Overseas: Molly McPhee is unavailable to play for the ACT under-20s team after signing to play with US college St Mary’s. Photo: Jamila ToderasBasketball ACT officials are confident Canberra’s absence from the under-20 female national championships will be a one-off after being forced to withdraw its team for the first time in recent history.
As the Canberra Capitals fight through their worst season in WNBL history, a lack of players and not wanting to “make up the numbers” led to the under-20s pulling the pin.
Basketball ACT executive manager Dan Jackson confirmed the women’s team would not be part of the tournament in Ipswich next month.
However, it is sending a men’s under-20s and intellectual disability teams with the view to adding two female teams to the under-20s program next year.
“We could have sent a team just to make up numbers, but that’s not what it’s really about at a national championships,” Jackson said.
“We want to try to represent ourselves as best as we can. We thought for this year we’ll take one year off and focus on getting the group together next year and get them competitive.
“We’re certainly hoping we’ll be in a position next year to send a men’s and women’s under-20 and a men’s and women’s teams for the Ivor Burge competition.”
The Capitals have fallen from their perch as a recent WNBL powerhouse and are languishing at the bottom of the ladder after 19 consecutive defeats.
They return to the AIS Arena on Sunday for a clash against the Adelaide Lightning as they fight to end the worst losing streak in the club’s history.
Jackson is confident women’s basketball in Canberra will bounce back at a junior level, citing a strong under-18s team which will graduate to the under-20s program next year.
Two of Canberra’s best female players have also moved abroad to start college careers in the United States.
“Molly McPhee went over to St Mary’s … at that age group for us. It’s a tough age group for females for whatever reason,” Jackson said.
“But looking to the future, our under-18s team is extremely strong. It’s just a temporary mishap and definitely not for the future in the under-20s.
“Tasmania aren’t sending teams, it’s just the way it is this year.”
WNBL ROUND 14
Sunday: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at AIS Arena, 3pm. Tickets available at the door.
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