Two years ago

Lauren Jackson added to Opals World Cup squad

Megan Hustwaite, which some may know from NBL1 Show and other various low-key NBL related media, has said on Twitter today that Lauren Jackson has been added to the Opals squad for this year's world cup - 25 years after her first national team appearance.

I'd thought this might be a chance of happening given her performance in the NBL1 but to actually see it is another thing altogether. I'll take a 41 year old Lauren Jackson who wears the colours with pride over the human trash bin that is Liz Cambage any day of the week. Hopefully she can make the team and I look forward to seeing just what she might still have in the tank in October.

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ME (he/kangaroo)  
Two years ago

From The Daily Telegraph:

"Lauren Jackson is a step closer to a sensational international comeback, earning selection in the Opals squad ahead of September's Women’s World Cup in Sydney.

Australia’s greatest ever basketballer, 41, will participate in a national team camp in Canberra next week, 25 years after she was first picked for the Australian team.

The four-time Olympic medallist and 2006 World champion, who last played for Australia in 2013, returned to the court for Albury Wodonga in NBL1 this season and has undergone rigorous testing to put herself in contention.

Jackson received the green light this week with Opals coach, and former Australian teammate, Sandy Brondello delivering the news from the US via Zoom.

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"I never expected to get to this point so every day I get past here is a blessing and I truly feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to be getting another shot after the way my career ended," Jackson said.

“There’s a little bit of apprehension. I’m definitely a little bit scared and excited but who knows what will happen with my body.

“I’ve been very cautious from day dot, not to get over excited or put any pressure on myself. it’s been a really long journey but every milestone that I’ve hit I’ve gone 'I didn’t think I’d get to this point’ but thought I’ll just push it a bit further and see how much further I can go.

“It kind of feels like I’m a kid again vying for a position. When I found out I made it into the squad I had a moment of shock, it’s reality now and getting into the mind frame again of competing to wear the green and gold again.”

Australian basketballer Lauren Jackson is a chance to play for the Opals at the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney in September.
Australian basketballer Lauren Jackson is a chance to play for the Opals at the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney in September.
Jackson announced in February she was making a comeback for home town Albury Wodonga in the stadium named after her and her desire to play in front of children Harry and Lenny.

She is averaging a conference-high 32.6 points and 11.6 rebounds in NBL1 East.

Last month, Basketball Australia’s high performance, medical and strength and conditioning teams collaborated on a plan with markers Jackson had to hit to take the next step.

It included loading, lower body strength testing, sprints, backing up from back-to-back training sessions and a filmed scrimmage under the watchful eye of acting Opals coach Cheryl Chambers in Melbourne a fortnight ago.

“I’ve been training since November and I knew if there was any chance of me even playing for Albury I had to get as strong as I could possibly get so I spent five months lifting every day and doing conditioning. A lot of work had been done in the background to get me on the court for Albury,” Jackson said.

“It really has been step-by-step and that’s how I’ve dealt with everything physically and mentally, to not overwhelm myself.”

Jackson starred for Australia during her Opals career.
Jackson starred for Australia during her Opals career.
Lauren Jackson playing for the Opals in 2006. Picture: AFP/Antonio Scorza
Lauren Jackson playing for the Opals in 2006. Picture: AFP/Antonio Scorza
Jackson believes she could play a role for and contribute to the No.3 ranked Opals.

“With my size, height and experience in the game I think what I can bring to the team is invaluable in terms of leadership,” she said.

“Once I step foot on a basketball court I’m pretty confident, it just comes naturally and has always just been part of who I am. I know I can bring that confidence to the girls, I can help them and that’s where I think I can be helpful.

“In terms of my talent and ability to get out there and score buckets, people know I can do that but I think it’s the other stuff that’s going to make a difference.”

Brondello said Jackson had worked hard to earn her place in the squad.

Opals' 2022 FIBA Women's World Cup fixtures
Competition starts on September 22 in Sydney
Group B
* September 22 - Australia vs France
* September 23 – Australia vs Mali
* September 25 – Australia vs Serbia
* September 26 – Australia vs Canada
* September 27 – Australia vs Japan

“Lauren is a fierce athlete and competitor. She has put in the work and is deserving of her place in the squad. There are lots of questions about the World Cup but for now it’s one step at a time, every athlete on our squad is vying for a position to play, it’s on home soil so we expect this intense level of competition.”

Maree and Gary Jackson both played basketball for Australia and are proud parents once more.

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“Mum and Dad are so over the moon, they’re so excited and they’ve seen the training and everything I’ve put into coming back.”

Jackson and the Opals begin camp on Monday."

Reply #894156 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

Surely she would have to prove herself.

