The Opals will be without Lauren Jackson in Rio, but the freshly retired superstar believes the team can take the gold. And Liz Cambage is the key.
Megan Hustwaite

20 May 2016 - 7:30 AM  UPDATED 20 May 2016 - 7:30 AM

Take Lauren Jackson's word for it, the Opals can win gold in Rio.

In seven Olympic appearances Australia has secured a trio of silver medals (2000, 2004, 2008) and won bronze twice (1996, 2012). The recently-retired superstar and four-time Olympian expects the Opals to shine at the Games and says the team is capable of winning Australian basketball’s first ever gold medal.

“I think if the Opals are ever going to win a gold medal it’s going to be this year,’’ Jackson, former team captain and 2012 Australian flag bearer, said.

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“I think Brendan Joyce is the right coach to lead the way, with the team they’ve got and no injuries - they are ready.

“It breaks my heart knowing I won’t be with them, it’s actually really quite sobering, but I really think they can win a gold medal.”

Liz the whiz

Jackson says 203cm centre Liz Cambage is the catalyst for ultimate success and that no other international player can match her match-winning best.

The 24-year-old, who threw down the historic first-ever women’s Olympic dunk against Russia at the London Games, found some impressive form on return to national duties during Australia’s tour of Japan earlier this month top scoring in the Opals' three wins.

“I’m really excited to see Liz’s best because I don’t think anyone will be better. I don’t think anyone could be better, I’m telling you the honest truth,’’ Jackson said.

“The Opals are such an amazing team, the last couple of years the press we’ve been getting is not who we are as a team, it’s not our culture and has nothing to do with who we are as a team.

“I really think once the Olympics gets closer people are going to see how passionate and in particular how passionate Lizzie is about the team."

“Lizzie's the one. She’s here, she’s playing with the team and you know what I reckon come June/July she’ll be the biggest advocate for the Opals."

"And I hope she’s like me a little bit and it just becomes her blood."

The Opals squad heads to Europe next week for a two-week warm-up tour before returning to Australia for two training camps in June and July.

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