MIA JOINS FIRE’S 150 CLUB
TOWNSVILLE Fire fan favourite Mia Murray will become just the third player to reach 150 games for the club when she takes the court against the Canberra Capitals at Townsville Stadium tonight. Murray ( right) has been a big part of the club’s success over the past seven years.
TOWNSVILLE Fire star Mia Murray ( centre) will play her 150th game for the club tonight, joining current guard Micaela Cocks and retired legend Rachael McCully ( both pictured) as the only three players to reach the milestone for the club.
SHE’S done it all on the court with the Townsville Fire, but Mia Murray says it’s just as much their success away from basketball that makes her proud to represent the WNBL powerhouse.
Murray will become just the third player to reach the 150 games milestone for the Fire, behind club legend Rachael McCully ( 228) and current star Micaela Cocks ( 158).
Murray started her career with Canberra’s Australian Institute of Sport in 2005, followed by three years in Adelaide, where she grew up, before joining Townsville in 2011.
The 29- year- old has been a crucial part of the Fire’s success in her seven seasons at the club, playing in all four consecutive grand finals including their back- to- back titles in 2015 and 2016.
Murray recalled being “super nervous” in her first game, playing alongside stars like McCully and Jess Foley, but the now vice- captain said she was always proud to wear the Fire singlet.
“I love the club and it means so much to me. We’ve had so much success and I feel really proud to be a part of that,” Murray said.
“I’ve played with some amazing Australian players and some brilliant imports, but it’s not only the work on the court, it’s the work off the court that I feel proud of.
“We’re recognised within the community and we do a lot of stuff with schools and children. I’m really proud to wear the singlet and to continue to do so.”
Murray won’t be the only Fire star to bring up a big milestone tonight as Cayla George makes her 200th WNBL appearance after stints at the AIS, Adelaide, Logan, and Townsville.
George made a blistering return to the Fire last weekend after spending a year playing in Europe and the WNBA and Murray said she was happy to share the limelight with her good friend.
“It’s nice to have her back … Cayla’s phenomenal,” Murray said.
“A lot of people probably don’t realise that she didn’t play a lot of time on the back end of that WNBA season so she’s champing at the bit to come back and play and she started off with a bang.
“Anyone who can bring 21 rebounds back to the club is a phenomenal asset.
“Cayla’s just super bubbly and having that positivity around training and games is a huge spark for us. I’m really happy to have my mate back.”
Murray enjoyed a solid first hitout in the Fire’s 63- 54 win over Melbourne – with nine points, three rebounds, and two steals – but she insisted she wasn’t satisfied with that performance.
“It took probably a quarter to blow the cobwebs out and I think that’s the way everyone was feeling,” Murray said.
“We usually play our first game at home, but everyone was super committed. After halftime, I thought we came out brilliantly and the court opened up for us so that’s a positive sign.
“I think we’ve set the tone, but there wasn’t a huge amount of excitement after the game. I think everyone put their hands in and we said ‘ Fire’ and then it was back to business.
“That’s the way we’re approaching this season.
“Every team’s going to be tough and like every year we’re the hunted.
“We’re a bit taller than every other team and we’re deep so I think we’ve set the expectation.
“We’ve taken game one away from home and we’re really excited to play in front of our home fans.”
Canberra and Townsville are the only unbeaten teams after the opening round, with the Capitals claiming two strong home wins over Bendigo ( 93- 80) and Adelaide ( 84- 77).
Canberra hasn’t made finals since 2011, but they narrowly missed out in fifth place last season and coach Paul Gorris has his squad determined to defy many early predictions.
Townsville struggled to hit their shots in the low- scoring win over Melbourne and Murray said the Fire know they will need to lift to match Canberra’s impressive offence.
“I definitely don’t think they’re the team that their preseason rankings suggest,” she said. “They’re a very good team and they’ve been put together really well. They’ve got contributors right across the floor and they’ve got some great players coming off the bench so everyone can score. “They haven’t played away from home yet so I’m expecting a pretty highpaced game. They score lots of points as well so our defensive unit will have to be on.”
Tonight’s game tips off at 7pm at Townsville Stadium.
TOP TRIO: Townsville Fire legends Micaela Cocks, Mia Murray and Rachael McCully.