During the 2018/19 and 2019/20 WNBL seasons shooting guard Bec Cole elevated her game to a new stratosphere, averaging more than 17 points per game and had a field goal accuracy above 49% in both seasons. A positional change from point guard to shooting guard and a greater exposure to playing 3×3 basketball were two crucial factors in Bec’s rise which resulted in her finishing runner up in the 2018/19 WNBL Most Valuable Player Award and being selected in a WNBL All-Star team in each of the past two seasons – being a member of the first team in 2018/19 and the second team in 2019/20.
Cole who turned 28 years old on 19 March, 2020 had an outstanding junior career, representing her state team, Victoria Metro every year and starring for the Australian Gems at the 2011 FIBA Under 19 World Championships, captaining her side, ranking second at the tournament for assists and second for Australia in scoring.
After making her WNBL debut for the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) late in the 2009/10 season as a 17 year-old Bec played all 22 games for the AIS in 2010/11 and impressed with her playing ability and leadership. Rebecca was named the AIS’s captain for the 2011/12 season however it has been far from a linear progression to go from outstanding junior to develop into one of the WNBL’s most consistent players and rank in the league’s top three for points per game in 2018/19 and 2019/20.
At 23 years of age Rebecca had already had knee reconstructions on both knees which led to concerns about her basketball future, injuring her right knee during an AIS training session in October 2011 and her left knee in May 2015 playing for Nunawading in the SEABL, following a then career-best 2014/15 WNBL season averaging 11.8 points per game playing for the Melbourne Boomers.
After missing the entire 2015/16 WNBL season Bec played a total of 48 games for the Melbourne Boomers during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons. Playing 3×3 basketball from 2017 onwards and a positional move from point guard to shooting guard were key factors in Bec’s outstanding form in the 2018/19 season for the Jayco Rangers and in 2019/20 for the Southside Flyers. Across these two seasons Cole used her quick hands, reading of the play and speed to full effect, improved her three-point shot and was an accurate shooter. Bec has regularly played 3×3 basketball for the Australian national team and is her country’s number one ranked player in this format.
Bec’s journey is covered in more detail below.
Junior career and WNBL debut with the AIS
Rebecca Cole was born on 19 March, 1992 in Mount Waverley, a Victorian suburb 16 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. Rebecca is the daughter of dad Gary and mum Ros, and has two older sisters Jessica and Emma. Gary played 40 games for the Australian Socceroos between 1975 and 1984 as a striker, scoring 20 goals for his country including a then Australian record seven goals in an international match against Fiji on 14 August 1981.
Rebecca started playing basketball at seven years of age, her junior association was the Nunawading Spectres. When Rebecca was growing up she represented Victoria in track and field, netball and basketball. Over time Rebecca had to decide which sport to focus on and opted for basketball as she preferred playing a team sport which was more physical, provided more freedom with what you could do on the court and had more outlets including being able to represent your country at the Olympic Games.
Vic Metro won the Under 18 National Championship in April 2011, defeating Vic Country 68-51 in the final with Cole scoring 20 points and taking five rebounds.
The Australian Gems side that Rebecca captained at the 2011 FIBA Under 19 World Championships in Chile in July finished fourth, losing the bronze medal game to Brazil 67-70. The Gems team included eight of Bec’s team-mates from the 2010/11 AIS WNBL team being Sara Blicavs, Maddie Garrick, Tayla Roberts, Carley Mijovic, Alex Bunton, Rebecca Allen, Nadeen Payne, and Kerryn Harrington with the three other members of the team being Aimie Clydesdale, Gretal Tippett and Ashleigh Karaitiana. Cole played all eight games for the Australian Gems, averaging 11.5 points, 6.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 30 minutes court-time per game. At the tournament Cole ranked second for Australia in scoring behind Roberts, first for steals and assists with 48 – 33 more than the second ranked Gem and sixth for rebounds. Cole shot the ball at 47.1% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line. Overall at the 2011 FIBA Under 19 World Championships Cole ranked second for assists per game, equal 11th for steals and 13th for scoring. Cole was named the Australian Youth Female Player of the Year in 2011.
After playing three games in the WNBL for the AIS in 2009/10 Bec was outstanding in 2010/11, averaging 8.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. On 16 January 2011 against the Sydney Flames Rebecca scored a then career high 20 points for the AIS.
Having been named AIS captain for the 2011/12 Bec averaged 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game in the first two games whilst shooting at 53% from the field. In an AIS training session in October 2011 Rebecca ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee and also tore her meniscus.
After Rebecca’s injury AIS head coach Phil Brown commented “Rebecca Cole is the heart and soul of this team, and to lose her for the season is devastating, both for her and for the side. She was the leader of the group on and off the floor. She is such a hard-working, talented young player, and is just a really positive influence on all the players.”1 Although Rebecca wasn’t able to spend much time on the basketball court during her recovery from the knee injuries she spent considerable time in the gym strengthening her body.
Career with the Boomers from 2012/13 to 2017/18
Cole signed with the Bulleen Boomers for the 2012/13 WNBL season with Boomers coach Tom Maher commenting “Rebecca has been on our radar for a number of years and we were delighted she signed with us upon her graduation from the AIS.”2
2011/12 was the AIS’s last season in the WNBL as changes were made to the Basketball program at the AIS. Whilst the program is still located at the AIS it is now referred to as the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (COE). Up until 2018 Basketball Australia COE teams competed in both the men’s and women’s SEABL leagues, in 2019 they competed in NBL1.
During 2012/13 Cole played 13 games for Bulleen, in limited game-time she averaged 2.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Cole’s knee wasn’t 100% which led to her ending her season early to have more surgery. On making this decision Rebecca commented to Fairfax Media journalist Roy Ward in early January 2014 “Last year it was not in good condition at all, my knee was always swollen so towards the end of the season I was like ‘let’s have a look at it again’. Playing basketball is something I love so I didn’t want an injury at 20 years old forcing my dream down the drain.”3 Later in the interview Rebecca commented to Roy on her relationship with her father Gary and the benefits of having a parent that has played elite level sport – in Gary’s case soccer in the NSL and for Australia. Rebecca said “We have a close relationship in general, but because he was a player he knows what it’s like to be in that position. If I was in a hole he would tell me to get my chin off the ground and get to it – he knows how to push me the right way.”4
After being restricted to a total of only 15 WNBL games across the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons Cole was able to build momentum, increase her confidence and steadily improve over her next two WNBL seasons. Guy Molloy was appointed the Boomers head coach for the 2013/14 season and has held this position ever since. In a Round 11 game against Adelaide at Adelaide Arena on 15 December 2013 Cole scored 17 points and made six steals. In 2013/14 Cole played a career-high 25 games for the Melbourne Boomers and averaged 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game. Cole ranked second for the Boomers and eighth in the WNBL for total steals during 2013/14, behind team-mate Rebecca Allen who led the league in this category.
