Madgen, Francis to lead Emerging Opals
WNBL stars Tess Madgen and Cayla Francis headline the bumper Emerging Opals squad ahead of their six-game tour of China in June.
The two established stars of the WNBL competition are joined by a mix of young guns and seasoned veterans identified as potential Jayco Opals, making up the 12-player squad for the four-team tournament where the Emerging Opals will face the senior teams from China, Angola and trans-Tasman neighbour New Zealand.
After making her debut for the Jayco Opals in 2011, Madgen was unfortunate to miss out on selection for the London training squad after back-to-back MVP seasons with the Bendigo Spirit.
Making the move to join former Opals coach Tom Maher at Bulleen this off season, the 21-year-old will be out to use the Emerging Opals opportunity to re-establish herself in the senior program.
For Francis the chance to play for the Emerging Opals comes just days after being released from the Jayco Opals training squad for London.
Along with Madgen the Logan Thunder star will be joined by a host of established WNBL talent, including Townsville Fire point guard Rachael Flanagan, Dandenong WNBL Championship star Stephanie Cumming and Adelaide Lightning youngster Stephanie Talbot.
The AIS has again continued its proud history of producing international-calibre players with six of their rising stars making the grade including 2012 Betty Watson WNBL Rookie of the Year Carley Mijovic (now with Dandenong), Olivia Thompson (signed recently with Townsville), Mikhaela Donnelly (joined Logan), Casey Samuels, Tenaya Phillips and Darcee Garbin.
All six have represented Australia at international level in youth tournaments, but will get their first taste of competition against senior teams, with New Zealand in full preparations for their upcoming qualifying tournament for London.
The tour will run from June 5-17 with the Emerging Opals faces a hectic schedule of six games in eight days, starting with Angola on June 8 in Suzhou City.