BENDIGO Spirit fans are being urged to share in a special day for star player Kelsey Griffin on Sunday.
The Alaskan-born two-time WNBL All-Star will become an Australian citizen in front of an expected big crowd after the Spirit’s clash against the Dandenong Rangers at Bendigo Stadium.
Spirit coach Simon Pritchard encouraged supporters to remain behind after the game to help Griffin mark a huge occasion.
“She’s been exceptional for the city and a major part of the championships,” he said.
“She’s a two-time grand final MVP – an absolute legend.
“Kelsey is happy to share it with the fans because her link and the reason for coming to Australia was basketball.”
Griffin this week said she wanted the ceremony to be a thank you to the community for supporting her in her journey to becoming an Australian.
“The people of Bendigo, the city of Bendigo, and the Bendigo Bank Spirit have done so much for me and I felt it was the least I could do to offer a place where anyone who wanted to be a part of the ceremony could,” she said.
“I think what first and foremost made me fall in love with Bendigo and Australia as a country is the people and the Australian way of life.
“My team immediately made me feel right at home, but the entire city did as well. People are so thoughtful and generous here and I really appreciate how genuine they are.”
Griffin initially signed with the Spirit for the 2012-13 WNBL season.
Due to WNBA commitments she did not appear for the Spirit until six rounds into the season.
She made an instant impact, averaging 16.5 points, 8.6 rebounds per game.
Her worth was underpinned in the Spirit’s grand final win, when she scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
She was grand final MVP again the following season as the Spirit went back-to-back and was last season named the WNBL’s defensive player of the year.
Griffin is this averaging 16.7 points per game and 9.6 rebounds.
The ceremony follows Sunday’s game, which tips off at 2pm.