeth Cambage||Dallas Wings (WNBA)|
|Katie-Rae Ebzery||Perth Lynx|
|Cayla George||Deakin Melbourne Boomers|
|Tess Madgen||JCU Townsville Fire|
|Ezi Magbegor||Deakin Melbourne Boomers|
|Lauren Mansfield||Perth Lynx|
|Leilani Mitchell||University of Canberra Capitals|
|Jenna O’Hea||Deakin Melbourne Boomers|
|Alanna Smith||Stanford University|
|Stephanie Talbot||Deakin Melbourne Boomers|
|Sandy Brondello||Head Coach|
|Cheryl Chambers||Assistant Coach|
|Paul Goriss||Assistant Coach|
|Chris Lucas||Assistant Coach|
|Danielle Barwood||Team Doctor|
|Trine Bourke||Massage Therapist|
|Trish Fallon||Team Leader|