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Basketball - 14. September 2007.

AUS - Jackson withdrawal opens door for young Bishop

It was hoped that Jackson would overcome niggling injuries to lead the reigning World Champion Opals against the Americans, but those hopes have been put to rest.

Belinda Snell, who was part of the starting five of the World Championship Gold Medal winning Opals team, has also had to withdraw due to the success of her WNBA club, Phoenix Mercury.

The Mercury is in the WNBA Finals series against Detroit Shock and if the series, currently tied 1-1 with the third game tipping off today at 11am AEST and broadcast on ESPN, requires all five games she will be playing in Detroit on Monday (Australian time), when the Opals play in Trenton, New Jersey.

FIBA World Championship Most Valuable Player Penny Taylor, a starter for Phoenix Mercury, had previously announced her unavailability.

Basketball Australia will now send Dandenong Rangers duo Emily McInerny and Sam Richards and Canberra Capitals forward Abby Bishop to the United States.

Bishop’s inclusion rounds out a stunning epoch for the 18-year old star, who will have represented Australia at the Under-19, Under-21 and Senior level in the past three months.

Bishop won a Silver Medal with the Sapphires at the 2007 FIBA World Championship for Under 21 Women in Moscow in July before finishing fifth with the Gems at the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in the Slovak Republic in August.

In related news, the Australian Defence Force Opals defeated China 77-70 overnight at a 4 Nations Tournament in Moscow.

Townsville Fire forward Rohanee Cox continued her thrust toward selection for Beijing, top scoring for the Opals with 15 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 20 minutes on court.

Australia will now play Russia in the final, which takes place in the early hours of Thursday morning, Australian time, before heading to the United States.

Bill Baxter

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