Mills calls for city to host big matches

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

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

Aussie NBA star Patty Mills.

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