Player Profiles and preview of the Australian 3×3 Women’s team at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

For the third time basketball is included on the Commonwealth Games program in 2022 at Birmingham, however it is a different format of the sport than was included at two previous Commonwealth Games hosted by Australia. The traditional format of five on five basketball was played at the 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, however in 2022 it is the newer 3×3 format of the sport that is being played. The Australian women’s basketball team won the gold medal on home soil in 2006 and 2018 and are aiming to win gold again in Birmingham, this time in 3×3.

Three members of the Australian women’s team that won a silver medal at the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup earlier this month in Singapore will be pulling on the green and gold to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games – Lauren Mansfield, Lauren Scherf and Marena Whittle. Guard Alex Wilson is making her debut for the Australian 3×3 team in Birmingham.

Marena Whittle playing for Adelaide Lightning against the Melbourne Boomers at the Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 24 March 2022

In the article below player profiles are included for all four members of the Australian women’s team for the 3×3 tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but first of all some information is provided on the history of 3×3, the rules for the newer format of basketball, the Commonwealth Games tournament in general, and the history of women’s basketball at the Commonwealth Games.

A brief history of 3×3 basketball

The 3×3 basketball page of Olympics.com states “Exciting, urban and innovative, 3×3 is inspired by several forms of streetball played worldwide, and is considered the world’s number one urban team sport. FIBA has developed 3×3 as the second basketball discipline to attract a new audience and provide more opportunities for its member associations and players worldwide.”1

An official 3×3 event was held for the first time at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore. Typically there are two events held at each 3×3 tournament, men’s and women’s events, however some tournaments have also included a mixed event where each team is comprised of two men and two women. In 2011 a FIBA 3×3 Under 18 World Cup was held in Rimini, Italy. The first senior 3×3 World Cup was held in Athens in 2012. In addition to World Cup’s the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also holds regional events including the Asia Cup and Europe Cup.

The 3×3 World Cup has been held seven times – 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022. Only one nation has won the women’s 3×3 World Cup multiple times, the United States of America – having won the first two editions of the event in 2012 and 2014. The two Commonwealth nations to win a medal at a women’s 3×3 World Cup are Australia – bronze in 2012 and Canada – silver in 2022, Australia also finished fourth in 2019.  

Serbia have dominated the men’s 3×3 World Cup to win the gold medal five times – 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022. A Commonwealth nation is yet to finish in the top four of a men’s 3×3 World Cup.

In in addition to the traditional five on of format of basketball the newer 3×3 format was also included at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The United States of America won the gold medal in women’s 3×3 basketball at the 2020 Olympics and Latvia won the men’s event.

3×3 basketball rules

Most of the rules for 3×3 basketball and the traditional five on five format are the same however there are some important modifications for 3×3 basketball. In 3×3 each team has three players on the court and one substitute. A substitution can be made in a dead-ball situation. 3×3 is played in a basketball half-court. When the defensive team gains possession they need to take the basketball past the arc before attempting a shot. The playing time for each game is 10 minutes, the game concludes at the earlier of a team scoring 21 points or the 10 minutes expiring. If scores are tied at the end of the 10 minutes the first team to score two points in overtime wins the game. Each team is allowed one time-out and at many tournaments TV time-outs are also called. The shot clock is 12 seconds. A made free throw in both 3×3 and the traditional five on five format of the sport scores one point however a different scoring system is used for shots in general play. In 3×3 a field goal made inside the arc scores 1 point and a successful shot from behind the arc earns 2 points. Whilst fouls are called in 3×3 basketball referees are more lenient than in 5 on 5 basketball which results in 3×3 being a more physical format of the sport. Team foul 7, 8 and 9 result in the opposing team having two free throws. Team foul 10 and above results in the opposing team taking two free throws and also having possession.

