‘An incredible journey’: Bronze medal game will be Jackson’s last for Opals
Australian legend Lauren Jackson has confirmed that Saturday’s match will be her last game for the Opals as the national team prepares to the bronze medal game at the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney.
The 41-year-old has made a stunning comeback this year, rising through the NBL1 competition with her hometown Albury-Wodonga Bandits to regain a place on the Australian roster where she has made an impact on and off the court.
Opals legend Lauren Jackson.Credit:Getty Images
While she has already flagged this would be her last tournament with the Opals, Jackson posted a message on her social media accounts on Saturday morning confirming her decision.
The Opals play Canada in the bronze medal game at 1pm (AEST) at Qudos Bank Arena, with the US to play China in the gold medal game at 4pm.
Jackson has already signed with Southside Flyers for what is expected to be her farewell WNBL season starting in November.
On Friday, World Cup officials told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that Jackson had had a significant impact on the ticket sales and visibility of the tournament which has seen bumper crowds for Opals and China games, including 11,916 fans at their semi-final on Friday night which China won 61-59.
“It just dawned on me that his will be my last game ever in the green and gold and how lucky I am to have had this opportunity to represent Australia and also say goodbye,” Jackson wrote.
“I didn’t get that chance all those years ago. I’m so proud of our Opals girls and regardless of the result this has been the most incredible journey of my basketball life.”
Jackson wasn’t able to play a farewell game after injuries forced her to retire ahead of the Rio Olympics and this has made her comeback even more poignant as she has been able to take in the moments at this World Cup.
The Opals also received some good news overnight with FIBA announcing Australian great Robyn Maher would be inducted into its hall of fame in November.
Maher played 372 times for the Opals between 1978 and 1999 including serving as captain of the team in 174 games.
Maher joins husband Tom who was inducted in 2021, and they are believed to be the first husband and wife duo in the hall of fame.
Andrew Gaze, Lindsay Gaze, Michele Timms and Jan Stirling are the other Australians in the FIBA hall of fame.
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