PREPARATIONS for Australia’s 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup are underway with an Under-17 squad announced for a May camp in Canberra.
Held at Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence between 5-7 May in Canberra, the Gems will begin the process to select a team for the tournament held in Bangkok, Thailand from 20-28 July.
24 players have been named in the squad, including eight that claimed bronze at the FIBA Asian Under-18 Championships last year which qualified the Gems for the Under-19 World Cup.
From that team Jaz Shelley was announced as the WNBL’s Rookie of the Year earlier this week. She competed in the 2018/19 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season alongside Chelsea D’Angelo for Melbourne Boomers.
In addition, Shelley also won the 2019 Under-20 Australian Championships with Victoria alongside Lily Scanlon, D’Angelo, Sophia Locandro, Agnes Emma-Nnopu, Madeline Puli and Isobel Anstey.
Victorian Under-20 Women head coach Dee Butler is also the head coach of the Australian Under-17 Gems and she is proud of the strong squad assembled with its flexibility and experience on the big stage.
“One of our main strengths in this squad is the depth of experience and exposure to international basketball,” Gems coach Dee Butler said. “We have a large number of athletes that have competed at Under-17 and Under-19 World Cups, at Oceania and Asia qualifying tournaments as well as those within the US college system.
“We also have elite athletes with the appropriate conditioning and athleticism needed to implement repeated defensive efforts so I’m hoping our defence can be a trademark of this group.”
The camp in May will allow the Gems to look at the impressive depth they have at each position while also beginning the implementation of the team’s structures and culture.
A final selection camp will then be held closer to the Under-19 World Cup in July while a couple of international practice games will finalise their preparations for the tournament.
They will face tough competition though in the form of Japan and South Korea who beat them during the Under-18 Asian Championships as well as the USA who have won seven gold medals at the tournament and defending Champions Russia.
“We are continually finding that the versatility of international players is increasing so we need to ensure we can cover that when selecting the team while also staying true to our own needs and style,” Butler said.
“Tournament play also presents different challenges so we have to ensure we factor that into our selection.
“This is an exciting time for this program and selection will be extremely difficult.
“Each athlete brings something different or unique to the squad so I’m looking forward to working with them and hopefully we can build towards a very successful tournament.”
VICTORIANS SELECTED FOR AUSTRALIAN GEMS SQUAD
Isobel Anstey – Victoria
Chelsea D’Angelo – Victoria
Charlie Dunn – Victoria
Agnes Emma-Nnopu – Victoria
Sophia Locandro – Victoria
Olivia Pollerd – Victoria
Gemma Potter – Victoria
Madi Puli – Victoria
Lily Scanlon – Victoria
Jaz Shelley – Victoria
Sara-Rose Smith – Victoria