2006 Commonwealth Gold Medalist and Rangers legend Jacinta Kennedy has decided to call it a day on her playing career, with the 2016/17 WNBL Grand Final series to be her last games in Jayco Rangers uniform.
Returning to the league after an 11-year absence in 2015-16, Jacinta has been an invaluable veteran asset for the Jayco Rangers both on and off the court.
It took little time to remind the team and the league upon her return of why Jacinta was once one of Australia’s best basketballers, providing defensive wisdom, strong rebounding and crafty post-scoring to a young Jayco Rangers team.
Jacinta’s SEABL & now-WNBL coach Larissa Anderson stated that while she was saddened to hear of Jacinta’s retirement, she completely understands why the Rangers legend is walking away from basketball.
‘It will be really sad to see Cinno retire at the end of the season, she brings an amazing amount of positive qualities both on and off the floor’, said Anderson. ‘But being a mum and dealing with the same juggling act of professional sport and family life, I totally understand and respect her reasons. Personally, I’m reflecting more on how special it has been to have had her with us over the past few years…Whilst being such a great player, she has also become a very close friend, and that we will never retire from.’
Jacinta first walked away from basketball in 2006 when she and husband Josh Kennedy decided to both have a family and support Josh’s Socceroo & club football dreams. But after a chance meeting with Larissa’s husband and Rangers assistant coach James Anderson, the lure of athletic competition pulled the former Opal out of retirement and back on to the basketball court.
‘We live very close to Cinno and shortly after they had moved back from Japan my husband, James, saw her in our local supermarket and they happened to chat about her getting back into it’, said Anderson.
‘James of course mentioned this to me and from there we got her down to some SEABL trainings which led to 3 great seasons and 2 wonderful SEABL Championships. When I was appointed the WNBL coaching role, it was a no-brainer to try and get her back playing WNBL again. The rest they say is history!’
With all this talk of retirement and family life you could easily jump to the conclusion that Jacinta isn’t hungry to add more silverware to her cabinet. But rest assured, Jacinta would love nothing more to win a championship with the teammates she’s been a second mother to in her return to elite basketball.
In an interview with the Herald Sun’s Megan Hustwaite, Jacinta stated: ‘I want to go out on a high while I’m playing well, still offering a lot to my team and on my own terms rather than fade away. It’s the perfect timing for me, my family and my team.’
So far this WNBL Finals Jacinta has done exactly that, averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds off the bench and anchoring the team’s defense in crucial moments. Playing like a player who knows she’s got one last run in her, Jacinta has wound back the clock in each moment on the court and shown flashes of the player she was in the Jayco Rangers 03/04 & 04/05 WNBL titles. But this year’s race to the WNBL championship is not over yet.
‘A championship is the dream, there would be nothing more special and nothing would make me prouder than winning a championship with this team’, said Jacinta. ‘We’ve got three games to go, I know we’ve got it in us and I intend to give it absolutely everything I’ve got.’
Jacinta will be play her last home game in Jayco Rangers uniform here with her teammates in WNBL Grand Final: Game 2 next Friday night, tipping off at 7:30PM. Make sure you’re there to cheer us on and congratulate Jacinta on an outstanding basketball career!
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