• New Southside Flyers signing Liz Cambage (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australian basketball superstar Liz Cambage is coming home to play in the WNBL next season ahead of what she hopes will be a golden year.
By
Megan Hustwaite

19 Aug 2020 - 6:33 AM  UPDATED 19 Aug 2020 - 6:33 AM

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The 203cm center, who turned 29 yesterday, has signed on with last season’s runner-up Southside Flyers who are determined to go one better in #WNBL21.

She returns to the league for the first time in two years following a lucrative and successful stint in China, and will also use the campaign to fine-tune ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, where the Opals will strive for Australian basketball’s first-ever gold medal.

Cambage told SBS a championship would kick off a huge 2021.

“It would be super exciting to have that team success and that’s my focus for the year," Cambage said.

“Olympics is always at the forefront of your mind and that’s why I chose to go to Southside.

"The head coach, Cheryl Chambers, is an assistant coach of the Opals and Jenna O’Hea is Flyers captain and Opals captain. I tend to follow in her footsteps, she’s the number one leader, so what Jenna does, I follow.

“I’m super excited to be back home playing on Australian soil this summer.”

While playing abroad earlier this year, Cambage spent time in hospital with phlegm in her lungs which prompted her to pull out of the current WNBA season, currently being contested within a hub in Florida due to Covid-19.

“Sitting out the WNBA season, it was a tough decision to make. I haven’t played since February so I’m really excited to get out on the court with the girls. I’m ready to go," she added. 

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Cambage, who honed her skills on the courts of Dandenong Stadium, in Melbourne’s south east, as a talented teenager who debuted for the Dandenong Rangers in the WNBL as a 16-year-old.

“Back to where it all began, it is pretty special," she said.

“I was a Dandenong junior so it really does mean a lot; returning to that stadium now all these years later, and coming full circle.”

She would play a crucial role in the Bulleen Boomers’ first, and only, championship in 2010-11 before launching her WNBA career after the Tulsa Shock selected her with the second overall pick in the 2011 Draft. 

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Cambage has represented her country at two Olympics (2012, 2016) and in London became the first female basketballer to dunk the ball at an Olympic Games.

She is a three-time WNBA All-Star and has earned All-Star selection in every competition she has played in for the past 10 years, a telling statistic that highlights her sheer dominance. 

In 2017, she set a new WNBA record for the most points in a game – 53 against the New York Liberty.

Chambers is delighted with her massive signing and believes it’s a boost not only for women’s basketball but Australian sport.

“Liz is a superstar of women’s basketball and we know what she will bring to the team on the court which is really exciting for us," Chambers said.

“She has a great attitude and will be great for the team, not only on the court, but also off the court and in the community. Her profile will be great for the Flyers and the WNBL.”

The Flyers are owned by Jayco Australia founder Gerry Ryan, a long-time champion for Australian sport having made huge contributions to his passion for women’s basketball and cycling. 

His beaming smile told the story.

“I remember Liz playing for Dandenong in 2007 as a young up-and-coming star," Ryan recalled.

“It will be great to see her in action for Southside Flyers this season and a real bonus for the WNBL”