Capitals trio devastated by Adelaide coach's cancer diagnosis

(from left) University of Canberra Capitals?????? players Keely Froling, Abbey Wehrung and Lauren Scherf have returned home after helping the Emerging Opals win gold at the World University Games in Taipei. Photo by Karleen Minney.
(from left) University of Canberra Capitals?????? players Keely Froling, Abbey Wehrung and Lauren Scherf have returned home after helping the Emerging Opals win gold at the World University Games in Taipei. Photo by Karleen Minney.

Canberra Capitals star Abigail Wehrung was shattered when she found out Australia's Emerging Opals coach Chris Lucas had cancer.

It's a battle she knows too well, with the No. 13 on her Capitals jersey a constant reminder of her father Duane, who lost his battle with the disease 12 years ago.

That's why she was so happy to hear Adelaide Lightning coach and former Capitals assistant Lucas had undergone successful surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his kidney last month.

Lucas was forced to step down from WNBL duties to deal with the illness and now the Capitals are preparing for an emotion-charged Lightning strike at the National Convention Centre on Sunday.

The diagnosis came just one week after Lucas led the Emerging Opals - featuring Canberra's Wehrung, Keely Froling and Lauren Scherf - to the gold medal at the World University Games.

"Whenever I find out anyone has cancer, it's kind of a bit of a hit home for me because my dad had cancer," Wehrung said.

"I know that battle a little bit. It was tough to hear, especially coming off a gold medal and we really had no idea. We thought he had a sore back so it was really tough to hear.

"Chris is a very smart coach and the way he deals with people and the way he communicates with his players is on another level. He's a very good coach."

And away from basketball? He's "very much the same - a very, very good person".???

Froling says Lucas' ability to bring a new group together while he was in incredible pain speaks volumes about the person he is.

Rarely is Lucas one to put himself first, pushing aside the pain to orchestrate a remarkable gold medal victory with little more than a week of preparation under his belt.

"It was so sad to hear about him, especially after an awesome time in Taipei with him," Froling said.

"He was in pain that whole time and no one knew. When he came back that was so sad to hear, but it's good to hear his surgery has gone well. Hopefully he'll be back coaching again soon.

"He was really good for our group, he really brought out group together. Obviously we only had a week of preparation before that tournament and I can't speak highly enough of him."

Lucas will likely miss the majority of the season before he returns to official duties but Scherf "can't wait" to see the 57-year-old back on the bench - even if she is on the opposite side.

"I am so happy that he's getting well and in the best recovery. I'm sure he's got a lot of people around him that are really supporting him," Scherf said.

"You don't want to see that happen to anybody but I think he's got a really good support system and he's got a lot of people behind him. I can't wait to see him and I can't wait for him to return to the league."

A win would cap off a perfect weekend to start the season for both sides - the Capitals rolled Bendigo and the Abby Bishop-led Adelaide stunned reigning champions Sydney.

WNBL ROUND ONE

Sunday, October 8: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at National Convention Centre, 3pm.

This story Capitals trio devastated by Adelaide coach's cancer diagnosis first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.