Championship-winning coach Claudia Brassard has labelled Suzy Batkovic as the best player the WNBL has seen after leading the Townsville Fire to victory in Sunday's grand final decider.
The six-time league MVP logged 28 points and 13 rebounds to inspire Townsville to a 70-57 victory over the Melbourne Boomers and claim the WNBL championship in front of a packed house at Townsville Stadium.
"There has never been a better WNBL player and I think what she does day in and day out is phenomenal," Brassard declared after describing the Fire captain's effort in leading the North Queensland club to a third title in four seasons as an unbelievable feat.
"To think that she is 37 years old is absolutely incredible - credit to her because she does a really good job taking care of her body and she's ready to play every game."
Batkovic, a born-and-bred Novocastrian, was awarded the Rachael Sporn Medal as the most valuable player of the grand final series after delivering a match-winning performance in the decisive third game.
"She was a bit beat up after Thursday's game," Brassard revealed after Batkovic's bruising encounter with powerful Melbourne centre Liz Cambage in game two.
"She looked sore when she walked off that plane on Friday but she made sure she was ready to play today and she came out and smashed it - I'm really proud of her."
Batkovic told reporters that while she had a good feeling on the morning of the game, there were some anxious moments after narrowly missing the game-winning basket in Thursday night's loss to the Boomers.
"I stewed on it a million times," Batkovic said about her final-second miss that resulted in Melbourne levelling the series.
"It was pretty disappointing knowing that if that shot had dropped, we would have won the championship in game two."
In the end, Townsville ground out the win in front of their home fans as Melbourne's offence again struggled, Brassard crediting some defensive adjustments from game two which placed a bigger focus on getting the ball out of Cambage's hands.
"She has been very consistent down the stretch winning games for them," Brassard said of the league's leading scorer.
"We all said we will try to make someone else beat us and try to get the ball out of her hands and I think that worked for us."
Batkovic also revealed her own motivation to help deliver the championship trophy back to Townsville.
"There's a cabinet just in the hallway there where it used to live and it's an empty spot and it really frustrated me with it not being there," she said.
"It's going to be really nice to see it back in that cabinet, that's for sure."
Batkovic is now expected to start preparing for her first Commonwealth Games campaign.
The three-time Olympian was controversially dropped for Rio 2016 but has been reinstated to the Opals’ preliminary squad for the Gold Coast tournament.