The highlight of Cole’s 2014/15 season was in Round 12 when she was named the WNBL Player of the Week after scoring 20 points in a 96-66 victory against Adelaide at the State Basketball Centre, making six of her eight field goal attempts for an accuracy of 75%. During the 2014/15 season Cole played 22 games for the Melbourne Boomers and averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game to set new career-highs in the first three categories for the seasons that she played at least five games.
In February 2015 Rebecca was recognised for her break-out 2014/15 WNBL season, being named in an extended 34 player Australian Opals squad from which the final 12 player team for the 2016 Rio Olympics would be selected.
In May 2015 playing for the Nunawading Spectres in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) Cole tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and required a knee reconstruction for the second time in her career, this time on the opposite knee.
Rebecca was on the Melbourne Boomers roster for the 2015/16 season and it was hoped that she would be able to return from her knee injury during the season, however eventually she was ruled out for the entire season. Bec made her basketball return in the SEABL with Nunawading during the 2016 season.
After Cole had made her return for Nunawading in the SEABL she wrote an article for SBS.com.au ‘It’s a long way back to the top for Bec Cole’ covering her knee injury and comeback. On the initial aftermath following her injury Rebecca wrote “I tore my left ACL on court. When it happened, I started screaming. Not because of the pain, but because I knew what the implications were. I had just finished at Opals camp and still had the World University Games to come and I felt like my dreams had just been crushed. The highest high shortly followed by the lowest low. I remember vividly my coach calling me that night and he was in shock. I was crying and he didn’t know what to say. And coaches always know what to say. He had seen all the hard work I’d put in and knew that that was me out of action for the next 12 months and uncertainty surrounded my future.
I took two days off. I sulked, I was angry, but being angry wasn’t going to get me back on the court.
The healthier you are going in to surgery, the better you are coming out of it. So I was already ‘training’ by day 3…but this time I was training for surgery and not for Australia.”5
In early May 2016 the licenses of the Melbourne Boomers and Adelaide Lightning were in the hands of Basketball Australia, with private takeover proposals being made to Basketball Australia for each club. Later in May 2016 it was announced that the ownership of the Melbourne Boomers was being transferred to a new group including Tony Hallam, the Chairman of Etihad (now Marvel) Stadium. Australia’s greatest ever basketball player Lauren Jackson joined the club in an off-court executive role as Commercial Operations Manager. Bec was one of two players along with Maddie Garrick that represented the club at the announcement in their Melbourne Boomers singlets, alongside key Boomers staff members Guy Molloy, General Manager Justin Nelson and Lauren Jackson.
On 13 October 2016 following her WNBL comeback game Cole was the Round 2 Friday Feature on the WNBL’s YouTube Channel and discussed her return to the WNBL after missing 20 months in the league due to her knee injury. On missing the entire 2015/16 WNBL season and returning in Round 1 of the 2016/17 season Rebecca commented “It was really tough times sitting out for that whole season. It does mean a lot (coming back) because this is my passion, it is my dream. Being back out there with Guy, the coaches and of course the girls it was awesome. Just hearing your name getting called out when you are getting introduced and slapping your teammates hand, it was a bit emotional to be honest and after the game it was just a relief, like ohh, I have done it, I’m good and on to the next one. Yeah knee’s feeling really good, since the surgery I have put a lot of hard work in behind the scenes and just getting it strong, getting my confidence back on the court playing. It just felt like Christmas day when I was back out there playing again. The fans are great. That is one of the best parts about being back, kids coming up to me after the game, they were wearing my singlet jersey, it just feels so good again seeing the familiar faces coming out.”
Whilst making her return to the WNBL was a milestone Bec knew that was not the end of her recovery, writing “People don’t realise that the first game back isn’t your big finale of rehab. It actually takes time getting back to the form you were in before you were injured, which unfortunately doesn’t come back over night. You’re an elite athlete so you don’t lose everything about being a basketballer. That said, being an elite athlete you hold yourself to a high standard so once you’re back on court you face a whole new mental and physical obstacle.”6
Playing as the Melbourne Boomers starting point guard in 2016/17 Bec ranked fourth at the Boomers for points per game, first for assists, led the club in total steals and ranked fourth for total minutes played with 598 behind Alice Kunek (697), Maddie Garrick (641) and Brittany Smart (604).
Bec commenced the 2017/18 WNBL season as the Melbourne Boomers starting point guard with other members of the starting line-up being Maddie Garrick, Jenna O’Hea, Kalani Purcell and Liz Cambage. The Melbourne Boomers finished the regular season with a record of 12 wins and nine losses to finish fourth, three wins behind minor premiers the Perth Lynx and two wins behind Sydney and Townsville who finished second and third respectively. It was the first time the Boomers had made the finals since 2013/14 when they also finished fourth.
In the semi-finals the Boomers defeated minor premiers the Perth Lynx two games to nil to progress to the Grand Final against the Townsville Fire who after finishing the regular season in third place had defeated the second placed Sydney Flames 2-0 in their semi final series. All three games of the Grand Final were won by the home-side with Townsville winning the series 2-1. All three Grand Final games were a sell-out with 8,000 spectators attending during the three game series which was also broadcast live by Fox Sports on pay TV.
On episode 1 of the Rangers Podcast during the 2018/19 season Bec spoke about playing in the best of three Grand Final series for the Melbourne Boomers against the Townsville Fire, saying “Last Grand Final series there was one game where I was just up and about, the crowd was absolutely amazing and we broke records of how many people were attending the game. I am a person that thrives off pressure, I thrive of atmosphere and I was like why not get around it. Playing in those sorts of games, that sort of atmosphere in front of those crowds is something that you honestly don’t forget, you think about it and you get chills up your spine.” Across the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons Cole had been durable, playing 48 games for the Melbourne Boomers, averaging 8.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
Rebecca played for the Nunawading Spectres during the 2014 South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) season and despite missing four weeks in the middle of the season Cole was runner-up in the 2014 SEABL MVP Award behind Maddie Garrick and was named in the 10 player All-SEABL team. Cole was twice selected as the league’s Player of the Week and also received a Player of the month award. In 2014 Cole averaged 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for Nunawading.
