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Kat Wong

Shyla Heal's chance to shine in Opals' Asia Cup squad

Shyla Heal gets the chance to impress for Australia at the home Asia Cup tournament. (Paul Braven/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Shyla Heal will get the best chance of her international career yet when she lines up for an understrength Opals side at basketball's Asia Cup in Sydney from next week.

The Opals will use the tournament to limber up ahead of their 2024 Olympic campaign but only three of the 12-player squad announced on Tuesday were members of the team that clinched bronze at the World Cup last year.

Captain Tess Madgen, Anneli Maley and Darcee Garbin all return aiming to inspire a less-experienced Opals side to the podium.

The Opals are set to welcome debuts from Victorian duo Chloe Bibby and Chantel Horvat, and WA guard Amy Atwell.

The majority of the absentees, including Bec Allen, are tied up with WNBA commitments, while small forward Steph Talbot and centre Marianna Tolo are injured.

Talbot especially is a significant loss, having been named in the World Cup's All-Star Five.

Comeback queen Lauren Jackson retired from the Opals after the World Cup and is also not available.

"Between both international and domestic basketball calendars, schedules do become very busy so we did face challenges with player availability as well as those trying to recover from injuries," said coach Shannon Seebohm, who takes the reins with Sandy Brondello busy coaching the New York Liberty in the WNBA.

"The positive is that this gives opportunities to other players, like our debutants, who have the chance to gain valuable experience against international players and represent Australia."

The Asia Cup will be the first major international tournament for 21-year-old guard Heal, who debuted in the World Cup qualifiers but was omitted from the team for the tournament

The daughter of Australian basketball legend Shane, Heal is a highly-touted prospect but was cut by the Chicago Sky after being taken with the 8th pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

The guard had a promising WNBL campaign last season despite leaving the Sydney Flames midway through, going on to win the title with the Townsville Fire.

Third in the FIBA rankings, the Australian women may again come up against China in what would be a rematch of their painful World Cup semi-final loss in Sydney last year.

With the two teams in different groups, they will not face each other unless both make it out of the group stages.

The Asia Cup is a key qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympics and so looms as ideal preparation for all sides.

The Opals will face group B opponents Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines before potentially moving into the play offs.

The 2023 Asia Cup will be held in Sydney for the first time from Monday with a winner to be crowned on July 2.

OPALS ASIA CUP SQUAD: Amy Atwell, Chloe Bibby, Keely Froling, Darcee Garbin, Shyla Heal, Chantel Horvat, Alice Kunek, Tess Madgen, Anneli Maley, Lauren Nicholson, Maddy Rocci, Lauren Scherf.

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