Lauren Jackson (r) in action in her final Opals game.
Lauren Jackson (r) was outstanding in her final game as the Opals took World Cup bronze in Sydney. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS
  • basketball

Jackson retires from Opals after Olympic qualification


February 11, 2024

Opals legend Lauren Jackson has confirmed she will not feature at the 2024 Paris Olympics after Australia qualified for the Games with an 85-52 thumping of Germany.

The 42-year-old officially announced her retirement from international basketball following Saturday’s win (Sunday AEDT) in Belem, Brazil – almost 18 months after she made a stunning comeback at the 2022 World Cup.

“I’m done … I love Brazil, Brazil has been very good to me,” said Jackson, who was part of the Opals’ victorious 2006 World Cup campaign in Brazil.

“How fitting that I get to finish my national career with Australia in Brazil. It’s very special.”

Lauren Jackson of the Opals.
 Jackson, 42, played her part as the Opals qualified for the Paris Olympics. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS 

Arguably Australia’s greatest-ever basketballer, Jackson initially retired from the Opals in 2016 before working her way back to fitness to join Sandy Brondello’s bench at the 2022 home World Cup.

Jackson was mostly restricted to cameo appearances at the tournament, before dominating Canada with 30 points in the victorious bronze-medal match.

She had been adamant at the time she would not feature for the Opals again, but after recovering from an achilles injury she was selected in a 20-player squad for the crucial Brazil qualifiers.

Jackson – who will continue in the WNBL with the Southside Flyers – came in midway through the opening term against Germany on Saturday and had an immediate impact, dishing a sizzling assist to Ezi Magbegor, then knocking down a three-pointer.

Her seven-point opening term off the bench helped the Opals seize control. 

Jackson was a member of the only Australian Opals team to win a World Cup, in 2006.

She has won four Olympic medals – including silver at three consecutive Games, starting with Sydney in 2000 when she competed as a teenager.

Tess Madgen.
 Australia captain Tess Madgen scored 15 points, including 13 in her side’s commanding first half. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS 

All 12 Opals got on the scoreboard against Germany, led by captain Tess Madgen’s 15 points, including 13 without a miss in her side’s commanding first half.

Bec Allen added 10 points, as did 19-year-old Isobel Borlase in an impressive debut in the green and gold.

Germany were dealt a pre-match blow with the injury-enforced absence of the Sabally sisters, their two best players.

Two-time WNBA All-Star Satou Sabally suffered a separated left shoulder against Serbia, while her power forward sibling Nyara, who plays for Opals coach Brondello at New York Liberty, was out with a knee injury.

“The biggest thing with the Sabally sisters being out was to not be complacent, because that can happen,” Brondello said.

“Our first half wasn’t perfect, but we were locked in.

“We knew we’d be qualifying for Paris if we won tonight.

“Happy to get that behind us.”

The depleted Germans missed their first nine efforts en route to a 26 per cent shooting night as Australia jumped ahead 8-0.

Borlase subbed in for her first international minutes with two minutes 28 seconds remaining in the second term and nailed a corner trey with her opening shot and poured in seven quick points, combining superbly in transition with Madgen, who buried three first-half 3-pointers without a miss.

Third-ranked Australia’s sterling defence dipped fractionally in a 21-21 third term, before the offences of both teams spluttered in a scrappy fourth quarter – but by then the Opals’ job was done.

Australia’s last match in the Olympic qualifying tournament is against world No.10 Serbia on Sunday (Monday AEDT).