Venue, Pools and nations competing in Women’s 3×3 Basketball at the 2022 Commonwealth Games

The venue for 3×3 basketball at the 2022 Commonwealth Games is a covered outdoor court in the Smithfield site of Birmingham’s city centre. Four 3×3 events are being held at the 2022 Commonwealth Games  – women’s, men’s, women’s wheelchair and men’s wheelchair. Eight nations compete in the women’s and men’s events and six nations compete in the women’s wheelchair and men’s wheelchair events. Australia is one of three countries that has a team competing in all four events along with host nation England and Canada.

Earlier this week on Monday 25 July and Tuesday 26 July four nations competed in a closely contested women’s 3×3 Pre CWG International Tournament in Birmingham. Australia finished first with two wins, one loss and an average of 20 points per game followed by two nations that also registered two wins and one loss – New Zealand (18.3 points per game) and England (17.3). Although Canada lost all three games they weren’t too far off the pace, averaging 15.0 points per game.

The eight nations competing in the women’s 3×3 event have been split into two Pools of four nations. Each pool is listed below as well as some information on each nation in that Pool.

Women’s 3×3 Pool A

Australia

Kenya

Scotland

Sri Lanka

The Australian silver medal winning team at the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup in Singapore early this month includes three members of Australia’s 3×3 Commonwealth Games in Lauren Mansfield, Lauren Scherf and Marena Whittle. A member of Australia’s 3×3 Asia Cup team, 2021/22 WNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Anneli Maley was unavailable for the Commonwealth Games due to commitments in New York this week with Australia’s five on five team, the Opals as part of the team’s preparations of the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup being held in Sydney from 22 September to 1 October. Australia won three of their five game at the Asia Cup with one of their victories in Pool C being against a nation competing at the Commonwealth Games, New Zealand 21-11. Both of Australia’s losses at the 2022 3×3 Asia Cup were to China, being defeated 10-14 in the final.     

Whittle is the only member of Australia’s 3×3 women’s Commonwealth Games team that had represented Australia in 3×3 before July 2022. Whittle was a member of the Australian 3×3 team that finished first at the 2019 FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifier held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mansfield and Scherf both made their debut for the Australian 3×3 team as members of the silver medal winning team in Singapore at the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup earlier this month but had previously represented the Australian Opals at international tournaments in the traditional five on five format of basketball. Alex Wilson had attended training camps for 3×3 and five on five basketball before making her Australian 3×3 debut earlier this week in the 3×3 Pre CWG International Tournament in Birmingham. In the WNBL Wilson has previously been a teammate of Scherf at Sydney Uni Flames in 2019/12 and had played alongside Whittle at Adelaide in 2020.

More details on the four members of the Australian women’s 3×3 team are provided in the Player Profiles section at the bottom of this article, with details provided on the basketball careers of the  Australian quartet in the traditional five on five format of the sport as well as the newer 3×3 format. 

The Kenya quartet of Hilda Indasi, Madine Okot, Malissa Otieno and Victoria Reynolds have each competed in at least 10 3×3 tournaments in the past 12 months. In the Safaricom 3×3 Challenge on June 18 Indasi, Otieno and Reynolds were all members of the Baddies team that won all six games including the final 20-15 against the Elite team on June 19. In this event Okot was a member of the runner-up Elite team that won five of their seven games with their only two losses being against the Baddies in their Pool A game and then in the final.

Two members of Sri Lanka’s 3×3 women’s Commonwealth Games team, Lubna Morseth and Nihari Perera were members of the Sri Lankan team that competed at the 2022 3×3 FIBA Asia Cup held in Singapore earlier this month. Sri Lanka won one of their two Pool D games on 8 July but were outplayed in the quarter final on 10 July by Japan. Their Sri Lankan teammates at the Commonwealth Games, Chalani Perare and Taniya Wickramage were both members of the Warriors team that won their five games at the Red Bull Half Court 2022 held in Jaffna, Sri Lanka on 26 March to win the tournament.     

The Scotland women’s 3×3 Commonwealth Games team comprised of Kennedy Leonard, Claire Paxton, Sian Phillips and Hannah Robb all competed for Scotland at 3×3 NL Den Haag in the Netherlands on Saturday July 23 and Sunday July 24, 2022. Scotland won three of their five games at the tournament, being defeated by TeamBlackOut at both the pool stage and in the final.   

