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WNBL Rd1: Off to another flyer

THE heat will be on WNBL champion Melbourne Boomers as they open their title defence against their Grand Final opponent Lynx in Perth tonight, Opals captain Tess Madgen sidelined after knee surgery and championship starters Ezi Magbegor and Lindsay Allen both now playing in Europe.

Madgen was managed through the FIBA World Cup in Sydney but has required off-season knee surgery, making the job of incoming coach Chris Lucas even more of a challenge.

While the Lynx have lost their imports from last season, plus Opal Darcee Garbin to Europe and Alex Ciabattoni to pregnancy, they regain Opals star Sami Whitcomb and Amy Atwell, plus new guard Robbi Ryan.

Starting as red-hot favourites (again) for the championship though are the Southside Flyers who have bolstered an already strong core for coach Cheryl Chambers.

Aimee Rocci, Maddi Rocci, Sara Blicavs, Bec Cole, Abby Bishop pick up Carley Ernst (Boomers), import Kayla Thornton and NBL1 East's 2022 MVP, megastar Lauren Jackson.

Chambers is sure to utilise LJ better than the Opals did at the World Cup where she really only was let loose in the Bronze Medal victory. Yeah. She scored 30.

Still got a bit of WNBL in her? You bet.

The Flyers open at State Basketball Centre against a rebooted Adelaide Lightning, under new management and with rookie coach Nat Hurst at the helm and World Cup All Star Five selection Steph Talbot leading the way.

The Lightning will be contenders but catching Southside on the road to open the season is a tall order.

Bendigo opens with a tough double-header at Canberra and home to Perth. But having Kennedy Kereama back as a WNBL head coach is a huge get for the Spirit after a few years in a directionless wilderness.





MELBOURNE adds Opals and WNBA playmaker Kristy Wallace, championship winning warrior Mia Newley, retains Cayla George, Tiffany Mitchell, Penina Davdson and Rachel Brewster and has new coach Chris Lucas raring to go. But the Lynx have been laying in wait, Lauren Scherf ready to further build her reputation, as is Alex Sharp. Great one to tip off the season.

IRONIC or planned? Kelsey Griffin and Kelly Wilson return to Bendigo only to have their opening game on the road at their former club Canberra. Anneli Maley, Abbey Wehrung and Alicia Froling will be raring to go, Jade Melbourne the new shining light now for the Caps and rookie coach Kristen Veal.

LIGHTNING will be lucky to strike early if they can secure the scalp of the championship favourite Flyers at Southside. Imports Kiersten Bell and Jacinta Monroe will be big assets for Adelaide, as is the return of PG Lauren Mansfield. But Southside is deep in experienced talent which should prove overwhelming.

AT home to Perth, Bendigo looks as if it has the tools to weather the Lynx who will need huge contributions from Sami Whitcomb, Amy Atwell and Chloe Bibby. A win here could have the Spirit off to their best start since the Harrower years and Kennedy Kereama already earmarked for "Coach of the Year" honours!

TOWNSVILLE again has assembled a playoff contender for Shannon Seebohm, guards Steph Reid and Lauren Nicholson workers at both ends of the floor, and Zitina Aokuso receiving some frontcourt help through Mikaela Ruef. Imports Tiana Williams and Karlie Samuelson loom largely as threats to Canberra here.

Nov 2

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.