Basketball Australia has stuck by its decision to exclude star centre Liz Cambage from the Opals’ two-leg Olympic qualifying series against New Zealand starting on Saturday.
Cambage was on Sunday omitted from the 12-woman squad named to take on the Tall Ferns after skipping a team training camp in favour of paid job at a music festival last month.
The 23-year-old was incensed by the call to cut her from the squad, submitting a request to the BA board to be reinstated and threatening legal action.
She later dropped the legal threat and apologised to her teammates following a meeting with veteran superstar Lauren Jackson.
With Cambage ruled out and Jackson still injured, Olympic medallists Suzy Batkovic, Laura Hodges, Rachel Jarry and Belinda Snell headline the side to face their trans-Tasman rivals at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Saturday then in Tauranga, New Zealand on August 17.
The winner of the series will automatically qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Opals coach Brendan Joyce said deciding on the final-line up was tough, with Aimie Clydesdale, Madeleine Garrick and Elyse Penaluna all missing out despite their efforts in the warm-up series against Japan.
“We’ve selected a group that’s made a huge commitment and who also had an impact throughout camps and on tour and who have represented themselves well,” said Joyce.
“We’ve put together a very, very competitive team.”
The side includes three players – Sara Blicavs, Katie-Rae Ebzery and Stephanie Talbot – that only made their Opals debut in May during the team’s tour of Europe.
Opals team: Suzy Batkovic, Sara Blicavs, Natalie Burton, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Laura Hodges, Rachel Jarry, Alice Kunek, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Stephanie Talbot, Belinda Snell, Kelly Wilson.