FOR all the talk of Ballarat Miners pair Jade Melbourne and Zitina Aokuso and the Australian Opals squad, there is one player that has seemingly been forgotten by national clubs and selectors.
But one person that will never underestimate just how good Isabella Brancatisano is, is her coach David Herbert.
Brancatisano has been the glue that has seen the Miners rise from a four win season in 2021 to already a 5-3 record in 2022, and a spot comfortably inside the NBL1 South top eight.
Herbert, who has known Brancatisano for many years, having spent five years with her at the Geelong Supercats, knew exactly what the Miners were getting when the club signed her.
"I'd say 'Isa' is the most underrated player in NBL1," Herbert said. "I think if anyone deserves a crack in the WNBL, it's her.
"She shoots the ball as well as anyone, she's as good as most of the shooting guards in the WNBL."
So far this season, Brancatisano is averaging a tick under 16 points a game, over three assists and just on five rebounds.
At the weekend she had a match winning 24 points and seven rebounds against the Melbourne Tigers.
And while she has had previous stints at WNBL clubs West Coast Waves and South East Queensland Stars, the star forward/guard right now is unsigned and it's the Miners that are reaping the rewards.
Herbert said the team was still learning to play with each other, and while they picked up two wins at the weekend, he admitted to disappointment with the performance against the Tigers, but was rapt with the effort to defeat Waverley Falcons on Sunday.
"I've had to simplify the system I've put in place and it's a real learning year this year," Herbert said.
"Our goal is to win a championship, no doubt about it, but we have to build a team out of this. I thought it wasn't there on Saturday, but on Sunday I thought it really started to shine, making the exit pass and finding the right shot no matter who it was.
"There's a lot of good teams going around. You can't take a night off at all, Melbourne were struggling and they came out. Tess Heal, who is actually up for Gems selection, which I'm coaching, came out with a point to prove and good on her, she put her best foot forward and played very well.
"But overall, I'm happy with our progress and there will be hiccups along the way, but there are some signs of doing some really good things."
The Miners hit the road on Saturday night against Keilor, but fortunately, it's the first single-game round in a month. It is likely that Brancatisano will need to lead the play making with Melbourne away on Opals duty. However, after illness this week, it is hoped Aokuso will be fit to take the centre position.
"Keilor have Maddy Garrick, she's a great player, they also have Monique Andriuolo who I rate very high, she played with me last year," he said.
"I'm excited to play them at their home. It will be a great challenge, but that's what this league is all about."
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