Reply #894157 | Report this post

Two years ago

The goat, if she is good enough at the training camp, it's a no brainer. I’m for one hoping she makes it.

Reply #894158 | Report this post

ME (he/kangaroo)  
Two years ago

It could also be a bit of a public relations thing. The Cambage saga hasnt been good for the Opals profile but everyone loves a good comeback story. Even if she's past it I'd imagine she'd at least nab a spot in the 12 for experience

Reply #894160 | Report this post

Two years ago

It's a great story, it's difficult to think a 41 yo LJ is really up to it international basketball wise but regardless bring her in kick the tyres on her give every chance and unless she really struggles or breaks down with a serious injury slot her in even as a 12th man, she's going to offer a hell of a lot more than an other end of bench player would.

Reply #894162 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

Agree, a bit of public relations and some headlines but the issue for me is bringing another big when in reality the problem area for the opals is the guard spots.

Possibly Taking
Smith, Magbegor, George, Tolo and now Jackson, all 4/5s + Talbot, Allen and Blicavs who have played small ball 4 both in the wnbl and wnba. That leaves just 4 guard spots.

Fitness and mobility have been big issues and the new era of womens bball is fast paced, 3 pt shooting and ball movement. Picking a team ladened with bigs is a recipe for disaster.

Reply #894163 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

If sandy is really going with all those bigs, the team is likely

Whitcomb 1/2
PG tbd
Wallace-Madgen 2/1
Talbot 2/3
Allen 3
Blicavs 3/4
Magbegor-Smith 4/5
George 5/4
Tolo-Jackson 5

8 possible games in 10 days...

Reply #894164 | Report this post

Two years ago

At either end she could still be intimidating and effective, but her speed up and down the court will be a concern. She'd need the ball to be slowed down for her, which could challenge our guards to keep possession under more pressure while still getting it out of our half in time.

I think that she should be selected as 12th player even if it’s just for her influence on the team culture and for raising public interest.

Reply #894165 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

Who drops out to make way?

Reply #894167 | Report this post

Greg S  
Two years ago

Blicavs misses,you would have to think Maley is some sort of chance to make it,but strange things happen with Brondello in charge,throw in Melbourne for experience,she has leg speed and no fear

Reply #894170 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

Very much doubt sandy will look to youth, old school coach who loves vets.
Loves to go tall n strong over smaller players with speed and skill.
Melbourne getting 1/3 as many minutes vs Japan probably means she won't make it, Reid also benched the majority of the time.
Blicavs was probably best player vs Japan, wouldnt suprise me if Maley is cut for being 'undersized’ according to sandy, given her comments about Maley having to be a 3 man and being behind players like Talbot, Allen, Blicavs. Kunek was told the same thing.

Reply #894171 | Report this post

Two years ago

it would be awesome if LJ makes it and I hope it happens.

At the end of the day - I would look at our ability to match up on other teams and where our advantages are.

Reply #894173 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

16 players for NY camp?

Pg Whitcomb / Rocci / Heal - Reid dropped
Sg Talbot / Madgen / Wallace / Melbourne
Sf Allen / Blicavs / Maley - Nicholson dropped
Pf Magbegor / Smith / Garbin - Froling dropped
C George / Tolo / Jackson - Scherf dropped

Reply #894174 | Report this post

Two years ago

given how she's dominated NBL1, it's not beyond the realms of possibility

Diana Taurisi and Sue Bird are still starting in the WNBA

I don't think the 6 or 7 years is the main issue. When you've been playing basketball your whole life, after 6 or 8 months back, you'll find much of your skills again

The question was going to be her body. If that keeps holding up, why wouldn't she be vying for a spot?

Reply #894176 | Report this post

Old Mate  
Two years ago

This seems to be a bit of a PR stunt which is completely understandable after the Cambage debacle, has anyone watched the standard that she's going against in NBL1?

Reply #894180 | Report this post

Two years ago

Can she play whilst taking her Cannabis Oil, isn't it a banned substance?...…surprised she’s not been drug tested in NBL1, let alone on the international stage.
Absolutely an amazing player in her day, and yep killing it in MBL1 is the NSW league, but that’s not a great measure let’s be honest.
And what about those younger players , when do they get their opportunities, crazy, bri g her on as a mentor, but as a player, don’t think it’s the best move,
But it was expected the second she announced her NBL1 debut, Husstewaite and her off sider literally made their "nbl1 show" the LJ fan club show and the rest of the leagues just didn’t count. And we all know how Brondello loves her seniors

Reply #894181 | Report this post

Cosmo Spacely  
Two years ago

Problem is with the lack of a suitable backup for Whitcomb , Heal and Rocci are not at the standard required. The Jackson thing is a PR stunt to raise the profile of the Opals and divert from the Cabbage debacle.

