30.07.2008 – Graham Croker

Former Sydney University Flame Belinda Snell was back on her old turf on Monday, when the Australian Defence Force Opals and the Brazilian national team trained at the Sports and Aquatic Centre.

The two teams are playing two “friendly” internationals before heading off to the Beijing Olympic Games, where they are drawn in the same pool.

Snell, who spent many an hour training and playing on the Sports and Aquatic Centre courts, contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Opals accounted for Brazil 99-62 at Wollongong on Monday night. They are scheduled to meet again tonight at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Lauren Jackson was at her dominant best for the Opals, scoring a game-high 19 points and adding seven rebounds, three steals and one block in just 22 minutes on court at Wollongong, while Penny Taylor added 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal.

Claudia Maria Des Neves led the Brazilians with 12 points while Patricia De Oliveira Ferreira and Karla Cristina Martins Da Costa added 11 apiece.

The two-game series is a vital part of the Opals’ preparations for Beijing and are the only two games played by the full Opals team in Australia prior to their departure.

Snell was a member of the Australian Opals team that won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and gold medals at the 2006 FIBA World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

She began her senior career with the AIS in Canberra before linking with Sydney University. In the 1998-99 WNBL season she co-captained the Students to their first – and only – title. She played in four more championships deciders for Sydney University and was named in the WNBL All State Five in 2000-01, 2003-04 and 2004-05.

Snell left Australia in 2005 to play for La Spezia in the Italian Serie A1. She then made her debut for the Phoenix Mercury in the American WNBA and has played for them each year since.

With fellow Australian team-mate, Penny Taylor, she helped win the 2007 WNBA Championship for the Mercury.