Opals ready to turn to gold
22 June 2012
With three consecutive Olympic silver medals to their name, the Opals know that a fourth straight is not an option – they want gold.
The Opals have fallen at the final hurdle at each of the past three Olympic appearances to arch-rival USA but under the guidance of one of Australia’s most experienced basketballers in Lauren Jackson, the Opals will be looking to head on a golden journey in London.
Drawn alongside the likes of basketball superpowers Russia and Brazil and home team Great Britain, the Opals know they have a tough road ahead if they are to put themselves in the picture of a fourth straight gold medal playoff.
“There are a lot of strong teams in the group with Russia always having a great team at the Olympics and the Brazilians also being tough,” said head coach Carrie Graf.
“We know we have a tough pool and we are focusing on doing our best and winning each game to get to the finals. The experience of our core group who have been to the Olympic Games before is definitely going to be a factor of our success in London.”
With most of the side returning to Australia for an extended period prior to the Games, the extra time on the court working on combinations could be the boost the Opals need to take the next step in London.
“Many of the team were able to come home from the WNBA early so we could prepare and despite some injuries the preparation is moving along,” Graf said.
With a recent European tour under their belts the Opals have also claimed some positive results against teams they will face in London.
“We’ve just come back from a number of tough games over in Europe against the likes of Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey,” said young Opals star Liz Cambage.
“We also got a chance to get a couple of hard weeks of training in at the AIS base in Italy which has set us up well for the weeks leading into the Games.
“We are working well together and complement one another’s abilities.”
As one of the last Australian teams selected for the Games the final group of 12 now has 35 days to go before they open their Olympic campaign with a match against Great Britain.
“We just got the chance to play Olympic opponent Russia and now we have the Farewell Series against the Brazilians who we will also face in London which should be really interesting,” Cambage said.
“The team knows that the first match against the British side on their home soil late at night is going to be tough so we are definitely preparing for it.”