Australian basketball star Liz Cambage is excited to be back playing in front of a home crowd as she makes her return to the court.
The 25-year-old took a year off from the game after the Rio Olympics and has had a five-year hiatus since playing in an Australian league.
Cambage, along with Opals player Kelsey Griffin, will headline a Women’s National Basketball League exhibition match between the Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit at the Mars Minerdome in Ballarat next Friday night.
Following her break from the sport, Cambage said she was feeling “mentally and physically strong again” but thought it was best to return to her former club, the Boomers, rather than head overseas.
“I honestly can’t put into words how much I love being home and training at home again,” she said.
“We’re being smart working me back into everything after a year off, but I’m feeling good on court getting my touch back, getting my fitness back.”
Cambage is no stranger to Ballarat, having played games in the city as a junior, and while with the Launceston Tornadoes during her time in the South East Australian Basketball League and with the women’s national team, the Opals.
Her coach at the Boomers, Guy Molly, is also a familiar face having coached the Ballarat Miners for three years.
Cambage said she loved being part of showcase games in Ballarat, where the basketball was “very strong” and there were opportunities to connect with kids.
“Kids that live out there might not be able to get to the NBL and WNBL games, so it’s really important to connect with regional Victoria,” she said.
While Cambage said Ballarat could expect a battle between two top-class teams, the Boomers would be concentrating on their preseason training.
“We just need to get through our plays and make sure we’re doing our defence correctly,” she said.
While focused on her stint with the Boomers this year, Cambage’s long-term goals include the Commonwealth Games and World Championships in 2018 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.