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WNBL in off-season overdrive, new owners, coaches

THE futures of multiple championship winners Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit appear assured with new ownerships at both clubs, several coaching changes afoot, but the downer of the off-season being the WNBL losing several marquee players ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. 

Starters on Melbourne Boomers' 2022 champion - Ezi Magbegor and Lindsay Allen - will be playing in Europe and more are likely to follow as COVID-19 tensions ease across the globe.

The new owners of the Lightning in Adelaide, the Pelligra Group, already own Adelaide Giants and are close to a deal with Adelaide Adrenaline, showing the company's commitment to the city's sporting teams.

“As entrepreneurs, we view Adelaide as a city, not a small town. We are here to invest to make sure we are building champions,” Pelligra Group chairman Ross Pelligra said.

The ownership's decision to release multiple championship-winning coach - and now the most decorated coach in the WNBL - Chris Lucas, was a curious one, given he immediately was snapped up by the league's defending and current champion Melbourne.

It easily could prove a case of "you don't know what you've got, until you lose it." Or even a case of being taken for granted in the city of churches.

Lucas, who in 14 seasons as a head coach has contested finals on 12 occasions, only missing while he rebuilt the Lightning from a basket case, also was part of eight consecutive championship campaigns as an assistant or head coach, culminating in back-to-back championships as head coach at Townsville Fire.

"I'm really excited and looking forward to the challenge of the Boomers," he said.

And a challenge it will be with Magbegor and Allen lost to Europe. Lucas' Olympic forward at Adelaide, Alanna Smith (pictured), as a free agent looked the logical replacement for Magbegor but she also will head from the WNBA to Europe during the next WNBL season.

Natalie Hurst, Lucas' assistant at Lightning for the past two years, is expected to succeed him as head coach in Adelaide.

Meanwhile Bendigo also is in the frame for a new coach after prematurely parting ways with Tracy York at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

The Spirit's future though is assured with Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) further enhancing its strong connection to basketball by purchasing the club last month.

As a multi-platform content and entertainment group, SEN’s acquisition promises to deliver significant benefits to the team and the overall growth of women’s sport throughout the SEN network.

This includes all Spirit games being broadcast within the SEN Bendigo app, giving increased coverage, analysis and discussion - compelling content for regional Victorian audiences. 

The Spirit have retained league MVP Anneli Maley who also currently is playing in the WNBA.

At Canberra, the Capitals will have Kristen Veal at the helm for her first WNBL campaign as a head coach.

May 13

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