Action Jackson finds form

Australian basketballers Lauren Jackson and Patrick Mills will play in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson Sport.Australian Boomers’ Patrick Mills and Opals’ Lauren Jackson ahead of their games against NZ on Sunday.Filed: Friday, 16 August 2013 4:03:16 PM Photo by Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Timesrt130816LaurenPatrick-9641.jpg Photo: [email protected]
Nanjing Night Net

Mills happy to pass on NBA lessons

After ending a year of injury hell with a superb performance, a wave of relief washed over Australian Opals superstar Lauren Jackson.

In her comeback from 10 months out with a hamstring problem, Jackson racked up 22 points to steer the Opals to a 66-50 win over New Zealand on Wednesday. The centre was the major difference between the two sides, quashing any doubts she could return to her dominant best.

She is hoping to build on her remarkable comeback when the Opals attempt to sew up a World Cup berth in game two of the Oceania championships in Canberra on Sunday.

”It was the first game in 10 months I think it’s been, it was definitely a sense of relief,” she said.

”I was so happy to get through it and get it done. I feel great physically and haven’t felt this pain-free in so long.

”I’m well aware I need to focus on my fitness, that’s going to come.”

Asked if she was surprised by her immediate impact Jackson replied ”Not really. Brendan [Joyce, Opals coach] has been great. He’s been getting me back on court slowly and I gradually started feeling better about myself, and my game. I didn’t feel underprepared at all.”

Jackson’s stellar display in Auckland was a stinging reminder to the Canberra Capitals what they’ve lost after negotiations for her to play in the upcoming WNBL season fell through.

The 32-year-old was due to begin a $1 million, three-season deal with the Capitals in 2012-13, but injury prevented her from playing a single game.

She was keen to alter her contract to play this season, but terminated negotiations after the Capitals failed to meet a final deadline.

The Opals centre will only get better as Australia prepares for next year’s World Cup in Spain, where the team will look to atone for a worst-ever fifth placing four years ago.

”Obviously that was a disappointment, but it also gave us a chance to reflect on it and figure out the things we need to do better,” Jackson said.

”So much has happened since then, and it’s time to move forward.”

Joyce expects Jackson to take her game to a new level once she adapts to a new-look Opals squad which has played just four games together.

”I think physically and mentally she needed a break, and it’s always tough to get back into it,” he said.

”It’s just pleasing to see her play so well. Lauren and the team haven’t had a lot of time together and it was a great performance.”

They may have missed out on Jackson, but the strong Opals return from Natalie Hurst in game one was an upside for the Capitals.

The club favourite will return this season, and made a statement with 12 points after missing last year’s Olympics squad.

Joyce is an unabashed fan, giving the point guard hope she can revive her international career.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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