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World Cup: Australian coach Sandy Brondello excited by squad without Liz Cambage

Australian coach Sandy Brondello is adamant that even without Liz Cambage the Opals have an “exciting” squad able to right the wrongs of a Tokyo Olympics shocker at next year’s home World Cup.

Cambage has snubbed the 2022 event on home soil, effectively ending her international career after being formally reprimanded by Basketball Australia for her involvement in a physical and verbal altercation with the Nigerian women’s team before the Olympics.

The two-time Olympian said her interest “was and still is ZERO” in representing Australia after refusing an invitation to be part of the 24-player squad that consists of nine members of the failed Tokyo campaign.

The Opals struggled without Cambage in Tokyo and were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Rising star Shyla Heal has been included in the big World Cup squad with a raft of players who helped the Opals to a bronze medal at September’s Asia Cup, which Brondello declared showed how much depth was in Australian basketball ranks.

“I am really excited about the talent we have in Australian basketball and the squad that we as coaches have put together for 2022 is a great mix of experience and youth,” she said.

“I was particularly excited by some of the performances from the younger players in the Asia Cup post the Olympics who were given a taste of international basketball and there will be opportunities for those who work hard and make the most of their opportunities throughout the upcoming WNBL competition.”

The squad will suit up for international duties starting in Serbia on February 10, with the potential for players to come in and out of the squad before the World Cup starts in Sydney in September 2022.

Brondello said the excitement of such a huge tournament on home soil, as she enjoyed as a player in 1994, couldn’t be underplayed.

“I remember like yesterday how special it was to play in a World Cup on home soil. We look forward to having the same support as we had in 1994 to help us get back on the podium,” she said.

“Our goal over the next 300 days is to continue to grow, develop and be better as individuals and as group so we can achieve this goal.”

Teenager Jade Melbourne, who turned 19 in August, is the youngest member of the squad, while Sami Whitcomb, who made her debut at the 2018 World Cup in Spain when Australia won silver, said it was “everything” to play at home.

“Playing in a World Cup in Australia is everything, it doesn’t get any better than this,” she said.

“It’s such an honour to suit up in the green and gold, and while you make the squad it doesn’t guarantee making the team, so for now I’ll keep my head down and keep working my butt off.”


Rebecca Allen, Zitina Aokuso, Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole, Keely Froling, Darcee Garbin, Cayla George, Shyla Heal, Tessa Lavey, Eziyoda Magbegor, Tess Madgen, Jade Melbourne, Leilani Mitchell, Lauren Nicholson, Jenna O’Hea, Maddison Rocci, Lauren Scherf, Alex Sharp, Alanna Smith, Stephanie Talbot, Marianna Tolo, Kristy Wallace, Abbey Wehrung, Sami Whitcomb.

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