GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Former WNBA center Liz Cambage has been included in a 12-strong Australian squad that is aiming to win a medal at a sixth consecutive Olympic women’s basketball tournament.
This time, the so-called Opals want gold in Rio de Janeiro.
Cambage, Laura Hodges and Rachel Jarry return from the squad which lost the semifinals to the United States at London 2012 and finished with the bronze. Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips return after missing the London Games.
”Gold is always the goal – but we know there is a long way to getting the chance,” said Taylor, who has two Olympic silver medals and, at 35, will be the oldest member of the squad.
Taylor plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and has regular exposure to the top Americans.
”They are the defending gold medalists and are the pinnacle of our sport,” she said. ”They’re always who we see as our biggest competitor and we just want to give ourselves another chance to get in a position to be able to face them.”
Australia coach Brendan Joyce left out three-time Olympic medalist Suzy Batkovic and picked seven first-time Olympians in his squad. Lauren Jackson, who won three Olympic silver medals and one bronze, retired earlier in the year because of knee injuries.
Marianna Tolo, Australia’s highest scorer at the 2014 World Championship, recently returned from a 10-month injury layoff for an eight-game trip to Europe to confirm her place in the Olympic squad.
The Australians travel to Dallas next week for warmup matches against Canada, France and the Olympic and world champion U.S. team.
The Opals open their Olympic campaign against Brazil on Aug. 6 and have group matches against Turkey, France, Japan and Belarus.
Squad: Liz Cambage, Marianna Tolo, Cayla George, Stephanie Talbot, Rachel Jarry, Nat Burton, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Tessa Lavey, Leilani Mitchell, Laura Hodges, Erin Phillips, Penny Taylor.