After a stellar 2021/22 season, the Bendigo Spirit’s Anneli Maley has been awarded the Suzy Batkovic medal, the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player.
In her fourth WNBL season and first with the Spirit, Maley has gone above and beyond expectations. The star forward has not only gone back-to-back as season leading rebounder but also topped the league’s scoring for the 21/22 campaign.
Averaging 19.8 points and 15.7 rebounds across her 16 games, Maley’s hot form was reflected in a season that saw her record double-doubles in all but one game.
A season-high performance came in round four when Maley put on an incredible 38 point and 20 rebound game against the UC Capitals.
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Nominated alongside the 2020 MVP Steph Talbot, Britt Sykes, Cayla George, Alanna Smith, Jackie Young, Kelsey Griffin and Ezi Magbegor, the final count saw first and second place split by the smallest of margins. Maley polled a total of 78 votes with the Lightning captain, Talbot coming in a very close second on 77.
A surprise phone call delivered her the news, Maley had her head in her hands and was in complete disbelief.
“This doesn’t feel real!” Maley exclaimed.
“Far out, I could not imagine me this time last year, telling myself this is something I had achieved, I would’ve told you to get lost!”
Processing the news, Maley states just how surreal it is to play alongside those who she has looked up to throughout her career.
“I remember watching Steph Talbot go up and receive her MVP and I was like she’s one of my idols, and I’ve been playing alongside and against Steph, Jenna, Abby Bishop, Bec Cole, and those are all the people I’ve idolised and now this is so cool.
“This is everyone who has won it before me, it’s everyone who has accepted this before me and that’s an incredible line of athletes, and this is unreal to me.”
“I feel so honoured and proud of myself. This is one of my bucket list dreams.”
Bendigo Spirit head coach, Tracy York is proud of all that Maley has been able to achieve this season.
“She is a standout competitor, athlete and person on and off the floor and was instrumental in helping the Spirit to its best finish since 2015,” York told WNBL Media.
“She does all the hard work, is coachable and will succeed due to her own work rate and effort.”
To top an incredible WNBL season, Maley is WNBA bound, with the WNBL MVP trading Bendigo for the city of Chicago as she attends the Chicago Sky training camp in the coming months.
Top 5 MVP Tally Breakdown: Note Maley and Young played 16 games while the rest played 17.
Anneli Maley: 78
Steph Talbot: 77
Jackie Young: 66
Alanna Smith: 63
Britt Sykes: 62