A number of New Zealand Tall Ferns recently completed playing in Australian 2016-17 WNBL. The female equivalent of the NBL competition that the SKYCITY Breakers play in had six New Zealand players rostered across five different franchises.
Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast played for 2015 champions Townsville Fire. Jordan Hunter played a debut season at Adelaide Lightning and Jess Bygate in her second WNBL season was with Melbourne Boomers. Toni Edmondson, like Cocks a veteran in the League, was a starter with Perth Lynx.
With the WNBL season done and dusted, all the above players, plus fellow 2016 Tall Ferns Lisa Wallbutton and Josie Stockill, have turned their attention to the second tier competitions in Australia, the State Leagues.
Stockill has joined Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama at Sunbury Jets where Kereama is building a Kiwi enclave in north-west Melbourne. The New Zealand coach has recruited a total of four Kiwis as his team looks to make transition into the Big V championship division.
In addition to Stockill, Kereama has lured 2014 Tall Fern Shea Crotty across the ditch from Canterbury Wildcats. Crotty captained the Wildcats last year as they won the 2016 New Zealand Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) title in emphatic style by remaining undefeated that season. Also added to the roster are the former Wellington pair Jess Slade and Bex Van Kuyk – both played for rivals Werribee Devils last season.
So far the Kiwi connection appears to be working as Sunbury have won their opening four games.
Jess Bygate is also in Melbourne playing for Sandringham Sabres in the South East Australia Basketball League (SEABL) competition. The Sabres are 2-0 with Bygate averaging 16 points in her first two outings.
Jordan Hunter, having recently completed her debut WNBL season with the Lightning, has decided to remain in Adelaide to play for Sturt Sabres in the South Australia Premier League. The Sabres won their opening game with Hunter nabbing 7 points.
In Western Australia Lisa Wallbutton and Toni Edmondson are returning for second seasons with the Perth Redbacks and Perry Lakes Hawks respectively. Both teams play in the State Basketball League (SBL).
The Hawks have begun the season with three consecutive wins, Edmondson landing double figure points hauls in each game. Wallbutton is a rebounding machine for the Redbacks who are currently 1-2 early in the season.
Over in the Sunshine State Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast will join forces at Mackay to play for the Meteorettes in the Queensland Basketball League (QBL). The QBL begins later this month.