IN­SIDE WNBL

Inside Sport - - CONTENTS - BY FOX SPORTS’ WARREN SMITH

It is way over­due, but it’s ex­cit­ing to have one of Australia’s most tal­ented groups of ath­letes back on tele­vi­sion where it be­longs. With the na­tional team, the Opals, as the suc­cess­ful fo­cal point of women’s bas­ket­ball in this coun­try for the past quar­ter of a cen­tury, it seems re­mark­able that the WNBL had re­cently slipped from the po­si­tion it once held in the sport­ing land­scape.

Well, the first step to rec­ti­fy­ing that sit­u­a­tion has been taken. Fox Sports will tele­vise weekly ac­tion, with Satur­day a er­noon set to be­come Hoops Cen­tral for fans of the best fe­male play­ers from here and around the globe.

The Syd­ney re­gion has been a steady pro­duc­tion line of tal­ent for the Aus­tralian team and the Syd­ney Uni Flames enter the 2017-18 WNBL sea­son as de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons. Flames cap­tain Belinda Snell is lin­ing up for the 13th sea­son of her stel­lar ca­reer, and with im­ports Jen Ham­son and Asia Tay­lor re­turn­ing for the ti­tle de­fence, the Flames are very likely the team to beat in this new cam­paign.

Snell knows, how­ever, that with a hand­ful of her Aus­tralian team-mates from the Rio Olympics scaŽered around the league, the depth in this sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion makes the odds of a re­peat just that liŽle bit longer.

Liz Cam­bage prom­ises to be a dom­i­nat­ing force for the Mel­bourne Boomers, with lo­cal fans hop­ing to see the 203cm-tall cen­tre pro­duce the oc­ca­sional slam dunk or two, hav­ing jammed the bas­ket at last year’s Rio Games. Cam­bage will be joined at the Boomers by for­mer Opals star Jenna O’Hea, who re­turns from a three-year stint playing in both Europe and Amer­ica. With Mel­bourne com­ing off a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son, the ad­di­tion of two play­ers of this cal­i­bre should push the Boomers into def­i­nite play­off con­tention.

There’ll be plenty of eyes on the early sea­son form of the Dan­de­nong Rangers with good rea­son – last sum­mer’s beaten grand-fi­nal­lists

have added a true world star to their ros­ter in the

shape of Span­ish Olympic cap­tain Laia Palau. Palau has helped her home club win five ti­tles in the Span­ish league, along with tak­ing her coun­try to the sil­ver medal at the Rio Games. A er com­ing up one game short of the 2016-17 WNBL ti­tle, there’s no doubt the Rangers have gone straight to the top shelf in bol­ster­ing this sea­son’s squad.

NoWNBL player has paid her dues more than Townsville Fire vet­eran Suzy Batkovic.

Yet an­other league MVP award went Batkovic’s way last sea­son – that’s five in to­tal – and when­ever she is on court for the Fire, the North Queens­land out­fit will be tough to beat.

When you throw the con­sis­tent Perth Lynx into the mix, this sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion prom­ises to be a fas­ci­nat­ing three and a half months of ac­tion.

It’s been tremen­dous to see so many codes of women’s sport get the aŽen­tion they de­serve in re­cent years, and it’s even beŽer that we can once again give our best fe­male bas­ket­ballers the plat­form to show­case their un­lim­ited skill.

It’ s been tremen­dous to see so many codes of women’ s sport get the at­ten­tion they de­serve.

WNBL draw­cards Suzy Batkovic [ ] and Liz Cam­bage.

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