In May playing for Nunawading in the 2015 SEABL season Cole injured her knee and required the second knee reconstruction of her career which ended her season after playing six games. In 2015 Cole averaged 20.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Cole played in her preferred position of shooting guard for the Melbourne Tigers in the 2018 SEABL season and Melbourne’s head coach was Mark Alabakov, two of Bec’s team-mates were point guard Monique Conti and forward/centre Louella Tomlinson. Apart from Cole and Tomlinson it was a very young team. Melbourne finished sixth on the ladder at the end of the regular season with 12 wins and eight losses to make the finals. The Melbourne Tigers hosted an elimination final at the Oakleigh Recreation Centre against Sandringham and recorded a convincing victory, 89-54, Bec scored a game-high 26 points, shooting at 60% from the field, made two of her four three-pointers, had a game-high seven assists and a team-high two steals. The following week the Tigers season ended when they were defeated 76-54 by Nunawading, Cole scored 18 points, shooting at 50% from the field, took five rebounds and had three assists. Bec played 19 games for the Tigers, averaging 22.6 points 3.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Cole ranked second in the league behind Lauren Nicholson in points per game and third for assists per game behind Kelly Wilson and Alex Wilson. Bec was selected in the 2018 All-SEABL Second team, shot the ball at 46% from the field and made 26 three-pointers for the season at an accuracy of 38%.
Big V League with the Eltham Wildcats in 2017
Rebecca played for the Eltham Wildcats in the 2017 Big V season, with two time WNBL MVP winner Katrina Hibbert being a playing head coach. In a Round 2 game Cole scored 50 points, had seven rebounds, three assists and six steals in a 86-79 victory against McKinnon. Hibbert commented on Bec’s performance, “I’ve never seen a 50-point game, ever, it was quite a phenomenal performance. Coley gets the ball, pushes it early, she was getting lay-ups, on-ball screens and is really developing her game, which she really wants to work on and that’s why she came over to Big V. Just watching her work at such a high rate constantly is amazing, she never takes a break.”7
Cole finished the Big V season as the league’s leading scorer, averaging 24.8 points per game. In one of several coaching changes in the WNBL off-season in early March 2019 the Sydney Uni Flames appointed Katrina Hibbert as their head coach for the 2020 and 2021 WNBL seasons.
Cole has played in many 3×3 tournaments from 2017 onwards including representing Australia at international tournaments and is Australia’s number 1 ranked female 3×3 basketball player.
In June 2017 it was announced that a 3-on-3 basketball tournament would be included at the 2020 Summer Olympics in addition to a traditional five on five tournament. At the time of the announcement Australia needed to focus more energy on 3-on-3 basketball, host more tournaments and perform better in international tournaments in order to qualify for the 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
On episode 10 Series 5 of Basket Case Bec was asked about her experiences playing three on three and commented “I was lucky enough to be able to have a crack at that, the game-style is everything that I am about, explosive, powerful, athletic, competitive and it’s a whole lot of fun and very entertaining to watch as well.” Basket Case co-host Carol Wical said “Heading into the Olympics, that’s going to be pretty wild because obviously there will be two squads being picked I guess for the long-game and the short game.” Bec replied, “Yeah, both play just as aggressively as one another but I think it is great now there is another opportunity for female athletes that play basketball to try out for an Olympics. I am just going to work my butt off, it has always been a dream of mine to go there, so at least there are two pathways now if you are lucky enough to get there, I will just have to keep working hard and see what comes my way.”
In both the 2018 and 2019 FIBA 3 X 3 Asia Cup Bec was named in the Team of the Tournament, also being named the Most Valuable Player in the 2019 edition. Australia won the bronze medal in 2018 after being defeated by New Zealand 20-18 in overtime during the semi-final. At the 2019 Asia Cup in China the Australian team comprised of Cole, Alice Kunek, Maddie Garrick and Hanna Zavecz won all five games, comprehensively defeating Kazakstan 20-9 in the final to win the gold medal.
At the post-game press conference after her 150th WNBL game on 23 December 2018 Bec was asked “It looks like you are in career-best form, do you think your off season focus on three on three has helped (with your form)?” Bec, responded “Yeah, I think going to the Tigers in the off-season, being back in the two and playing the three on three, that’s my game, aggressive, physical, athletic, that was a whole lot of fun but I think that gave me my passion back, I got it back but I feel that definitely helped.”
At the 2019 3 x 3 World Cup held in Amsterdam during June, 25 nations participated in the Women’s event and the Australian team comprised of Cole, Kunek, Garrick and Keely Froling were the 18th seed. Australia won four of their first five games, with the exception being a one point loss to France – 15-16. In a semi-final Australia lost a nail-biter against China 14-15 and then played off for third place against France, Australia were comprehensively defeated by France 9-21 and finished the tournament in fourth place.
On 19 February 2020 Cole was selected in the five player squad along with Kunek, Garrick, Kelsey Griffin and Lauren Nicholson for the 3 x 3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament which was scheduled to be held in India from 18 to 22 March, however due to the corona virus the tournament was postponed.
The Australian Opals qualified for the traditional five on five tournament at the 2020 Olympic Games and won the sliver medal at the most recent major championship, being defeated by the USA at the 2018 World Cup in Spain. On 2 March 2020 Bec was included in a 19 player squad for the 2020 Olympic Games, however since then the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games have been postponed and will commence on 23 July, 2021.
On 26 March this year it was announced that Sydney would host the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup for five on five basketball from 23 September to 3 October with 12 teams competing in the tournament.