Women’s 3×3 Pool B

British Virgin Islands

Canada

England

New Zealand

Two members of the British Virgin Islands 3×3 women’s basketball team in Shauliqua Fahie and Keithrece Smith were members of the British Virgin Islands team that finished fifth in the Under 23 category of 3×3 at the 1st Caribbean Games Guadeloupe 2022 held on Friday July 1 and Saturday July 2, 2022. They are joined in the British Virgin Islands 3×3 women’s Commonwealth Games team by Mahkayla Pickering and Joy Victor. At 16 years of age Fahie and Pickering both attended the annual Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Gloam Camp held in New Orleans in February 2017. In 2019/20 Victor played 24 games of college basketball for the Keyano Huskies including 19 as a starter and averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Pool B includes two nations that competed at the 2022 3×3 World Cup held in Antwerp, Belgium from June 21 to 26 – Canada and New Zealand. Whilst Canada won a silver medal in women’s basketball at the 2022 3×3 World Cup it is an entirely different team competing at the Commonwealth Games with all four members of the team being under 23 years of age – Taya Hanson, Sarah Te-Biasu, Rosalie Mercille and Tara Wallack. All four members of the Canadian women’s 3×3 team for the Commonwealth Games made their debut for their senior national 3×3 team earlier this week at the 3×3 Pre CWG International Tournament in Birmingham. Whilst Canada lost all three games they were competitive, averaging 15 points per game and would have gained valuable experience in the tournament against Australia, England and New Zealand.

All four members of the England women’s 3×3 Commonwealth game teamCheridene Green, Chantelle Handy, Hannah Jump and Shanice Norton have all competed in at least five 3×3 tournaments in the past 12 months including several as teammates. The English Commonwealth game quartet were members of the English team that finished third at 3×3 National Teams Tournament 2022 Belgarde held in Beograd, Serbia on Friday June 10 and Saturday June 11 2022. In the pool stage England had one point victories against Germany and top seeds Mongolia. England won four of their five games for the tournament, their only loss was to Poland 15-18. In the third place game England had their second victory over Germany for the tournament winning 18-15. On 17 and 18 June 2022 Green, Handy, Jump and Norton competed for England in 3×3 at the Big Twelve 2022 Part 1 and Part 2. England finished fifth in Big Twelve 2022 Part 2 held in France. One of the nations competing at the Big 12 was Commonwealth Games Pool B rival New Zealand. England and New Zealand didn’t play each other at the Big 12 however they would have watched each other’s games closely and prepared scouting notes for their Commonwealth Games Pool B match at 2.35 am  AEST on Sunday 31 July.

The same quartet that represented New Zealand at the 2022 3×3 World Cup are representing their country at the Commonwealth Games – Tiarna Clark, Gabriella Fotu, Jillian Harmon and Kalani Purcell. At the World Cup New Zealand had a record of one win, three losses and didn’t progress past the Pool stage. New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games quartet were one of the 12 teams competing in the Big Twelve 2022 Part 1 and Part 2 in France, the Kiwi’s finished sixth in Part 2, one place behind the above mentioned English team. In part 1 New Zealand finished seventh, three places ahead of England.

Front-court duo Harmon and Purcell both have experience playing in the WNBL in Australia. Harmon was a member of the Townsville Fire team that won the 2014/15 WNBL Championship. Purcell has played the past five consecutive seasons in the WNBL comprised of four seasons with the Melbourne Boomers from 2017/18 to 2020 followed by the 2021/22 season with the Sydney Uni Flames. Playing for Sydney in 2021/22 Purcell led the league with 2.9 steals per game and was nominated for the WNBL’S Defensive Player of the Year Award. Purcell was a member of the Tall Ferns silver medal winning team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Harmon and Fotou were both members of the team that represented New Zealand at the 2022 3×3 Asia Cup in Singapore earlier this month. The Kiwi’s had an extremely difficult draw and after being beaten by both the eventual finalists China and Australia during the pool stage were eliminated from the tournament.

