Melbourne named in Opals’ World Cup squad

Jade Melbourne.

Gregor Mactaggart

TRARALGON export Jade Melbourne has been named in the Australian Opals squad for the FIBA Women’s World Cup.
Melbourne, 19, made a great impression during her debut at the Asia Cup earlier this year, and featured in a 24-player line-up named less than 300 days out from the event in Sydney.
The dynamic guard is the youngest player to be named in the squad and said she was excited by the prospect of playing in a World Cup on home soil.
“I’m excited to be named in a squad with such exceptional talented players, I have no expectations other than to give it everything and hopefully gain a spot in Sydney,” she said.
The squad features a blend of players who represented Australia at the Tokyo Olympics and the line-up which claimed the bronze medal at the Asia Cup in September.
Opals coach Sandy Brondello is looking forward to getting the squad together for the short runway into September 2022.
“I am really excited about the talent we have in Australian Basketball and the squad that we as coaches have put together for 2022 is a great mix of experience and youth,” Brondello said.
“I was particularly excited by some of the performances from the younger players in the Asia Cup post the Olympics who were given a taste of international basketball and there will be opportunities for those who work hard and make the most of their opportunities throughout the upcoming WNBL competition.
“I remember like yesterday how special it was to play in a World Cup on home soil. We look forward to having the same support as we had in 1994 to help us get back on the podium.”
The squad also features Traralgon-born Jenna O’Hea, along with other household names such as Marianna Tolo, Ezi Magbegor and Sara Blicavs.
But there was no place in the squad for Liz Cambage, who pulled out of Australia’s Olympic campaign.
The star centre could be an inclusion closer towards the tournament with Brondello confirming the squad will remain fluid and can be added to as athlete’s performances are assessed in various professional leagues over the coming months.