2018/19 WNBL season with the Jayco Rangers
Bec signed with the Jayco Rangers for the 2018/19 season and whilst she hadn’t played WNBL basketball with the Dandenong Rangers before she had some experience with the club as a development player at 15 years of age before she joined the AIS. A key reason in Cole changing clubs was the ability at Dandenong to play as a shooting guard which she and her head coach at Dandenong – Larissa Anderson felt was her natural position. Commenting on The Rangers Podcast regarding the difference between the 1 and 2 spots Bec said “I was a two-man until I went to the AIS and they wanted me to be a 1. I have so much respect for point guards because that was the hardest transition I ever had to do. It is team first and then it is you, you gotta make sure everyone is in the right spots, you have to be that strict leader on the floor. You are the person who runs the show. So much respect for Lavey and Mealz and they do such a good job with our team. Being in the 2-3 spot you get a little more freedom because you are not having to think exactly about all that, you just sort of get to play, that is obviously a lot more enjoyable for me.” At 178 centimetres tall Bec had a size advantage over many point guards but also had the flexibility to play in the 2 or 3 spots. Cole’s performances over the past two years have strongly supported Bec’s feeling that shooting guard was the position that she was most suited to.
In episode 1 of the Rangers Podcast Tom asked Cole “How is your body feeling now?” Rebecca responded “The body is feeling great, as you get older you learn more about your body, what it loves, what it doesn’t, what recovery you want to use, all of that sort of thing. My body, honestly, I haven’t felt stronger, more powerful, more explosive than I have in a while. In the last couple of years I have found something that I really enjoy, yeah going into the gym and working on my whole body is what makes me stay on the floor and not get injured. I want to be able to play on the court as long as possible, so anything I can do to keep playing until my body says no, I will be doing that.”
In her preferred role of shooting guard Cole impressed during the 2018/19 pre-season with the Jayco Rangers however I don’t think anyone could have predicted the heights that she would reach during the season. To open the 2018/19 WNBL season the Rangers faced one of the toughest tasks in the WNBL, a road trip to Townsville on Sunday 14 October to play the defending champions. Dandenong’s starting line-up against the Fire was comprised of Tessa Lavey and Cole in the back-court and Betnijah Laney, Rachel Jarry and Kayla Pedersen in the front-court. Cole played a significant role in the Jayco Rangers getting a 73-68 road victory against Townsville, scoring a team-high 18 points, shooting at 53% from the field, took seven rebounds and was named in the WNBL Team of the Week for Round 1.
The Rangers recorded a 81-65 victory against the Bendigo Spirit in a Friday night game on the road at Bendigo Stadium in Round 6 after leading 44-29 at half-time. Cole scored 16 points, shooting at 58% from the field, had two rebounds, a game-high five assists and two steals. In the Rangers second road game of Round 6 they were defeated 65-77 by the University of Canberra Capitals at the National Convention Centre after trailing by 18 points at half-time. Against the Capitals Rebecca scored a team-high 16 points, had three rebounds and a team-high six assists. Cole was rewarded for her Round 6 performances with selection in the WNBL Team of the Week.
In their only game for Round 9 and the final WNBL game of the weekend the seventh placed Rangers hosted ladder leaders the Perth Lynx and caused one of the upsets of the season, defeating Perth 96-76. Cole scored 21 points at an accuracy of 54% from the field and had an equal game-high six assists along with two team-mates – Betnijah Laney and Tessa Lavey.
Cole was one of two special guests to appear on Series 5 Episode 10 of Basket Case: A Podcast About the WNBL on 12 December 2018 along with Sydney Flames Assistant Coach Mark Alabakov. In his role as head coach of the Melbourne Tigers SEABL team in 2018 Alabakov coached Rebecca. Alabakov was the first special guest to appear on this episode of Basket Case hosted by Carol Wical and Helen Theoharkis and was asked to introduce Cole, he was glowing in his praise, commenting “Rebecca Cole, what can we say, one of the most competitive and offensively aggressive players that we have in the WNBL, has added a three-point shot to her game. Is a real alpha on the floor and plays every minute like it’s the last minute of the Grand Final Series and is exactly the type of athlete that you would want to have on your team if you are going to war on the basketball court.”
When asked by Carol Wical on Series 5 Episode 10 of Basket Case “What were the things besides the uniform colour that drew you to Dandenong?” Rebecca responded “For me timing is everything, and I really went into the off-season after last WNBL just wanting to play the 2 spot again, that is my natural position. I really wanted to get aggressive again and fall back in love with the game which I maybe had a bit of a struggle the season previously. Being able to play in the two spot was really massive for me and I have had a great opportunity so far this season to do that and I feel like I keep getting better every week the help of Larissa, the coaches and the team.”
In a 33 point win against Sydney at Brydens Stadium in the Rangers first game of Round 10 on Friday 14 December playing 27 minutes and seven seconds court-time Bec scored a game-high 31 points – 15 points more than the second ranked player for the game, shot the ball at 85% from the field, had four rebounds, three assists, a game-high five steals – three more than the second ranked player for the game, and a block. Against Bendigo in the Rangers second Round 10 game Cole scored a game-high 20 points, shooting at 53% from the field, took six rebounds and made a phenomenal 11 assists – five more than the second ranked player for the game and had just two turnovers. In the 87-63 victory the Rangers shot the ball at 51% from the field and made 30 assists – 13 more than Bendigo. Cole was named the WNBL’s Round 10 Player of the Week.
In episode 4 of the Rangers Podcast on 21 December, 2018 Tom Bathgate said “You have never been an elite three-point shooter, but this season that has been one of the keys for you, not just scoring at volume but scoring really efficiently, has something changed in your shooting stroke over the off-season or are you just seeing it better?” Bec responded “I have definitely if anyone knows me been just trying to work on my game as much as possible and a three-point shot was one of those things I had to work on, and working with Mark Alabakov in the off-season and then Larissa as we started pre-season and indies, both of them helped, I guess it is just repetition really, but a lot of it just comes to confidence as well. You might look at my (shooting) form and think it is not the best but if it goes in who really cares.”
Cole played her 150th WNBL game on Sunday, 23 December, 2018 at the State Basketball Centre at 26 years of age against her former team – the Melbourne Boomers. In the post-game press conference Melbourne Boomers General Manager Justin Nelson said “Bec, game 150 today, probably 135 (it was actually 108) of those were with the Boomers.” Rangers head-coach Larissa Anderson interjects “But her best 15 have been with the Rangers.” Nelson continues “How did it feel to be back in familiar territory?”. Bec responded “Thanks for the shout out at the start of the game J N. Dad and I were laughing earlier today, finally made it to 150, finally got there. So funny that it ended up being against my old team but I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way, love playing for the Rangers, it was good to get to 150 and it was still nice having some old supporters out there in the stands, it was a good feeling.”
