The Opals have announced one of their strongest teams since the 2008 Beijing Olympics as they chase Australia’s first Olympic gold medal in basketball.
It will be no easy task to end the United States’ 24-year reign at the top of the podium, but Australia has stacked its squad with players full of international experience. This includes six players currently playing in the WNBA, with dual Olympian Jenna O’Hea at the helm.
After missing out on Rio, captain Jenna O’Hea spoke on the emotions of returning to the Olympics
“There’s a lot of mixed emotions with this announcement,” O’Hea said.
“To say I’m excited is an understatement but there’s also a huge sense of relief.
“It’s been a difficult 24 months with the delay of the Games and I’m proud of each and every Opals squad member for their strength and resilience throughout this process. The 12 of us are ready to come together and compete for that elusive Olympic gold medal.”
Tess Madgen was ecstatic to reach her dream after ten years in the Opals squad.
“After being in the squad for 10 years, this really is a dream come true,” Madgen said.
“It goes to show that you should never ever give up on your dreams and keep working every day to achieve them.
“Being a part of the Australian Olympic Team is the highest honour in basketball and the team and I can’t wait to get to Tokyo and continue the proud medal winning legacy of the Opals.”
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After a disappointing early exit from the 2016 Olympics, the Opals have ushered in a new era, naming four-time Olympian Sandy Brondello as head coach.
10 players are returning from that elite World Cup team, including all four Olympic debutants.
Brondello’s record as a head coach speaks for itself, coaching the Opals to a silver medal at the 2018 World Cup in India and her WNBA side the Phoenix Mercury to a Championship in her first year in the top job in 2014.
The former Opal spoke on being satisfied with the selection process this year, confident that they have selected the right team.
“Every selection process is a difficult one as we have so many quality players in our squad, but I feel we have named a very balanced team that will be able to adapt to any style of play we will confront in Tokyo,” Brondello said.
“We have good size, speed, toughness, versatility and experience which will all be required in a high-pressure situation [such] as the Olympics.
“Our 19 days of preparation leading into our first game in Olympic tournament will be greatly beneficial to the team to develop the necessary chemistry for us to be at our peak when it matters.
“We are all excited about the journey that lies ahead and will be doing everything we can to go for gold.“
Ranked number two in the world, Australia will have stiff competition in the group stage against two top 10 sides in Belgium and China, and 23rd in the world Puerto Rico.
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