Kalani Purcell playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 20 February 2022

Australian women’s 3×3 team’s Pool A schedule

Saturday 30 July                Australia vs Scotland       12.55 am

Saturday 30 July                Australia vs Kenya            6.35 am               

Monday 1 August             Sri Lanka vs Australia       12.30 am

Games can be watched in Australia on the Seven Network

“The group winners progress straight to the semi-finals with the second and third-placed teams playing in in two quarter-finals for the right for a place in the semis.”2

The quarter finals and semi finals of the women’s tournament will be played on Tuesday morning August 2 AEST time with the bronze medal game and gold medal game being played Wednesday morning August 3 AEST time.   

The history of Australian women’s basketball at the Commonwealth Games

Basketball was played at the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 2006 with eight nations competing in the women’s tournament, Australia, England, New Zealand, Nigeria, India, Malaysia, Malta and Mozambique. Group games were played in regional areas with games being played in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Traralgon before the semi finals and finals were played at Melbourne Multi Purpose Venue (now know as John Cain Arena).

The 12 members of the Australian Opals team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games were Tully Bevilaqua, Katrina Hibbert, Laura Hodges, Hollie Florance, Lauren Jackson, Jacinta Kennedy, Jae Kingi, Emily McInerney, Erin Phillips, Belinda Snell, Jenny Whittle and Carly Wilson. Australia finished on top of Group A, comprehensively winning their three games against England, India and Mozambique. Australia averaged a score of 101 points per game during the group stage whilst restricting their opponents to just 38 points per game. Australia’s smallest win during the group stage was by 52 points, 95-43 against England. In their semi-final Australia played the second ranked team in Group B, Nigeria. A dominant first quarter by the Opals 33-5 set up an easy victory over Nigeria by 56 points 105-49. In the Gold Medal match against New Zealand on 23 March 2006 at the Melbourne Multipurpose Venue Australia defeated New Zealand 77 to 39 to win the Gold Medal. In the bronze medal game England defeated Nigeria 78-75.

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Queensland, Australia from April 4 to 15 the Australian Opals played all three pool games in Townsville. Throughout the tournament the Opals starting line-up was Katie Ebzery, Steph Talbot, Jenna O’Hea, Cayla George and Liz Cambage. Australia’s bench was comprised of Snell, Tessa Lavey, Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming), Nicole Seekamp, Ezi Magbegor, Kelsey Griffin and Alice Kunek. The Opals captain was Snell who has the distinction of being the only player to represent Australia in women’s basketball at two Commonwealth Games.

Opals 2018 Comm Games team
The Australian Opals team before their opening game of the 2018 Commonwealth Games against Mozambique at Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre on 6 April 2018

Australia were very consistent throughout the pool stage at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, scoring at least 100 points in all three games to win every game with their smallest winning margin being 39 points against Canada. In each of their three Pool A games played in Townsville all 12 Opals scored and the team averaged a phenomenal 31.7 assists per game with Australia defeating in order Mozambique (113-53), Canada (100-61) and England (118-55).   

In the semi final against New Zealand the Opals led 53-28 at half-time, dominated the third quarter 30-6 and went on to win the game 109-50 with all 12 players scoring for the fourth game in a row and the team amassed 30 assists. In the gold medal game Australia controlled the first quarter to lead England 26-10 at quarter-time and went on to record a comfortable victory 99-55 despite centre Liz Cambage being ejected in the second quarter due to receiving a technical foul after receiving an unsportsmanlike foul earlier in the game. Opals front-court duo Cayla George and Kelsey Griffin scored an equal game-high 16 points in the gold medal game, George also took a game-high 10 rebounds to register a double-double and Opals guard Katie Ebzery had a game-high seven assists. In the bronze medal game New Zealand defeated Canada 74-58.

At Commonwealth Games Australia have also been the most successful nation in men’s basketball,  having won the gold medal in both 2006 and 2018. New Zealand finished on the podium at both Commonwealth Games that included the traditional five on five format of men’s basketball, winning silver in 2006 and bronze in 2018. In men’s basketball Canada won the silver medal in 2018 and England won the bronze medal in 2006. Jesse Wagstaff was a member of Australia’s gold medal winning team on the Gold Coast in 2018 and four years later is representing Australia in the 3×3 format in Birmingham.  