If our national program has to use a 41 year old regardless of how good she was at her prime than questions should be asked about the lack of players that are being turned out of the BA Pathways.

Reply #894189 | Report this post

Two years ago

LV it's NBL1 East, a 5’10" league at best. No trophy in dominating that competition

Reply #894190 | Report this post

Two years ago

Even if she barely plays, as someone else noted she brings far more to the end of a bench than any other 12th man could. Her experience and knowledge is worth it in itself.

Go LJ!

Reply #894215 | Report this post

Two years ago

Pau Gasol and Scola played for Spain/Argentina until they were 41?

LJ is one of the top what, 5? 10? Women's players ever?

She's been back playing for a while (low level but still)

At face value, if her body's feeling OK, I don't see why it's surprising that she could be at least in the running for a bench spot for the Australian team

Reply #894216 | Report this post

Two years ago

""Even if she barely plays, as someone else noted she brings far more to the end of a bench than any other 12th man could. Her experience and knowledge is worth it in itself.

Go LJ!""

well that's not exactly correct, putting her in takes the opportunity away fro another 4 years for a player who has been working just as hard if not harder to get that elusive spot.

The opals are filled with tall options, its the guard spot we struggle in, if she could run the point, then sure.

Maley wont make the team, Reid, Melbourne Nicholson and probably Smith wont either. They are going to come up against, fast quick athletic teams, something that Jackson isn't coming up against now. The reality is whilst her big numbers in NBL1 appear to be reflective of her past abilities, someone of her caliber in such an undersized and frankly undermanned league as NBL1 East has nothing to challenge her.
So the question is, at this camp' will she actually really have to apply herself, or is it a done deal. Id say a 'done deal' because no way are basketball Australia going to see her NOT make the cut.

You can understand why she may think she should get another shot, but honestly at 41, hasn't she had her time, why cant she allow those other girls who have continued to walk in the shadow of the likes of LJ and Cabbage their chance.
Its a very small window in the big scheme of basketball at that level, and personally I think she's had her time to experience it. Sitting her even at the 12th removes that chance for someone else, you want her motivation for the team, put her on the coaching squad, she can help at trainings, improve the newer fresher blood coming through. Just my thoughts

Reply #894224 | Report this post

ME (he/kangaroo)  
Two years ago

Her numbers suggest she's a clear level or three above the competition she is playing in. And anyone who can score 32 points on average in any league has some game left in the tank. People are treating it as if her inclusion is a foregone conclusion and I am not sure it is just yet. It's definitely a great story. But she has proven enough in her career and this season to get a look in camp and I always suspected she would. If she really cant get up and down with the rest of the girls on that same level I dont think she would actually, in good conscience bring the team down by being there. But I think she can probably do it and she's put her hand up because she believes that too. What is interesting to me now is will this team even be any good? Certainly they seemed to fall off a cliff last Olympics - granted in the face of the Cambage saga.

Reply #894228 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

Maybe let's see how she goes next month in the U.S...
If she doesn’t attend, you know the whole thing was a setup…

Reply #894231 | Report this post

Two years ago

LJ would deliver in the clutch - would be a great impact player.

Also would bring the fans.

Reply #894235 | Report this post

Dog 55  
Two years ago

I'm with ME on this. The only way anyone will know for sure is if she is given a shot in training camp. As everyone agrees, NBL1 East is not a great standard but that is not her fault, so going to training camp and scrimmaging against the best we have is the only way for her (and Sandy) to find out where she does actually sit. I also trust that she would be her own harshest critic and might possibly even disagree with Sandy if Sandy selects her on anything other than pure capacity to do the job.

Reply #894241 | Report this post

Two years ago

It's probably a PR exercise but I don't care. Love it. The opals arent a realistic chance at gold in Sydney so let's have some fun with it

Reply #894242 | Report this post

Weedy Slug  
Two years ago

Aus vs
+ Jackson opponent

Pool play
France loss + Gruda, Ciak, Rupert
Mali win + Kone, Coulibaly, Traore
Serbia 50/50 + Stankovic, Krajisnik, Dugalic
Canada 50/50 + Achonwa, Alexander, Amihere
Japan loss + Tokashiki, Takada, Okoye

Crossover if we beat 1 of Canada or Serbia

1/4 opponents
USA loss + Wilson, Griner, Fowles
China loss + Li, Han, Yang
Belgium loss + Meeseman, Linskens, Geldof
Bosnia 50/50 + Jones, Brcanovic, Heljic
Puerto Rico won't make finals
South Korea won’t make finals

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