Tokyo is calling louder than ever for Newcastle’s Katie Ebzery as the Perth Lynx recruit begins life this weekend with a new WNBL club fresh from her confidence-boosting silver medal at the World Championships.
The former Sydney Uni Flames captain, who was fifth at her first Olympics in Rio two years ago, feels the Opals are now building nicely towards the 2020 Games following the international podium finish in Spain late last month.
“It just gives us that confidence,” Ebzery told the Newcastle Herald.
“After having that disappointing campaign in Rio, it reinstates that’s where we sit in world basketball and that we’re a very talented group of players.
“It definitely puts us on the right path I think in building towards Tokyo in less than two years.”
Outside the decider against eventual champions the US, the Australian women’s basketball team remained unbeaten at the competition, featuring a dramatic 72-66 semi-final victory over the hosts.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ebzery said this prize was both personally satisfying and helped the Australian women’s basketball team put the Rio miss behind them.
“It was massive,” the 28-year-old said.
“I’ve been to a few junior [international] tournaments and an Olympics now, so to win a medal at a senior world championships was amazing.
“Especially after the disappointment of Rio, which a few of us have really tapped into. To go through those feelings in Rio and then go through the euphoria of winning a medal at a World Championships a couple of years later is pretty special.”
Ebzery was the Opals’ starting point guard at the World Championships and enjoyed stepping up to the challenge.
“We had a few injuries in the lead up, especially in that point guard position,” she said.
“For me it was about stepping up into that and getting my head around that. Hopefully I did my bit and just did what could to help out the team. That was my goal, to put my best foot forward … and I feel I did that to the best of my ability.”
Ebzery said “it will be a little bit weird” wearing a different WNBL uniform in 2018-19 after a total of seven seasons with Sydney, but was “very excited to be in new colours” when the reformed Lynx host Adelaide in Perth on Saturday.
“It’s a great group of girls and coaching staff and I’m actually really looking forward to it,” she said. “I think we’ll definitely be up there.”
Ebzery is one of six Newcastle Hunters products in this summer’s WNBL. She’s joined by retiring Suzy Batkovic (Townsville), Cassidy McLean (Bendigo), Hannah Young (Canberra), Lara McSpadden and Susannah Walmsley (Sydney).
“It’s great to have so many of the [Hunters] girls in the league now,” Ebzery said.
“It’s funny that we’re literally spread across the country. There’s not that many teams, but we’re all everywhere.”
Townsville are at home to Dandenong on Sunday, Bendigo are away to Melbourne on Saturday while Sydney and Canberra go head-to-head on Friday night.