Mur­ray won’t give up on Opals dream

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUX­WORTH jonathon. tux­worth@ news. com. au

TOWNSVILLE Fire vet­eran Mia Mur­ray hasn’t closed the door on her Aus­tralian Opals as­pi­ra­tions and hopes a change of coach will re­sult in a change of luck.

Mur­ray is one of the WNBL’s most con­sis­tent and ver­statile guards, but is yet to wear the green and gold de­spite be­ing a cor­ner­stone of the Fire’s backto- back cham­pi­onships in 2014- 15 and 2015- 16.

The 28- year- old was over­looked for the Opals’ cur­rent FIBA Asia Cup cam­paign in In­dia, which is new coach Sandy Bron­dello’s first ma­jor as­sign­ment in charge.

“They’ve def­i­nitely opened the door for new play­ers to come in and I don’t think that door’s com­pletely shut for me,” Mur­ray said.

“I had a fairly con­sis­tent year last year and it was dis­ap­point­ing not to get into the squad, but ob­vi­ously it’s still a dream to play in the green and gold and I’m not dis­count­ing it yet.

“Go­ing to that in­ter­na­tional level it’s about go­ing to the next level with your quick­ness and speed and be­ing able to guard that shorter player.

“Three- point shoot­ing is some­thing I can take to the team. There’s ob­vi­ously rea­sons why I didn’t make the squad and I’ve had a chat with Clau­dia ( Bras­sard, Fire coach) about things I need to work on to get to that next level.

“It’s hard to worry about my­self in a WNBL sea­son, work­ing on those things within the sea­son will put me in good stead.”

The Fire’s ti­tle de­fence ended against even­tual cham­pion Syd­ney in last sea­son’s fi­nals, but they have re­cruited strongly, led by the re­turn of power for­ward Cayla Ge­orge and WNBA sharp­shooter Syd­ney Wiese.

The league will be stronger than ever with other teams re­cruit­ing heav­ily, with the Mel­bourne Boomers lur­ing back star cen­tre Liz Cam­bage.

“We’ve been the bench­mark for so long and were still in fi­nals last year, but I guess we slipped a lit­tle bit and teams are re­cruit­ing heav­ily to match us,” Mur­ray said.

“Ob­vi­ousy teams are go­ing for their ‘ bigs’ first to bat­tle our big two, and hav­ing Liz back in the mix is great for the league and the sport in gen­eral.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be very hard to get three in a row, but for sure we want to get back up there.”

The Fire have part­nered with Lendlease ahead of the WNBL sea­son to de­liver their flag­ship schools pro­gram, which in­volves more than 50 school vis­its in North Queens­land.

Headed up by cham­pi­onship- win­ning cap­tain Rachael Mc­Cully, the pro­gram in­cludes bas­ket­ball clin­ics, as well as ed­u­ca­tional com­po­nents on life­style.

AIM­ING HIGH: Townsville Fire star Mia Mur­ray takes on Can­berra Cap­i­tals player Alice Cod­ding­ton at Townsville Sta­dium last sea­son. Pic­ture: ALIX SWEENEY

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