In a Friday night Round 13 road game against the Townsville Fire at Townsville Stadium Dandenong defeated the reigning WNBL champions in Queensland for the second time in 2018/19. Rebecca again played a pivotal role in the victory, scoring a game-high 27 points, having four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Cole shot the ball proficiently from the field, making 11 of her 17 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 64%.
In a Sunday afternoon road game against the Sydney Uni Flames telecast on Fox Sports and SBS the Rangers recorded their second win of the weekend by defeating Sydney 85-60. Cole was exceptional against Sydney, scoring nine points in the first quarter to help set-up a 21-13 lead at quarter-time. Bec finished the game with 25 points, two assists and four steals in 27 minutes and 31 seconds court-time. Rebecca made 11 of her 16 field-goal attempts for a superb accuracy of 68%.
On Tuesday 8 January, Cole was named the WNBL’s Round 13 Player of the Week after averaging 26.0 points, shooting at 67% from the field, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game during the Rangers two road victories for the Round.
On 25 January, 2019 the Jayco Rangers held their WNBL Awards night at the La Trobe Financial Headquarters in Melbourne’s CBD. Cole was a deserving winner of the Jayco Rangers Most Valuable Player Award after playing easily the best season of her WNBL career to that stage. During the 2018/19 WNBL season Cole played all 21 games for the Rangers as their starting shooting guard, averaging 19.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 31 minutes and 23 seconds court-time per game. Bec led Dandenong for points – 5.3 points per game more than the second ranked Ranger – Laney and steals, ranked second behind Laney for assists and minutes played, and fourth for rebounds behind Laney, Pedersen and Jarry. Cole set career highs for scoring with a 64% improvement on her previous best of 11.8 points per game in 2014/15, rebounds, steals, shooting accuracy and assists excluding the 2011/12 season in which she only played two games. The most significant improvement in Cole’s game was shooting accuracy, making 38% of her three pointers and 51% of her field goals – ranking in the top 10 of the league in the latter category. A crucial improvement in Cole’s game was the development of her three-point shot, in 2018/19 she made 26 of her 69 three-point attempts for an accuracy of 38%, easily surpassing her previous best of making 13 three-pointers in both the 2010/11 and 2013/14 seasons. Cole was named in the WNBL’s team of the week four times in 2018/19 – Rounds 1, 6, 10 and 13 and was rewarded for her outstanding form by being included in the Australian Opals 2019 squad.
Following each game of the 2018/19 Regular season both head coaches, along with the head referee cast votes for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award on a 3, 2, 1 basis. As expected University of Canberra Capitals forward Kelsey Griffin was a convincing winner of the 2018/19 WNBL Most Valuable Player Award, polling 119 votes from a maximum 189. Cole finished second on 99 votes followed by Melbourne Boomers point guard Lindsay Allen in third place on 94 votes.
The WNBL All-Star five was voted on by the coaches and captains of the WNBL clubs at the end of the regular season with a short-list of 20 players that received MVP votes during the season eligible to be voted for. Bec Cole was selected in the back-court along with Lindsay Allen whilst the front-court was comprised of Kelsey Griffin, Asia Taylor and Nia Coffey. Bec became the eighth Jayco Rangers player of All-time to be selected in the WNBL All-Star five and the first Dandenong player to achieve this milestone since the club’s greatest ever player Penny Taylor was selected in the All-Star five for the third and final time in her final WNBL season in 2014/15.
On being selected in the 2018/19 WNBL All-Star five at the WNBL end of season awards on Monday 18 February Bec was emotional, commenting to wnbl.com.au on this achievement “It was a very special feeling hearing my name read out. I just felt extremely honoured and grateful. It means a lot to me to be recognized alongside these other incredible female athletes I get to play against week in and week out.”8
2019/20 WNBL season with the Southside Flyers
In July 2019 the Dandenong Rangers WNBL license was transferred from the Dandenong Basketball Association to Gerry Ryan who in 1975 founded Jayco who were the naming rights sponsor of the Dandenong Rangers WNBL team from 1997 to 2019. The Southside Flyers play their home games at Dandenong Stadium and respect the history of the Dandenong Rangers. After the announcement of the license transfer and the establishment of the Southside Flyers Ryan commented “The Southside name reflects our commitment to create a team with support from the beachside suburbs of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula through to the Dandenong Ranges, Gippsland and beyond. The Flyers hopefully will describe the style of play and success of the team within the WNBL. Our vision is to significantly broaden the support for the new team and to get the whole basketball community involved. The name Southside Flyers reflects this vision.”9
On 12 August 2019 it was announced that Bec had signed with the Southside Flyers for the 2019/20 WNBL season, Bec commented “I really enjoyed my first WNBL season at Dandenong and am excited with the opportunity to be involved in the inaugural season of the Southside Flyers. I am looking forward to creating history on and off the court as part of a fresh team in one of the best competitions in the world. Having the support of Gerry Ryan and knowing his vision for the team and the promotion and growth of women’s basketball is exciting and I feel privileged to be part of this. And to be able to play under Cheryl Chambers is something I am looking forward to.”10
Six players on the Southside Flyers 2019/20 roster played for the Jayco Rangers in 2018/19 – Bec, Sara Blicavs, Kiera Rowe, Rebecca Pizzey, Taylah Giliam and Stephanie Reid whilst another four had played for the Jayco Rangers previously – Jenna O’Hea, Leilani Mitchell, Aimie Clydesdale and Louella Tomlinson. Two members of the Flyers 2019/20 core rotation that hadn’t represented the Rangers in the WNBL previously were Anneli Maley who played for the Dandenong Rangers SEABL team in 2017 and American import Mercedes Russell. Nine members of the roster played in the NBL1’s inaugural 2019 season with the exceptions being Russell and Australian Opals duo O’Hea and Mitchell. Cheryl Chambers was appointed as the inaugural head coach of the Southside Flyers. Chambers is currently an Assistant Coach of the Australian Opals and had two stints as a WNBL head coach previously – with the Bulleen (now Melbourne) Boomers for eight seasons from 2001/02 to 2008/09 and with the Sydney Uni Flames for three seasons from 2016/17 to 2018/19, with the Flames winning the WNBL Championship in 2016/17 after defeating Dandenong 2-0 in the Grand Final series. Two of the key players from Sydney’s 2016/17 Championship winning team joined Cheryl at Southside – point guard Leilani Mitchell who won the 2016/17 Grand Final Most Valuable Player Award and Belinda Snell who retired as a WNBL player at the end of the 2018/19 season and is now an Assistant coach at the Flyers.
