Tokyo 2021: Cambage replacement named
Liz Cambage’s Tokyo Games withdrawal has opened the door for her championship-winning Southside Flyers teammate Sara Blicavs to make her Olympic debut with the Opals in Tokyo.
Blicavs, a reliable and consistent forward, has been included in the Australian squad following Cambage’s departure due to mental health concerns.
The 28-year-old from Sunbury in regional Victoria also has strong family ties to the Olympic Games.
Blicavs’ father Andris represented Australia in basketball at the 1976 Montreal Games, while her mother Kara also donned the green and gold, including playing in the 1983 world championship.
Opals coach Sandy Brondello believes Blicavs’ versatility will be a great asset for the Opals, who will be aiming to win a medal in Tokyo without the team’s leading scorer in Cambage.
Liz Cambage still faces a Basketball Australia investigation. Picture: 7News MelbourneSource:Channel 7
“This is a dream that we all want to achieve in our careers and Sara’s been playing great,” Brondello said about Blicavs, a two-time WNBL champion and gold medallist with the Opals at the 2015 Oceania championship.
“She is a player that continues to get better every single year.
“She is very versatile, she can shoot, she can rebound, she does a lot of great things, and she has been in the Opals system for so long – she is going to slip in really smoothly.
“We’re excited to get her with us and that she gets an opportunity to go to an Olympic Games.”
Blicavs’ Olympic selection is a testament to her persistence and resilience following a tough year.
In May, she was cut from the Phoenix Mercury WNBA training camp.
On return to Australia she was then cut from the Opals’ Olympics squad while in hotel quarantine.
Now Blicavs will be rewarded with a spot in the Australian women‘s squad for Tokyo after Cambage’s withdrawal.
Sara Blicavs is Cambage’s replacement. Picture: Brendan RadkeSource:News Corp Australia
Blicavs’ inclusion comes as Cambage faces a Basketball Australia investigation following a physical and verbal altercation that occurred during a scrimmage game against Nigeria last week.
The altercation and words have been deemed as a breach of the sport’s integrity framework and code of conduct.
Cambage’s withdrawal has been challenging for the Opals, but Brondello has faith in Blicavs to perform strongly for the Australians in Tokyo.
“When you face some kind of adversity when someone leaves the team, it means you can replace them,” she said.
“It was really hard to pick the final 12, and Sara was really close to making this team, so it’s nothing she can’t do.
“It was more about the balance of the team, so to make that call the other day to say that she is the player we want made me happy.”
The Opals open their Tokyo Olympic campaign against Belgium next Tuesday night from 6.20pm (AEST).
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