Mills calls for city to host big matches
AUSTRALIAN basketball star Patty Mills says Townsville is a “basketball town” which deserves to host big- time matches with the Opals to call the city home during the Commonwealth Games.
It was announced yesterday the women’s national team would play their pool matches against Canada, England and Mozambique at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre in April, as well as qualifying games to make the semi finals.
The venue will also host Pool B men’s matches between England, Cameroon, India and Scotland and Mills said Townsville’s support of two- time WNBL champions the Fire has shown they deserve to host the national team.
“It’s huge, to be able to bring this sport back to Townsville and especially the Opals, they’ve been such a powerhouse in women’s basketball,” Mills said.
“To bring them up to Townsville where basketball is big, it’s big through the junior levels and also the Townsville Fire and Townsville Heat with the guys, it’s needed up here.”
The point guard recently resigned with San Antonio Spurs on a monster $ 65 million, four- year deal and his NBA commitments means he is unavailable to represent the Boomers at the Games.
The Boomers will play their pool games against Nigeria, New Zealand and Canada in Cairns.
“It’s a chance to put on the green and gold on home soil which I’m very jealous of, because it’s something I dreamt about doing as a kid,” he said.
“I wish I could be out there but it’s a good opportunity for these young guys to play for their coun- try and I’m looking them going to work.”
Fire skipper and defending WNBL Most Valuable Player Suzy Batkovic was a shock omission from Australia’s Olympic campaign last year, but she is yet to decide on whether she will target making the Opals Commonwealth Games team.
“I’m not sure, at the moment my focus is really the Fire,” Batkovic said.
“I haven’t really decided what lies ahead for me just yet, I’m just focusing on things which come around first and my priority is the Fire season.”
A young Opals team missing several established stars finished second at last month’s Asia Cup after losing the final to Japan, but qualified for the FIBA World Cup in 2019.
It was the Opals’ first major tournament under new coach Sandy Brondello.
“They had one camp beforehand and jumped straight into the deep end and I think they did a pretty good job,” Batkovic said.
“I think the Commonwealth Games will be great for the community and is also going to be great for basketball.
“It’s supported so well up here and playing for the Fire for so long, our crowds are by far the best.” forward to