AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE OPALS SQUAD MEMBERS

AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE OPALS SQUAD MEMBERS

Catch up on how our Australian Opals squad members are faring in their respective leagues around the world.

Rebecca Allen (Good Angels Kosice): Allen’s Slovakian team has carried a ten-game winning streak into the New Year in the national league and sit two games clear on top of the ladder. They are finding the competition tougher in the EuroCup with a 3-3 record but are still set to play in the Quarter-Finals beginning on January 19. Allen is the club’s second most prolific scorer, averaging double-figures in both leagues. In Slovakia, she is also shooting 57% and a ridiculous 58% from distance while her defence has been crucial, collecting 2.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game as a starting small forward. A four-game period in October saw Allen score at least 19 points in four straight games which has helped her side record an average winning margin of 58.

Suzy Batkovic (Townsville Fire): The two-time WNBL defending champs are in unfamiliar territory at the halfway mark of the season, sitting in fifth place and in danger of missing out on the playoffs. They are on a four-game winning streak though and captain Batkovic has been the catalyst for that run, averaging 21.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals in her past six games. Overall, she sits second for both points and boards in the league and is in the top ten for steals and blocks as she aims to create history by winning a competition-best fifth MVP this season.

Natalie Burton (Perth Lynx): In a season in which the Lynx are aiming to go one better than their 2015/16 Runners-Up finish, a few cracks are starting to show in their 9-6 record. They still sit within the top four but have not strung together consecutive wins since November 12 while they already have as many home losses as they did last season. Part of Perth’s struggle has been fitting in Burton alongside import Ruth Hamblin and deadly shooter Carley Mijovic in the front court with Burton’s production dropping to three points and three rebounds per game. She is still shooting an efficient 47% from the field though while her 29 total offensive boards place her third for players coming off the bench in the league.

Elizabeth Cambage: Taking some time off following the Olympics, Cambage will be weighing up her options for next season with possibilities open to her around the world after a season in China in which she averaged over 26 points per contest while at Rio, she was one of only two players to average a double-double with 23.5 points (first) and 10.3 rebounds (second).

Katie-Rae Ebzery (Dynamo Moscow): Alongside compatriot Alex Bunton, who is averaging a double-double, Ebzery’s performance in the back court for Dynamo Moscow has them sitting second with a 10-1 record in the Russian Premier League. She leads the club for assists with 3.5 to go with 6.6 points per contest and is shooting 88% from the free-throw line.

Cayla George (Sopron): As a starter for her Hungary club, George is holding down the fort under the rim as the starting centre with a team-high 1.2 blocks per game as well as 11 points and six rebounds. They own an 8-2 record in Hungary but are struggling in the Euroleague at 3-4 which included a loss this morning despite George recording 16 points on 7-11 shooting and eight boards.

Laura Hodges (Adelaide Lightning): It was always going to be a season of development for Adelaide in the WNBL and with Hodges as captain, there have been some positive signs with the progression of players like Sarah Elsworthy and Jess Good. The Lightning are still winless at 0-15 though and Hodges is currently out with a hamstring strain. Without her, Adelaide do not look likely to record a victory as they miss 18.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game without her.

Rachel Jarry (Lattes Montpellier): The defending champs in the French LFB are again on top of the ladder after winning eight of their last nine games heading into the Christmas break. Jarry has played in ten games with 18 minutes per contest while averaging 4.5 points and 1.4 assists but she has been even more efficient in the Euroleague with 9.6 points and 3.3 assists per game. They sit fourth on the ladder in that competition with eight games remaining until the finals.

Tessa Lavey (Perth Lynx): Lavey started the 2016/17 WNBL season with a foot injury but since her return, the Lynx have gone 7-4 while the point guard does not seem to have missed a step, leading the club with 4.6 assists. That is also good for sixth in the league and in combination with eight points a game is a strong contribution in the back court alongside the MVP favourite Sami Whitcomb. If Lavey can regain her stroke from beyond the arc, Perth will be back on track to make some noise in the post-season.

Tess Madgen (AZS UMCS Lublin): After starting their season 6-2 in Poland, Madgen’s side struggled for consistency in the lead-up to Christmas as they lost three of their next six games to drop to fifth on the ladder. They are not a high-scoring team but Madgen leads them with 15.2 points on 49% shooting from the field and 41% from deep as well as 3.8 assists. Her perimeter defence has helped restrict oppositions to 22% shooting from the three-point line and just 59 points per game overall as she tallies 1.8 steals per contest-also a team high.

Leilani Mitchell (Sydney Uni Flames): One of the premier point guards of the WNBL has taken her talents from Adelaide to the Flames this season and the in-form team of the competition have raced to third on the ladder after sweeping the final weekend of 2016. Leading the league for assists, Mitchell’s 6.4 dimes is a career high number and her 16.3 points is over two more than her career average. Having drilled 36 three-pointers, she is a proven threat from all areas of the court with a 41% conversion rate from the field overall.

Erin Phillips (AFL Women’s): Signing with the Adelaide Crows for the inaugural AFL women’s season, Phillips is expected to debut against the Bulldogs on February 4 as she follows in her father’s footsteps.

Steph Talbot (AZS AJP Gorzow): There is a healthy Aussie flavour to this Polish club with Nicole Seekamp and Talbot both averaging double-figures in points per game. Talbot’s all-round game has been showcased throughout the season, recording a triple-double last month of 12 points, 13 boards, ten assists and seven steals while leading the side for assists (4.9) and steals (3.2) overall. Hitting 50% from the field, she is also recording 16.2 points per game in what is sure to be a confidence booster for the 22-year old.

Penny Taylor: Having announced her retirement from the international game following the Rio Olympics and the conclusion of the WNBA season, Australian fans will get a chance to thank Taylor when she returns to the Dandenong Rangers on January 14 as the club celebrates their 25th anniversary.

http://basketballvictoria.com.au/penny-taylor-part-dandenong-jayco-rangers-25-year-celebration/

Marianna Tolo (University of Canberra Capitals): Despite being away from the WNBL for four seasons, Tolo did not take any time to readjust to life at home as she earned the Player of the Week award for Round 2. Her 19.4 points per game places her third in the competition while she also sits in the top five for rebounds (8.9), total offensive rebounds (48) and has hit 58% from the field which is equal-first. After winning just two games last season, Tolo has been a part of the Caps’ resurgence which currently sees them at 7-7, just a loss outside the top four.

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