Opal claims WNBL MVP prize

Opal claims WNBL MVP prize

The Australian Defence Force Women's National Basketball League is pleased to announce Townsville Fire guard Rohanee Cox as the 2008/09 ADF WNBL Most Valuable Player.

Cox was the clear MVP winner and is the first Townsville player to be awarded the distinction. She said it was an honour to join the illustrious group of past winners including Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Rachael Sporn.

"I feel very privileged," Cox said.

"A lot of great female athletes have won this award so I am pretty excited to have won it."

The ADF Opal was a dominant force in every game this season.

Cox was named the Leading Scorer at the end of the regular season posting 466 points at an average of 21.2 points per game. She top-scored in 14 of 22 games, shooting at 44 per cent from the field.

She was also one of the league's best rebounders; Cox was ranked fourth in the league for offensive rebounds (3.2 per game) and was sixth in total rebounds (7.9 per game).

To top off her all-round game the Olympic silver medallist finished the regular season with 33 steals at an average of 1.5 steals per game, and dished 51 assists at a rate of 2.3 per game.

Cox posted a season high 31 points in Round 3 against the Australian Institute of Sport and grabbed a season best 15 rebounds against the Bendigo Spirit in Round 12, a performance which earned her second Nivea Player of the Week title in the season.

The Townsville Co-Captain was named Nivea Player of the Week in Rounds 10 and 12. In Round 10 she posted 25 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals against minor premiers the Canberra Capitals. She backed up that performance with 22 points, 10 rebounds and three assists against the AIS. In Round 12, in addition to her 15 rebounds, she posted 27 points for the double-double.

Cox was named the Player of the Month for both November and December, highlighting her continued dominance throughout the season.

Playing with flair and determination, Cox was an on-court leader for the Fire and helped the team make its first finals appearance since the 2002/03 season.

The 182cm guard said the award allowed her to finish the season on a high after the disappointment of losing the Preliminary Final last weekend.

"It definitely makes up for not getting into the Grand Final," Cox said.

"The Championship would have been better, and to get to that Grand Final game, but I'm just happy to receive this prestigious award."

The MVP award is determined by votes cast by head coaches and statisticians after each regular season game, where voting for one's own players is permitted.

The 2008/09 MVP will be awarded a Dia Oro square princess cut diamond valued at $4000.

In the National Basketball League, New Zealand Breakers star shooting guard Kirk Penney has been named the winner of the Andrew Gaze Trophy as the NBL's Most Valuable Player for the 2008/09 season, becoming the first New Zealander ever to win the NBL's top award.

Penney registered 92 votes to narrowly take out the award from Sydney Spirit big man Matthew Knight on 90. Melbourne Tigers' Nigerian import Ebi Ere came third with 89 votes, while Mark Worthington of the South Dragons (87) and Shawn Redhage of the Perth Wildcats (86) rounded out the top five in an extremely tight race.

Penney, who previously played for the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers in the American NBA, averaged 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 28 regular season games for the Breakers in 2008/09. He shot the ball at 45.6% from the field, 37.3% from three-point territory and 80.4% from the free-throw line.

The Tall Blacks star also led his team to their best-ever season, helping the Breakers to the Semi-Finals for the first time in club history.

Voting for the MVP award is conducted following each regular season game by the coaching staffs of each team, with the player amassing the most votes at the end of the season being declared the winner.

The NBL's MVP award is named after Melbourne Tigers great Andrew Gaze, with the trophy being a specially commissioned sculpture of Gaze in action.

ADF WNBL Most Valuable Player

1982 - Karen Ogden (St Kilda Saints)

1983* - Karen Ogden (St Kilda Saints) and Robyn Maher (Nunawading Spectres)

1984 - Julie Nykiel (Noarlunga Tigers)

1985 - Kathy Foster (North Adelaide Rockets)

1986 - Kathy Foster (Hobart Islanders)

1987 - Robyn Maher (Nunawading Spectres)

1988 - Julie Nykiel (Noarlunga Tigers)

1989 - Kathy Foster (Hobart Islanders)

1990 - Debbie Slimmon (Bulleen Melbourne Boomers)

1991 - Joanne Metcalfe (Melbourne Tigers)

1992 - Debbie Slimmon (Bulleen Melbourne Boomers)

1993 - Alison Cook (Melbourne Tigers)

1994 - Shelley Gorman (Sydney Flames)

1995 - Sandy Brondello (Brisbane Blazers)

1996 - Rachael Sporn (Adelaide Lightning)

1997 - Rachael Sporn (Adelaide Lightning)

1998 - Michelle Griffiths (Sydney Flames)

1998/99 - Lauren Jackson (AIS)

1999/00* - Lauren Jackson (Canberra Capitals) and Trisha Fallon (Sydney Flames)

2000/01 - Penny Taylor (Dandenong Rangers)

2001/02 - Penny Taylor (Dandenong Rangers)

2002/03 - Lauren Jackson (Canberra Capitals)

2003/04 - Lauren Jackson (Canberra Capitals)

2004/05 - Katrina Hibbert (Bulleen Melbourne Boomers)

2005/06 - Katrina Hibbert (Bulleen Melbourne Boomers)

2006/07 - Hollie Grima (Bulleen Melbourne Boomers)

2007/08 - Nat Porter (Sydney Uni Flames)

2008/09 - Rohanee Cox (Townsville Fire)

* Joint Winners

NBL Most Valuable Player - The Andrew Gaze Trophy

1979 Ken Richardson (West Adelaide Bearcats)
1980 Rocky Smith (St. Kilda Saints)
1981 Mike Jones (Illawarra Hawks)
1982 Al Green (West Adelaide Bearcats)
1983 Owen Wells (Sydney Supersonics)
1984 Leroy Loggins (Brisbane Bullets)
1985 Ray Borner (Coburg Giants)
1986 Leroy Loggins (Brisbane Bullets)
1987 Mark Davis (Adelaide 36ers) &
Leroy Loggins (Brisbane Bullets)
1988 Joe Hurst (Hobart Tassie Devils)
1989 Scott Fisher (North Melbourne Giants)
1990 Derek Rucker (Brisbane Bullets)
1991 Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1992 Scott Fisher (North Melbourne Giants) & Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1993 Robert Rose (South East Melbourne Magic)
1994 Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1995 Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1996 Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1997 Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1998 Andrew Gaze (Melbourne Tigers)
1999 Steve Woodberry (Brisbane Bullets)
2000 Paul Rogers (Perth Wildcats)
2001 Robert Rose (Townsville Crocodiles)
2002 Mark Bradtke (Melbourne Tigers)
2003 Chris Williams (Sydney Kings)
2004 Matthew Nielsen (Sydney Kings)
2005 Brian Wethers (Hunter Pirates)
2006 Chris Anstey (Melbourne Tigers)
2007 Sam Mackinnon (Brisbane Bullets)
2008 Chris Anstey (Melbourne Tigers)
2009 Kirk Penney (NZ Breakers)

By Kimberley Lewis for BA Media
Photo courtesy of Rob Sheeley