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Opals' second injury replacement


AUSTRALIA’s elite-level playmaking depth undergoes a fierce microscope with Lauren Mansfield now joining Leilani Mitchell as a late Opals withdrawal ahead of the women’s FIBA World Cup in Tenerife, Spain.

Mitchell was replaced last week by scoring phenom Sami Whicomb while today, Rio Olympian Tessa Lavey joins the Opals in Spain with Mansfield out, her campaign derailed by plantar fasciitis.

“We are all so disappointed for Lauren but we know Tessa will be ready to fight and do whatever is asked of her,” Opals coach Sandy Brondello said.

“Her familiarity with the system and teammates will also enable a smooth transition as we move into the World Cup.”

(Lavey pictured receiving her new uniform from Brondello.)

The World Cup tips off in a week's time, Whitcomb another big boost for the team, coming off a WNBA championship sweep with Seattle Storm.

But Mitchell's playmaking will be missed, Erin Phillips - playmaker at the 2014 Worlds and in the 2016 Opals backcourt - now retrired.

Fellow Rio Olympian, Katie-Rae Ebzery, will shoulder most of Australia’s ball-carrying duties in Group B play at the World Cup against Nigeria (#34), Argentina (#15) and Turkey (#7).

Finishing first in the group automatically means advancing to the quarter-finals. A second or third place finish means surviving a KO quarter-final qualification fixture.

The Opals continue to look good on the track, beating Turkey 73-56 in a warmup match behind Liz Cambage’s 23-point, 8-rebound game highs, Tess Madgen with six assists.

The Opals beat Turkey for the Bronze Medal at the 2014 World Cup.

In other international news, Rio Olympian and the NBL’s reigning Larry Sengstock Medallist Chris Goulding returns to the Boomers' lineup for Monday’s FIBA World Cup Asian Zone qualifier against Kazakhstan in Bendigo.

Goulding, erroneously suspended for one international by FIBA for being victimised in that farce in the Philippines, replaces Jesse Wagstaff in the Australian team which battered Qatar 95-43 in Doha on Friday morning.

Sep 15

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