By Jessica Robinson.
It’s already been a big 2022 for Anneli Maley, named WNBL season MVP, made it all the way to the WNBA and now she’ll tick off another career goal with an Australian Opals debut.
The 23-year-old rebounding machine, returned from the USA via Sydney to join the Australian squad on Saturday morning and will suit up in the green and gold for the first time come Tuesday night, in the game three decider against Japan.
“It’s another one of those things to add to my list of how is this happening? Feels like I’m just being hit with one cool thing after another, which is terrifying but awesome,” Maley told BA Media.
“It’s never friendly (the series), it’s competitive, there has to be a winner, we’ll take it as an experience that we can grow from but obviously we would like to walk away with two wins and the series.”
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Unlucky to miss out on the Opals team who travelled to Serbia earlier this year, Maley’s stint with Chicago Sky in the WNBA has given her extra motivation to push for a spot on the final World Cup Australian team.
“Everything I experience in the basketball world, I take it, learn from it and grow from it.
“To be a part of it is super amazing, and the fact that I get to make my debut tonight and they have trust in my growth enough to include me is pretty cool. I get to play alongside players who I’ve looked up to my whole career, which is an unreal feeling.”
On top of her own debut, 3×3 teammates Bec Cole and Steph Reid also made their first senior national team appearances. Maley and Cole have spent a chunk of time together in the 3×3 camp.
“Having some 3×3 teammates doing this with me shows the talent of the 3×3 realm as well. Coley (Bec Cole) has always had the ability to do both with great efficiency and I’ve always loved stepping on the floor with her.”
The game three decider will take place tonight, 7:30pm at Newcastle Entertainment Centre and will be broadcast live via ESPN, Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.