Australian Opals v Japan
at Minerdome on Friday, 7pm
TESSA Lavey will be in familiar territory when she lines up for the Australian Opals against Japan at the Minerdome on Friday night.
Lavey spent a shorting living in Ballarat as a youngster – playing basketball with Phoenix as an under-14.
Ballarat has been just one Victorian country base for Lavey. The now 22-year-old has also had stints at Swan Hill, Hamilton and Bendigo.
For Lavey, basketball began in Swan Hill. She said in her endeavours to develop as a player, her parents embarked on an eight-hour round trip with her to Eltham on Melbourne’s north-eastern fringe on a weekly basis. “The standard of play was exceptional compared to what I was used to and I eventually got better,” she told Basketball Australia.
It was after a move to Bendigo that Lavey made her first appearance for Vic Country.
“I thought it was the ultimate when I was a kid. Everyone wants to represent their state. Being a country team, it was hard for us with the high level of play compared to what we were used to. It was tough but we were definitely competitive.”
Since those days she has had six seasons in the WNBL, four in the SEABL and represented Australia in various international events, including the 2014 FIBA world championships in Turkey – the same year she was a member a Bendigo Spirit championship in the WNBL.
With a world championship bronze medal, Lavey has established herself as a permanent member of the Opals squad, which will comprise 15 players in their two-day stay in Ballarat.
The Opals arrive in Ballarat on Thursday for their third and last game against Japan – the final lead-up to the two-game 2016 Olympic Games qualifying series against New Zealand.
The Australian squad will have an open training session from 11.30am to 1pm at the Minerdome, with the public able to attend. The Opals and Japan will have closed shooting sessions on Friday. Basketball Ballarat elite teams administrator Melissa Thomas said that despite strong sales tickets were still available.