Opal Erin wheeled to surgery
Approaching three-quarter time in Adelaide’s top of the table defencejobs Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) clash with Canberra, Opal Erin Phillips attempted to drive past her world championship team mate Tully Bevilaqua.
When she planted her right foot and pushed off, a searing pain shot through her right knee and she collapsed to the floor.
Scans revealed a significant tear in Phillips’ anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that will sideline her for the remainder of the defencejobs WNBL season and beyond.
It is a significant loss for Adelaide. In 17 games this season Phillips has amassed 280 points at an average of 16.5 points per game (7th in the league), 123 rebounds at an average of 7.2 per game (9th), 84 assists at an average of 4.9 per game (1st) and 22 steals at an average of 1.3 per game (8th). She also ranks in the top ten for field goal and free throw percentages.
Under the charge of Dr. Tony Spriggins at South Australia’s Sports Med Hospital, Phillips will go undergo reconstructive surgery on Monday evening.
WNBL Media caught up with Erin just hours before she went under the knife.
WNBL: So, it’s been around 36 hours since the incident. How do you feel?
EP: When I wake up I think it’s a bad dream but the dream keeps on going throughout the day.
WNBL: How are you keeping your spirits up?
EP: Well, things could be a lot worse… and I’ve had a lot of support from other players that have done their knees, like Rachel Sporn and Sam Woosnam and Tully Bevilaqua, so that brightens you up a bit.
WNBL: Have you ever had an injury of this magnitude before?
EP: No, this is the first time I’ll be having surgery.
WNBL: So, what actually happened?
EP: I had some forward momentum and I was trying to do a move to get past Tully and I think I got my right foot caught on her left foot and when I went to change direction my foot didn’t lift up or whatever and I turned to the left and my foot was still facing right. I heard a really loud pop and then instantly felt the pain and it sent me to the floor in the foetal position.
WNBL: How bad was the pain?
EP: It was intense for the first five minutes and then I think the shock of it all took over - and then the disappointment starts to come on…
WNBL: So, you’re headed to hospital this afternoon?
EP: Yep. I have surgery at 6:30pm and I’ll be out by mid afternoon tomorrow, I’d say.
WNBL: Raring to go…
EP: They say 50 per cent of your recovery is the surgery, 25 per cent is the rehab and the other 25 per cent is about staying mentally strong so you can stick with the rehab and not give up and all that.
WNBL: How long will you be out?
EP: They say around 9 to 12 months is the general time frame.
WNBL: So that’s your second WNBA season up in smoke…
EP: I spoke to [Connecticut Sun head coach] Mike Thibault today and he was really supportive, even though he was really disappointed, and he said there might be an opportunity to do a some PR stuff for the club, so I’m pretty keen on still going over for a bit so I can be a part of it in some way.
WNBL: Did he give you any advice about recovery?
EP: He did mention doing some work with their trainer over there, getting some tips or whatever, but he was calling me more as a friend than a coach so he was just saying stuff like ‘keep your head up’ and stuff like that and that was really good to hear from him.
WNBL: And how did [Adelaide head coach] Chris Lucas react?
EP: I got a message from Chris and I think he is pretty disappointed for me and obviously it’s such an important time in the season so he feels even sorrier for me. The reason why we play a season is to play finals so you can win a championship and to not even get a chance to try, he knows it hurts.
WNBL: So without what Coach Lucas called his “engine room” how do you think Adelaide will go in the finals?
EP: I still think we’re a contender. We’ve got so many players with international and national experience and I think they can still win it. It’s in situations like this, where a team has to overcome adversity, that fairytales are made. This is just another test for us and I think the girls will be fine.
Durham MCINNIS -Strength & Conditioning
Trudy PEARCE -Manager