By Lachy France
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have secured the signature of a club favourite for 2017/18, with Katie-Rae Ebzery returning to the club for the upcoming season.
Ebzery, who was the club’s sole Olympian in 2016, spent the 2016/17 campaign playing in Russia for Dynamo Moscow, but will return to the Harbour City to help lead the Flames’ tilt at a championship repeat.
In a league burgeoning with talent, Ebzery is looking forward to coming home to rejoin a league that has lured several Opals players back from overseas this season, and will also complete her studies at the University of Sydney over the course of the next few months.
“I am very excited to be back at home with the Flames. It will be great to be back in a super strong WNBL this year,” Ebzery stated.
“I’m looking forward to working with Cheryl Chambers and the girls toward backing up the successful season of last year. I’m also excited to be finishing the final year of my uni degree.”
Whilst in Russia, Ebzery played in both the Russian domestic league and the Eastern European Women’s Basketball League (EEWBL). Ebzery played in all 11 of Dynamo Moscow’s EEWBL games, averaging 7.6 points and 3.7 assists per game whilst shooting 50% from the field for the tournament. The team reached the final weekend of the tournament, eventually finishing in third position.
Ebzery was one of just two players on the Dynamo Moscow side to play all 28 of the team’s games in the Russian league as the team reached the semi-finals before finishing fourth, with the league implementing a five-game series to decide third place. Ebzery averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 assists per game, with her 38.6% three point shooting good enough for second on the team.
Prior to playing in Russia, Ebzery spent six seasons with the Flames, where her development throughout the years culminated in Opals’ selection for the 2016 Olympic team. In 138 games with the Flames, Ebzery has averaged 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. The 2016 Olympian’s best season in terms of scoring was 2014/15. Ebzery led the team with 16.7 points per game as the Flames reached an unexpected preliminary final berth after just scraping into the finals before defeating Dandenong in a classic semi-final.
Ebzery was selected for the 2015 FIBA Oceania tournament against New Zealand, which doubled as the qualifier for the 2016 Olympics. Playing 19.5 minutes per game in the home and away series, averaging 5.5 points per game as the Opals qualified for the Olympics with a pair of dominant victories. Ebzery featured in all six of the Opals’ games in Rio, averaging 4.0 points per contest as the Australian side reached the quarter finals before falling to Serbia.
With the Flames losing Leilani Mitchell from last season’s backcourt, Ebzery’s presence will add some much-needed experience to the side, something not lost on Flames’ coach Cheryl Chambers.
“I’m ecstatic to have Katie return to our team,” Chambers remarked.
“Her experience, leadership, score power and basketball IQ will be a fantastic addition.”
The addition of Ebzery to the Flames’ roster brings yet another familiar face to the team, with the remainder of the currently signed players all having been part of the Flames’ championship team last season. That familiarity will no doubt be of benefit as the team aims for the championship repeat in 2017/18.