By Nick Creely
Australian basketball superstar Liz Cambage will make a return to the WNBL this season, signing with the Southside Flyers in a major coup for the competition, and for basketball in the south-east.
One of the best women’s basketball players anywhere in the world, the 29-year-old three-time WNBA All-Star centre missed the current WNBA season with the Las Vegas Aces due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will now return to Australia for the first time in three years after last playing in the competition for the Melbourne Boomers in 2017/18.
“I am really looking forward to playing for the Flyers in the WNBL this season. I know they had a great first year and I am keen to help the team go one better and win the championship,” Cambage said when confirming her decision to join Southside Flyers.
“It will be great playing with a number of Opals teammates, and of course our coach – Cheryl Chambers – who is an assistant coach with the Opals. Flyers captain Jenna O’Hea is one of my favourites, she is also the Opals captain – she is like my captain on and off the court.“
Chambers, the Flyers’ coach, said the addition of Cambage to the line-up is very exciting.
“Liz is a superstar of women’s basketball and we know what she will bring to the team on the court, which is really exciting for us,“ she said.
“She has a great attitude and will be great for the team, not only on the court, but also off the court and in the community. Her profile will be great for the Flyers and the WNBL.“
Cambage’s career kick-started at Dandenong, where she played her junior basketball. She then started her professional career with the Rangers in the WNBL in 2007, playing six seasons before spending time in China and the WNBA. Incredibly, she’s been an All-Star in every competition she’s been involved with since 2010.
Flyers owner Gerry Ryan is also thrilled that Cambage has decided to return home to where it all started, and that she will be part of the team this season.
“It is exciting to welcome Liz home. I remember her playing for Dandenong in 2007 as a young up-and-coming star,“ he said.
“It will be great to see her in action for the Southside Flyers this season and I am sure it will be a real bonus for the WNBL.“
Under strict Covid-19 protocls, Cambage has joined several of her teammates for some unofficial training at the Dandenong Stadium, before official training commences in September.
She said that, while Covid-19 has interrupted her basketball journey overseas, the opportunity to come home and play in her home country, for her very first team (the Rangers, before they were rebranded as the Flyers), was one she wasn’t going to take for granted.
“While the coronavirus interrupted my WNBA career, it has given me the opportunity to play in Australia,“ she said.
“I have always enjoyed playing in the WNBL – it is one of the best competitions in the world and I hope to see more supporters get behind the Flyers this season.
“I want to thank Gerry Ryan, not just for giving me the opportunity to play in Australia for the Flyers, but for the incredible support he continues to provide women’s sport and of course women’s basketball. He has been a great supporter for many years.“
The 2020/21 WNBL season will be important for Cambage and members of the Opals squad as they finalise preparations for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
With the signing of the Australian superstar, it’s been an incredibly busy, yet successful off-season for the Flyers, who finished runners-up in the 2019/20 WNBL season.
The Flyers have previously secured the signatures of three of their most important players, with star trio Sara Blicavs, skipper Jenna O’Hea and star shooting guard Bec Cole re-committing for WNBL 2020/21 as the squad looks to go one better.