The Australian Opals team headed to China for a four-nation tournament between July 11-22 will feature Brydens Sydney Uni Flames players, Tahlia Tupaea, Katie-Rae Ebzery and coach, Cheryl Chambers.
The tournament will be played before the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain (22-30 September), giving chosen players the opportunity to compete against international competition and push for World Cup selection (in August) in the absence of Australian WNBA players.
In China, Australia (ranked fourth in the world) will take on Serbia in a 2016 Rio Olympics quarterfinal re-match which saw the eighth-ranked Serbia knock off the Opals. The Aussies will also face hosts, China (ranked tenth) and Argentina (15th) in a six-game series.
Tupaea is a 2017 WNBL Champion with the Flames and two-time FIBA Under-19 World Cup bronze medalist who is currently playing for the Sydney Uni Sparks in SEABL. Although she has worn the green and gold before at the junior level, this selection presents a huge opportunity for Tahlia.
“For Darcee (Garbin) and Tahlia, this is what you dream of- to play for the Opals, so I know they are both very excited,” said Chambers, who will lead the team in the absence of head coach, Sandy Brondello, who is coaching Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.
Ebzery, who is currently a free agent, is a Rio Olympian and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist. Despite being only 28-years of age, Ebzery is a seasoned Opal who has cemented her spot in the squad.
Following this tournament, the Opals will return to Australia where a camp will be held at the Centre of Excellence in August before a team is selected to compete in the FIBA Women’s World Cup.
The Opals will be looking to go one (rather, two) better this year after claiming bronze at the most recent World Cup in 2014.