Return to Australia reignites Panousis’ love for hoops

November 16, 2022 | Sydney Flames news

Sydney Flames point guard Vanessa Panousis said her love of basketball was reignited in the NBL1 this past season with Sutherland.

Panousis played for the NBL1 Eltham Wildcats in 2019 and earnt herself a position playing in Greece after that fantastic season.

She played in Greece for the past few seasons, playing through COVID restrictions and quarantines.

She said she was lucky that she knew the language, but it made her question if she wanted to play basketball again.


“The last few years I was in Greece, and when I came back I had to go through all the hotel quarantine stuff. I was left feeling burnt out,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

She averaged 17 points, five rebounds and five assists last season, and after her stellar season, she was called up by Sydney Flames coach Shane Heal to play in the WNBL again.

“I got asked to play for Sutherland and thought sure, why not,” she said.

“It got me back into the routine and loving the game again. Then an opportunity came up from Shane.

“He was a bit interested, so was I, and we made it happen.”

Panoisus is a Sydney local, growing up playing for the Sydney Comets, who just recently joined the NBL1 East.

She said her hardnosed style of play developed playing against her brother and as a Comet.

The Flames assistant coach and Opals legend Shelley Gorman recently signed as the head coach of the women’s team for the Comets.

“For the 2019-20 season, it was non-existent.

“For the next season, I got there in August and I was there for about two weeks when we went into lockdown.

“They decided to stop the season for two weeks.

“It started with two and ended up with four months. We couldn’t even train properly.

“Everything was shut down and you had to text certain numbers if you wanted to go the supermarket or the pharmacy – I’m lucky I understand the language.

“It got to me a bit and left me not knowing if I wanted to play basketball again.”

When she arrived back in Australia she took a hiatus from basketball for half a year before returning to the court with the Sutherland Sharks.

Alongside Lauren Nicholson, she led the Sharks to the NBL1 East grand final, losing to Lauren Jackson’s Albury-Wodonga Bandits.