Chambers commented on Cole signing with the Flyers “Rebecca showed last year what a great player she is in the WNBL and will obviously be a key player for us. Her scoring ability is well known, importantly she has more to her game than scoring and I am sure she will create some real headaches for the opposition wearing her new colours in 2019.”11
In her nine WNBL seasons before 2019/20 Cole had averaged more than 10.0 points per game in two seasons – 11.8 points per game with the Melbourne Boomers in 2014/15 and 19.4 points per game for the Jayco Rangers in 2018/19. Highlighting her consistency during the 2019/20 season Cole scored at least 10 points in all 25 games she played for the club and more than 18 points 10 times.
Australian Opals captain Jenna O’Hea was appointed as the Southside Flyers inaugural captain and is one of the most decorated players in the WNBL, having been selected in the WNBL All-Star five first-team six times including the 2019/20 season and has played on two WNBL Championship winning teams, being the Boomers only championship in 2010/11 and the Jayco Dandenong Rangers third and final championship in 2011/12 which included two other Southside players in Tomlinson and Clydesdale.
The Southside Flyers played their inaugural WNBL game against the Townsville Fire at Dandenong Stadium on 12 October, the Flyers regular starting line-up throughout the 2019/20 season was Cole in the backcourt alongside Leilani Mitchell whilst Sara Blicavs, Jenna O’Hea and Mercedes Russell started in the front-court. Southside defeated Townsville 81-72 with Cole scoring 11 points, taking five rebounds and had a game-high six assists.
It didn’t take long for the Flyers to play their first overtime game, achieving this feat in their second game on Thursday 17 October against the Perth Lynx at Dandenong Stadium. The Flyers trailed by three points with one minute and 19 seconds remaining, reducing the margin to one point when Mercedes Russell made a lay-up with a minute and six seconds to play. With the shot clock about to expire Aimie Clydesdale put up a rushed three from well beyond the arc that went in with 26 seconds left to give Southside a two point lead. The game went to overtime and with the Flyers leading 94-93 Bec made a three point-play on a lay-up with seven seconds remaining in what was the final score of a thrilling 97-93 victory for the Flyers. Bec finished the game with 16 points, making seven of her 13 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 53.7% and made three steals – ranked second for the game behind team-mate O’Hea with six.
Between Rounds 2 and 3 Bec was a guest on the Basket Case podcast and was asked by Basket Case host Carol Wical “I was looking at the stats for your mob for all three games that you have played this season, I feel that they are telling me that discipline and working hard is part of your mantra down there.” Bec replied “Definitely, you know on defense you have to play your heart out, hustle after every ball, getting those box-outs, and on offense for me individually it is spreading the lanes to the corners every single time, trainings are hard but they are so much fun and I think we are getting fitter, we are getting to know each other better. If we work hard against each other than we are all going to improve and that will show when we vs the other teams on court, definitely it is just doing all the little things, I feel if you do them the main things come a lot more easily.”
At Dandenong Stadium in a Sunday evening Round 4 game Cole scored a game-high 23 points including 14 points in the first half against the Bendigo Spirit in a 93-80 victory, making nine of her 16 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 56.3%. Cole made two of her five three-pointers, all three free-throws, had four assists, an equal game-high two steals and blocked one shot. The following night in the Melbourne Cup Eve game at the State Basketball Centre Cole scored 14 points, making five of her 10 field goal attempts, had an equal game-high six assists, took four rebounds and made a team-high two steals in Southside’s 81-74 victory. In Round 4 Cole earnt her first Team of the Week selection for the 2019/20 season.
In September Bec’s dad Gary was diagnosed with cancer, specifically Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. On The Cancer Council Australia website Under the heading ‘What is Lymphoma?’ it says “Lymphomas refers to types of cancer that begin in the lymphatic system (the various lymph glands around the body). Lymphomas are the sixth most common form of cancer overall (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).”12
On 23 November an article written by Ben Waterworth “‘Life isn’t fair’: The beautiful bond – and remarkable resilience – between Bec and Gary Cole” was published on http://www.foxsports.com.au. In the article Bec commented on Gary “There were some really tough times in my career and when no one else believed in me, he was there. That’s why I’m so grateful for what I have with him and to come out the other side to prove people wrong. He’s my hero because he’s helped me get to where I am today, so I just want to help him with whatever I can. He’s my idol.”13
When Gary received the diagnosis that he had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma Bec was playing a FIBA 3 x 3 tournament in Tokyo and he waited until Bec was back in Melbourne to tell her. In Waterwoth’s article Bec commented “I’m quite a tough person, but when it comes to my parents, I’m the biggest sook in the world. Dad was on the chair and he just told me straight out. I said ‘OK, yeah, I’m fine’ – and then literally a minute later I came back crying and sat on his lap and was like, ‘OK, no, I’m not OK’. It was a bit shocking because to me he’s one of the fittest guys and your parents are supposed to be strong. So when you see them weak, it scares you a little bit.”14 Gary commented “It was a tough time emotionally because your immediate reaction is ‘cancer’ and what that could mean and what that could cost you and what you wouldn’t get to do. You go ‘well she could be going to the Olympic Games, she could be going to the Commonwealth Games’ – and if you’re not around, what don’t you get to see? You don’t get to see them grow up and continue to develop and improve and become beautiful young women and get married and have grandchildren – all of that stuff. I encourage everyone, if you’ve got similar aches and pain, go and get them checked.”15 Gary has had several rounds of chemotherapy to treat his Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The Southside Flyers recorded a 90-75 road victory against the Perth Lynx at Bendat Basketball Stadium in a Friday night Round 12 game. Bec gave one of the best shooting exhibitions of the season, scoring a game-high 30 points at a phenomenal accuracy of 83.6%, making 13 of her 16 field goal attempts including two of her three three-pointers. Bec also took four rebounds and made a team-high four assists, playing 30 minutes and 40 seconds game-time in the victory on 3 January. Two days later in the second game of a road double the Flyers suffered their third loss of the season, losing a shoot-out to Adelaide 93-104 at Titanium Security Arena with Lightning point guard Nicole Seekamp having 20 assists to set an all-time WNBL record for the most assists in a single game. In the loss Cole scored 18 points, had three rebounds, four assists, two steals and was rewarded for her performances across Round 12 with selection in the WNBL’s Team of the Week.
