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Basketball - 31. August 2008.

Australia - Joint effort to ensure Opal superstar again lights up US

From www.smh.com.au
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Opals captain Lauren Jackson had surgery in Sydney yesterday to repair a painful problem in her ankle.

The Olympic silver medallist underwent keyhole surgery on her right ankle at St Vincent's Hospital to remove a bone spur, relieve stress on ligaments and remove old scar tissue from a previous ankle operation.

Jackson will spend four to six weeks recovering, then fly back to the US to complete her rehabilitation.

She required a painkilling injection before each game at the Olympics and decided to have the surgery now rather than risk the injury flaring up during the WNBA finals with her team, the Seattle Storm.

"I look forward to returning to Seattle after my surgery to cheer on the Storm," Jackson said during the Olympics.

"I'm disappointed that I won't be able to finish out the regular season, but I have confidence in my teammates. I'm hopeful that I can rejoin them for the WNBA finals."

The Storm resume their WNBA season tomorrow and without the assistance of their two-time MVP face a tough task to make the playoffs.

Five of their eight remaining games are on the road and they must win six all up.

Storm coach Brian Agler says he and the rest of the Storm are focused on moving forward without Jackson.

"We've been playing the last six-plus weeks without Lauren in practice and in games," Agler said, "so we have some experience in this situation."

Jackson has told Agler she hopes to return sooner than expected, but Agler isn't holding out for an early return.

"I think that's Lauren," said Agler.

"I think she's a very confident person, she wants to help our team. You know she's going to do everything she can to make it happen. Whether it can happen, that's debatable."

Meanwhile, Jackson's Opals teammate Erin Phillips will make her return to the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun when the season resumes in Indiana tomorrow.

The Australian point guard missed the entire 2007 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee while playing for Adelaide in January.

Phillips successfully rehabilitated the knee, but stayed in Australia to train for the Olympics and opted to miss the Sun's training camp in April.

"I can't wait to play," Phillips told the Sun's website.

"It's been two years since I played for this team and I can't believe I'm here. After two weeks of watching the absolute best basketball in the world, I'm excited to play."

Selected in the second round of the 2005 WNBA Draft, Phillips has played just one season with Connecticut, averaging 5.4 points per game with 80 assists and 73 rebounds in 2006.

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