Former Rockingham Flames star called into Opals World Cup squad
Sami Whitcomb has been called into the Opals’ World Cup squad as a replacement for injured guard Leilani Mitchell.
The former Rockingham Flames star and naturalised Australian could make her national team debut at the tournament in Spain later this month but not before a potential WNBA title win with Seattle Storm as early as Thursday morning.
Whitcomb’s rise began in Perth, where her standout performances for the Flames - where she was a two-time women’s State Basketball League champion and three-time WSBL grand final MVP - earned her a contract with the WNBL’s Lynx before signing with the Storm last season.
The Storm leads Washington 2-0 in the best-of-five WNBA Finals series but the 30-year-old was able to celebrate for different reasons today.
“Australia is my home and to now be a part of this amazing Opals team is beyond a dream,” she said.
“You work your whole life for these opportunities so (coach Sandy Brondello’s) call was pretty emotional for me.”
Whitcomb became an Australian citizen in February and had been part of the team’s pre-World Cup training squad but missed the cut as only one naturalised player can play in teams during the World Cup.
But a foot injury to Mitchell saw her withdraw from the squad to rehabilitate.
Brondello is confident the Opals, drawn in Pool B alongside Nigeria, Argentina and Turkey, would not be hobbled by Mitchell’s absence.
“Sami is a dynamic scorer and will add another dimension to our team with her shooting ability and will to win,” she said.
“Her experience playing in the WNBA finals will also be a valuable asset during the World Cup.”
Whitcomb scored five and seven points coming off the bench for the Storm in games 1 and 2 of the finals series respectively, after playing a crucial role in helping the Storm get there.
The Opals open their World Cup against Nigeria on September 22.
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