Against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre in Round 13 on Sunday 12 January the Flyers trailed by four points with one minute and 25 seconds remaining but were able to bridge the gap from the foul line with Bec making two free-throws with 58 seconds remaining followed by Mitchell making two free-throws with 10 seconds left to tie the scores 67 apiece. The Flyers won a thrilling game in the first period of overtime 75-73, however the victory came at a cost. Flyers captain O’Hea broke her wrist when she and Boomers forward Ezi Magbegor met solidly when they both dove after a loose-ball. O’Hea was expected to miss 10 to 12 weeks which would cause her to miss the Opals Olympic Games qualifying tournament in February and the remainder of the WNBL season.
The Flyers had been in great form however they were more reliant on their starting five than the other teams in the top four with all five starters Cole, Russell, Mitchell, O’Hea and Blicavs ranking in the top 20 of the league for scoring. One of the queries experts had about the Flyers roster was how they would fare without one of their starters for an extended time so O’Hea’s wrist injury would test the depth of the Flyers, guard Aimie Clydesdale was brought into the starting line-up.
In Round 15 against Adelaide at home Bec scored a season-high 28 points, making 10 of her 17 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 58.8% and made two of her four three-pointers. In the 81-69 victory at Dandenong Stadium Bec also took two rebounds, made a team-high five assists and was named the WNBL’s Player of the Week for her brilliant performance.
The Southside Flyers recorded 17 wins and four losses during the 2019/20 season to finish on top of the ladder, two wins ahead of the University of Canberra Capitals and Melbourne Boomers who finished second and third respectively, followed by the Adelaide Lightning in fourth position on 12 wins. The four teams that missed the finals all recorded between five and eight wins being Perth (8 wins), Sydney (7) Bendigo (5) and Townsville (5).
Between the end of the 2019/20 WNBL regular season and the start of the finals there was a weekend with no games played due to the FIBA Qualifiers window and whilst Bec wasn’t involved on court she made her debut for Fox Sports, providing special comments alongside play by play commentator Ben Waterworth for the Australian Opals first two games of the Olympic Games qualifying tournament. Bec’s Flyers team-mates Mitchell and Blicavs were members of the Opals team at the tournament whilst Southside head coach Cheryl Chambers was an assistant coach. Bec was a guest on the 12th February edition of the WNBL Show Podcast, host Megan Hustwaite asked Bec “How did you enjoy your commentary debut?” Bec replied “I absolutely loved it, I was lucky enough to get a practice run through with Ben Waterworth a week before so that was really good to get the confidence going and I just felt like I was almost out there with the girls so I was just so glad to be a part of it and something I definitely want to do in the future. Great experience, I just felt the excitement in studio for the girls so I can imagine how they would have felt out on court.”
Later in the interview Hustwaite commented “Aside from your commentary it has been business as usual on the court at Dandenong Stadium for the Flyers.” Bec responded “It has, it’s almost been a little pre-season again for us back home at Dandenong Basketball Stadium. We are raring to go, it is finals time, debut season for the club, I just feel it is really exciting first season for the Flyers and we have been able to finish on top and we just really want to finish the year off strong and would love to get the first (series) final won so we can get our captain Jenna O’Hea back for the Grand Final series, that would be my main goal.” Hustwaite asked “It is such an exciting time and I think going back to even Round 1 when you beat Townsville there has just been this vibe about this team. On-floor of course you have been incredibly successful in the regular season but you just all look to be enjoying yourselves and playing each other.” Bec responded “It is exactly like what you just said, I don’t think in a long time the vibe and feel within the group is just so effortless, everyone works hard, we all get along so well. I think a lot of that comes from Cheryl though, allowing us to work hard at basketball but also life happens and late last year in December I was going through a couple of rough things and I don’t think I would have been able to get through if it wasn’t for my team and it is pretty great and a special thing just for me to be able to say that, I am really excited for this team and everyone has each other’s back, I am ready for finals, it is going to be good.”
The Flyers won their semi final series against Adelaide two games to nil, winning each game by three points. In game 1 of their semi final series against Adelaide at Dandenong Stadium the Flyers trailed 21-34 with four minutes and 50 seconds remaining in the first half. The Flyers went on a 33-10 run to lead 54-44 with two minutes and 59 seconds to play in the third quarter. Southside looked to be in control of the game from that point on however two Adelaide field goals in the last 30 seconds reduced the final margin to three points.
The first quarter of game 2 was a shoot-out with Southside leading Adelaide 27-26 at quarter-time, the Flyers extended their lead to eight points 51-43 at half-time. Adelaide fought back to level the scores late in the third quarter, Cole made a crucial banked three pointer on the three quarter-time buzzer to regain the lead for Southside. The Flyers scored the opening two field goals of the final term through Blicavs and Mitchell and won game 2 82-79 on the road. Cole registered her first double-double of the season comprised of 19 points and 10 rebounds to set team-highs in both categories. Bec also made a game-high five steals and had five assists – ranked second for the Flyers behind Mitchell with nine. All five Flyers starters scored at least 12 points with Cole being joined in this category by Mitchell (18 points), Clydesdale (a season high 18 points), Russell (15) and Blicavs (12).
The Southside Flyers Grand Final opponent was the University of Canberra Capitals who defeated the Melbourne Boomers 2-1 in their semi final series with the home side winning each game. Canberra who won the regular season split against Southside 2-1 with the away side winning all three games. The Capitals easily won regular season games at Dandenong Stadium 91-72 and 98-74 in Rounds 5 and 14 respectively whilst the Southside Flyers defeated the Capitals 70-65 at the National Convention Centre in Round 9.
Southside Flyers captain Jenna O’Hea returned from injury for the Grand Final series but started game 1 on the bench with guard Aimie Clydesdale retaining her position in the starting line-up. After the Capitals scored the first five points of Game 1 of the Grand Final series at Dandenong Stadium Cole with 14 points in the second quarter was influential in the Flyers gaining a 47-43 half-time lead. Southside extended their lead to six points 71-65 with eight minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the game, however were outscored 9-17 from that point to be defeated by two points with Capitals guard Olivia Epoupa scored the final basket of the game with one minute and 20 seconds remaining. Bec scored 23 points, had seven assists and two blocks to register game-highs in all three categories.
