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Opals tipped to shine in France

BASKETBALL Australia's latest Opals team for next month's pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in France should be pretty close to the final team to represent the nation at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Opals, currently enjoying a FIBA world ranking of #2 behind the USA team which beat them in the 2018 World Cup Final, takes on host nation France #5, Brazil #15 and Puerto Rico #23 in the final qualifying stage in Bourges from February 6-9.

And Australia only has to finish in the top three of the four teams to head on to Tokyo for the Olympics.

While not exactly "easy", it sure doesn't appear especially difficult either.

Returning to the lineup are Adelaide Lightning's WNBL captain Nicole Seekamp fresh off a league record 20 assists game, teammate and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Nicholson and burgeoning talent Alanna Smith.

Smith is playing in the Women’s Korean Basketball League and would not be far off a starter's role in the power forward spot.

“With the final pre-Olympic qualifications in February, we have chosen a well-balanced, versatile and tough group that is, most importantly, filled with players who are in good form," Opals coach Sandy Brondello said.

FREE THROW: Coach Sandy Brondello with host Brett Maher at a recent FT Foundation lunch.

“We are confident of achieving our goal of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics and look forward to continued improvement with the more time we have together.”

The WNBL will recess during the qualifying dates, the three matches available to watch via live stream on FIBA’s YouTube channel.

February 7 v France, 4am (AEDT) Palais des Sports du Prado Bourges, France
February 9 v Puerto Rico, 6:30am (AEDT), Palais des Sports du Prado Bourges, France
February 10 v Brazil, 12am (AEDT) Palais des Sports du Prado Bourges, France

The team is: Rebecca Allen (Arka Gdynia Poland, New York Liberty), Elizabeth Cambage (Shanxi Xing Rui Flame, Las Vegas Aces), Katie-Rae Ebzery (Perth Lynx), Cayla George (Deakin Melbourne Boomers), Ezi Magbegor (Deakin Melbourne Boomers), Leilani Mitchell (Phoenix Mercury, Jayco Southside Flyers), Lauren Nicholson (Adelaide Lightning), Jenna O'Hea (Jayco Southside Flyers), Nicole Seekamp (Adelaide Lightning), Alanna Smith (Incheon Shinhan Bank S-Birds, Phoenix Mercury), Stephanie Talbot (Minnesota Lynx, Adelaide Lightning), Marianna Tolo (University of Canberra Capitals).

Jan 10

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