Heal junior named in Opals squad

Shane Heal represented the Australian Boomers at four Olympics, now his daughter Shyla has a chance to follow in his footsteps for the Opals.

Heal junior has been named in a strong Opals senior squad in preparation for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The gun guard joins a formidable squad of 23 that is full of depth and talent, including a potent mix of veteran stars and young, fresh faces.

The 18-year-old’s rise to the Opals squad is a reward for years of success in the Australian junior ranks.

Heal won a gold medal and was named MVP on international debut for the Sapphires at the 2017 FIBA under 17 Oceania championship in Guam.

She also guided the Sapphires to gold at the FIBA under-16 Asian Championships in India in ’17 and a third-placed finish at the under-17 World Cup in Belarus in 2018.

Heal made her debut for the Gems at the 2019 under-19 World Cup in Thailand, winning a silver medal.

Opals coach Sandy Brondello can’t wait to work with some of Australia’s finest rising basketballers.

“While the core group has remained the same, we are excited to include some of our talented younger players,” Brondello said.

“The likes of Heal, Jaz Shelley, Maddie Rocci and Tiana Mangakahia have shown much improvement over the past few years and deserve their selection in this squad.

“While the Olympics postponement was disappointing but necessary, we are excited as a group to get back together in November and start the process of building our chemistry to become the best team possible for Tokyo and beyond.”

Shane Heal’s daughter Shyla was playing WNBL for the South East Queensland Stars despite only being 15 years of age. Picture: Patria JannidesSource:News Corp Australia

The Opals have named a squad in advance with the coronavirus pandemic casting uncertainty over the FIBA qualification window from November 8 to November 16, 2020.

The team will continue expectantly through to September when Basketball Australia will be advised about the status of FIBA qualification events.

The squad can be reduced and or increased should an athlete deliver outstanding performances during their competitive season as the Opals work to build their strongest side for the upcoming Olympics in 2021.

All coaches will continue to monitor and assess the elite performances of Australian athletes in professional leagues such as the WNBL, the European Leagues, the WNBA and the Chinese Basketball Association.

The 2020 Australian Opals squad:

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