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Jasper Bruce

George sets sights on Olympic medal after WNBA glory

Winning the WNBA championship with Las Vegas has whittled Cayla George's basketball bucket list down to only one goal: Win an Olympic medal.

And now that she is back in Australia with new WNBL side the Sydney Flames, George is intent on consolidating her Opals combinations in the lead-up to Paris.

Following an injury to Kiah Stokes, coach Becky Hammon parachuted George into the starting five for what turned out to be the decisive fourth game of the WNBA finals against New York.

The centre put up 11 points, five rebounds and three steals and joined such greats as Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Tully Bevilaqua in becoming an Australian WNBA champion.

"I'm feeling really blessed to be part of such a cool moment," George said of this month's WNBA triumph.

"I'm still reflecting and I probably always will."

Maddison Rocci, Tess Madgen, Shyla Heal, Sara Blicavs, Cayla George.
Opals teammates Tess Madgen (11) and Cayla George (31) will play in the WNBL together for Sydney.

After winning league MVP in the last of five WNBL seasons with the Melbourne Boomers, George has joined the Flames alongside Opals skipper Tess Madgen. 

She reunited with Boomers-turned-Flames coach Guy Molloy for her first training session on Tuesday ahead of Sydney's season opener against Perth this Friday.

Olympic hopefuls Lauren Nicholson and Shaneice Swain join Madgen and George on the Flames' roster for the 2023/24 season.

George expected time on the court in the WNBL could pay dividends come Paris.

"I think that's definitely really important for cohesion," she said.

"I've played with Tess for over two decades and 'Loz' is a big part of the squad too. We've got young gun Shaneice Swain who's in the squad too.

"There's definitely some good players pushing for spots come Paris."

The Opals are hoping to atone for a disappointing Tokyo campaign, which ended in the quarter-finals following the 11th-hour withdrawal of star centre Liz Cambage.

The Opals have since claimed bronze at last year's home World Cup, insisting throughout that their culture had been mended following the Cambage saga.

Cayla George.
Cayla George helped the Opals to third at the most recent World Cup in Sydney.

George was part of that team and added a bronze medal to a trophy case that also includes four WNBL titles, Asia Cup and Commonwealth Games medals. 

"The only thing I don't have, now that I've got the WNBA championship, is an Olympic medal," she said. 

At 34, Paris is likely her final chance to add that to her CV.

"I don't really care what colour it is, to be honest," she said.

"They're really hard to get, it doesn't matter how good you are, tournament play can be brutal so you really have to be so switched-on and have quick bounce-backs.

"An Olympic Games is probably a bit more (like that) than a World Cup because it's the Olympics. Everyone dreams to play at an Olympics."

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