The Jayco Australian Opals will take the next step in their preparations for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women this week, with a 12-strong squad named for the tour of the USA departing Wednesday.
Coming off a successful training camp on the Gold Coast earlier this month, Jayco Opals Head Coach Brendan Joyce has named a squad with an exciting mix of youth, experienced Olympians and seasoned WNBL stars looking to earn a spot on the plane to Turkey.
The tour will take in four cities across the USA in under two weeks, participating in scrimmages with four WNBA teams, including the Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, Atlanta Dream and San Antonio Silver Stars, as they build towards the start of the 2014 WNBA season.
The Tradies Canberra Capitals will be represented by veteran point guard Natalie Hurst and “Baby Bigs” Alex Bunton and Carley Mijovic. This caps off a massive year for Carley after being drafted in the 3rd round of the WNBA by the Washington Mystics. This tour will help her gauge the physicality and speed of the WNBA competition.
Natalie Hurst’s hard work continues to pay off for her as she looks to take over the point guard position vacated by Opals long time playmaker Kristi Harrower. She demonstrated that she can lead the team after the Opals beat the Tall Ferns in Canberra back in August.
For Alex Bunton this underlines the massive improvement she has shown since leaving the Australian Institute of Sport. She has finally been able to play without injury which has previously hampered her development as a potential future Australian Opal. She is continuing to learn how to fully utilise her formidable frame and this will be a great opportunity for her to test her skills on the international level.
The Jayco Opals depart to the USA on Wednesday with the first stop Seattle for scrimmages on the May 2 and 3 before heading east to Minnesota for a scrimmage with the defending WNBA Champion Lynx on May 5. Venturing south, the Jayco Opals will face the Atlanta Dream in scrimmage action on May 7 and 9 before rounding out the tour at the San Antonio Silver Stars on May 11.