Young gun spotlight: WNBL – Round 9

THE Sydney Uni Flames may still be sitting at the bottom of the table, but two young guns have been shining in their recent success. Zitina Aokuso continues to fill the void of Suzy Batkovic, while Brittany McPhee is making a name of her own among the likes of Asia Taylor and Katie-Rae Ebzery at Perth. Abbey Wehrung has been one of the shining lights for the Spirit, as they struggle through a big form slump.


#4 Tahlia Tupaea- Sydney Uni Flames

In Sydney Uni’s 10-point loss against Adelaide, Tupaea spent the most time on court for her side. Tupaea has been showing what she can do with short bursts of game time, and she was tested to see what she could produce with 38 minutes on court. She scored 12 points, pulled down four rebounds and also dished off four assists. Tupaea scored the third highest amount of points in her side for the night. She came alive against the Boomers in the Flames’ upset win at the State Basketball Centre. Not only did she score a game-high 21 points, but she also scored the winning basket, gifting the Flames with a three-point win. In her 100th Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) game, she also grabbed two rebounds and two assists in her 37 minutes of game time. Tupaea once again utilised her court time and proved she is back in business after suffering from a concussion injury earlier in the season.

#5 Vanessa Panousis- Sydney Uni Flames

With Sydney Uni stars, Ally Wilson and Alex Bunton out of the side due to injury, it has been up to the Flames’ young stars to fill the void. Panousis stepped up to the plate against the Adelaide Lightning, scoring 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in the 10-point loss. She did this all in 22 minutes of game time, highlighting her efficiency with the ball in hand. Panousis was one of four Sydney Uni players to score double-figure points. She struggled against the Melbourne Boomers on Sunday, but it would not have mattered to her, as her team braved its way to a gritty three-point win. Panousis only managed two points, three rebounds and one assist from 24 minutes of game time.

#12 Zitina Aokuso- Townsville Fire

Suzy Batkovic is undoubtedly a huge loss to the Fire side, but Aokuso is stepping up well as her replacement. The young centre nearly secured herself a double-double against Adelaide, ending with 12 points and nine rebounds next to her name. This was despite spending just 21 minutes on court, which was the fifth most minutes out of any Townsville player. She was the equal fourth highest points scorer in the Fire line-up, alongside Darcee Garbin.

#13 Abbey Wehrung- Bendigo Spirit

It was always going to be hard for the Spirit to down the Lynx, but Abbey Wehrung put in her best effort to give her side a chance. She was one of only two Bendigo players to score in double figures, as her and Nadeen Payne shouldered the scoring load. Wehrung ended the game with 16 points, two rebounds and five assists, stepping up to aid the likes of Nat Hurst and Rebecca Tobin, who were held down well by the Perth defence. Against the Capitals, Wehrung was one of only three Bendigo players to score in double figures, and scored the second highest amount of points in her team. She ended with 12 points, one rebound and one assist from 27 minutes of game time in what was a difficult match for the Spirit.

#24 Brittany McPhee- Perth Lynx

Brittany McPhee and partner-in-crime, Asia Taylor lit up the court on Friday night as the Lynx downed the Spirit by 18 points. She ended with a double-double, totalling 20 points and 10 rebounds in the blistering performance. She was only behind Asia Taylor in the stats, who scored 33 points at 52 per cent, while McPhee shot at 47 per cent, including 75 per cent from the free throw line. McPhee led the way in assists though, dishing off five for the game. She was kept quiet against the Dandenong Rangers, scoring six points, five rebounds and two assists. McPhee still led the way in rebounds for her side, but being kept quiet on the scoreboard undoubtedly helped Dandenong get an upset 20-point win over the ladder leaders.

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