Cambage, Tolo size up Opals' Olympic task

Murray Wenzel
Opals centre Liz Cambage will soon be back in Australian colours as the Tokyo Olympics loom

Preparing to coach an Opals side featuring both Liz Cambage and Marianna Tolo for the first time, Sandy Brondello can now say with confidence Australia has every base covered to win gold in Tokyo.

After missing September's Asian Cup, the towering pair - listed at 206cm and 196cm respectively - will bring much-need size and an element of "intimidation" for the Opals in crucial games against Taiwan, India and Japan in Malaysia starting on Thursday.

Two wins will send them to an Olympic qualifying tournament in February, while three will earn them a higher seeding.

Former Opals guard Brondello won two silver medals and one bronze medal across four Olympic Games and now wants to go one better as she eyes her first as coach.

In charge of the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, Brondello has been at the helm nationally since 2017 but never had WNBA All-Star Cambage or Tolo on deck at the same time.

The inspirational Cambage missed the Asian Cup due to her WNBA post-season campaign with Las Vegas, while Tolo had a foot infection.

And they were sorely missed as a rusty Opals side only managed bronze after losing to China and Japan.

"It was like pre-season for us ... we weren't fit to play those games but we are now," Brondello told AAP.

"Maybe it was good to get our little butts kicked; we know what's at stake here and we know if we want to win gold we have to take all these little steps to get there."

Casting an eye over a full-strength squad, Brondello has no doubt they can leave Tokyo as Olympic champions next year.

"It's well-balanced, experienced where we need to be and versatile," she said.

"And there is no fear factor; if anything some look up to Liz and there's maybe a bit of intimidation (from rivals) there.

"They're (Cambage and Tolo) both special players, it's exciting to coach them both for the first time and it will change the way we play."

Taiwan on Thursday and India on Saturday shouldn't pose threats but the Opals will remember the "awkward" Japanese style that brought them undone recently.