Sandy Brondello has been appointed head coach of the Australian women’s basketball team as they seek an elusive first Olympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020.
Australia has won a medal in five of the last six Olympic Games but failed to strike gold as the United States have won each tournament.
Brondello was a member of the Australian team that won the bronze medal at Atlanta 1996 and silver at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.
Australia have since won another silver at Beijing 2008 and bronze at London 2012.
At Rio 2016, they were surprisingly knocked out in the quarter-final by Serbia, losing 73-71, meaning they failed to win an Olympic medal for the first time in 24 years.
Brondello has since enjoyed a successful coaching career at the Phoenix Mercury in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the United States.
She led them to the Championship in 2014 and was named the WNBA’s Coach of the Year.
Brondello will remain with Phoenix Mercury and split her time between them and the Australian Opals.
“I am very honored to be selected for the role of Opals head coach,” Brondello, a 48-year-old from Mackay in Queensland, said.
“I am beyond excited about the opportunity and I look forward to being back with the Opals team and building towards success in Tokyo.”
The first target for Brondello, capped 302 times by the Opals, will be this year’s FIBA Asia Women’s Cup, due to be held in India from July 19 until August 1.
Providing they finish in the top four, the Opals will qualify for next year’s World Cup in Spain.
Australia have finished in the top three in four of the last five editions of this event, including winning it in Brazil in 2006.
Brondello was a member of the teams that won bronze medals in Germany in 1998 and China in 2002.
Brondello is due to officially start her new role on May 1.
Two days later she will lead a training camp to Phoenix, the first time the Australian players have been together since Rio 2016.
“We are enormously grateful for the support of the Mercury organisation in Sandy’s appointment,” Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said.
“This is a fantastic acquisition for the Opals with Sandy owning an intimate knowledge of both the Opals and the international game.
“We are confident this will ensure we remain as one of the top basketball countries in the world.”
By Duncan Mackay
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.