Catch up on which Aussies will be vying for the 2017 WNBA Championship with the season tipping off over the weekend.
NEW YORK LIBERTY
Rebecca Allen- Heading into her third season with the Liberty, Allen has stated she is feeling comfortable with the side that is aiming for a fast-paced style of game in 2017.
Last year, the forward found some rhythm during a campaign in which New York finished first in the East before being eliminated by Phoenix in the second round of the playoffs.
She averaged 5.7 points across 21 games, six of which she started, knocking down 46% from the field and 57% from three-point range- consistency that she will be hoping to build upon this year.
Through the pre-season, Allen had a high of eight points in a loss to Chicago but tallied three steals and three blocks over three games with that defensive intensity just as integral to her play off the bench.
She did not feature in their first regular season game, a victory over San Antonio, but will be hoping to see her first minutes in their next contest against Minnesota on Friday Australian time.
Cayla George- Playing 34 games in her debut season last year, George is becoming a major factor as she bulks up the front court alongside WNBA star, Brittany Griner.
Averaging five points and 3.1 rebounds in 2016, George hit 43% from the field but is a better three-point shooter than her numbers showed, hitting only 28%.
If she can find her aim from long range, it will open up the floor for Phoenix, a team gunning for their fifth consecutive post-season appearance.
George played only one pre-season match but tallied 16 points on 6-8 shooting with six boards and two steals before adding two points and five rebounds in the Mercury’s opening loss to Dallas today.
Leilani Mitchell- After six seasons with New York and one with Washington in 2016, Mitchell has returned to Phoenix where she played in 2015, helping the Mercury reach the Conference Finals.
She is coming off the bench behind three-time All-Star Danielle Robinson but is a key member with her ability to control the tempo and knock down perimeter shots integral to Phoenix’s chances this season.
Through an eight-year career, Mitchell is a 39.9% three-point shooter, the fourth-best career mark among active players and 13th best in WNBA history.
In their first regular season game, the guard recorded eight points including two three-pointers with one assist and one steal.
Steph Talbot- Originally signed by Phoenix back in 2014, Talbot has enjoyed some time in Europe before playing in the WNBA this season.
She showed promise in a pre-season clash against Seattle, hitting a perfect 6-6 from the field in 20 minutes for 16 points, one rebound, one assist and three steals.
Her performance in that game and at training was enough to give her a starting role in the Mercury’s first regular season game where she collected two points and five rebounds while playing a defensive stopper role.
That confidence shown in the guard, who is only 22 years old, could set her up for a big 2017 campaign.
All three Aussies are playing under newly named Australian Opals head coach Sandy Brondello with Penny Taylor an assistant on the sidelines this season. Phoenix’s next game will be on Thursday against Indiana.
Waived late in the pre-season, Australians Jenna O’Hea and Rachel Jarry are currently without a team as the 2017 season begins.
Erin Phillips was also waived by the Dallas Wings and has since called time on her WNBA career which included two Championships in 2012 and 2014.
O’Hea is believed to be waiting on calls from other teams before heading home where she will suit up for the Melbourne Boomers in the 2017/18 WNBL season while Jarry is also preparing for a WNBL season with the University of Canberra Capitals.
OTHER WNBL TALENT
Aside from the Australians to watch in 2017, there is a bevy of talent that has come over after playing in the most recent WNBL season.
Natasha Cloud (Townsville Fire) will play for Washington with Asia Taylor (Sydney Uni Flames), Sami Whitcomb (Perth Lynx) has signed with Seattle, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (Bendigo Spirit) will play alongside Allen at New York and Jazmon Gwathmey (University of Canberra Capitals) will represent Indiana.
TWITTER LIVE STREAMING
This season, the WNBA has inked a deal with Twitter to live-stream 20 games throughout the regular season which are available to watch around the world for free.
Eight of those games feature the Mercury with Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) +14 hours compared to ET, making most of those games early morning affairs for Aussie fans.