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AUS - Joyce chooses roster for tournament in Japan
CANBERRA (FIBA World Championship for Women) - Australia head coach Brendan Joyce has named the 12 players who will head to Japan for a tournament involving the host nation and Mozambique as preparations intensify ahead of the FIBA World Championship for Women.
The Opals will play a total of four games in Asia and focus on utilising youth and the generation which could lead them on the international stage for many years to come.
There are six players in the squad who are 25 or younger, led by the 2012 Olympic duo of Liz Cambage and Rachel Jarry. They are joined by the ever-improving Rebecca Allen, along with Natalie Burton, Tessa Lavey and Tess Madgen.
Lavey gets her very first taste of a senior tour after impressing Joyce throughout the training camps and also due to her efforts for the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence Women's Team. The 21-year-old previously represented her nation at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship for Women back in 2010.
"These young players have earned this opportunity through their performance at the training camps and on tour," said Joyce in anticipation of the trip.
"The onus is now on them to take this chance and prove to the coaching staff they deserve to be part of the programme at the FIBA World Championship.
"This year alone the Opals have already completed five training camps and a tour of the USA, where we faced WNBA opposition.
"The ability to spend extended periods with the players has been invaluable as we have been able to work extensively not only on the Xs and Os, but also building culture and identity.
"Taking a look at the squad for the tour of Japan and you can't help but be excited to see so many young players getting the opportunity to press their claims for a spot in the FIBA World Championship team."
Joyce will be without the WNBA-based duo of Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips, while Lauren Jackson continues her rehabilitation from knee surgery. The Bendigo Spirit pair of Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson also miss the tour, while Alice Kunek continues to recover from her shoulder surgery.
Australia roster for tournament in Japan: Rebecca Allen, Natalie Burton, Elizabeth Cambage, Laura Hodges, Natalie Hurst, Rachel Jarry, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Leilani Mitchell, Jennifer Screen, Belinda Snell, Marianna Tolo.
Australia open their tour on Friday 25 July in the first of three games against Japan, before rounding it out against Mozambique on Tuesday 29 July.
They will then embark on a European tour in mid-August and then again in mid-September, prior to heading to Turkey.