The Opals face their most important game since the 2016 Rio Olympics when they kick off their FIBA Women’s World Cup campaign against France at the Sydney SuperDome tonight at 8:30pm (AEST).
A first up win over France will be crucial for the Opals given their group includes the likes of Serbia, Canada, and Japan – and they must finish in the top two to progress to the quarterfinals.
France will field a youthful line up with big names – guard Marine Johannes, centre Sandrine Gruda and guard Bria Hartley not playing in Sydney.
While the Opals welcome Lauren Jackson back on their 12-strong roster after she remarkably came back from years of retirement to be selected aged 41.
“It’s been a very big ride, an intense one,” said Jackson, a four-time Olympic medallist and seven-time WNBA all-star who first played for the Opals 25 years ago.
“The girls are feeling pretty good and it’s a really exciting time, but a nervous time for me.” Now a mother, Australia’s greatest women’s player retired in 2016 with a persistent knee injury before launching a return in April to make her fifth World Cup.