Jesse Wagstaff playing defence for the Australian Boomers against Chinese Taipei at Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne on 25 February 2018

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Since being set up in December 2015 Milestones and Misses have published many feature articles on WNBL players and members of the Australian Opals.

Links to the Australian Opals category and WNBL category of the Milestones and Misses site are provided below:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/australian-opals/

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/wnbl/

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Player profiles of the Australian women’s 3×3 team at the 2022 Commonwealth Games

Lauren Mansfield

Position: Guard                     Date of birth 18 December 1989      

Height 170cm                         WNBL debut: 2012/13      

Junior Club                              North Adelaide Rockets (South Australia)                          

WNBL games played: 155      2021/22 WNBL Team: Sydney Flames

                                                 2022/23 WNBL Team: Adelaide Lightning

Lauren Mansfield grew up in South Australia, played her junior basketball with the North Adelaide Rockets and went on to play her first two WNBL seasons with her home state club, the Adelaide Lightning in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Mansfield played two seasons of college basketball in the United States of America for Midland Community College in 2008/09 and 2009/10. In 2010/11 and 2011/12 Mansfield played college basketball for Iowa State University. Playing as a point guard Mansfield made 61 starts in 64 games for Iowa. In 2012 Mansfield captained the Iowa State Cyclones and was named in the Academic All-Big 12 Second team. During her two seasons at Iowa Mansfield had at least five assists in a game 26 times. At the World University Games Mansfield was a member of two medal winning teams for Australia, winning bronze medals in 2009 and 2013.

During expansion club SEQ Stars first and only WNBL season in 2015/16 Mansfield had a break-out season as the Stars starting point guard to average 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game – ranked second in the WNBL behind Kelly Wilson. Due to an ankle injury Mansfield missed the final two rounds of the 2015/16 regular season as well as the finals.

Lauren Mansfield shooting a free-throw for SEQ Stars against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 8 November 2015

Mansfield has played a total of 155 WNBL games in eight seasons comprised of 48 games for Adelaide Lightning, 21 games for SEQ Stars, 24 games for the UC Capitals, 42 games for Perth Lynx and 20 games for the Sydney Uni Flames. Mansfield was Sydney’s co-captain for both her seasons with the club however a calf injury ended her 2021/22 season after seven games.

In four WNBL seasons Mansfield has averaged at least 13.0 points and 4.4 assists per game – 2015/16 with the SEQ Stars, 2016/17 with the University of Canberra Capitals and in the last two WNBL seasons with the Sydney Uni Flames in 2020 and 2021/22. A decade after commencing her WNBL career with Adelaide Lightning in 2012/13 Mansfield will be returning to her home state club for a second stint, having signed a two-year deal with Adelaide. Mansfield and fellow Australian 3×3 Australian team member Whittle were teammates at Perth Lynx in 2019/20 and will have another season as teammates playing for Adelaide Lightning in 2022/23. 

In 2016 Mansfield was named in the Australian Opals extended 27 player squad. At the 2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in the traditional five on five format held in India Mansfield played all six games for the silver medal winning Opals and was Australia’s equal leader for assists along with Katie Ebzery, ranked second for minutes played behind Ebzery and ranked equal third for steals and sixth for rebounds. After being named in the Australian Opals 12 player team for the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain Mansfield was a late withdrawal due to a foot injury.

After attending several training camps as part of the Australian 3×3 squad Mansfield made her  debut for Australia at the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup in Singapore on 9 July. Australia had five wins and two losses to win the silver medal. 

Mansfield is in her second consecutive season with the Gold Coast Rollers in the NBL1 North conference and during the 2022 season has played 10 games and is averaging 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Mansfield ranks fifth in the conference for assists per game and 13th in scoring.

