Worldly Allen ready to shine with Opals
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Worldly Allen ready to shine with Opals

If there is a theme to Rebecca Allen’s recent basketball seasons, it’s that she finishes her campaigns strongly.

The 25-year-old Victorian small forward has spent her past few years splitting time between Europe and the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Rebecca Allen is looking to step up for the Opals at the FIBA Women's World Cup later this month.

Rebecca Allen is looking to step up for the Opals at the FIBA Women's World Cup later this month.

Photo: Mick Connolly

Earlier this year, she helped Lyon to the semi-finals of the French LFB league, averaging 10 points and scoring double figures in four of their five finals games.

Allen was unable to find a regular role with the struggling Liberty until the final 11 games of the season, but she became one of the more reliable players, putting up three of her best performances in the last six games.

While she has been out of sight for Australian fans, Allen’s form didn’t escape the eye of Opals coach Sandy Brondello, who invited her to the team’s training camp in Italy earlier in the year and named her in the side for the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain starting on September 22.

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“I was lucky towards the end of the WNBA season that I got a lot more minutes and I could showcase a bit more of my game, which is always a good thing giving you some confidence leading into this World Cup,” Allen told Fairfax Media.

“To be honest, we ended up not making playoffs and they just said let’s see what everyone else can do.

“I was keeping myself physically and mentally ready so when my name was called I was ready. It ended up being a good way to finish.”

Allen and some of the Opals flew out to Europe on Tuesday night where they will play six lead-up games and train together.

Brondello and players Steph Talbot and Leilani Mitchell are still in America as their Phoenix Mercury side continues in the WNBA playoffs - they will join the Opals once their season ends.

Allen was in the Opals side for the last World Cup in 2014 where the team bounced back from losing Liz Cambage to a serious injury to win bronze, but she missed selection for the Rio Olympics.

"It's always great to wear the green and gold and I’ve been on the other end of it where I didn’t make the team so that makes it even more special to be back in the group," Allen said.

The last two teams were led by Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips but they are both retired so now the likes of Cambage, Jenna O’Hea, Allen and others will have to step into their shoes.

“There are big shoes to fill but I know everyone is ready for it and it’s a good time for people to step outside of their comfort zone and put their hand up to say they are ready, myself included,” Allen said.

“There has been a changeover, players like Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips aren’t here anymore so it will be exciting for some younger players to have a crack.”

World Cup years are always hectic ones for elite women’s players as the European or WNBL seasons plus the WNBA season are sandwiched together in the lead-up.

Brondello’s Opals will come together from different places, with Australian-based players joining others like Allen who are coming straight from the WNBA.

“It’s good having people who play all over the world,” Allen said.

“Multiple players who have played in the WNBA, multiple people who have played in Europe and players from the WNBL, which is another strong league.

“If you are good enough you will make the team and being a part of the WNBA says a bit and I went to one camp in Italy so it’s not like I haven’t been part of the group."

While Cambage’s MVP-calibre season was the talk of the WNBA, Allen had an up-close look at her fellow Victorian’s WNBA record 53-point game.

“She scored 53 points in one game, it happened to be against New York Liberty so I was very much aware of that game,” Allen said.

“Mate, you always want to cheer on the Aussies, I was happy for her, but at the same time I was like 'not against us.'”

The Opals tip off their FIBA Women’s World Cup campaign against Nigeria on September 22.