The Opals have had a headline making month of December with two major announcements that have caught the eye of Aussie basketball fans. Elsewhere, the WNBL continues whilst fraught with recent scandal.
Basketball Australia made a major announcement with regards to Opals assistant coach Paul Goriss and WNBL referee Simon Cosier earlier this week. This followed their Opals Home World Cup squad announcement in early December which included a major player missing.
Opals major announcements in December
- UC Capitals coach Paul Goriss and referee Simon Cosier banned.
- Goriss is also a current Opals assistant coach.
- The upcoming Home World Cup squad was released without Liz Cabbage named.
More Australian women's sporting news can be found on The Women's Game.
The Women's National Basketball League had been underway for less than two weeks this season when it was hit by a major breach of sporting integrity scandal.
Opals assistant coach Paul Goriss, who is also currently head coach of the UC Capitals, and WNBL referee Simon Cossier were found guilty of prohibited conduct under Basketball Australia’s National Framework for Ethical Behaviour and Integrity in Basketball.
Cossier was found to have given Goriss a training scrimmage video of WNBL opponents Sydney Uni Flames. The referee had been given the footage to use for educational purposes.
In a statement by Basketball Australia announced just prior to Christmas, Chairman John Carey said:
“This incident was immediately referred to the Integrity Unit who undertook a full investigation and referred the matter to an Independent Hearing Panel.
"We will not tolerate this behaviour in basketball. It is unprofessional and extremely disappointing at any level of the game.”
Goriss has since been given a ban from all coaching duties including those relating to the Opals until January 20, 2022. Cosier was given a WNBL season long ban.
While the scandal has shocked the WNBL, the league has continued play. COVID-19 has resulted in postponed matches and the Perth Lynx having yet to play. However, twelve regular season games have taken place since the season kicked off on December 4, 2021.
Melbourne Boomers, who are the only WNBL side to have played five matches so far, are top of the ladder with four wins and one loss. Sydney Uni Flames are seventh in the ladder with three losses. Perth Lynx are bottom due to their lack of play this season. Flames' Anneli Maley is leading the league in stats for both points and rebounds after four games.
Opals FIBA Women's World Cup Squad
Basketball Australia released their Opals squad earlier this month for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup which will be held in Sydney in September 2022. The announcement made the news not for who was named but for who was not.
WNBA All-Star and former Opals player Liz Cambage was not among the 24-women listed. Cambage has had a contentious year with the Australian Women's national team, falling out with her teammates just prior to the Olympics and subsequently pulling out of the squad entirely.
The 30-year old has since taken to social media to clarify that it was her decision to continue to remove herself from Opals selection.
Opals' head coach Sandy Brondello spoke to ABC Sport about the exclusion of Cambage stating that the side are more united without the controversial player:
"Yes, they are way more united. Liz has come out and said she has zero interest. For me, that's okay — we have a decision.
"My whole mentality is to focus on the talent we do have," said Brondello.
"Liz has had a great career and she's a great player, but we know she's not a part of it now, so it allows us to say, 'OK, what do we have to do to be successful?'"
Brondello has decided to name a squad which includes a mixture of experience and youth including a number of Olympians and Asia Cup players from earlier this year. The coach stated that other players could be added to the preliminary list, with the squad remaining "fluid."
The 24 women who were named to the preliminary Opals squad are as follows:
Rebecca Allen, Zitina Aokuso, Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole, Keely Froling, Darcee Garbin, Cayla George, Shyla Heal, Tessa Lavey, Eziyoda Magbegor, Tess Madgen, Jade Melbourne, Leilani Mitchell, Lauren Nicholson, Jenna O’Hea, Maddison Rocci, Lauren Scherf, Alex Sharp, Alanna Smith, Stephanie Talbot, Marianna Tolo, Kristy Wallace, Abbey Wehrung, Sami Whitcomb
Twelve nations will have the chance to play at the upcoming World Cup. So far Australia have qualified for the tournament as hosts while the United States of America are qualified as Olympic Champions. Australia won the tournament once in 2006.
More Opals and WNBL news can be found on Basketball Australia's website.