Lauren Scherf

Position: Forward/Centre        DOB  7 March 1996      

Height 196cm                         WNBL debut: 2013/14      

Junior Club                              Melbourne Tigers (Victoria)                          

WNBL games played: 186      2021/22 and 2022/23 WNBL Team: Perth Lynx

At 17 years of age Lauren Scherf made her WNBL debut with the Jayco Dandenong Rangers in 2013/14 and played 86 games in four seasons with the club. In 2014/15 power forward/centre Scherf won the WNBL’s Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award. In the Dandenong Rangers 2016 SEABL Grand Final victory Scherf won the Most Valuable Player Award.

Lauren Scherf shooting a free-throw for Dandenong Rangers against Kilsyth Cobras at the State Basketball Centre in the 2016 SEABL Grand Final on 10 September

Scherf represented the Australian Gems at FIBA Women’s Under 19 World Championships twice. As a double bottom-age player in 2013 Scherf played four of the bronze medal winning Gems nine games. At the 2015 FIBA Women’s Under 19 World Championships Scherf played all seven games and averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for the Gems who won the bronze medal.

During 2017/18 and 2018/19 Scherf played 46 WNBL games for the University of Canberra Capitals and was a member of the club’s championship winning team in the latter season. As the Sydney Uni Flames starting centre in 2019/20 and 2020 Scherf averaged more than 8.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in each season.

At the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup held in Jordan from 27 September to 3 October Scherf played all six games for Australia, averaging 9.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocked shots and 21.2 minutes per game. Scherf led the bronze medal winning Opals for rebounds and blocked shots and ranked fourth for scoring and minutes played. Scherf also represented the Opals in their three game friendly series against Japan in New South Wales in late May 2022 but played far less court-time than at the 2021 Asia Cup.

Scherf was the starting centre in the Perth Lynx team that made the 2021/22 Grand Final and averaged 11.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game to set career highs in both categories. Scherf ranked third in the WNBL for rebounds, fifth for blocked shots (1.0 per game) and finished runner-up in Perth’s MVP Award behind American import guard Jackie Young who was a member of the USA team that won a 3×3 gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Lauren Scherf taking a rebound for Perth Lynx against Melbourne Boomers at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium on 6 February 2022

Scherf first competed at a 3×3 tournament in 2013, winning the gold medal with the aptly named Australia Gold team at the AYOF Basketball 3×3 tournament in January. Scherf represented Diamond Valley at the NBL ProHustle II in early May 2018. At the NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle 7 held in Melbourne in March 2021, Scherf was a member of the Melbourne Towers team that won the tournament along  with Lou Brown, Maley and Australian 3×3 Commonwealth Games teammate Whittle.

For the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Austria from 26 to 30 May 2021 Scherf was Australia’s travelling emergency. Scherf is one of two players along with Mansfield that made their debut for Australia’s national 3×3 team as a member of the silver medal team at the 2022FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup in Singapore earlier this month.

During the 2022 NBL1 South season Scherf has played 13 games for the Kilsyth Cobras and is averaging 19.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Scherf ranks seventh in the NBL1 South Conference for rebounds per game and eighth for blocked shots.

Lauren Scherf playing for the Kilsyth Cobras against the Knox Raiders at the State Basketball Centre in an NBL1 South game on 21 May 2022

WNBL Achievements:    Betty Watson Rookie of the Year 2014/15

WNBL Championship 2018/19 (with University of Canberra Capitals)

Marena Whittle      

Position: Guard/Forward        DOB  28 January 1994      

Height 180cm                         WNBL debut: 2018/19      

Junior Club                              Nunawading (Victoria)                          

WNBL games played: 74      2021/22 and 2022/23 WNBL Team: Adelaide Lightning

Marena Whittle commenced her junior career with the Nunawading Spectres in metropolitan Melbourne and later on represented the Spectres at State League level, earning SEABL (now NBL1 South) All-Star five selection with Nunawading in both 2017 and 2018.

In a four-season college career with North Dakota State University in the USA from 2012/13 to 2015/16 Whittle averaged 11.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocked shots per game. Whittle led the Summit League with 10.3 rebounds per game in her senior season in 2015/16 and was named in the All-Summit League First Team.

