THE return of Rio Olympian Katie Ebzery was not enough for Sydney Uni Flames to avoid an upset loss to Adelaide Lightning in their Women’s National Basketball League season-opener on Friday night.
The Lightning, last season’s wooden spooners, beat the defending champions 91-80, despite 20 points and seven rebounds from skipper Ebzery. The Newcastle guard was playing her first game after an off-season stint in Russia.
On Saturday, Ebzery’s fellow Novocastrian Suzy Batkovic (Townsville) clashed head-on with her long-time Opals teammate Liz Cambage (Melbourne Boomers) in Townsville.
But with five-time WNBL most valuable player Batkovic in early foul trouble, Kalya George, back after a stint with Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, sparked the 63-54 win for the Fire with 17 points and 21 rebounds.
"Obviously Liz and I have played together and against each other for a long time now," Batkovic said.
"I think it's really great for the league. It makes the league stronger."
Cambage, who helped Melbourne to a 76-61 win over the Dandenong Rangers on Thursday night, said she needed to be patient.
"I was getting a little bit angry with myself, trying to find my touch again but it will come," Cambage said after Saturday's defeat to Townsville.
"I just need to chill out a little bit, it will come within the next month."
The University of Canberra Capitals made a flying start to the season with a 93-80 win over the Bendigo Spirit on their new home court at the National Convention Centre.