Ebzery, Screen on basketball tour of China

NEWCASTLE Hunters products Jenni Screen and Katie Ebzery will play different roles when they tour China with Australian women’s basketball teams later this month.

In the absence of Opals captain Lauren Jackson and Novocastrian triple Olympian Suzy Batkovic, 31-year-old Screen will be one of the Opals’ elder stateswomen and team leaders for their three-game tour of China from June 16 to 24.

Ebzery was looking forward to continuing her international evolution after being named in the Emerging Opals to tour China from June 15 to 27 for a four-nations tournament against a Chinese development squad and the USA’s and Hungary’s World University Games teams.

It will be 23-year-old Ebzery’s second tour of duty with the Emerging Opals after she played in two three-game tournaments with the second-tier Australian squad in China 12 months ago.

“It will be very exciting to get some more international exposure at the four-nations tournament,” Ebzery told the Newcastle Herald yesterday after sitting university exams in Sydney. “They have picked a great bunch of younger girls so it will be fun to play with them. Hopefully we all play well and keep getting picked to represent Australia at future international tournaments.”

Ebzery was a member of the Australian team that finished third at the inaugural FIBA three-on-three world championships in Athens last year.

The former Hunters sharp-shooter and 2011 Waratah Basketball League MVP and leading scorer took this winter off from her WBL commitments with Newcastle.

In between Women’s National Basketball League campaigns with the Sydney Uni Flames, Ebzery is spending her off-season in the state capital to work on her skills and fitness, and to continue her tertiary studies to become a physical education teacher.

A dual Olympian and gold medallist at the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Brazil, Screen and fellow London Olympian Belinda Snell are two of eight players with Opals experience named in the 12-woman Australian squad to play China in three Tests on June 19, 21 and 23.

It will be the Opals’ first tournament under new coach Brendan Joyce.

Batkovic, who has transferred from Adelaide Lightning to Townsville Fire for the 2013-14 WNBL season, was not considered for the China tour as she is resting back and neck injuries.

Screen, Batkovic and Ebzery attended an Opals training camp in Canberra earlier this month as Joyce took his first steps towards selecting Australia’s squad for the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Turkey.

OPALS: Sara Blicavs (Bendigo), Natalie Burton (West Coast), Renae Camino (Sydney Uni), Tegan Cunningham (Logan), Cayla Francis (Aix-en-Provence, France), Natalie Hurst (Canberra), Tess Madgen (Bulleen), Jenni Screen (Adelaide), Belinda Snell (CCC Polkowice, Poland), Marianna Tolo (Aix-ene-Provence), Kristen Veal (Logan), Kelly Wilson (Bendigo).

EMERGING OPALS: Stephanie Cumming (Townsville), Mikhaela Donnelly (Logan), Katie Ebzery (Sydney Uni), Rosie Fadljevic (Dandenong), Kate Gaze (Saint Mary’s College), Emma Langford (Logan), Tessa Lavey (Bendigo), Amy Lewis (Adelaide), Lauren Mansfield (Adelaide), Nicole Seekamp (University of South Dakota), Alex Sheedy (Fresno State University), Olivia Thompson (Townsville).



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