Sport

Rio on her mind, but Canberra Capitals return ''a possibility'' for Tolo

On paper she's the ideal person to step into Lauren Jackson's shoes, and Australian Opals centre Marianna Tolo​ says it's a "possibility" she could return to the struggling Canberra Capitals next season.

But what her future holds is the furthest thing from the 26-year-old's mind as she focuses all her energy on getting fully fit in time for the Olympics.

Marianna Tolo and Liz Cambage train with the Opals.
Marianna Tolo and Liz Cambage train with the Opals. Photo: Jay Cronan

Tolo is about halfway through rehabilitation on a torn anterior cruciate ligament she suffered playing for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.

With Jackson's WNBL career likely over after another knee setback resulted in her release from her Capitals deal, Tolo will be near the top of the list of their recruiting targets.

Australian Opals basketballer Marianna Tolo may return to the Capitals.
Australian Opals basketballer Marianna Tolo may return to the Capitals. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The Capitals lost 78-68 at Bendigo on Saturday night to remain winless after 16 games, despite 31 points from American centre Denesha Stallworth. 

Tolo is based in Canberra and her partner Daniel Jackson works at Basketball ACT and plays for SEABL side Canberra Gunners.

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She won Canberra's most valuable player award in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and left the club in early 2012 to play in France.

Tolo was influential in helping Australia to a bronze medal at last year's world championships, minus Jackson and Elizabeth Cambage​.

"It is possible [I'd play for Canberra again]," she said.

"I won't say no to it now because I don't know what's going on or how I'm going to be, whether I'll go back to Europe or stay here.

"To be honest it's hard to say at the moment, it all depends on how my knee goes.

It's tough to see the difficult season they've had so far. I know from everyone's perspective it's definitely not what they want.

"I think they'll be looking to make some changes. I don't know what it will entail, but I'll be excited to see the new-look Capitals next season."

Tolo has won titles alongside Jackson at the Capitals, and would love to join forces again at Rio in August.

Tolo was one of the last players cut from the Opals squad before London 2012 and is motivated to avoid disappointment again.

But she insists Australia is still capable of pressing for a maiden Olympic gold medal should Jackson miss.

"We've seen each other around the AIS a bit and we compare how are knees are going and talk to each other," Tolo said.

"It'll be a challenge for us to get someone of that quality to step up and take the reins of being the best player in the world.

"She'd be a great addition obviously, but we've made steps forward where we've put ourselves in a position to win big games.

"We were pretty close to the USA last time at the world championships and Liz [Cambage] will be back, which will be huge for us."

WNBL 

BENDIGO SPIRIT 88 (K Griffin 20, B Snell 17, G Richards 15) bt 

CANBERRA CAPITALS 78 (D Stallworth 31, R Montgomery 15, S Talbot 13)

at Bendigo on Saturday night.