After earning Asia Cup MVP honors, Griffin set up for big year

September 7, 2017

Kelsey Griffin basketball

Kelsey Griffin

After missing Australia’s WNBL playoffs in each of the last two seasons, the Bendigo Spirit are eager to get back to their championship ways of 2013 and 2014.

Feeding the ball to Eagle River’s Kelsey Griffin would be a good start.

The 6-foot-2 forward is coming off a huge summer performance at the FIBA Asia Cup, where she led the Australia Opals to the title game and was named tournament most valuable player.

Griffin, of Chugiak High fame, scored 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Australia in a 74-73 loss to Japan in the Asia Cup final.

The 30-year-old all-star led the tournament in field-goal shooting [61.7%] and was fifth in scoring [15.8] and third in rebounding [8.2].

She has averaged nearly identical numbers [15.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg] in 114 career games with Bendigo, earning team MVP honors in four of her five seasons with the team.

Bendigo Spirit coach Simon Pritchard told the local newspaper he wants to play a more up-tempo, fast-paced style of basketball this season.

That fits perfectly with Griffin’s game.

The former University of Nebraska All-American and WNBA player has made a living on her ability to score from the perimeter to the post. She can also pass, defend and put the ball on the floor.

Griffin is the face of the Bendigo Spirit.

As a naturalized Aussie citizen, she no longer counts toward the league’s two-imports-per-team limit, which allowed the Bendigo Spirit to sign former WNBA players Betnijah Laney and Rachel Banham.

Already, Griffin is reaping the benefits of having fellow world-class players on the same practice court.

“Kelsey and Benijah had a training session this morning and the two of them just went at it,’’ Pritchard told the Bendigo Advertiser.“At the end of the session Kelsey said to Betnijah ‘I love doing individual sessions with you because you make me better’.

“That competitiveness is exactly what we want.”