2016 WNBA SEASON BEGINS THIS WEEKEND

2016 WNBA SEASON BEGINS THIS WEEKEND

Five Australians will suit up when the 2016 WNBA season begins this weekend, representing three of the 12 teams in the competition.

Australian Opals Erin Phillips, Cayla George, Penny Taylor and Abby Bishop as well as Jenna O’Hea will compete for the Championship in the league’s historic 20th season.

In her ninth year with the WNBA, Phillips has made the move from the Los Angeles Sparks to the Dallas Wings who were previously the Tulsa Shock for the past five seasons.

The Sparks had an inconsistent season in 2015 despite making the playoffs but Phillips suffered a knee injury that saw her miss the post-season and the entire 2015/16 WNBL campaign.

In 12 games, the guard finished fourth for assists per game and fifth for rebounds per game in the team and will be a vital part of the Wings back court.

Returning for the Phoenix Mercury, George will begin her second WNBA season alongside Penny Taylor who sat out the 2015 season due to personal reasons.

A three-time WNBA champion (including a title with Phoenix in 2014) and three-time WNBA All-Star, Taylor will be welcomed back to the club as they look to advance beyond the Conference Finals after they were knocked out in two games last year.

Playing in 34 games in 2015, George averaged five points and three rebounds which included a stint as a starter in the absence of Brittany Griner. A double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) in the final game of the regular season and a second championship with the Townsville Fire in the WNBA off-season should give the forward confidence heading into this campaign.

The front court combination of Bishop and O’Hea will return to the Seattle Storm this season with the side eager to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Last year, Bishop was one of the team’s top defenders, finishing second in blocks and fourth for steals while adding 3.5 rebounds a game.

O’Hea was required more at the offensive end, improving on her career numbers across the board in her fifth WNBA season, shooting a team high 38% from the three-point line and 92% from the free-throw line (fourth in the league).

Other players of note from the 2015/16 WNBL season are the University of Canberra Capitals’ Renee Montgomery who will represent Minnesota Lynx in their quest for back-to-back titles, Sydney Uni Flames’ Carolyn Swords who will play for New York Liberty and Perth Lynx’s Betnijah Laney who will play for the Chicago Sky alongside Cappie Pondexter.

The 2016 WNBA season tips off on May 15 Australian time with Dallas and Phoenix both playing on opening night. The full schedule can be found here.