Reigning WNBL most valuable player Kelsey Griffin is using an international basketball rule to fuel her Australian Opals ambitions after being denied a chance to play in Olympic Games qualifiers.
Griffin was left out of the Opals squad this week because Australia is only allowed to pick one "naturalised player" for the Asia-Oceania pre-qualifying event in Malaysia.
Point guard Leiliani Mitchell is the Opals' naturalised player, her mother is indigenous Australian. Mitchell was born in the United States and moved to Australia in her mid 20s.
Griffin, who was born in Alaska, went to college in the United States and became an Australian citizen in 2015, is a three-time WNBL champion, three-time grand final most valuable player and arguably the most dominant player in the competition.
But her Tokyo 2020 Olympic hopes hinge on the naturalised player rule and which position the Opals need for depth.
Griffin was diplomatic of the Opals' decision and has spoken with coach Sandy Brondello about her role moving forward.
"It's always disappointing and it is hard, it is one of the things that is motivating me to continue to play," Griffin said.
"A lot of it is out of my control, it's just a circumstance thing. I knew that when I first got selected.
"I've had the pleasure of playing with Leilani so I know the talent she brings and I know the point guard situation in Australia.
"The unfortunate thing is that Leilani is Australian. Her mum is Australian, her mum's side of the family still lives here and Leilani has built a house and a family here.
"It's unfortunate that when she got her passport when she was 24 or 25 instead of 16 years old, that's the only reason why she's not considered Australian. It's unfortunate a technicality is limiting it.
"I understand the rule and I think having just one naturalised player on a team is a really good rule to have ... but Leilani is as Australian as you can get."
Marianna Tolo is the only Capitals player in the squad for matches against Taipei, India and Japan from November 14-17.
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"It always comes back to the difficult decision of position and my personal opinion is we don't have an elite point guard [in Australia]," said Capitals coach Paul Goriss, who is also an Opals assistant.
"It's difficult for me and for Kelsey. We could definitely do with her grunt and skillset. She's deserving on it, it just comes back to position selection."
The good news for the Capitals is Griffin can channel all of her energy into winning another title in Canberra, despite hopes taking a hit with back to back losses last weekend.
The Capitals lost to the Melbourne Boomers and the Sydney Flames, but Canberra gets an immediate shot at redemption when it plays the Flames again on Saturday.
"It's how we bounce back that's important," Griffin said.
"We learnt a lot. Any time you hand the ball to the other team is not to your benefit. We need to tidy that up.
"We knew this season would be a rollercoaster ... it's just about figuring it out. We're in it for the long haul."
WNBL ROUND FOUR
Saturday: Canberra Capitals v Sydney Flames at AIS Arena, 5pm