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Golden goodbye for Suzy?


ANYBODY with more than a passing interest in Australian women’s basketball still recoils in sad horror at the shocking way Suzy Batkovic was treated ahead of last year’s Rio Olympics.

As a five-time league MVP, the WNBL’s most successful player was subjected to a long drawn-out process, attended all the camps and tours only to be almost gleefully cut ahead of the team announcement, then further insulted when the public was informed “not selecting Tess Madgen was a tougher decision”.

At least fellow multiple Olympian Belinda Snell had been allowed a more gracious earlier exit, even though at this year’s FIBA Asia Cup she too showed what folly that call also had been.

Snell rightly is back in the Opals’ latest 18-player squad for the Commonwealth Games next year, and so is Batkovic who, at 36 – and turning 37 later this month - is a modern day marvel and role model for consistency and class.

That she now gets a chance to complete her career with a potential Gold Medal at the Comm Games would be a most fitting finale for one of the game’s great icons and forces of nature.

And to also do it in Townsville – where she is a two-time WNBL champion with the Fire – and Gold Coast from April 4-15, would be the cherry on top of a sensational career cake.

BATGIRL AND JACKO: Suzy Batkovic and Lauren Jackson celebrate a great result.

I suspect too it also might signal the final punctuation point on her stellar career but that’s a story for another time.

The difference between Australian coach Sandy Brondello and some of her predecessors is, as a former Opals medal-winner herself, I very much doubt she will jerk around any of her “elder stateswomen” by having them attend the first pre-Commonwealth Games camp in early February at the AIS European Training Centre in Italy, only to cut them at the last minute.

She has too much class and understanding of her older athletes to waste time on that type of nonsense.

And while there should be few complaints about this squad, given the fact we do have prominent young players competing in college systems who by necessity would have been overlooked here, how Sydney’s Alex Wilson and Adelaide’s Aimie Clydesdale and Nicole Seekamp missed the cut is a genuine mystery.

Wilson killed for the Flames in their 2016-17 championship team and with Clydesdale, was a member of Australia’s Gold Medal-winning Emerging Opals at the World University Games. And Clydesdale played that series with an injury.

Seekamp has been one of WNBL Season 2017-18's big "finds".

Let’s hope Basketball Australia’s revelation: “Athletes not named for this first camp can still join the Opals team at a later date for a second camp before the final team is announced ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” isn’t just rhetoric designed to placate three such obvious omissions.

The non-selection of Adelaide’s Laura Hodges after four Olympic campaigns was no surprise. Her role at the FIBA Asia Cup steadily diminished, then compounding her situation was the serious finger injury she suffered, missing much of the current WNBL season.

Hodges concluded her career with a Silver Medal and enjoyed a stellar international career. She forever remains one of the Tenacious Twelve who scored Australia’s historic first senior women’s Gold Medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

The squad is: Rebecca Allen (Lyon- France), Suzy Batkovic (JCU Townsville Fire), Abby Bishop (MAC Adelaide Lightning), Stephanie Blicavs (Jayco Dandenong Rangers), Elizabeth Cambage (Deakin Melbourne Boomers), Katie-Rae Ebzery (Brydens Sydney Uni Flames), Cayla George (JCU Townsville Fire), Kelsey Griffin (Bendigo Bank Spirit), Natalie Hurst (University of Canberra Capitals), Alice Kunek (Perth Lynx), Tessa Lavey (Jayco Dandenong Rangers), Ezi Magbegor (University of Canberra Capitals), Lauren Mansfield (Energa Torun- Poland), Leilani Mitchell (Hatay - Turkey), Jenna O’Hea (Deakin Melbourne Boomers), Belinda Snell (Brydens Sydney Uni Flames), Stephanie Talbot (Mondeville - France), Marianna Tolo (Abdullah Gul - Turkey).

Dec 1

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