CANBERRA (Training camp) - The Australian Defence Force Opals and the New Zealand Tall Ferns will begin a five day joint training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra on Tuesday.
Eighteen of the 25 athletes named in the 2008 Australian Defence Force Opals squad will be in attendance while stars Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and five other World Champion Opals will remain in Europe under contractual obligations.
Suzy Batkovic, a star in Europe that has returned to Australia to recover from an ankle injury, will be a welcome sight for head coach Jan Stirling, as will reigning ADF WNBL MVP Natalie Porter who represented the Opals at Athens in 2004.
After four days of training Australia will play two matches against New Zealand at the AIS Training Hall. Saturday’s game tips off at 5:30pm (local) while Sunday’s game is scheduled for 11:15am. The games will be open to the media and public and no entry fee is required.
This week’s camp kicks off a grueling campaign for the reigning World Champions on the road to Beijing.
A team of twelve athletes will be announced next Tuesday (March 8) to travel to Beijing for a six-team ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament, where games will be played at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium between Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Cuba, Korea and China.
The Australian Defence Force Opals will then undergo a domestic training camp from June 10-14 at a venue to be determined before embarking on a European tour from June 21 to July 3.
A final camp will be held in Australia in late July before the team departs for Haining, China to contest the 2008 FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament from August 2-5.
The opening day of competition for women’s basketball in Beijing is August 9.