WNBL and Canberra Capitals MVP Kelsey Griffin on Opals Olympic Games radar

Opals coach Sandy Brondello has declared Kelsey Griffin is in her sights as she plots Australia's path to Olympic Games gold.

But first Griffin needs to bury the injury demons which have threatened to derail her career.

Kelsey Griffin is in the frame for the Olympic Games. Picture: Karleen Minney.

Kelsey Griffin is in the frame for the Olympic Games. Picture: Karleen Minney.

A hand injury kept Griffin out of calculations when Brondello was piecing together her squad for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup, with the Opals to close out their preparations against China at the AIS Arena on Thursday night.

The 31-year-old played through the pain of a broken plantar plate - an injury at the base of the toe joint - to steer the Capitals to the WNBL title earlier this year.

That came after a raft of hamstring issues which left Griffin at the point where "I just wanted to feel good again, couldn't even think about playing sport".

But Brondello hopes this is the last of Griffin's injury woes in the hope the WNBL's reigning most valuable player can play a key role in the Opals' Tokyo tilt.

"Kelsey is always in the mix here," Brondello said.

"She loves playing for the Opals and she has played so well when she has been fit and able to play. She is definitely in the mix.

"It's been unfortunate for Kelsey. Two years ago she was the MVP of the Asia Cup and she was just so important for us, she had a great Commonwealth Games campaign.

"She has had to deal with a lot of injuries, so hopefully this is the end of it because we want to get her back healthy."

A mounting injury toll has left the Opals to look to Cayla George and Darcee Garbin to steer the ship when they take on China in Canberra on Thursday night.

Australian forward Kelsey Griffin top-scored in her Opals debut against Korea on Sunday. Picture: FIBA.com

Australian forward Kelsey Griffin top-scored in her Opals debut against Korea on Sunday. Picture: FIBA.com

Leilani Mitchell will link up with the Opals for their flight to India for the Asia Cup having been given a break after a mammoth season which opened with Canberra's WNBL title tilt and carried onto the WNBA.

Mitchell claimed the WNBA's most improved player award under Brondello at the Pheonix Mercury - "not bad for a 34-year-old".

"They're players that are obviously staples of the Opals but it just gives other people an opportunity and shows the depth we have," Brondello said.

"I'm really excited about that, but I'd like to have the choice to actually choose healthy players.

"The players we've got here are playing really well and they deserve to be here, they proved it in that last camp for their selection.

Melbourne's Cayla George will play a key role for the Opals. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Melbourne's Cayla George will play a key role for the Opals. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

"It's just a matter of getting used to playing with each other and improving our game.

"Darcee Garbin had a really good game [in a warm-up game against China played behind closed doors], Cayla, we had a lot of bright points.

"We just want to make sure we are building on that with the execution we've just highlighted in the video [session]."

Ticket sales have been impressive as the Opals prepare to end a six-year wait for their return to Canberra.

It looms as their final hit-out on home soil before departing for the Asia Cup in India - and it would have been played behind closed doors if not for Capitals supremos swinging into action.

The Opals will open their Asia Cup campaign against the Philippines on on September 24 having been drawn in group B alongside China and New Zealand.

FIBA EXHIBITION GAME

Thursday: Opals v China at AIS Arena, 6.30pm. Tickets from Ticketek.

This story Griffin on the radar for Tokyo tilt first appeared on The Canberra Times.