JCU Townsville Fire recruit Zitina Aokuso has been selected to represent Australia at next month’s Under-19 World Cup in Italy.
Earlier today, Basketball Australia announced their 12-player squad for the biennial tournament, with Aokuso the sole Queenslander named for the Gems.
Australia qualified for the World Cup by defeating New Zealand in the Oceania qualifier last year, with Aokuso named MVP of the Grand Final.
The power forward finishing with nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds en route to MVP honours.
“Selection was not easy with the quality of the squad but we are really excited about the depth and versatility of the team,” head coach Dee Butler said.
“The team has a wealth of experience underpinned by their development at the CoE through their state-based high performance programs while some have previous World Championship involvement.”
The Gems have been drawn into Group D for the tournament and will be aiming to get on the podium for the third straight time after winning bronze medals in 2015 and 2013 while they were also silver medalists in 1997 and gold medalists in 1993.
“We are really looking forward to the exciting challenges in our pre-World cup tournament in France and then our ultimate objective to medal at the World Cup in Italy,” Butler said.
“We know that we will face strong opposition with a number of the European teams and Japan and Korea as always will be highly skilled and extremely quick.”
Australian Gems squad: Zitina Aokuso, Chloe Bibby, Monique Conti, Abby Cubillo, Ezi Magbegor, Anneli Maley, Lara McSpadden, Rebecca Pizzey, Maddison Rocci, Kiera Rowe, Jazmin Shelley and Samantha Simons.
Australia’s schedule for the Under-19 World Cup:
July 22: Australia vs. Japan at 9.30pm
July 24: Australia vs. Mexico at 12.15am
July 25: Australia vs. Hungary 10.00pm
July 26: Round of 16
July 28: Quarter-Finals
July 29: Semi-Finals
July 30: Bronze and Gold medal games