Opals a mix of world medallists, rising stars
A dozen world silver medallists join a mix of youth and experience in a 22-strong Opals squad named to prepare for the 2019 FIBA women's Asia Cup and Olympic and World Cup qualifying events.
Coach Sandy Brondello has named six potential debutants in her squad ahead of a crucial year for the Australian women's basketball team, along with numerous players currently sidelined with injury.
Despite heading for the wooden spoon this WNBL season, Sydney Flames young guns Tahlia Tupaea and Alex Wilson have both been earmarked to make their first senior appearance in Australian colours in 2019.
While Tupaea is back playing after a month out with a concussion, Wilson has been sidelined for the WNBL season after undergoing knee surgery.
Other players looking to debut in 2019 are Bec Cole, Darcee Garbin, Lauren Nicholson and Kristy Wallace.
Also on an injury time out from the Flames after knee surgery but making the squad is Alex Bunton, who made her Opals debut at the world championships in 2018 where Australia finished with a silver medal.
The new Opals squad will attend a Gold Coast camp from April 12-18 and then meet up again in Phoenix, Arizona, from July 20-31 prior to the team for the Asia Cup being named in August.
"These camps will be a great opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate a larger group of players and target the ones who we believe will have the best chance of making the tournaments later in the year," Brondello said.
"I am most happy to see the injured players like (Marianna) Tolo, (Leilani) Mitchell and Sara Blicavs return to the squad. We faced a lot of adversity in 2018 with all of the injuries we encountered and even though we had a great experience at the World Cup, having these players back will only make us a better team moving forward."
After the Asia Cup in September the Opals are slated to play in regional qualifiers in November which will earns Australia a spot at the pre-Olympic tournament in February 2020.
Only 12 players will compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 2019 Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals squad: Rebecca Allen, Abby Bishop, Stephanie Blicavs, Sara Blicavs, Alexandra Bunton*, Elizabeth Cambage, Rebecca Cole, Katie Ebzery, Darcee Garbin, Cayla George, Kelsey Griffin, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Eziyoda Magbegor. Lauren Mansfield, Leilani Mitchell, Lauren Nicholson, Jenna O'Hea, Lauren Scherf, Nicole Seekamp, Alanna Smith, Stephanie Talbot, Marianna Tolo, Tahlia Tupaea, Kristy Wallace*, Sami Whitcomb, Alex Wilson*. *injured at time of squad announcement.