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AUS - Taylor counting down the days until Opals return
PHOENIX (FIBA World Championship for Women) - The last time Opals star Penny Taylor was playing in Istanbul it ended in tears and now she is hoping for an altogether different emotion when she returns to the city for the FIBA World Championship for Women.
Taylor will make an eagerly anticipated re-introduction to the Australian senior team after a four-year absence from action for her country.
Playing at the inaugural EuroLeague Women Final Eight in 2012 with powerhouse club Fenerbahce, the veteran suffered an ACL injury and one which not only ruined her hopes of success in that particular competition, but also shattered her dreams of stepping out at London 2012 in what would have been her third Olympic appearance.
"I am looking forward to playing in Turkey for that very reason," Taylor told FIBA.com.
"I haven't been able to play for my country and I missed the Olympics which was really difficult for me, so I'm looking forward to being able to put on the green and gold again.
"I think I have gotten over it, although it was a long road for me.
"I had to put in a lot of work and had great people helping me get back onto the court.
"Obviously the Olympics is a real highlight of any career and I got to play in two of them.
"But to miss the one in London where all my family is from, was hard for me."
There is little doubt that a driving force in getting her back in shape physically and recovering from the mental anguish of her costly injury has been the lure of playing in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury.
Taylor was quick to express her gratitude to the WNBA side and for what they have offered her as she looks to get back onto the radar as one of the indisputable global stars of the women's game.
In recent weeks, the 33-year-old has recaptured her form of old and has begun to light it up offensively as Phoenix tear up the Western Conference - posting a club record for successive victories in the process.
"The fact that I got to come back here to Phoenix and play with such a talented team in the best league in the world has really made up for everything that I missed out on," confirmed Taylor.
"We are definitely rolling right now and have good structure and good energy. We also know what is expected of us and we are feeling really confident.
"I always wanted to play in the best league in world and I love playing here, I just love being part of this team.
"They have stuck with me through some real adversity and especially in the past few years and for me, it's nice to be out there this year and to give something back."
Taylor has certainly made an indelible mark on the FIBA World Championship for Women, making her senior debut in the competition more than a decade ago in China and then posting an MVP display in Brazil eight years ago to carry the Opals to the top of the podium for the first time.
"I was very nervous (in 2002) and remember it was very difficult with a lot of fantastic players in every team we faced," she recalled.
"We really had some challenges, but I remember playing with experienced players and learning a lot from them.
"Then I think things just really fell into place for us during that tournament in 2006 and I don't really remember that much except the Final.
"I remember us being really focused. We had great team chemistry. We were a very talented team and we had a lot of luck on our side," concluded Taylor.
She is of course being modest, since it was a scorching 28-point defeat of Russia that propelled Australia to be crowned world champions in Sao Paulo.
And, with Taylor back on board this time around for her fourth outing at the FIBA World Championship for Women, there is little doubt that the medal prospects of the Opals will increase heading to Turkey - although her immediate aim is to ensure the Mercury continues to rise this summer.