Newcastle basketballer Katie Ebzery will continue her career in national colours after being named in this year’s Opals squad.
The Rio Olympian and Commonwealth Games champion, who turned 29 on Tuesday, will join all of her silver-medal winning teammates from last year’s World Cup in the 22-player group.
The Australian women’s side was announced on Thursday and the 2019 schedule includes camps on the Gold Coast (April 12-18) and in the US (July 20-31) before the Asia Cup and Tokyo Olympic qualifiers later in the season.
“These camps will be a great opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate a larger group of players and target the ones who we believe will have the best chance of making the tournaments later in the year,” Opals coach Sandy Brondello told Basketball Australia media.
“Following the Asia Cup in September, we have the very important qualifiers for our region in November.
“A top-four finish during that qualifier will see us advance to the pre-Olympic tournament in February where we will play against the qualifiers from the rest of the world to determine the final 12 spots for Tokyo.
“With so much at stake, every camp and the games we have together will be crucial to continue our development and chemistry as a team so that we are performing at our best when it matters.”
Brondello has been travelling around the country watching Women’s National Basketball League matches, including Ebzery for the third-placed Perth Lynx.
“I think the overall standard of the WNBL has gotten better,” Brondello said.
“I am seeing more improved skills as individuals and as a team.
“The competition is fierce and the physicality and speed continues to get better which are all pleasing aspects for me.”
Meanwhile, fellow Newcastle product Lara McSpadden has grabbed the attention of former Opals representative now commentator Michelle Timms.
“If I had to put a youth team together for this league, she’d be top five in there,” Timms said of the Sydney Uni Flames player.