Opals determined to strike gold in Rio

SUZY Batkovic isn't sure when she will call time on her outstanding career - but winning a gold medal at next year's Rio Olympics could make the decision a little easier.

The 34-year-old said the Opals - three-time silver-medallists at the Olympics - were daring to dream they could finally end the run of five-time champions the US in Rio.

"I'm a big believer in the saying 'anything is possible' - you just never know what can happen in this game," Batkovic told APN.

"It just takes a key player to be a little off their shooting percentage in one game and that can change things."

Before they start thinking about winning, however, the Aussies need to make sure they book their tickets to Rio.

That process will kick up a notch next week when they take on Japan in a three-game series in Dandenong, Frankston and Ballarat on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

That will be followed by next month's Oceania Series against New Zealand, where the winner automatically qualifies for the Olympics.

While superstars Lauren Jackson and captain Penny Taylor will miss the series because of persistent knee issues, the return of 203cm centre Liz Cambage is a big plus.

The 23-year-old has spent the past eight months recovering from a ruptured Achilles which saw her miss the 2014 world championship.

Cambage is among a trio of returning stars, alongside Tess Madgen - back from a maiden stint in the WNBA with Phoenix - and Rachel Jarry, who has been battling a knee injury.

As well as the established stars in the Opals squad, Batkovic said she was expecting big things from some emerging players, including 22-year-old forward Sarah Blicavs, the sister of Geelong AFL ruckman Mark Blicavs.

"Sarah is someone who is getting better and better - she has a great physique and is an extremely good athlete," Batkovic said.

She also said being able to mentor players such as Blicavs was one of the things that kept her motivated.

"I don't know when my last game will be, but I get asked a lot," the two-time Australian women's international player of the year said.

"Each day you get older you also get wiser, and I feel like I can still help out the group at the moment.

"The minute I feel I can no longer do that then I'll stop."

Opals' squad: Suzy Batkovic, Sara Blicavs, Natalie Burton, Elizabeth Cambage, Aimie Clydesdale, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Madeleine Garrick, Laura Hodges, Rachel Jarry, Alice Kunek, Tessa Lavey, Tess Madgen, Elyse Penaluna, Belinda Snell, Stephanie Talbot, Kelly Wilson.



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