Sport

Canberra Capitals appoint Paul Gorris as coach as Opals sweat on Lauren Jackson

The Canberra Capitals have turned to the man in charge of nurturing Australia's best junior talent to help rebuild them as a WNBL force.

The Capitals are set to announce on Wednesday that they have secured Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence coach Paul Gorris as Carrie Graf's replacement for next year and beyond.

Opals player Liz Cambage tries on some shoes at the AIS on Tuesday.
Opals player Liz Cambage tries on some shoes at the AIS on Tuesday.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Gorris will lead up a long-term vision for returning the Capitals to success over the coming years after Graf decided to step down after almost 20 years involved at the club.

Gorris has been mentoring Australia's rising stars for the past 13 years, including NBA point guard Dante Exum, who was taken by the Utah Jazz with pick No.5 in the draft two years ago.

Lauren Jackson is regarded as Australia's greatest female basketballer.
Lauren Jackson is regarded as Australia's greatest female basketballer. Photo: Getty Images

​News of his appointment comes as the Australian Opals wait on scan results on Lauren Jackson's knee before deciding on whether the four-time Olympian will make it to the Rio Games later this year.

Speculation was growing on Tuesday night that Jackson, Australia's greatest female basketballer, could retire this week if she's unable to get fit in time for Rio.

Fairfax Media revealed in December that Jackson was retiring from WNBL duties with the Capitals after an injury-haunted three years, but she wasn't prepared to give up her on Olympic bid until being told there was no hope of her playing for the Opals.

The Opals are in camp at the AIS as they ramp up their preparations for a gold-medal shot, with Elizabeth Cambage and Penny Taylor joining the squad as the Games edge closer.

Jackson, Graf and Jess Bibby have finished their careers with the Capitals and Gorris' appointment is the first step in a changing of the guard at one of the league's most successful clubs.

Capitals officials are working with the University of Canberra to lure rising stars to the team as Gorris leads the charge of building from the ground up.

Gorris is expected to sign a three-year deal and go on a recruiting mission immediately to piece together his puzzle.

Meanwhile, Liz Cambage insists she and Opals teammate Alice Kunek have moved from the "blackface" saga, with her immediate focus on overcoming an inflamed Achilles tendon.

Cambage on Tuesday attended her first camp with the Australian women's basketball team ahead of the Rio Olympics since rupturing her Achilles on the eve of the 2014 world championships.

She was controversially left out of their Rio qualifying series last year after attending a music festival and missed a Games test event in January as she continued her return from injury in China with Shanghai.

But the 24-year-old admitted the stint took its toll on her body, playing three games a week.

"I'm dealing with a bit of tendonitis in my Achilles, so that's been a little setback," Cambage said..

"I've been playing with it, I've been training with it. But we have such good medical staff, great massage, great doctors, great physios, so I'm in good hands.

"We'll just take it each day as it comes."

Cambage has spent recent weeks training in Melbourne alongside Kunek, a month after their very public spat.

The superstar centre expressed her outrage on Twitter after Kunek posted a photo of herself online dressed as Kanye West at an end-of-season WNBL party.

While the pair haven't spoken about the issue, Cambage said everyone had moved on.

"I don't feel like there's a need to talk about it or bring it back up," Cambage said.

"It's not a thing. She knows what happened. She's learnt from it; a lot of people learnt from it.

"I think we've all just moved on and basketball's the main focus. We're all just doing our thing and training hard.

"We are having team building sessions this week and I'm sure we'll speak about it then."

The use of social media has been forced higher on coach Brendan Joyce's agenda following the incident.

Veteran Suzy Batkovic - who admittedly rarely uses the likes of Twitter, Facebook or Instagram - reckons it's best to avoid them during the Olympics and instead focus on the Games.

But Cambage says it's different for everyone.

"I've had it since I was like 18, so I've been on it for like six years," she said.

"I've always been the type of person that whatever anyone says to me on Twitter, it doesn't offend me. Like, I don't even know who you are so why would your opinion affect me in any way?

"I was on it at the (London) Olympics. I guess I'm pretty known for what I can get up to on social media. But I don't even post that much even more." with AAP