Newcastle’s Katie Ebzery will share a common goal with the rest of her Opals squad as they kick start their FIBA Women’s World Cup campaign against Nigeria this Sunday – a second international title for Australia.
It’s a path that’s been paved with injuries and risk-concerns in the lead up to opening night in Tenerife, Spain, with question marks still surrounding Liz Cambage, Jenna O’Hea and Alex Bunton.
Point guards Leilani Mitchell and Lauren Mansfield have also both been removed from the playing roster in the past fortnight after foot injuries ruled them out of the massive international tournament.
Tessa Lavey – who represented Australia at Olympics in Brazil – and recently-crowned WNBA champion Sami Whitcomb have replaced the two outgoing players.
Despite the injuries that have ripped through the Australian camp, the ladies in green and gold enter the Spanish-hosted tournament as second-favourites behind the titanic United States, a team that includes five-time World Cup contestant Sue Bird.
Ebzery and the Opals will begin their campaign on Sunday, September 22 when they come up against 34th ranked Nigeria. The Pool B match will begin at 8.30pm AEST.
Australia will then take on 15th ranked Argentina (Sep 23 at 8pm) and 7th ranked Turkey (Sep 25 at 8.30pm) before potentially heading into quarter-finals on Sep 26-28.
If they finish on top of Group B, Australia will automatically advance to the Quarter-Finals but a second or third-placed finish will see them placed into a Quarter-Final qualification game while the team that finishes fourth in the group will be knocked out.
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The semi-finals for the world competition will be held on September 29. All medal games for the tournament will be played on September 30.
FOX SPORTS Australia announced a landmark broadcast deal last year that included exclusive rights to the FIBA Women’s World Cup which means every game of the Opals’ tournament will be shown live.
The Opals have won just one gold medal at the World Cup, in 2006. They have recorded bronze medal finishes in 1998, 2002 and 2014.
OPALS SQUAD: Rebecca Allen, Alexandra Bunton, Elizabeth Cambage, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Cayla George, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Ezi Magbegor, Jenna O’Hea, Alanna Smith, Stephanie Talbot, Sami Whitcomb.