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Opals plan slam-dunk in London

Elizabeth Cambage of the Opals celebrates with team-mates after the third match between the Australian Opals and Brazil at the State Basketball Centre on June 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.
Elizabeth Cambage of the Opals celebrates with team-mates after the third match between the Australian Opals and Brazil at the State Basketball Centre on June 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. Robert Prezioso - Getty Images

THE Opals, bridesmaids at the past three Olympics, aim to slam-dunk that tag in London.

Their campaign starts tomorrow with a showdown against Great Britain, a team they beat 87-63 during a recent six-game, two-week tour of Europe, at 7.15am AEST.

Ranked equal second in the world with Russia, the Australian women shape as the biggest challengers to favourites, the United States, to win gold.

The American men's team might have coined the phrase 'Dream Team', but the American women's team has had the dream run, winning gold in the past four Olympics, including beating the Opals in the past three gold medal games.

The Aussies have lost star Penny Taylor to a serious knee injury, but will be spearheaded by flag bearer Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage.

But three-time Olympian Suzy Batkovic said no-one was thinking beyond the match against Great Britain.

She's focused on the game against the hosts, a team being coached by former Opals mentor Tom Maher.

"They cannot be underestimated," Batkovic said. "He (Maher) has done a great job with them - they only lost by four points against Russia this week.

"We can't take them for granted. They know us and Tom knows us."

Australia's other group opponents are France, Russia, Brazil and Canada.

Topics:  australian opals london olympics


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