SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA, Spain (AP) — Australia coach Sandy Brondello credits a training camp in February and playing in the Commonwealth Games at home as a major reason that her team has looked so fluid in its run to the semifinals of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.
"This year we had a 10-day camp in February with the whole group and that helped us," Brondello said. "They are in our system a little bit. I'm a new coach taking over and haven't spent too much time with them because of the WNBA, yet they have all bought in and for the most part we have a very unselfish team.
It also helps having one of the most dominant players in the world on the team in Liz Cambage.
"She definitely makes it easier as well," Brondello said smiling.
Cambage is averaging a tournament best 25.8 points a game while only playing 20.4 minutes.
"The Commonwealth Games got us started and set the tone for the year," Cambage said. "We got a few practice games under our belt, that's what helped us come together as a team."
Australia had to overcome a little bit of adversity before the tournament started when it lost both of its expected point guards to plantar fasciitis injuries.
"I got shooting guards playing point guards and they are doing a good job," Brondello said.
With five WNBA players on the roster, including Cambage and the injuries to the point guards, Brondello didn't have her full squad together until right before the World Cup started, as Sami Whitcomb was helping the Seattle Storm win a WNBA championship.
After training in Turkey, a tight scrimmage with the U.S. just before the Worlds began helped build some confidence. That has carried over.
The Australians have been the most dominant team in the tournament, more so than the rival U.S., winning by an average of 31.5 points. The Opals have been playing tremendous defense.
"That's something we pride ourselves on as Australians is being tough defenders," Australian guard Rebecca Allen said. "It's one of those Australia trademarks, so it's not something we had to worry about to bring in."
Next up for the Australians is the host nation Spain. Australia will try and reach the gold medal game for the first time since 2006 when the country won its lone championship.
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