Griffin part of Opals team headed to China for World Cup tuneup

June 20, 2018

Kelsey Griffin basketball

Kelsey Griffin

Before heading off to the World Cup in September, Eagle River’s Kelsey Griffin and the Australia Opals will make a stop in China for a four-nation tournament.

The 6-foot-2 forward will lead the world’s fourth-ranked team in action against No. 8 Serbia, No. 10 China and No. 15 Argentina starting July 9 as a tuneup for the FIBA Women’s World Cup this fall in Spain.

In April, Griffin led the Opals to the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Last year she was named the Asia Cup MVP and helped Australia win a silver medal.

She’s been one of the most prominent basketball players down under since winning back-to-back championships with the Bendigo Spirit in 2013 and 2014 in the country’s premier Women’s National Basketball League. She was named first-team all-league in 2015 and 2016. She signed with the Canberra Capitals in the offseason.

Griffin, of Chugiak High fame, became an Australian citizen in 2015 and nearly made the country’s Olympic team in 2016 before getting cut in the final round.

She was added the following year to the national team and has since emerged as the most productive player, especially in big games.

In the Asia Cup final, she pumped in 30 points and 15 rebounds in 74-73 loss to Japan.

In Commonwealth Games final, she scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 99-55 win over England.

At the four-nation tournament in China, the Opals will rely on Griffin more than ever because the team will be absent four key players – one retired and the other three are in the WNBA.

She is a former NCAA All-American at the University of Nebraska who played in the WNBA for five seasons before turning her attention to her international career.

From 2010 to 2012, she played in the WNBA in the summer and overseas in the winter. She played a season in Hungary and another in Israel before moving to Australia fulltime.