Basketball has been a part of the Commonwealth Games just once in the event’s storied history, and with the Opals one from one in taking out the gold they will be looking to continue the trend.
By David McPherson
Liz Cambage is back in the fold after spending time away from the team after the 2016 Olympics, and with the 203cm Opal back in action Australia is primed for success.
Cambage will be joined by Belinda Snell and Jenna O’Hea who were also a part of Australia’s silver-medal-winning team at the 2012 Olympics, with Snell the only remaining member from the 2006 Commonwealth gold.
Snell brings a wealth of experience to the team, having won three Olympic medals, a WNBA championship and three WNBL titles.
All WNBL clubs are represented in the Opals squad, which includes 2017 FIBA Asia Cup tournament MVP Kelsey Griffin, who has recovered from hip surgery.
Dandenong Rangers Tessa Lavey and Steph Blicavs, and Perth star Alice Kunek also performed strongly in the Asia Cup tournament where Australia claimed the silver medal.
The Opals have let it be known it’s gold or nothing when it comes to this year’s Games yet will still have some stiff competition for the major prize.
Canada loom as one of Australia’s biggest challengers with the world number five Canadian team ranked just one spot behind our Opals.
The Canadian team will enter a young squad, with none of its players over 24 years of age.
The Opals also have some youth in the mix as well with both Nicole Seekamp and 2018 WNBL rookie of the year Ezi Magbegor making their debut for the Opals in the tournament.
Magbegor is considered one of the most talented teenagers in all women’s basketball.
Katie Ebzery, Cayla George and Steph Talbot are some other Opals with Olympic experience having played in Rio, with Talbot fresh off a stint abroad playing in France.
The two teams will be joined by England and Mozambique in pool A, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals while the bottom two face the pool B leaders for the remaining positions.
Pool B is comprised of New Zealand, Jamaica, India and Malaysia.
Australia will take to the court for the preliminary group games from the 6th-9th of April, while the semi-finals and finals will play out from the 13-14th.