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Opals still aiming for gold, says Jackson

Opals superstar Lauren Jackson has called on the likes of Jenna O'Hea and Belinda Snell to step up in Penny Taylor's absence if Australia is to win an elusive women's basketball gold medal at the London Olympics.

''It's a huge, huge blow for us,'' Jackson said of Taylor's season-ending knee injury suffered last month while playing for Turkish club Fenerbahce.

''But for us to be successful, we need to move beyond that. We have two months to work as a team and find ways of compensating.''

Like Jackson, forward Taylor has been part of every major Australian women's basketball success for the past decade, including the 2006 world championship win and Olympic silver medals in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Along with Jackson and giant 20-year-old centre Liz Cambage, Taylor was seen as a key ingredient in the Opals' campaign to finally beat arch-rival the United States for gold in London.

But Jackson has confidence in Australia's depth of talent and named fellow WNBA players O'Hea and Snell as two players who could play bigger roles to fill the void left by Taylor.


''We've got a lot of young talent. They may not have had the pressure on them [previously] but now they do and they have an opportunity to show how good they really are,'' said Jackson.

''Australian basketballers love that pressure. We've seen people blossom handling that adversity.''

Jackson insisted the Opals still had every chance of reaching their third straight gold medal play-off.

''It's a matter of taking care of business, winning every game we can,'' she said. ''If we give ourselves a chance and the stars align, anything can happen on the day.

''We're going for the gold - there's no doubt about it.'' AAP