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Basketball - 27. April 2011.

AUS/USA – Jackson to skip half of 2012 WNBA season to prepare for London Games

MELBOURNE (2012 London Olympics) - Lauren Jackson has decided to miss the first half of next year’s WNBA season with the Seattle Storm in order to prepare for the London Olympics with Australia.

The absence of the Opals great will be a huge blow for Seattle, the team Jackson led to last year’s title.

The short space of time between the WNBA Finals and the start of the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women led to Jackson and many players missing the preparations with their teams for the tournament in the Czech Republic.

Australia won the 2006 world title in Brazil but were beaten by the Czechs in the Quarter-Finals last year and ended up finishing fifth.

No announcement has been made on whether the other Australians in the WNBA, including Penny Taylor of Phoenix and Oklahoma City’s top draft pick Liz Cambage, will follow Jackson’s lead.

But Basketball Australia did say in a statement: “Jackson’s agreement leads the way for the complete Jayco Opals squad to utilize the period of May, June and July for rehabilitation, training and preparatory competition as the Opals target the 2012 Olympic gold medal.”

Jackson and Australia had high hopes of winning the Olympic title in Beijing three years ago but were blown out in the gold-medal game by the United States.

Getting to the top of the podium in London, especially with the 2.03m, 19-year-old center Cambage having emerged as one of the top players in the game, remains the aim of the Australians.

Jackson said in the Basketball Australia statement: “I am so excited about having the Opals as my only priority and commitment.

“I truly believe that this is the perfect preparation for the Jayco Opals to achieve history through winning Olympic gold.”

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