For the 2017/18 WNBL season Whittle was on Townsville’s roster but due to injury was unable to play a game during the season. On 13 October 2018 Whittle made her WNBL debut for the Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre and excelled, scoring a team-high 21 points.

Marena Whittle dribbling the basketball on WNBL debut for the Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 13 October 2018

From April 2018 onwards Whittle has been very successful on the 3×3 circuit, in a 13 month period from April 2018 to April 2019 Marena represented Spectres i-Athletic in six tournaments with the team winning four tournaments including the first two NBL Pro Hustle Events, and finished on the podium in the other two events. During May 2019 Whittle represented Australia in 3×3 basketball in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifier 2019 tournament held in Puerto Rico which Australia won, and since then has won several 3×3 tournaments on the Australian domestic circuit. Whittle has had success at several 3×3 tournaments playing on the same team as her partner and fellow Australian representative Anneli Maley including having won two Pro Hustle events as teammates. At the NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle 7 held in Melbourne in March 2021, Whittle and fellow Australian Commonwealth Games team member Scherf were members of the Melbourne Towers team that won the tournament along with Maley and Lou Brown.

After not playing a game in 2017/18 due to injury Whittle has played 74 consecutive WNBL games, having represented Bendigo Spirit in 2018/19, Perth Lynx in 2019/20 and Adelaide Lightning in 2020 and 2021/22. In her first WNBL three seasons Whittle averaged at least 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Whittle ranked second at Adelaide in 2020 for rebounding (5.3 rpg) and steals (1.2 spg), fifth for scoring and minutes played and led the Lightning with 1.9 offensive rebounds per game.

Marena Whittle shooting a free-throw for the Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 13 October 2018

Victorian guard/forward Whittle was impacted by the border restrictions in place due to COVID-19 and was only able to cross the border from Victoria to join her Adelaide Lightning late in the 2021/22 pre-season. Predominantly playing off the bench for Adelaide Lightning in 2021/22 Whittle ranked fourth for her club in rebounding (4.0 rpg) and third for steals, averaging 16.7 minutes per game.

Marena Whittle shooting a three-pointer for Adelaide Lightning against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 24 March 2022

During the 2022 NBL1 South season Whittle has played 15 games for the Ringwood Hawks and is averaging 17.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Whittle ranks second in the NBL1 South Conference for steals and in the top 16 for points and rebounds. For her performances in Ringwood’s victories against Melbourne Tigers on 29 June and Waverley Falcons on 1 July Whittle was named the NBL1 South Round 10 women’s player of the week, averaging 23.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for the Round.

Alex Wilson

Position: Guard                       DOB 21 March 1994      

Height 175cm                         WNBL debut: 2010/11      

Junior Club                              Eastern Mavericks (South Australia)                          

WNBL games played: 183      2021/22 WNBL Team: Bendigo Spirit

                                                 Free agent for the 2022/23 WNBL season   

Alex Wilson was born in Murray Bridge, South Australia and started playing basketball at four years of age. Wilson played her junior basketball with the Eastern Mavericks and was a teammate of 2020 WNBL Most Valuable Player Steph Talbot in the under 16’s and beyond. The Eastern Mavericks girls under 16’s team were runners up at the 2009 National Championship. At the 2013 Under 20 National Championships Wilson was part of South Australia’s silver medal winning team and had an exceptional tournament to win the Bob Staunton Medal as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

At 16 years of age Wilson made her WNBL debut with Adelaide Lightning in 2010/11 and played three games for the season. From 2011 to 2013 Wilson was an AIS Scholarship holder. At the 2013 FIBA Under 19 World Championships held in Lithuania from 18 – 28 July Wilson was a member of the bronze medal winning Jayco Australian Gems team. Wilson averaged 13.0 points per game, (ranked third for the Gems), 7.0 rebounds (second), 3.0 assists (third) and 24.4 minutes (fourth). At the 2017 World University Games held in Taipei in August Wilson was a member of the Emerging Opals team that won a gold medal, defeating Japan 85-78 in the final.   

