Townsville Bulletin

Champion delays return

- NICK WRIGHT

TOWNSVILLE champion Micaela Cocks has made the difficult decision to withdraw from the upcoming Asia Cup, and has instead shifted her focus to the imminent WNBL season.

The 35-year-old was poised to make her internatio­nal basketball return for New Zealand in Jordan, however with a young daughter to care for she determined it could not be managed.

Cocks was a key figure in the Flames’ charge to the NBL1 North semi-finals, before a shock first quarter romping by the Logan Thunder spelt the end of their promising campaign.

Overall it marked a promising return to the court for the veteran guard after giving birth to Hazel, finishing the season with 14.8 points, 2.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds a game.

Bit by bit Cocks felt her game improve under coach Shannon Seebohm to the point where she now feels ready to compete at her best on the national and global stages.

But with a young family to juggle, as well as the sporting and work commitment­s of her husband – Blackhawks captain Sam Hoare – Cocks said she would delay her Kiwi comeback for the time being.

However she said she was far from done in that arena, hopeful of a World Cup quest in 2022.

“It’s too hard with Hazel. I was going to do it but it’s six weeks; four weeks in Jordan and then two weeks of quarantine,” Cocks said.

“It was pretty much just a recent decision. New Zealand are really accommodat­ing, they would have paid for Sam to come (with Hazel) but he has footy and work.

“Then I tried to get a friend or another family member, but with Covid it’s so hard to find people to take off work.

“There’s a range of things, then on top of that there’s health risks.

“I’ll be fully vaccinated, but Hazel wouldn’t be. I gave it every chance to try and go over there, and I really wanted to make it work, but at the end of the day I had to put Hazel first.”

Cocks – along with Flames teammates Steph Reid and

Mia Murray – will now turn their attention to the Fire’s WNBL campaign, which is expected to begin in November.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put question marks over nation wide competitio­ns, Cocks said they would take the week off and avoid burning out too early on the court before pre-season officially launched.

She said after missing out on last year’s grand final run, she was eagerly awaiting the chance to truly see how far she had come in 2021.

“It goes to another intensity and it’s a lot more competitiv­e one through to 12. It’s that next level of intensity and I’m really looking forward to it and seeing where I’m at,” Cocks said.

“I’m really excited, it will be good to do a full pre-season under Shannon. I feel like he has so much knowledge and I really like to keep learning.

“Shannon is such a mastermind of a coach and you just learn every time you’re on the floor with him. Because it’s up in the air when the WNBL will start, he doesn’t want us to get burnt out, so we’ll have the week off then go from there.”

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