Katie Ebzery named in Emerging Opals squad

NEWCASTLE Hunters basketballer Katie Ebzery has taken the next step towards her ultimate goal of full-blown Australian selection by being named in the Emerging Opals squad to play six games on a tour of China next month.

The 22-year-old hotshot, who was the Waratah Basketball League’s most valuable player and leading scorer last year and is fourth in the league in scoring this season, is part of a 12-woman squad to play in a four-team tournament against senior national teams representing China, Angola and New Zealand.

Ebzery has represented Australia as a junior at the FIBA world under-19 championships in 2007 and was a member of the Australian team that contested the World University Games at Shenzhen in China last August.

Though not a part of the Opals’ plans for the London Olympic Games later this year, Ebzery hopes to break into the national side in time for the 2014 FIBA world championships in Turkey and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

‘‘It’s obviously a big honour to be selected to represent your country,’’ said Ebzery, who has been one of the Sydney Uni Flames’ leading lights for the past two Women’s National Basketball League campaigns.

‘‘I guess it just means that I’m still on the radar in terms of the Opals and that type of thing, which is always nice.’’

Meanwhile, Newcastle Olympians Suzy Batkovic and Jenni Screen are among the 14-woman Opals squad still training in Canberra this week as part of the final preparation for the London Olympics.

Opals coach Carrie Graf said Batkovic, the reigning WNBL MVP, dominated the first stage of training camp last week.

The squad was trimmed after that first week, and will be reduced again before the Opals play pre-Olympic warm-up tournaments in Europe and Australia.

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