Jenna O’Hea returned to the Flyers starting line-up for game 2 at the AIS Arena on 4 March. Cole scored 19 points in the first half of game 2 including 12 points in the second quarter to help set-up a 45-31 lead for the Flyers with one minute and 19 seconds remaining in the first half however the University of Canberra Capitals then went on a 15-0 run to lead 46-45 with five minutes and five seconds remaining in the third term. At half-time Cole had two fouls, after being called for her third and fourth fouls in the first three minutes and 20 seconds of the third quarter Cole was substituted out of the game with the Flyers leading 45-38. The Flyers were outscored 9-25 in the third quarter and trailed by two points, 54-56 at the final change. Bec was substituted into the game with Southside trailing 56-62, seven minutes and 43 seconds remained in the game, she scored four points and provided an assist to Blicavs to reduce the margin. The Flyers fought back to lead 68-67 with two minutes and six seconds remaining, however 2019/20 WNBL MVP Kia Nurse made a three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining to give the Capitals a two point lead. The Capitals defeated the Flyers 71-68 to win their ninth WNBL championship. Canberra point guard Olivia Epoupa was named the Grand Final MVP, averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game.
In 2019/20 Cole played all 25 games for the Southside Flyers, averaging 17.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 28.6 minutes per game and had a field goal accuracy of 49.3%. Bec led the Flyers in scoring per game, ranked second for assists behind Mitchell, fifth for rebounds and second for steals behind O’Hea. Of the players that played at least five games in 2019/20 Cole ranked third in the WNBL for scoring per game behind Kia Nurse and Alice Kunek, ranked equal 11th for steals and equal 12th for assists. Bec’s field goal accuracy of 49.3% ranked 11th in the league of the players that made at least 25 field goals in the season.
Cole was one of four Southside Flyers to earn selection in a WNBL All-Star team for the 2019/20 season with captain Jenna O’Hea and Leilani Mitchell being selected in the first team, centre Mercedes Russell joined Cole in the second-team. Before game 1 of the 2019/20 WNBL Grand Final series between the Southside Flyers and the University of Canberra Capitals at Dandenong Stadium on 1 March the four Flyers who earned 2019/20 WNBL All-Star selection and Capitals import Kia Nurse who won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award and was selected in the WNBL All-Star first team were recognised for their achievements. Mitchell won the Southside Flyers 2019/20 MVP Award with Cole and O’Hea finishing in equal second place.
NBL1 with the Dandenong Rangers
On 28 February 2019 it was announced that Cole had signed with the Dandenong Rangers for the 2019 NBL1 season. NBL1 is the premier winter basketball league in Southern Australia consisting of 18 teams, succeeding the South Eastern Basketball League (SEABL) which has been disbanded. On signing with Dandenong Cole commented “I really enjoyed my WNBL season at Dandenong, I found I got the best out of myself at the club and I want to try and continue that. The club has been really supportive of me and has allowed me to pursue my 3×3 goals in the off-season as well. During the NBL1 season I want to continue enjoying my basketball and keep working on my game, but I’m also excited to help lead the great young talent that we’ll have on this team and get the best out of them.”16
During 2019 Cole played 11 games for the Dandeong Rangers in NBL1 averaged 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game and 1.6 steals per game, shooting at 46% from the field and 43% for three-pointers, she was named in the NBL1 All-Star five.
NBL1 expanded for the 2020 season with the original NBL1 league rebranded as NBL1 South. The former Queensland Basketball League was rebranded as NBL1 North and the former South Australian Premier League was rebranded NBL1 Central, both new NBL1 leagues were scheduled to commence in 2020.
For the 2020 season Cole was going to split her time between NBL1 with the Dandenong Rangers and 3 x 3 commitments. Cole was one of three Southside Flyers players signed by the Rangers along with Clydesdale and Tomlinson.
On 21 March, 2020 NBL1 released a statement saying “All three conferences of the forthcoming 2020 NBL1 season have been cancelled. The NBL in conjunction with Basketball Victoria, Basketball Queensland and Basketball South Australia have notified clubs of the decision not to proceed with the 2020 season. The decision follows the indefinite closure of indoor sports centres because of COVID-19. All three conferences, NBL1 South, NBL1 North and NBL1 Central, had already been postponed until May.”17
In episode 2 of the Rangers Podcast in October 2018 Bec was asked “What drives you day and night to be the best that you can be?” Bec responded “Yeah, I really like that question. I think for me when you are out of the game for a little bit you realise how much you love it and it is not having to be better than someone else, you have to just focus on yourself and being the best person, the best basketball player you can be, so I think that is what drives me because I just want to be at the top of my game and go as far as I can. So waking up every morning it is a privilege to be able to do what I do and the daily grind is something that I love. I think that is what keeps me going, I just want to do this for as long as I can.”
In the past four WNBL seasons from 2016/17 to 2019/20 Bec has been durable, playing a total of 94 games during this period. Before the 2018/19 WNBL season Bec had never averaged more than 12 points per game. During 2018/19 playing as a shooting guard Bec took her basketball to another stratosphere to average 19.4 points per game and was runner-up in the league’s MVP award. During 2019/20 Bec maintained a high standard to rank third in the league for scoring per game with 17.3 points per game and also ranked in the top 15 for steals and assists whilst playing an important role in the Southside Flyers making the Grand Final in their inaugural season.
During the 2018/19 and 2019/20 WNBL seasons Bec Cole has been one of the most efficient backcourt scorers in the league, having the ability to drive aggressively to the basket, make mid-range shots and has been a much greater threat from long range than in previous seasons. Cole has used her quick hands, reading of the play and speed to full effect and has also been adept at providing assists to team-mates.
Bec has done a magnificent job of becoming the best basketball player she can be and whilst having two knee reconstructions during her career has been frustrating and has caused her to spend substantial periods of time on the sidelines Bec turned this adversity into a positive, realising that the more work she could do in the gym the more likely she would be able to remain on the basketball court and injury free which in turn made it easier to adapt to the physical demands of 3 x 3 basketball. It is a phenomenal and much deserved achievement for Bec Cole to be selected in an All-WNBL team in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons and to be Australia’s number 1 ranked women’s 3 x 3 basketball player.
By Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777
2 WNBL, Media Guide WNBL 2012/13, page 47