Newcastle’s Suzy Batkovic has signed a one-year extension with WNBL basketball heavyweights Townsville Fire.
The 36-year-old centre re-committed to the North Queensland side on Wednesday, joining championship-winning teammates Micaela Cocks, Darcee Garbin and Mia Murray for her sixth season.
A five-time WNBL most valuable player, Batkovic said the team was “desperate to return to the winner’s circle” after the Sydney Uni Flames won the title in 2016.
“Having won back-to-back championships, it was a strange feeling seeing another club lifting the trophy at the end of the season,” she said. “I’m sure we will be doing all we can to secure another title for Townsville.”
Batkovic has signed to play with state-league champions Newcastle Hunters in the WNBL off-season and she will link with them for his first training session next week.
After re-signing Murray last month and now Batkovic, coach Claudia Brassard said she was delighted by the commitment shown.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that we wanted our on-court leaders to return and we’re thrilled that Suzy will be back alongside Mia next season,” Brassard said.
“She’s one of the most dominant players in WNBL history and she’s still at the top of her game.”
Meanwhile, LeBron James will sit out Cleveland’s regular-season finale, resting a strained right calf in preparation for the play-offs.
Townsville Fire coach Claudia Brassard
STAYING POWER: Newcastle’s three-time Olympian Suzy Batkovic has re-signed for a sixth season with Townsville Fire. Picture: Simone De Peak
James did not play in Monday’s loss at Miami and general manager David Griffin confirmed Tuesday the three-time NBA champion will also miss Wednesday’s game against Toronto.
The 32-year-old James has not played in the last regular-season game since 2007. He logged 47 minutes in Sunday’s overtime loss at Atlanta. James is attempting to reach the NBA Finals for the seventh straight season.
The Cavaliers have prioritised health and rest over getting the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The defending champions also sat All-Star guard Kyrie Irving out against the Heat. The Melbourne-born 25-year-old has been bothered by soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee.
Cleveland are also without centre Tristan Thompson (sprained thumb).