Sunbury Jets’ championship hopes have received a boost with former Australian Opal Elyce Penaluna agreeing to play for them in this year’s Big V women’s state championship division season.
The Jets had already boosted their depth and playing squad during the offseason, with Penaluna the final piece of the puzzle as they look to win a third straight title.
Jets’ coach Kennedy Kereama said they were excited to have signed someone of Penaluna’s ability join the side.
“We’re rapt,” he said of signing the 193 cm forward.
“She told me she wants to play this weekend and has been at training.
“I’ve spoken to her and we’ve said we don’t want to rely on her every game to be a superstar. In some games she will be, but our team understands the strength of our team is we don’t have to rely on one player and we will have different players stand up.
“The girls will be better for the experience that she brings.”
Penaluna spent last season playing for the Melbourne Tigers in the South East Australian Basketball League, after a few injury riddled years in the Women’s National Basketball League.
She played with Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit in the WNBL.
Kereama, who coached against Penaluna in the WNBL and as the New Zealand Tall Ferns coach, said he was encouraged by what he had seen on the practice court.
“We’re hoping she will have a great season,” he said.
“I’ve seen her when she was at her best and she looks like she’s moving fine. We’re not relying on her to play 30 plus minutes every game.
“The playing group is excited. Chels [Chelsea Burns] has played with her before and you can see that connection on the court.
“Courtenay Wragg has had some experience with being around a team with her too.”
Kereama said there would be times that Penaluna would miss games due to work, but were keen to make the most of having her.
The Jets start their season on Saturday night against Hume City Broncos, with Penaluna expected to suit up.
Kereama said it would take some time for her to ease into the season.
“Everyone at the club is excited to have her.”
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