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LMAO: Our gals are on the go


LADIES MOVE AROUND OFF-SEASON: MOVEMENT across the WNBL continues with Sydney's Casey Samuels joining Tess Madgen at Townsville's championship program.

But it hasn't all been one-way traffic toward the Fire, with Cayla George the big free agent defection to grand final victim Melbourne, and Marena Whittle, 24 and 180cm heading south seeking gold in Bendigo.

Mia Murray also is taking the season off.

The Spirit are undergoing a facelift with seven-time WNBL champ Natalie Hurst to lead a backcourt which also will feature Emerging Opal's 2017 Gold Medallist Abbey Wehrung, formerly at Canberra.

Kara Tessari, 19, should flourish under Hurst's guidance, and power forward Nadeen Payne will relish playing alongside import Becca Tobin, a former WNBA "big" at Phoenix Mercury and LA Sparks.

Tobin, 30 and 195cm, brings veteran experience to Simon Pritchard's outfit, after most recently playing in Germany.

George's arrival in Melbourne will soften the blow of losing Liz Cambage, and Louella Tomlinson's departure.

Rookie of the Year, Ezi Magbegor, is a huge "get" for the Boomers, as are Rio Olympian Stephanie Talbot and American Lindsay Allen.

TOO EASY: Two points coming up for Ezi Magbegor at Comm Games. Pic via GETTY IMAGES

Canberra isn't exactly reeling from the losses of Wehrung and Magbegor, having secured "knee-bies" Kristy Wallace and Marianna Tolo.

Both are in recovery from ACL reconstructions so may not yet have the biggest 2018-19 impacts, despite positive early rehabilitation.

An Emerging Opals Gold Medallist last year, Wallace is finishing at Baylor University, Rio Olympian Tolo back in Canberra, rehabbing at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Leilani Mitchell and Kelsey Griffin will ensure Canberra very much is in the playoffs hunt.

Despite numerous off-season rumours suggesting coach Larissa Anderson would not be retained at Dandenong Rangers, they proved little more than ill-conceived "pub talk" from a disgruntled club official.

Anderson is back and so too import Kayla Pedersen, with Sara Blicavs (ACL) on the mend and also due to return.

Talented guard Bec Cole joins Tessa Lavey in the Rangers' backcourt rotation which now has lost not only Aimie Clydesdale to MAC Adelaide Lightning last year, but also Stephanie Blicavs for 2018-19.

Veteran Laura Hodges is out after falling pregnant, opening the door for a "big" to join Lightning's frontcourt alongside Colleen Planeta and two, as yet, unconfirmed imports.

Centre Alex Bunton has lobbed back in the WNBL at Sydney Uni Flames where she will be hoping for an injury-free run and a shot to fulfill her undoubted physical potential.

* * *

THE WNBA tipped off today with Opals coach Sandy Brondello steering her Phoenix Mercury to an 86-78 victory over a Dallas Wings outfit bolstered by Liz Cambage and returning star Skylar Diggins-Smith.

PUT-BACK: Liz Cambage scores from her offensive rebound today against Phoenix.

The game had huge Australian connections with Opals' dual-Olympian and 2006 FIBA World Championship Gold Medallist Erin Phillips making her debut with Dallas as an assistant-coach, while Leilani Mitchell and Stephanie Talbot played important minutes for the Mercury.

Mitchell finished with 10 points, five assists, three rebounds and a block in 18 minutes, Talbot with two rebounds, an assist and a steal in nine minutes in front of 11,210 at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Cambage had her problems with the officiating, collecting five fouls but an equal team-high 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Diggins-Smith also had 18 points, plus nine assists.

Diana Taurasi paced Mercury on 26 points, Brittney Griner with 13 points.

Phoenix traded Cayla George to Connecticut Sun which plays Las Vegas Aces on Monday.

Rebecca Allen is back with New York Liberty for their match Monday against Chicago Sky, when Perth Lynx sensation Sami Whitcomb's Seattle Storm also will face Phoenix.

May 19

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