2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, Australian squad announcement, Cayla Francis

Opals co-captain Cayla Francis has said she would welcome Lauren Jackson’s fairytale return for the World Cup but warns the Australian basketball legend could be rusty.

The four-time Olympian and three-time WNBA MVP has been added to Australia’s squad for the FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney, which begins on September 22.

The stunning return of Jackson, 41, follows a dominant run for Albury-Wodonga in the NBL1 this season, in which she averaged 32.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.

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This is despite the fact that she retired on the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympics due to chronic knee problems.

Francis says she would be thrilled for Jackson to return for the Opals, but also insisted on reality.

“She moves well and plays well, she has her touch, but she hasn’t played international basketball in nine years,” Francis said.

“So she should be coming very soon.

“But she was my idol growing up. I had pictures of her on my schoolbooks.

“I played with her in her last games against the Opals in 2013. It would come full circle. That would be really cool.

“She was a phenomenal player and at her peak the best in the world, and at 41 she would still be very valuable.”

The high point of Jackson’s glittering basketball career came in 2006 when Australia won a historic FIBA ​​gold medal, conquering the world championships.

This followed Australia’s gold medal triumph at the Commonwealth Games earlier in the year.

After the Opals World Cup squad was revealed, head coach Sandy Brondello described Jackson as “a fierce athlete and competitor.”

“She did the job and deserves her place in the team,” Brondello said.

“There are a lot of questions about the World Cup, but for now it’s one step at a time.

“Every athlete on our team is vying for a position to play. It’s at home, so we expect this level of intense competition.”

Jackson is a member of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.

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