Basketball: Newcastle-bred Opals squad member Suzy Batkovic turns attention to WNBL finals with Townsville Fire before Commonwealth Games training campphotos

Batkovic pauses Opals to focus on Fire finals ATTENTION: Newcastle-bred Opals squad member Suzy Batkovic (right) in action for WNBL side Townsville last month. Picture: Jamila Todera

TweetFacebook Suzy BatkovicPictures from Fairfax Digital CollectionOPALS squad member Suzy Batkovic knows she has a chance to represent again in four months time at what would be her first Commonwealth Games.

Batkovic, who was dropped from the national team in 2016 before a fourth Olympic campaign,was playing in Europe the last and only other time basketball featured at the tournament in Melbourne over a decade ago.

But the recalled Novocastrian, who turned 37 last month,has put to one side a potential international return and defending the country’s gold medal on the Gold Coastin order to focus on Townsville’s current WNBL finals campaign.

“I haven’t really thought about that [Commonwealth Games]a whole lot,” Batkovicsaid.

“Obviously we’rejust so busy with this season that right now WNBLandTownsville Fireare my full focus.

“Now we’re in the finals this is what you play for.

“I’m looking forward to trying to get some wins on the board and hopefully make the grand final. That’s the goal because as you get older you’ve gotlimited chance of winning a whole lot of championships when you’ve retired.

“So I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team and get us another flag.”

The Fire are striving for a third title in four seasons but from Thursday (8pm) the reigning premiers Sydney UniFlames, including Batkovic’s national teammate and fellow Hunters product Katie Ebzery, stand in the sole Queensland outfit’sway of making the 2017-2018 decider.

The clubsmeet for a second straight year in a top-four clash, with Townsville hosting the first in a best-of-three series.

It comes after the Flames beat the Fire 107-81 inlast week’s crucial penultimate round to switch ladder positions from third to second and earn home-court advantage in Sydney for the following two fixtures.

“Even though we haven’t technically got the home-court advantage, to be honest I’m happy to beplaying the first game at home because we’ve been on the road a bit,” Batkovic said.

Batkovic, the record-holding five-time league MVP, is second overall for average rebounds with 10.1 per game and third for points with 20.48 each outing.

She credits some of her form to last year’s return stint withthe Newcastle Hunters.

“I think playing in the off-season definitely helped me because the last few years I’ve had to rest my back and haven’t done a whole lot,” she said.“I feel like keeping some kind of game rhythm was good for me.”

Game two will be on Saturday (3pm). The third, if required, is Tuesday (7:30pm).

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