Following two camps at the Centre of Excellence, the side was selected with nine players returning from the gold medal winning performance at the FIBA Under-16 Asian Championships which qualified Australia for the Under-17 World Cup.
Joining them will be Isobel Anstey and Lily Scanlon, members of the Under-18 National Championship winning team with Vic Metro as well as Ruby Porter who claimed the silver medal at that tournament with SA Metro.
“This group has some great versatility, will be able to match-up against any team we meet at the World Cup and also has the ability to play a similar style that won us the gold medal two years ago,” said Sapphires coach Shannon Seebohm.
“During the camps, we spent a lot of time implementing our preferred style of play. There will be similarities to what we did last time but we have also made some adjustments which I am excited to see play out.
“Most importantly, we have maintained the philosophy that we had so much success with two years ago.”
The Sapphires created history in 2016 when they advanced through the FIBA Under-17 World Cup undefeated, handing the USA their first ever loss in tournament history in the Semi-Final before winning the gold medal with a 62-38 victory over Italy in the final.
Despite now entering this year’s tournament as the defending Champions, Seebohm does not believe that adds any extra pressure on the team.
“Every Australian side has aspirations of medalling at benchmarks events and this side is no different so there is no added pressure.
“The group in 2016 proved that Australia belongs on the international stage and provided a blueprint for success so this team is doing everything they can to be in the best position possible to replicate the gold medal.”
This year, the Sapphires will meet Angola (making their Under-17 World Cup debut), Latvia (who finished tenth last year) and Canada (who finished seventh in 2016) in the pool stage while teams such as Italy, USA and China will all be aiming to knock Australia off the throne.
“My assistant coaches have been working hard on opposition scouts, looking at tapes and talking with the team about who we will come up against,” said Seebohm.
“We know we need a team that can match up with the opponents we’ll meet in the pool stage as well as hopefully taking care of those countries we will meet later down the line.”
The Sapphires will depart for Belarus on July 11 with their first game scheduled for early morning Australian time on July 22.
“Between now and then we will stay in constant contact with the athletes,” said Seebohm.
“They will continue to train at home and work as hard as they can so when we meet up again in July, they are in great shape and we are as best prepared as we can be for the World Cup.”
All games of the tournament will be streamed through FIBA’s YouTube channel. Stay tuned to Basketball Australia for updates in the lead-up to the start of the tournament.
The Australian Sapphires Schedule for the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup (all times AEST):
July 22: Sapphires vs. Angola at 3am
July 23: Sapphires vs. Latvia at 12.45am
July 24: Sapphires vs. Canada at 11pm
July 25: Round of 16
July 27: Quarter-Finals
July 28: Semi-Finals
July 29: Bronze and Gold medal games
The Australian Sapphires Team for the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup:
|Shyla Heal||New South Wales|
|Isabel Palmer||New South Wales|
|Ruby Porter||South Australia|
|Shannon Seebohm||Head Coach|
|Viran de Silva||Physician|
|Kara Retford||Team Manager|