Playing for the Townsville Fire in 2013/14 Wilson won the WNBL’s Rookie of the Year Award averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Wilson was a member of Townsville’s WNBL Championship winning team in 2014/15.

Alex Wilson playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017

From 2015/16 to 2018/19 Wilson played four consecutive WNBL seasons with the Sydney Uni Flames, winning a WNBL Championship with the Flames in 2016/17. Wilson made more than 50 there-pointers in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons and averaged at least 11.5 points and 4.0 assists per game in each season. In Sydney’s 10th game of the 2018/19 season Wilson suffered a season ending knee injury.     

Alex Wilson playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 30 November 2019

At state league level Wilson has excelled, playing for the Launceston Tornadoes was named in the All-SEABL team in 2016 and 2018. Playing for the Eastern Mavericks in the Adelaide Premier League in 2017 Wilson averaged 26.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, won the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award and was named in the All-Star Five. After being out for five months with her knee injury Wilson made her return in Victoria in April 2019 with Diamond Valley Eagles during the 2019 NBL1 (now NBL1 South) season.

During the 2019/20 regular season playing for the Sydney Uni Flames Wilson made 34 three-pointers, ranked equal 8th in the WNBL. In the 2020 Hub season playing for Adelaide Lightning Wilson averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.0 three-pointers made per game to rank equal second at Adelaide in scoring and in the WNBL’s top 10 in the latter two categories. Wilson joined Bendigo Spirit after the 2021/22 WNBL season commenced, playing 12 games for Bendigo in 2021/22 Wilson averaged 8.8 points and 2.6 assists per game.

Alex Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 6 March 2022

Wilson has been named in Australian Opals squads previously including for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup and as well as attending Opals training camps has also been part of Australia 3×3 squad.

After being selected in the Australian team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games Alex Wilson told Australia.basketball “Representing your country is the highest of highs for me – there is nothing better than that. To be in the green and gold, with Australia emblazoned across your chest and your name on your back, is incredible. I cannot wait to play with my teammates and soak up the Commonwealth Games atmosphere.”3

Wilson is in her second consecutive season with the Norwood Flames in the NBL1 Central Conference and during the 2022 season is averaging 21.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.8 steals per games. In 2022 Wilson has played 12 games for Norwood and leads the conference for assists per game and ranks fourth for steals and fifth in scoring.

WNBL Achievements:    Betty Watson Rookie of the Year 2013/14

WNBL Championship 2014/15 (with Townsville Fire), 2016/17 (with Sydney Uni Flames)

Article and photographs by Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

References

1 https://olympics.com/en/sports/3×3-basketball/

2 https://www.basketballengland.co.uk/news/birmingham-2022-who-team-england-3×3-face-in-the-pool-games-at-the-commonwealth-games/

3 https://australia.basketball/commonwealth-games-australian-3×3-team-announced/#:~:text=The%20Birmingham%202022%20Commonwealth%20Games%20will%20be%20held%20from%20Thursday,heart%20of%20Birmingham’s%20city%20centre.

Milestones and Misses

Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.

A link to Milestones and Misses homepage and WNBL category is below:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/wnbl/

The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:

WNBL

Steph Reid

Kristy Wallace

Anneli Maley

Lindsay Allen

Jade Melbourne

Maddison Rocci

Cayla George

Kelly Wilson

Steph Talbot

Bec Cole

Aimie Rocci

Abby Bishop

Tessa Lavey

Ezi Magbegor

Zitina Aokuso

Leilani Mitchell

Maddie Garrick

Sara Blicavs

NBL

Nathan Sobey

AFLW

Ashleigh Riddell

Hayley Miller

Darcy Vescio

Tessa Lavey

Georgia Patrikios

Alyce Parker

Tyla Hanks

Tyanna Smith

Tarni White

Caitlin Greiser

AFL

Nicky Winmar

Sam Walsh

Jack Steele

Luke Jackson

Harry McKay

Seb Ross

Jayden Short

Clayton Oliver

Lenny Hayes

Tim Membrey

Rowan Marshall

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