The South West Metro Pirates have had a slew of players emerge from its junior competitions to shine in the best leagues in the world, Cameron Bairstow played with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, Brock Motum for Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania & Euroleague and Brendan Teys for Adelaide in the NBL. Motum and Teys have both played in grand finals in their competition. Motum winning a championship in Lithuania while Teys' team lost to Perth in the 2014 NBL grand final. No former Pirates have played against each other in a grand final of a world class competition but it is about to happen over the next few weeks.
Two former U18 Pirates will face off in the WNBL final series, Kalani Purcell and Zitina Aokuso, when Purcells' team, the Melbourne Boomers, take on the Townsville Fire. The WNBL ranks as the second best competition in the world after the WNBA. The three game series starts on the 13th January.
Both girls have taken very different paths. Kalani won a state championship with the under 18 Pirates before she moved to the US to attend Hutchinson Community College for two years. She then completed her college career at Brigham Young University in Utah before being recruited to the Boomers.
Zitina's meteoric rise to this level has been nothing short of amazing. After strong performances with the under 18 Pirates at state championships, Zitina was invited into the under 20 state team the following year which landed her an invite to an All Australian camp. It was while at the camp that the video of her dunking went viral. An invite to the Centre of Excellence in Canberra followed with 18 months of intensive training, and an U19 world championship tournament, after which she was recruited to the Townsville Fire.
Purcell should feature prominently for the Boomers alongside Liz Cambage while Aokuso will most likely be called on only if the dominating trio of Suzi Batkovic, Cayla George and Darcy Garbin get into foul trouble. Should this happen it is likely that the two could match up on each other.
Game One - Townsville 13th January
Game Two - Melbourne 18th January
Game Three (if needed) - Townsville 21st January
Watch on Foxtel!